It has been amazing to witness the development of the Free Universal Construction Kit that NOTlabs’ own Shawn Sims and our friend Golan Levin created ~ and even more incredible to see the eye opening discussions it has sparked far beyond the interoperability of toy sets, but on patent/IP law, the future of 3D printing, open source physical forms, and much more around the globe… and now it has brought them (and me along with them!) to Linz, Austria for the Ars Electronica Festival, where the project has received the Award of Distinction in Hybrid Art from the Prix Ars Electronica. In addition to the award, Golan will be speaking tomorrow on the opening day of the festival, Shawn will be speaking on Sunday, and for the first time, the Free Universal Construction Kit can be seen in its entirety along with a selection of playful assemblages we created demonstrating various toys playing nicely together at the OK “Offenes Kulturhaus” CyberArts12 Exhibition! (Big thank you to the kind folks at Instructables for their support of the project! They produced the full set of pieces showing at CyberArts12!)
So, we’ve just spent the last day setting up the display for the exhibition ~ and i’m thrilled to give you an early sneak peek before tomorrow’s opening!
If you need a refresher on the project: Toys (specifically Lego, Lincoln Logs, Duplo, Fischertechnik, K’nex, Krinkles, Tinkerytoy, Zome, Zoob, Gears Gears Gears, etc) + 3D printer + Free Universal Construction Kit = MORE ways to play with your toys! And all of the pieces are available for download (open source!) on Thingiverse, which you can either print on your own 3D Printer, or send them to a 3D printing service (like Shapeways!)
First there was the Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities By John M. Carrera that is 5-3/4 x 7-1/4 in; 512 pp. Now, there is a mini! The Pictorial Webster’s Pocket Dictionary just arrived in the mail and is a mere 3-1/2 x 5-1/2 in; 208 pp! You could fit nearly 4 of these in the original! It’s quite adorable, and playfully inspirational and pocket/purse/little-kid sized… also tempting to color in. Take a peek at it on the next page!
It’s no secret that Justine and I both grew up Montessori kids and it’s stuck with us. In fact, i’m sure the design aesthetic apparent in so many of the gorgeous, glossy woody learning tools was an early influence on us. I’ll never forget learning my letters and numbers on the sand paper tiles where you run your finger along the sand paper to learn the shapes and how to write them…
Well, Bobby and June George, founders of the Baan Dek Montessori School in Sioux Falls, SD have been actively taking Maria Montessori’s philosophies and principles into the next generation with their beautiful, intuitive Montessorium iPad apps! With Intro to Math, Intro to Letters, Intro to Geography, and Alpha Writer they have been off to an amazing start… and have just released two board books: Letter Work and Number Work. While mainstream tablets haven’t evolved to let you feel textures quite yet… these board books bring back the sand paper letters of my childhood into a new format. On the cover as well as inside the books you can trace the sand paper textured letters and numbers! You learn the sounds and shapes before learning what they are called… and beautiful illustrations by Alyssa Nassner accompany them. Beyond the nostalgia ~ these are definitely going on my go to list of presents for little ones! Take a peek inside the books on the next page!
Home and cleaning through things after the last month of nearly non-stop travel, found this Cartoon Network 20th anniversary poster from SD Comiccon ~ can you believe its been 20 years?!?!?! And even crazier ~ can you find all the characters in the poster? Larger view of the poster and the check list on the next page!
Another comic-con is upon us ~ and last night did a quick loop around preview night to see what inspiration and amusement was around. While not nearly as crazed feeling as previous years felt (so far!) ~ here’s a peek at the toys and displays that grabbed me! From hover boards and monstrous creatures from the Hobbit ~ to angry woebots and kobe ~ HUGE transformers to shrympees and rhinos ~ Hypnotoad to monster toytems ~ and so much more! Take a peek at day one on the next page!
The details of Project Squadt toys are just incredible. From the design to the fashions to the weapons and more… they are just stunning! Remember my first Squadt NKD Jack? Well thanks to a little mix up and an incredibly kind offer from designer, Ferg, when the shipments got mixed up for my fr0g s001 + K11 spot [swamp dwllr] and the fr0g s003 with K11 spot [frozn whole] were sent instead, 3 generous options were given: 1. Keep the frog s003/k11 2. Send the frog s003/k11 back and receive your fr0g s001/k11 as ordered. 3. Keep the fr0g s003/k11 and pay an additional $115 and receive your fr0g s001/k11 in addition. Naturally, i couldn’t resist keeping the s003 and paying the difference to get the s001! The scuba diver in me adores this series more than the others ~ having a soft spot for the velcro on scuba tank/helmet and those adorable fins ~ especially cute on the surveillance camera headed dog of a K11 spot… and the tiny zipper work, and the side pouches velcro off… even the speargun has the most unbelievably thin spear that fits inside it! Take a peek at all the details and a few other Playge/Squadt goodies on the page!
… and if you’re here at SDCC too, go get the gohst s003!
The latest from London-based editor, Justine Aw.
As part of Selfridges’ Big British Bang, the department store have turned their Wonder Room into a Big British Shop, full of all sorts of iconic celebrations of Britishness, and among them are a host of tiaras! Including this ‘Magic Crystal Tiara’ from Bompas & Parr. Watch a timelapse of our crystal tiara growing and more photos on the next page.
Inspiration in the randomest of places ~ ART IS MEDICINE! I remember vaguely seeing pictures of these little Zee pill toys by swiss toy makers, URFabulous (whose website is sadly no longer up!) years and years ago, but only just ran into a case of them yesterday and couldn’t resist the adorable little blind boxes. The packaging and pharmaceutical-esque copy heavy “instructions” that accompany it are even crazier than most you will get with real medication! See more pics and a full unboxing on the next page!
Magis’ Me Too collections always have such awesomely playful pieces… this year’s addition launched at Milan is Marc Newson’s Rocky. A rocking horse of course! The official info - “The second of Marc Newson’s designs for Children, Rocky is a modern take on a traditional object, a pop version taking its character loosely from medieval jousting horses. The parallelogram motion mimics the movement of a traditional rocking horse. It is made from rotationally moulded polyethylene chosen for both its durability and recyclability.” Adorable isn’t it? See another pic on the next page…
Toys (specifically Lego, Lincoln Logs, Duplo, Fischertechnik, K’nex, Krinkles, Tinkerytoy, Zome, Zoob, Gears Gears Gears, etc) + 3D printer + Free Universal Construction Kit = MORE ways to play with your toys! Picture the crazy structures you (or your kid’s) wildest imagination can flourish in as every piece can connect to every other piece… or how many more toys you will need to buy to fully utilize the Free Universal Construction Kit’s capabilities…
While the monster of a Universal Adapter Brick was quietly launched at Golan Levin’s Eyecode solo show at UCI’s Beall Center for Art + Technology a few months ago, it’s exciting to see the rest of the kit finally available! So, freshly launched this morning from Golan Levin at F.A.T. Lab and our own head of NOTlabs, Shawn Sims comes the Free Universal Construction Kit. It is “a collection of nearly 80 adapter bricks that enable complete interoperability between ten popular children’s construction toys. By allowing any piece to mate with any other, the Kit encourages totally new forms of intercourse between otherwise closed systems — enabling radically hybrid Constructivist play and the creation of heretofore impossible designs.”
You can see the full chart of all pieces, download the full .stl pack, find just the piece you need on Thingiverse, and even watch the 80’s style advert for Free Universal Construction Kit on the next page!
Next… if you have a 3D printer, and have fun toys, AND print out some pieces… i’d love to see what you (and/or your kids) create with them!!! Please share pics!!!
On 5$ impulse buys… i couldn’t resist. Toy Boarders!!! You get 24 little skateboarders! (No girls though, perhaps in their future packs… or snow or surf packs to come?) A fun twist on classic toy soldiers these little plastic guys are made in china but come from super local San Clemente, CA! Adorable… they are skating around our whole office and house now… take a peek at the silliness in a bag on the next page! (The video is pretty fun too!)
While i’ve seldom had the traditional “family vacation” as a kid ~ talking to NOTlabs director, Shawn, i found out that he knows HomeAway well! Apparently his mom’s been booking everything from houses in the Rockies, French Quarter in New Orleans, and Utah Ski trips on the site ~ and they often associate family vacations with insane jigsaw puzzles and toys… so when HomeAway asked us to share some awesomeness around family travel… adventures at the NY International Toy Fair seemed like a perfect fit! There were SO many random toys in every genre you can imagine, so to narrow it down, here’s a selection of our favorites that are perfect to keep kids (both actually young and young at heart) occupied in the car/plane en route or curled up by the fireplace/dining table when just hanging out! Ready to see some crazy puzzles, fun magnetic building toys, turtles, mazes, paper animals, electronic experiments and more? To the next page!
This season Areaware is launching this series of adorable new beech wood animals by Karl Zahn (who was also behind Areaware’s animal boxes. The new selections include a set of dovetail animals as well as stackable crocodiles! Each of the dovetail animals is composed of three segments, so you can mix and match parts from the five styles: dog, llama, elephant, horse and crocodile. More photos and a video of the new wooden animals on the next page.
Super cute concept ~ Busy Beaver Buttons (maker of NOTCOT buttons!) sent over their playful new year’s card ~ love that they give you a fill-in-the-blank button and mini sharpie! Take a peek at the details and fun beaver graphic inside the card on the next page… as well as my resolution for 2012!