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Posts Tagged ‘toys

“If I see that again, I’ll take it away from you…”*

 

Artist and veteran teacher Guy Tarrant has assembled a collection of “Confiscation Cabinets” an archive of toys taken over the last 30 years from London schoolchildren in 150 different schools.

Tarrant became interested in the toys as tokens of resistance to school routines and teacherly discipline. He enlisted other teachers to donate their own confiscated items to his project. In all, he made eight such cabinets, which are currently on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in London.

Besides showcasing the creativity of some rebellious children—improvised pea shooters, World Cup finger puppets, and mix CDs feature in the collection—the grouping lets us see some differences between American and British toys.

One of Tarrant’s Boys’ Cabinets

One of Tarrant’s Girls’ Cabinets

A “Scooby doo” appears in the girls’ cabinet, and seems to be some kind of a friendship bracelet. In the boys’ cabinet, there’s a Sikh kirpan, or ceremonial sword, reflecting the large Sikh immigrant population in the UK. (Recently, Sikh advocacy groups have fought the confiscation of such items as a restriction of religious freedom.) And  there’s a “39’er,” which appears to be a “conker” (or horse chestnut) used in the traditional British kids’ game.

Technological change and fads also affect the makeup of the confiscated items, with Gameboys, Star Wars toys, and a grungy troll doll showing the march of time.

When viewed from afar, the girls’ cabinet is significantly pinker than the boys’, showing how gendered marketing reaches right into the smallest of items made for kids.

Read the whole story (and click through to larger images of the cabinets) at ‘s “A British Teacher’s Archive of Confiscated Toys.”

*  countless teachers, to their students over the years

###

As we put away our playthings, we might send forcefully-metered birthday greetings to Kenneth Patchen; he was born on this date in 1911.  A poet and novelist who experimented with form (most notably, with incorporating jazz into his readings), Patchen was widely ignored by the cultural establishment in his lifetime; but (with his close friend Kenneth Rexroth) became an inspiration for the young poets–  Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and others– who became known as the Beat Generation.  In 1968, near the end of his life, The Collected Poems of Kenneth Patchen was published– and Patchen was embraced by the Establishment. The New York TImes called the book “a remarkable volume,” comparing Patchen’s work to that of Blake, Whitman, Crane, Lawrence, and even to the Bible.  In another review, the poet David Meltzer called Patchen “one of America’s great poet-prophets” and called his body of work “visionary art for our time and for Eternity.”

The lions of fire
Shall have their hunting in this black land

Their teeth shall tear at your soft throats
Their claws kill

O the lions of fire shall awake
And the valleys steam with their fury

Because you have turned your faces from God
Because you have spread your filth everywhere.

– from “The Lions of Fire Shall Have Their Hunting”  The Teeth of the Lion (1942)

Allen Ginsberg (left) and Kenneth Patchen (right) backstage at the Living Theatre where Patchen was performing with Charlie Mingus, New York City 1959. Photo copyright © Harry Redl 1959, 2000.

source

 

Written by LW

December 13, 2013 at 1:01 am

From scratch…

 

The 1961 series II Aston Martin DB4 is a certified classic.  So it’s no surprise that Ivan Sentch would want to create a scratch-built replica… but what is surprising is that, while he’s building the car on the platform of a Nissan Skyline GTS25T, he’s creating the Aston Martin body entirely with a 3D printer.

Ivan’s progress to date…

Read the background at Autopia, and follow Ivan’s progress on his blog.

[DB4 photo, via Bonham’s; Ivan’s body, via his blog)

###

As we make room on the dashboard for the ejector button, we might send delighted birthday greetings to Peter Hodgson; he was born on this date in 1912.  An advertising and marketing consultant, Hodgson introduced Silly Putty to the world.  As The New York Times recounted in his obituary,

The stuff had been developed by General Electric scientists in the company’s New Haven laboratories several years earlier in a search for a viable synthetic rubber. It was obviously not satisfactory, and it found its way instead onto the local cocktail party circuit.

That’s where Mr. Hodgson, who was at the time writing a catalogue of toys for a local store, saw it, and an idea was born.

“Everybody kept saying there was no earthly use for the stuff” he later recalled. “But I watched them as they fooled with it. I couldn’t help noticing how people with busy schedules wasted as much as 15 minutes at a shot just fondling and stretching it”.

“I decided to take a chance and sell some. We put an ad in the catalogue on the adult page, along with such goodies as a spaghetti-making machine. We packaged the goop in a clear compact case and tagged it at $1.00”.

Having borrowed $147 for the venture, Mr. Hodgson ordered a batch from General Electric, hired a Yale student to separate the gob into one ounce dabs and began filling orders. At the same time he hurried to get some trademarks.

Silly Putty was an instant success, and Mr. Hodgson quickly geared up to take advantage of it…

 source

 source

 

Written by LW

August 15, 2013 at 1:01 am

Beating plowshares into swords…


Bruce Lund has cemented his place in the toy-makers’ hall of fame– he created Tickle Me Elmo and Honey: My Baby Pony.  But as Popular Mechanics reports, the Pentagon wants a piece of him too…

His company’s latest product is a nonlethal weapon for the military nicknamed the Big Hurt…  The problem with existing weapons firing rubber bullets, beanbags and other crowd-control rounds is their velocity. Anything that is effective at 50 yards may be lethal at 5 yards; anything that is safe at 5 yards won’t be fast enough to be effective at 50. Lund’s solution is a weapon that automatically measures the range to the target and varies the muzzle velocity accordingly…

Lund’s Variable Velocity Weapon System (VVWS) uses cans of methylacetylene propadiene gas, the kind that fuels blowtorches and nail guns, sold at hardware stores. “You might view the VVWS as a repurposed nail gun,” Lund says…

There is plenty of interest in future developments of the combustion technology. Lund is talking to the law enforcement community about a handgun version that will provide the sort of nonlethal stopping power currently available only from shotguns. The Department of Homeland Security officials have been talking about a combustion-powered 40-mm grenade launcher to launch sensors that can detect toxic gas or place wireless listening devices. Lund has even been looking into making gas-fired mortars. An adapted VVWS might even have sports applications for skeet or trap shooting, and could be considered a green technology since it needs no cartridge cases and uses no powder.

Read the full article here (and take heart that Lund insists that he’ll return to home base: “Nothing is more fun than making toys.”)

***

As we rummage in the garage for that old BB gun, we might recall that it was on this date in 1840 that the “Penny Black,” the first adhesive postage stamp, was issued in Great Britain.  A product of postal reforms authored by Sir Rowland Hill, the stamp embodied a number of innovations:  it was pre-payment for delivery, it was affixed to an envelope, and it covered delivery anywhere in the U.K.  Before this point, payment was on delivery (by the recipient), and was charged by the number of sheets in a letter (often carried loose) and by the distance they were carried.

Queen Victoria’s silhouette (All British stamps still bear a likeness of the monarch somewhere in their design, and are the only postage stamps in the world that refrain from naming their country of origin, relying on the monarch’s image to symbolize the United Kingdom.)

Your correspondent is a few too many time zones away to allow for timely posting of a new missives; so this is a note from a May Day pastregular service should resume May 6

Written by LW

May 1, 2012 at 1:01 am

Toying…

Readers will be relieved to know that their Christmas and Hanukkah revels (and their immediate aftermath) will be undisturbed by intrusions from this quarter:  with this Christmas Eve missive, your correspondent is heading into his annual holiday hiatus.  Regular service will resume on or about January 2.

Prompted by reader SS, who sent along this remarkable playtime opportunity, the Titanic with iceberg inflatable slide

source

your correspondent wandered back through the history of play– in the course of which, he found the particularly-seasonally-appropriate “The Top 50 Toys of the Last 100 Years” from Impact Lab:

click here for full infographic

As we shake our packages one last time before Christmas morning, we might recall that it was on this date in 1818 that “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht” (“Silent Night”) was composed and premiered.  The poem that provides the lyrics was written two years earlier by an Austrian priest, Father Joseph Mohr; on Christmas Eve of 1818, Mohr took the verse to Franz Xaver Gruber, asking for a melody and guitar accompaniment.  The piece was performed that evening for the first time at Nikolaus-Kirche (Church of St. Nicholas) in Oberndorf, Austria.  (The English translation by which most readers probably know the carol was done in 1859 by John Freeman Young (second Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Florida.)

click here for larger image at source

Beating plowshares into swords…

Bruce Lund has cemented his place in the toy-makers’ hall of fame– he created Tickle Me Elmo and Honey: My Baby Pony.  But as Popular Mechanics reports, the Pentagon wants a piece of him too…

His company’s latest product is a nonlethal weapon for the military nicknamed the Big Hurt…  The problem with existing weapons firing rubber bullets, beanbags and other crowd-control rounds is their velocity. Anything that is effective at 50 yards may be lethal at 5 yards; anything that is safe at 5 yards won’t be fast enough to be effective at 50. Lund’s solution is a weapon that automatically measures the range to the target and varies the muzzle velocity accordingly…

Lund’s Variable Velocity Weapon System (VVWS) uses cans of methylacetylene propadiene gas, the kind that fuels blowtorches and nail guns, sold at hardware stores. “You might view the VVWS as a repurposed nail gun,” Lund says…

There is plenty of interest in future developments of the combustion technology. Lund is talking to the law enforcement community about a handgun version that will provide the sort of nonlethal stopping power currently available only from shotguns. The Department of Homeland Security officials have been talking about a combustion-powered 40-mm grenade launcher to launch sensors that can detect toxic gas or place wireless listening devices. Lund has even been looking into making gas-fired mortars. An adapted VVWS might even have sports applications for skeet or trap shooting, and could be considered a green technology since it needs no cartridge cases and uses no powder.

Read the full article here (and take heart that Lund insists that he’ll return to home base: “Nothing is more fun than making toys.”)

As we rummage in the garage for that old BB gun, we might recall that it was on this date in 1840 that the “Penny Black,” the first adhesive postage stamp, was issued in Great Britain.  A product of postal reforms authored by Sir Rowland Hill, the stamp embodied a number of innovations:  it was pre-payment for delivery, it was affixed to an envelope, and it covered delivery anywhere in the U.K.  Before this point, payment was on delivery (by the recipient), and was charged by the number of sheets in a letter (often carried loose) and by the distance they were carried.

Queen Victoria’s silhouette (All British stamps still bear a likeness of the monarch somewhere in their design, and are the only postage stamps in the world that refrain from naming their country of origin, relying on the monarch’s image to symbolize the United Kingdom.)

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