toys

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Art Design

Send-Ups of Pop Culture and Capitalism Hidden in Retail Stores by Obvious Plant

April 26, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

The next time you’re in a grocery store, pharmacy, or toy department and spot a subtly unusual item, it might an Obvious Plant. Jeff Wysaski, the man behind the meme, has been creating and depositing strange flyers, placards, and packaged products in conventional retail outlets for several years. His creations are often a send-up of a popular pop culture phenomenon like Sesame Street or The Avengers, and feature chuckle-inducing copy, alternately quippy and filled with intentional typos. From a lonely Bert to Barely Any Ketchup (made by “Hardly Foods”), Obvious Plant items have become increasingly elaborate over the years, and Wysanski makes some of his designs available for purchase in an online store.

You can follow along with Obvious Plant’s quirky interventions on Instagram. If these are up your alley, also check out Chindōgu, a concept and subsequent community of designers of useless products, first popularized in 1990’s Japan by Kenji Kawakami.

 

 



Design

Japanese Monster Figurines Apologize For Their Destruction at Press Conference Podiums

March 15, 2019

Johnny Waldman

The art of the apology – it’s an integral part of Japanese culture that helps maintain balance and harmony in society. Combining that with kaiju figurines is this brilliant little set of toys that feature the likes of Godzilla and Mechagodzilla apologizing at a press conference, head hanging solemnly, for the destruction they’ve caused.

The toys were released back in 2016 as part of a promotion campaign for the Shin-Godzilla movie. They were sold as gachapon and retailed for 300 yen each.

They included Godzilla apologizing for destructive vandalism (破壊行為), Mechagodzilla for imitation and copyright infringement (模倣行為) and King Gidra for aggressive invasion (侵略行為). The toys have since been taken off the primary market but for those willing to pay up, they’re available on the secondary market, albeit at a 500+% markup. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

 

 



Animation

Lost & Found: An Endearing Animated Film About the Selflessness of True Love

December 14, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Lost & Found is an endearing stop motion film that chronicles a dramatic turning point in the sweet relationship between two crocheted animal toys. A foxy fox and smitten dinosaur have enjoyed many special memories in their adopted home of a Japanese restaurant’s lost and found bin. But when the fox topples into a fountain, the dinosaur must give his all to save her. The short film, directed by Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe and produced by Lucy J. Hayes, convincingly imagines the inner lives of its stuffed animal protagonists and uses the fragile nature of crochet as the crux of the storyline. Lost & Found has been widely lauded at film festivals since its debut this year. You can see behind the scenes of the film on the Lost & Found website.

 

 



Design

Around the World in 80 Ways: Infinitely Arrangeable Earth and Moon Puzzles

November 30, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Puzzle wizards Nervous System (previously) explore the expansive qualities of earth and space in two new mind-boggling puzzles. The Infinite Earth puzzle includes 442 pieces, and the Infinite Moon has 186. Each can be rearranged in virtually an unlimited number of times. The math behind the magic is an icosahedral map projection, which applies the topology of a sphere without the traditional boundaries. You can learn more of the math behind the transposition from sphere to puzzle on Nervous System’s blog. Nervous System individually prints and laser cuts each puzzle on birch plywood in their Somerville workshop. You can find the Infinite Earth and Infinite Moon puzzles in The Colossal Shop!

 

 



Art

New Gear-Operated Koi Fish and Shark LEGO Sets Aim to Decrease Stress in Adults

November 29, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

LEGO has been known for their small stackable bricks for over eighty years, as each new generation uses the brightly-colored blocks to build forts, towers, and other imaginative structures big and small. Although adults have also been interested in new sets throughout the years, LEGO is often associated with children’s play. The toy company aims to change this perception with a new line of interactive objects aimed at adults. LEGO FORMA doesn’t contain any bricks, but rather gears, rods, and customizable skins which assemble to create your own moveable koi fish or shark.

By cranking the completed work, the fish has a lifelike movement— swimming through the air as it turns side-to-side on its stand. The completely new format is designed to be a relaxing, creative challenge that satisfy the human desire to build something with our hands. Each piece takes a few hours to assemble in full. LEGO just wrapped up a campaign to judge feedback on the new line on Indiegogo. You can read more about the LEGO FORMA pilot program on their website. (via My Modern Met)

 

 

 



Amazing Design

Handmade Paper Toys by Haruki Nakamura Spring, Fold, and Jump into Action

November 16, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Japanese paper engineer Haruki Nakamura (previously) continues to design delightful toys using simple materials. A friendly armadillo curls into a self-protective ball at the touch of a finger, and a sleepy boy emerges, ready to sleepwalk, in “Astral Projection.” Nakamura uses rubber bands and carefully held points of paper tension to spark the jumpy movements of his characters, and sells kits so you can make your own endless entertainment. The artist only sells within Japan on his website, but this Penguin Bomb toy is available on Amazon.

 

 



Design

LEGO Launches a Rotating Wind Turbine with Trees Made From Plant-Based Plastic

September 28, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

LEGO recently launched a new 826-piece set that includes a three-foot tall wind turbine. The fully functioning power source features aircraft warning lights and adjustable blades, and towers above a cottage surrounded by trees and a garden. This is the first LEGO set to use a new plant-based plastic formulated from sugarcane, which comprises the kit’s spruce trees. The turbine, which is a collaboration with the Danish sustainable energy company Vestas, was previously developed in 2008 but was never released to the public. The updated set will be available through LEGO stores and online on November 23, 2018. (via Designboom)