Taking what may be my first actual full on “break” in a few years this week… it should come as no surprise that my life became filled with silliness and toys… so let’s kick off this catch up post with: Xploderz and their H2GROW Ammo - after having them on NOTCOT.org, when i ran across these new age water guns in person, i HAD to get one. So, here’s an unboxing of the Xploderz Xranger 2000 and a peek at how the pellets become the ammo you see. On first impressions, LOVE the concept, but the execution does leave quite a bit to be desired. The balls are actually more Tapioca/Boba/Bubble tea like… think jello jiggler marbles that smoosh on contact. You won’t really be hurting each other with these, but they do shoot impressively far and straight. Be warned though, if you’re preparing for a full on war, prep early, it takes over 4 hours to have a fresh set of ammo soak up its full potential… experiments to try later: can these become jello shots? can you use other similarly sized pellets? Frozen pellets? And to mitigate the disappointment, these are all about the novelty of the ammo… the gun doesn’t let you actually pull the trigger and the plastic/design of the gun leaves something to be desired. To launch, you pull and release, essentially launching the pellet… you also have to reload between each shot. But ~ on to the details to give you a better feel of this Xploderz Xranger 2000 and it’s jello shot like pellets, check out the next page!
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This post is part of a NOTCOT series on inspiring, independent design thinking, brought to you by Saab. At Saab, we believe in independent thinking. It’s in everything we do. Learn more here.
Doesn’t that picture just scream: HAPPY? I bet you’re smiling right now. (If not, what’s wrong with you?) As you may have noticed, we’ve got a soft spot for swings. So imagine our delight at discovering the crazy swing installations from Jeff Waldman and the Awesome Foundation’s LA chapter. For Waldman swings are a way of “finding pure joy were from our childhood” and he picked some pretty incredible locations for his swings. Waldman’s been tracking the awesome swingification across the globe in his facebook gallery. And for a peek into some of our favorites ~ as well as videos ~ take a peek on the next page!
p.s. Can’t wait to get back to LA to go hunt a few of his down, add more of our skateboard swings around, and swing to our heart’s delight!
As a new mom, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of baby stuff out there. Skip Hop is a favorite of mine for their refreshingly playful and modern designs, and for their affordable prices. I got to go to their offices to check out their Fall 2011 preview, where there were lots of new additions to the Skip Hop collection. I also got a behind the scenes look at Skip Hop’s design space, and met their lead designer (who is seven months pregnant!). Check out some photos from my visit on the next page!
Just in from the UK ~ Justine just checked out Clerkenwell Design Week!
Nostalgia just hit ~ remember those pin art toys from the… 80s? Just lost a little time ending up on searching for the old ones! Found info on it on Wikipedia - random fun fact? “The pinscreen was popularized in the 1985 music video for the Midge Ure song “If I Was”, which included a giant body-sized version.” They are even still available on Amazon!
But i digress… this installation from Clerkenwell Design Week is “Be a Pin Up!” from Lulu Guinness, there she is with it above (pics from her blog). The giant frame of pins is situated in front of the iconic London landmark, St John’s Gate and lets the public create full body sized portraits using the 6,000 chromed capped aluminum pins. Here are a few pics of the images created by passerbys. Check out the pics on the next page!
We’re not really sure what’s going on with these yet… but Justine found these Mr. Potato Head’s in the windows of Liberty in London. With a twist ~ paired with designer fashions…. there are literally bags of real potatoes… adorned with gold spray painted Mr. Potato Head parts! See more close ups of the bizarreness on the next page!
Definitely my favorite find of the day. I clearly have a thing for swings and for unique woody products that show off their original tree edges… well the Swedish No Picnic’s ALMA series of ‘social swings’ combine just that! They also remind me of the Loyal Loot Log Bowls! They feel like rough logs that were sliced to make a bench, then milled out and lacquered for a seat/seats in bold colors. Strung up with thick black rope, they are tied in clusters to the beams high above. Though a bit slippery, they certainly are gorgeous and fun to swing in! Apparently these are “meant to represent the soul of Sweden. As Leonardo Salzedo says, ‘As teamwork is needed to enjoy the swing, so in our everyday life a conjoint effort is important to reach a common goal’.” Gorgeous, fun, and in so many colors and sizes, they were a delight to swing in… take a peek at many pics of them on the next page ~ as well as some making of photos!
This CES content is sponsored by BestBuyOn.com. Thanks, Best Buy!!!
AR.Drones have come a long way since they mesmerized us at CES with their amazing iPhone controlled flying machine last year… that was in a huge net on the show floor… well this year, they have a great space outside! And it’s definitely had me watching, mesmerized, wondering how i’ve managed not to give in to one of them yet. Or TWO… you can even played augmented reality shooter games with them now… (see the video on the next page to make sense of it)… see more pics on the next page of them in action. It’s hard not to want an iPhone/iPad controlled wifi AR qudricopter!
Gift Guide time! This time ideas for the Kids On The Go ~ unlike the Business Traveler on the Go list and the Jetsetter On The Go list… here’s one for traveling with KIDS! (Particularly the younger ones! So, some fun ideas for newer parents transitioning from jetsetter to jetsetter and a half?) Check out the product picks on the next page!
Montessorium has a new app! Sure i don’t have kids, but having grown up a Montessori kid, their iphone and ipad apps are an instant throw back… tracing the letters on a touch screen, aren’t quite the same as tracing the sand paper letters mounted on colored boards… but the portability and animations are awesome! First they launched Intro To Math, next came Intro To Letters… and freshly launched is Alpha Writer! Illustrations are even by Zeptonn! All of them are perfect for toddlers to get to know letters, numbers, and start making words… see some screenshots on the next page.
Merry Christmas! Not sure why i’m up at 4am on christmas… and yes, still playing with toys into the night. Kidrobot sent over a fun christmas surprise ~ The Burglars Dunny by Saner… and the flocked santa beard was so hilarious, i couldn’t help but mix and match the accessories instantly. Doesn’t this Rocketworld guy just look far more distinguished in mustache/beard while wielding his spork? Really, all he needs is a monocle now! And you should see the James Jarvis King Ken snow gorilla with the reindeer skull on a stick! Oh, and the actual Santa Barbaja character too… see it all on the next page!
On going full circle ~ the toy movement has come back around to stunning luxurious porcelain figurines… French company, Art & Toy, has just started selling the new figures by K. Olin Tribu, who has worked with the finest porcelain sculpture modeler, great artists and designers to manufacture limited edition toys in Limoges porcelain. The beautiful Potamus Anarchy figures in black and red editions is a collaboration between Frank Kozik & K.Olin Tribu. There’s something so awesome about seeing the signature angsty cigarette wielding creatures of Kozik cast in porcelain… anarchy gone fine art? And in such beautiful packaging as well! See lots of detail pics on the next page…
Gift Guide time! In addition to the NOTCOT Holiday Coupons and the many Holiday Giveaways that will be unfolding daily… and today we’re looking at TOYS! And fun things for big kids and little kids… This gift guide is sponsored by Starbucks who is celebrating their 12 Days of Sharing with us; hiding fun goodies, which are popping out from behind NOTCOT.org posts! Now ~ on to the gift guide picks on the next page!
Black and white? Wood blocks? Golden Ratio? How could i not give in to it? Besides, a gorgeous desk toy to help distract and inspire while i work my way through the fun and craziness that is the upcoming Holiday Gift Guides and Giveaways… perfect! Swiss company, Naef, makes some of the nicest quality wood toys, and they appeal to the beautiful simplicity of geometric shapes to create unthinkably inspiring complexities. Their description of the Naef Tectus? “Impressive architecture This cube is divided several times in adherence to the golden ratio and surrounded by black shapes. During play, these become foundations, walls or roofs and a player the architect. Everything fits into each other harmoniously.”
Ok i keep getting far too distracted constructing buildings across my desk as i attempt to write this post. So go take a look at the unboxing of this gorgeous Naef Tectus on the next page…
The Tegu guy made me a castle! With a draw bridge! Out of magnetic wood blocks! LIVE! That was my silly excitement this morning as they let me put in the first request as Tegu LIVE! went… well, live. These playful magnetic wood building blocks made from sustainable tropical hardwoods in Honduras are inspired by the gorgeous european wood toys… with a magnetic twist. While kids of all ages can make anything they can dream up, to help inspire everyone, Tegu and Poke NY have teamed up to build a non stop live stream of a mysterious man in a tegu lab coat of sorts who will take your requests via Twitter, Facebook, and livestream for things to build. And poof just like that, he builds them for you! And then sadly deconstructs them as quickly as they came to be. Though, i’m told not to worry, since all designs will be archived for future viewing! If you’re curious what they are capable of, go make your request at Tegu LIVE!. They sent me a few cases to play with, and their packaging is awesomely fun as well… so take a peek on the next page for the products, packaging, AND my castle in action!
Remember the Stacks Skateboard decks? And the random idea i fixated on to make a fun swing out of a skateboard? Well when popping by ikea, ran into the $14 Ecorre Swing and couldn’t resist using some of the parts with the skateboard… so on silly little experiments ~ here’s a look at trying it out in the tree!
Mmmmmm… on sunday fun, while working my way through the backlog of stuff that awaited me here in LA when i got home, Linhchi and i decided to try out Vosges ULTIMATE Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix ~ when a delicious chocolatier decides to go cookie mix, how could we not try? And if you follow their instructions exactly, they are HUGE! We’ve also enlisted some of the Kidrobot 2Tone Dunny characters to help us out for a sense of scale! On the next page, take a peek at their awesome packaging, cheeky copy, our experience baking them, and of course, the final product!
I never thought sanrio would end up on NOTCOT ~ but when i saw the latest designs in the Sanrio x Mimobot collaborations for Sanrio’s 50th Anniversary, i LOL’d and couldn’t resist. Badtz-Maru make me think of… yea… a long time ago, and he was always my favorite, who can resist a disgruntled black bird?!?! And Hangyodon is just crazy… So check out these final characters in the 6 Sanrio x Mimobot collection on the next page!
What’s more adorable than gorgeous wood animals? Gorgeous wood animals that are also BOXES! New from Areaware ~ ‘Animal Boxes’ by NY based designer Karl Zahn as part of their Fall 2010 Collection! Love that the eyes double as hinges! See pics of the whole collection on the next page…
Some people have ABC Blocks for kids… not Fred. Fred of course has XYZ Blocks… wooden and covered with illustrations by Christian Northeast… with everything from waffles and graffiti to trailers and vinyl to corn dogs and heroes to quicksand and jackalopes… what kid (or creative desk space) doesn’t need these?!?!?! Peek at more pics on the next page…
While trying to kill time in TriBeCa between meetings, i followed a recommendation to check out Playing Mantis for some fun wooden kids toys… and found the most amazing chess set of hungarian hand carved little knights… as well as these knights on horses. As you can imagine, it took a while to pick the perfect one, and i settled on this guy, because i simply had to get some close up pics to share with you!
Shin Tanaka is indisputably one of the paper toy design masters of our generation… and his Baggies are adorable! And just in times for mother’s day for those kids out there looking for a fun way to customize a cute little something to spruce up your gift, how about making one of these your 3D gift card dancing upon the gift box? See some examples on the next page… and print one of his 3 patterns or the blank to customize yourself here!
While in Stuttgart, i had a field day going to toy stores! Germans seem to have far more fun toys ~ particularly wooden ones and i adore their amazing puzzles and stunning miniatures! After falling for the bowl of Japanese Wooden Tops (which i can’t seem to give any away so far, they live on my table and are far too fun!) ~ i think a fascination with unique tops is growing! Quickly! So when i encountered 1000 Schoen in Stuttgart, it was hard to resist buying up the pile you see above! The incredible wooden ones are made by Mader Kreiselmanufaktur, and their site even shows them being made by hand! Absolutely fascinating! The other type i fell in love with are these metal and metal/wooden tops that initially look like gears! For the wooden ones with metal tips and a bent metal rod included, you basically insert the rod into two holes in the top, twist to wind it up, and when you let go, the tension gives you incredible spin! The flowery gear you hold between two fingers and blow to get it spinning super fast, and drop it and watch it go! The man at the store mentioned it’s great to use a straw to keep blowing on it to keep it spinning. Take a peek to see them all close up on the next page, as well as a video of some in action!
Sandy Vohr has been making the most adorable luscious little leather bean bag creatures for the last 30 years. In fact i think i even received one of her beautiful little leather frogs as a paperweight as a kid! The site even says, “The animals are made from cowhide and deerskin, and filled with various combinations of fiberfil and beadlike materials.” When i spotted the Bunny Bookends at Barneys, i got nostalgic and ended up looking up Sandy’s site… where i discovered so many new adorable leather creatures ~ from moose to dragons, robots to octopi! See some of my favorites on the next page! Looks like she’ll even do customs!
Tops! They are universally mesmerizing! Regardless of age, they will definitely amuse… so imagine how my eyes widened when i came upon a huge bowl of these small wooden japanese spinning tops at Tortoise in Venice Beach… i kept going through the whole bowl ~ one by one ~ and slowly ended up buying a dozen. They were all so different! So hard to resist! And many have these floating rings carved into them that float as they spin… and they make the most amazing sounds… when still, the curvatures in your hand are just so beautiful… and then get them spinning, and it’s hard not to just watch them for ages… see the videos and more pics on the next page!
On random design inspiration ~ Playmobil seems to have evolved quite a bit since i was a kid. We had the zoo, rock climbers, fancy dressed victorians with car, the teepee, and farm animals… but definitely no disheveled stubbly striped shirt, sport jacket, sunglass, and beanie wearing safe crackers… these guys even come with graspable money, a canister with hose to freeze the lock(?), silver suitcase, keys, flashlight, and even a weighty metal gold bar… best part of all, the safe is actually lockable! You can set the combination by picking two numbers… and it actually clicks as you rotate the dials.
So for random weekend experiments, had a bit too much fun taking pics of this set on the pool table…