Archive for August, 2011
Hurricane Irene knocked out the power at Dave’s Cool Toys from Sunday until this afternoon, August 31, 2011. Once we get re-organized and clear up the backlog of toy orders, we will begin posting again to the Dave’s Cool Toys blog.
Thanks to all our customers for their patience during this time!
Aidan’s solar experiment
13 year old Aidan Dwyer was hiking in the woods and noticed that the leaves formed a spiral pattern on some trees. After some investigation he learned that they followed the Fibonacci mathematical sequence.
I’m already impressed, but Aidan took his investigation even further. He wondered why the trees used this pattern which shows up repeatedly in nature. This led him to believe that it increases the leave’s exposure to sunlight. To test this theory, he build an experiment in his back yard.
He took solar panels and arranged them on a PVC "tree" in the sequence of the leaves on trees. For comparison, he arranged a group of the same quantity of the same solar panels in a traditional 45 degree angle toward the sun. He then measured the output from both arrays over time and downloaded the data into his computer.
Here’s what Aidan found:
"The Fibonacci tree design performed better than the flat-panel model. The tree design made 20% more electricity and collected 2 1/2 more hours of sunlight during the day. But the most interesting results were in December, when the Sun was at its lowest point in the sky. The tree design made 50% more electricity, and the collection time of sunlight was up to 50% longer!"
"The tree design takes up less room than flat-panel arrays and works in spots that don’t have a full southern view. It collects more sunlight in winter. Shade and bad weather like snow don’t hurt it because the panels are not flat. It even looks nicer because it looks like a tree. A design like this may work better in urban areas where space and direct sunlight can be hard to find.
But the best part of what I learned was that even in the darkest days of winter, nature is still trying to tell us its secrets!"
For his efforts, Aidan has won the American Museum of Natural History Young Naturalist Award. You can read Aidan’s complete well-written essay of his investigation on their website.
Aidan is not only an impressive young man, but inspirational as well. I’m thinking this design would work extremely well on cell towers, communications towers, or winding around windmills. It would certainly have less impact on the environment, which is causing trouble for some solar farms.
Congratulations to Aidan and we look forward to seeing his achievements in the future.
|Radio Flyer Scoot ‘n Zoom|
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Radio Flyer, announced a voluntary recall of the Scoot ‘n Zoom children’s riding toy. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.
The toy can tip over while riding allowing children to fall forward. There have been reports of incidents where teeth were loosened or knocked out and chin lacerations requiring stitches.
The Scoot ‘n Zoom is red molded plastic with black wheels and measures 19 inches long, 11 inches wide and 13.5 inches tall. The riding toy’s model number 711 can be found molded on the underside of the toy. Units with a yellow UPC sticker underneath the product with model #711B are not recalled.
About 165,000 of these toys were sold at Walmart and other retailers, and online at Amazon.com and Target.com from August 2010 through August 2011 for about $20.
Consumers should immediately take the recalled products away from children and contact Radio Flyer to receive a free replacement unit or refund. For additional information, contact Radio Flyer at (800) 621-7613 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the company’s website at www.radioflyer.com.
Where to locate the product number on the Scoot ‘n Zoom
Green Spiral Hand Bubbler
One of my favorite toys is the Hand Bubbler, sometimes called Hand Boilers.
Not only do they look stunning sitting on a shelf, but they are addictive to play with.
They don’t really do too much, but what they do is really cool. You simply pick one up and hold the bottom bulb in your hand and the fluid expands up the tube and into the top bulb. After a bit, it starts bubbling in the top bulb, thus the name "Hand Bubbler".
I have one that sits on a shelf by my desk (shown here). While I’m working I like to take it down and bubble it. Every so often, I’ll be sitting here working and something catches my attention out of the corner of my eye. It will be my hand bubbler, slowly bubbling on it’s own. I’m not really sure why it does that.
They come in lots of shapes and sizes. There are even pens with little bubblers on the top. Dave’s Cool Toys carries an assortment of four colors and shapes. When you order, you will get a random selection. If you order more than one, we will ship different ones.
Hand Bubbler are also used as an experimental tool to demonstrate Charles’s Law and vapor-liquid equilibrium. The liquid’s boiling point in the bottom bulb is just above room temperature. When you hold it in your hand, it starts to boil and is forced up the tube as the gasses in the bottom bulb expand. When you release it, the gasses are able to condense and the liquid goes back down into the bottom bulb. You can speed this up by holding the top bulb in your hand.
They are sometimes also sold as "Love Meters".
Hand Bubblers are a great toy, but they are not really meant for children due to their all-glass construction as well as the volatile fluid inside.
Mr. Potato Head Free!
Right now at Amazon, when you purchase $25.00 worth of qualifying Playskool items, you can get a Toy Story 3 Mr. Potato Head free. This is a $12.00 value!
Crayola on sale too!
While supplies last.
Amazon is also having a great Crayola Sale with up to 30% off selected back-to-school items.
Margaux Lange loved Barbie as a child. As an adult with a bachelor of fine arts degree, she put that obsession to good use and began creating Barbie jewelry. But she went a few steps further than just standard Barbie jewelry. She creates hers by directly incorporating bits of discarded Barbie and Ken dolls.
The liberated Barbie pieces are imaginatively combined with sterling silver and pigmented resins to transform a mass-produced feminine icon into unique pieces of wearable art.
Her unique creations are sold at art and jewelry galleries and museum stores in the U.S. and as far away as Australia and Russia. They are also available for purchase on Etsy.
Some are quite beautiful and abstract until you look closely and realize that they are, in fact, made from pieces of dolls. Some are a bit disturbing. Some are a bit cutesy and some are quite elegant. A few are a bit provocative, using otherwise clothed sections of the dolls’ anatomy.
Barbie and Ken necklace
Turn the Other Cheek Bracelet
For a "limited time" Amazon is having a buy-one-get-one-at-half-price sale on select XBox 360 and PS3 games. Games include Fallout New Vegas, Left 4 Dead 2, Lego Star Wars, Portal 2 and much more. There seems to be 63 game titles in this offer. Just add the titles to your cart and it should take off the amount at checkout.
Of course, they take 1/2 off the lowest priced item.
This is the coolest chess set I’ve ever seen.
It’s a basic, standard chess set, except that it’s made of chalk. Want to play a game of chess on the street? Just take out your chess pieces, and draw a chess board on the sidewalk and set up a game.
Both the white and black pieces are made of chalk, so you can draw with either black or white on most any surface that chalk works on.
Of course, you could just buy a plastic chess set and bring some chalk along. But this is WAY cooler. And it’s a great gift for a chess enthusiast.
But what happens when the pieces start to wear down and your queen is falling over because she doesn’t have a good base anymore? Or your pawn is reduced to a nubbin? At just $20 for the set, it’s enough of a bargain that you can order another and replace the pieces as they wear down.
Chalk Chess in action. How exciting!
Via Coolest toys
Banzai’s promise and fail (from failblog.org)
Their latest deceptive photography is on the packaging and publicity for the Banzai Slide N’ Splash Whale Pool.
Their packaging shows four children in the pool with tons of space between them (two in the pool, one on the slide and one at the top ready to slide down). But the reality makes that impossible.
As you can see from the photo there’s barely enough room for one child.
And over at Amazon, there are many more complaints about the product including leaks right out of the box, tangled hoses, and the slide being so unstable that children can’t actually slide down it or climb the stairs. In addition there are many complaints about the actual size of the pool compared to the photo.
User photos at Amazon also show just how small the pool actually is compared to their blatantly deceptive image.
The box says it is for ages up to 12. Clearly that is ludicrous. A 12 year old wouldn’t even fit in the pool let alone slide down the whale.
As I mentioned, Banzai has been using deceptive photography on their products for years. I believe it’s time for this to end. But consumers need to do more about it than post complaints on Amazon. They need to head to the Better Business Bureau and report the company. Next, head over to the Federal Trade Commission and report it there as well.
I came across this the other day on the web and it dredged up memories that were long gone. I’d completely forgotten that I owned one of these and thought it was the coolest! My cousin also owned one.
What did it do? What DIDN’T it do?
Essentially, it was an extra finger. You’d kinda grip it in your hand and supposedly nobody would notice your extra finger. As far as I know, it only came in one color, so, as was very common at that time, it would only work for Caucasian kids.
Sixfinger in it’s blister pack
There were inserts that you stuck in the end of the finger:
One was a ballpoint pen, so you could write with your finger.
One was a cap bomb. You’d load a cap in the bomb and shoot it and it would go off on impact. Probably.
One was a basic bullet.
One was a message bullet. You could write a message on a small slip of paper (with your ballpoint finger, I suppose) and insert it into the message bullet and fire it to your friend a few feet away and they could then read your "secret" message.
One was a fragmentation bomb. Not terribly useful, especially after you lost the single fragment.
The last one was an "SOS" for "quick help". I don’t remember that one. But apparently it was just a missile with "SOS" printed on it so your friends could come running to your aid… from four feet away.
One last "extra" features was the secret code clicker, it sent secret messages in Morse code, by clicking the trigger, I guess.
Sixfinger was made by Topper toys and sold for "under $2.00" sometime in the mid 60’s. The packaging says it was "The Most Amazing Toy Ever!". Check out the commercial below.
I wish they made this toy today. But the liability would probably be an issue for a manufacturer. I’ll have to keep an eye out for a used one. I found one on eBay, but they are asking $55.00 for it.
"How did I ever get along with five?"
Matchbox Tow Truck
3-year-old Carter Vaughn’s mother decided to try calling the phone number on the side of his Matchbox tow truck. Boy was she surprised. She actually asked her mother to try the number and was in for a shock when it connected her to a phone sex line.
Mattel, was not aware of the issue until the local TV station contacted them for comment.
Mattel spokesperson Rachel Cooper had this to say:
“We apologize that this has happened. Mattel’s products are designed with children and their best interests in mind. Many of Mattel’s employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety – it is our number one priority. The Matchbox GMC Tow Truck vehicle was released in 2000 and is no longer manufactured. Mattel has a policy in place prohibiting the inclusion of phone numbers on toys.”
Although we did find for sale on Amazon.
If your child happens to have one of these trucks, you may want to take it away from them before they get the bright idea to call the number. And put it away to sell on eBay. It may be worth some money in the future.
Dr. Who Minifig Box Set
My son and I are Dr. Who fans. And who’s not a fan of Lego?
Later this month a beautiful boxed Dr. Who Minifig set will be available for purchase. You can pre-order now.
The set features all 11 Doctors with bases in a dark blue TARDIS display box.
The doctors that used a sonic screwdriver do come with it.
The entire set is currently selling for $39.99 (preorder), and it is expected to ship sometime later in August. For $2.00 more you can upgrade your order to "Collector’s Grade" which ships with extra packaging to assure that the item arrives in perfect condition and the box has no tears of flaws.
These are not produced by Lego and the box simply states "compatible". Not sure what that means. I did find them referred to in some articles as "Lego style".
There also seem to be plans for a lot more of these including companions and villains. Yes, also including Daleks.
The 11 doctors in Minifig form
Via Nerd Approved
Recalled Little People Wagon
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, in cooperation with Fisher-Price have voluntarily recalled the Fisher Price Little People Builders’ Load ‘n Go Wagon model number P8977. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.
About 208,000 of these have been sold in the United States and 2,800 in Canada
The back of the wagon’s plastic handle has molded-in reinforcement. This design adds stiffness and facilitates children gripping the handle, but poses a laceration hazard if a child falls on it.
There are seven reports of injuries, including five reports of children requiring surgical glue or stitches.
The model number is located on the bottom of the wagon. “Little People® Builders” is found on a label on the side of the wagon and “Fisher Price” is embossed on the handle. Wagons with green handles are not included in this recall. They were sold at mass merchandise retail stores nationwide from June 2009 through July 2011 for about $25.
Consumers should immediately take the recalled wagons away from children and contact Fisher-Price for instructions on how to obtain a free repair kit. For additional information, contact Fisher-Price at (800) 432-5437 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at www.service.mattel.com