If you were wondering what happens to 29-year-old men who still play with Lego, take Jeremy Bell as an example.
The partner at digital marketing company Teehan+Lax was surrounded by heavily armed tactical officers, cuffed and held against the wall of his Richmond St. W. office — until, that is, the cops found the gun he had been holding in front of the window about 90 minutes earlier was a pile of blocks.
The BrickGun Semi-Automatic gun (purchased online from BrickGun, “designers and builders of the world’s most realistic custom Lego weapon models”) arrived at Bell’s office Wednesday.
The lifetime Lego fan finished assembling his toy — complete with build-it-yourself magazine — at 5:40 p.m.
It was in one piece for about 10 minutes before it fell apart, he recalled yesterday.
But the tenant in an apartment about six metres across the way didn’t see that last part. And so the tenant called the cops.
At about 7 p.m., as Bell and some colleagues played a video game, the Emergency Task Force moved in.
“They were screaming in the hallway for me to come out,” Bell said. “When I went out there and I saw there was an officer kind of crouched down in the stairwell, it was clear what was going on.”
Archive for the ‘Toys!’ Category
Measuring a tiny eighth of an inch by quarter of an inch, this carefully crafted piece of engineering is the world’s smallest working train model.
The five-carriage train, which is 35,200 times smaller than a real train, nips around an oval route even taking in a ride through a tunnel on its three-quarter inch track.
Created by New Jersey train enthusiast David Smith, the miniscule model was built using nothing more fancy than a craft knife and a steady hand.
Four Minnesota friends fashioned a medieval catapult to fling a variety of objects — such as wheelchairs and obsolete appliances — into the sky, they said.
The men, all in their 30s, built a trebuchet — a catapult originally designed in the Middle Ages to hurl objects at castle walls — the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press reported Sunday.
The trebuchet was built by Kurt Modert, of Hugo; Roger Bacon, of White Bear Lake; Ryan Krueger, of Maple Grove; and David Proehl, of New Hope — all municipalities in Minnesota — the newspaper said.
They’re catapulting items like defective bowling balls for now but they plan eventually to launch a clothes dryer, the newspaper said.
A controversial new doll is leaving some parents wishing for the good old Cabbage Patch days. A Spanish toymaker known as Berjuan has developed a breast-feeding doll that comes with a special halter top its young “mothers” wear as they pretend to breast-feed their “babies.”
The halter top has daisies that cover the little girls’ nipples and come undone just as easily as the flaps of a nursing bra would. The doll — called Bebe Gloton, which translates as “gluttonous baby” — makes sucking noises as it “feeds.”
In Switzerland, there is a saying that every good Swiss citizen has one in his or her pocket. It is an object that is recognised all over the world, and it is globally popular.
But the Swiss army knife had humble beginnings, and, at the start, it wasn’t even red.
In the late 19th Century, the Swiss army issued its soldiers with a gun which required a special screwdriver to dismantle and clean it. At the same time, tinned food was becoming common in army rations. Swiss generals decided to issue each soldier with a standard knife. It was a life-saver for Swiss knife makers, who were, at the time, struggling to compete with cheaper German imports.
“My great-grandfather started a small business in 1884, 125 years ago,” explains Carl Elsener, head of the Swiss knife manufacturer Victorinox. “He was making knives for farmers, for in the kitchen and so on, and then he heard that the Swiss army wanted a knife for every Swiss soldier.”
Carl Elsener senior seized that opportunity with both hands, and designed a knife that the army loved. “It was a very simple thing,” explains his great-grandson. “It had a black handle, one big blade, a tin opener and a screwdriver.”
Now, to mark the 125th anniversary, that first knife is on display at an exhibition at the Forum for Swiss History, together with hundreds of other Swiss army knives. “The thing about the army knife is that it really has become a kind of global cult object,” says Pia Schubiger, curator of the museum. “Everyone seems to have one, lots of people even have collections of them, and we wanted to explore this phenomenon.”
On Saturday, April 25, the Saturn V, the rocket that sent men to the moon 40 years ago, will once again lift off from U.S. soil and soar over the Atlantic.
Only this time, it won’t be quite real. Rather, what’s going up will be the largest model rocket ever built — a one-tenth scale, 36-foot-tall, fully working replica of the Saturn V.
Its nine rocket engines will provide 8,000 pounds of thrust to lift it between 3,000 and 4,000 feet above its launching point in Price, Md.
Once it reaches its zenith, it’ll separate into three sections, each of which will parachute back to the ground.
The urge to own and operate your personal submarine has long been a nearly impossible dream. For a century, subs have found widespread use as research and military platforms, but a market for leisure craft has remained elusive. Lately these watercraft have found a niche as playthings for the wealthy: A megayacht without a submarine is like an RV without a Weber grill. Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich has a two-man sub aboard his 377-ft yacht Pelorus, while Paul Allen’s 413-ft $450 million Octopus sports a 10-passenger model. Of course, with the worldwide supply of such billionaires a bit depressed at the moment, most personal-sub makers are hoping simply to hold on until the next economic upturn. If the high-end market can survive, technology and design developments might make these vehicles available to a lower tax bracket.
Some people go fishing on their day off. Yves Rossy likes to jump out of a small plane with a pair of jet-powered wings and perform figure eights above the Swiss Alps.
Rossy, 48, made his first public flight with his self-made flying contraption in front of the world press Wednesday, after five years of training and many more years of dreaming.
“This flight was absolutely excellent,” the former fighter pilot and extreme sports enthusiast said after touching down on an airfield near the eastern shore of Lake Geneva.
It’s never fun calling dad after crashing his car – but when you’ve just wrecked his prized Ferrari you can bet you’re in for an earful.
A Melbourne man had to make that call on Saturday night after destroying the front end of his father’s Italian Stallion in a smash near Rod Laver Arena.
The front of the red sports car, which police said had been speeding, finished wrapped around a pole in the spectacular accident, which took place on Batman Avenue.
The car is an F360 Challenge Stradale, one of just 16 imported into Australia and New Zealand in 2004, with a price tag speeding past the $400,000 mark.
A Flint, Mich., college student may never have to fight for a parking space again.
That’s because he’s built his own fully operational half-size replica German World War II Panzer tank.
“I took it home, driving it around in this white-picket-fence neighborhood, and one of the neighbors called the cops on us,” Kettering University student Will Foster tells the Flint Journal. “[They] came and they just told us to head back home, but they were also laughing at it because they had never seen anything like that before.”
Foster figures his mini-weapon of doom cost about $10,000 to build, most of it on trial-and-error research. It runs on a three-cylinder diesel engine and has a 360-degree turret with a working cannon powered by an air tank that can fire golf balls and empty cans of Red Bull.
Bulgaria is to auction off World War II Panzer tanks thought to be worth millions of dollars, the country’s defence ministry said Thursday.
“People from all over the world, from America to Jordan, have declared an interest in these rare German tanks,” the deputy director of Sofia’s military history museum, Blagoy Milenov, told a press conference.
Six Panzer IV tanks will go under the hammer on March 19 “to gauge their value,” with another 41 going on the market in May, according to Emil Petrov, a defence ministry heritage official.
A Russian collector has already offered five million leva (2.5 million euros, 3.6 million dollars) to buy one such model held by the museum, Milenov has said.
Gary Gygax, one of the co-creators of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, died Tuesday morning at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, according to Stephen Chenault, CEO of Troll Lord Games.
Gygax designed the original D&D game with Dave Arneson in 1974, and went on to create the Dangerous Journeys and Lejendary Adventure RPGs, as well as a number of board games. He also wrote several fantasy novels.
“I don’t think I’ve really grokked it yet,” said Mike Mearls, the lead developer of the upcoming 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. “He was like the cool uncle that every gamer had. He shaped an entire generation of gamers.”
You have probably heard of Tickle-Me-Elmo, but what about Death-Threat-Elmo?
That’s what a Tampa-area boy now has.
James Bowman loves Elmo, and his mother thought getting him the high-tech toy, which hooks up to a computer to learn phrases and the child’s name would be a great gift.
But when Melissa Bowman changed the batteries earlier this week, Elmo began making the threat.
In the annals of the drug trade, traffickers have swallowed cocaine pellets, dissolved the powder into ceramics and flown the drug as far as Africa on flimsy planes — anything to elude detection and get a lucrative product to market. Now, the cartels seem to be increasingly going beneath the waves, relying on submarines built in clandestine jungle shipyards to move tons of cocaine.
Last year, 13 of the vessels were seized on dry land or stopped at sea by Colombian or U.S. patrol boats — more than in the previous 14 years combined, according to the Pacific fleet of the Colombian navy, which is responsible for interdiction efforts across 130,000 square miles.
It’s been dubbed the Mystery of the Missing iPhones. On Jan. 22, Apple reported that it sold 3.7 million units of its smartphones worldwide through the end of 2007. But AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone reseller and by far the largest buyer of the devices, reported that its subscribers activated fewer than 2 million units last year. The big question on the minds of Apple watchers is: Where have the other 1.7 million iPhones gone?
The uncertainty has helped sink Apple’s (AAPL) stock price to $130 a share, down 34% since the beginning of the year. That is far worse than the 13% drop for the tech-heavy Nasdaq index. Apple shares were already under pressure over concerns about how weakening consumer spending would affect the company’s shipments of iPod music players and notebook computers. Now the worries about iPhone sales have entered the mix. “In the past week the stock has fallen further because of potentially lower iPhone shipments,” says Shebly Seyrafi, an analyst at Caris & Co.. A story that recently surfaced in a Chinese newspaper claimed that Apple’s iPhone component suppliers are cutting back on production in anticipation of lower U.S. demand.
Legos — they’re not just for good kids anymore.
A book written by two former employees of the Danish plastic-brick giant is burning up the Amazon.com sales charts — and raising eyebrows on the other side of the Atlantic.
“Forbidden LEGO: Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against” was published in August by No Starch Press, a small independent publishing house based in San Francisco.
Its authors, Ulrik Pilegaard and Mike Dooley, both worked at the Lego Mindstorms robotics division before leaving to join an independent robotics firm.
“You’ll learn to create working models that LEGO would never endorse,” the book’s page on the publisher’s Web site promises. “Try your hand at a toy gun that shoots LEGO plates, a candy catapult, a high voltage LEGO vehicle, a continuous-fire ping-pong ball launcher, and other useless but incredibly fun inventions.”
South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday.
In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.
A team of scientists led by Kong Il-keun, a cloning expert at Gyeongsang National University, produced three cats possessing altered fluorescence protein (RFP) genes, the Ministry of Science and Technology said.
“It marked the first time in the world that cats with RFP genes have been cloned,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The ability to produce cloned cats with the manipulated genes is significant as it could be used for developing treatments for genetic diseases and for reproducing model (cloned) animals suffering from the same diseases as humans,” it added.
Authorities have confirmed they are investigating a viral Internet video that shows a driver in a Lamborghini who claims to be driving at 219 mph on an Arizona highway.
“This is still an ongoing investigation,” Lt. James W. Warriner, a spokesman for the Airzona Department of Public Safety, told ABC News. “We will not be commenting until the investigation is complete.”
The video, originally posted on YouTube, runs more than four minutes long and appears to be professionally produced.
In the nighttime footage, an unidentified thrill seeker in a gold Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 appears to be pushing the vehicle to within 1 mph of the its 220 mph maximum. At the tail end of the clip, an unseen man is heard claiming the achievement as a new record.
The Boeing 727 is still the jet many people imagine when they picture air travel, despite the model’s retirement from the skies a few years ago. For decades it was the most popular aircraft in service, and one enterprising person decided to take one of those thousands of grounded craft and turned it into a 24,000-pound limousine. The … uh … car is currently based in Chicago, seats up to 50 people, and is street legal thanks to underpinnings from an old Mercedes bus. And, best of all, it can be yours.
The owner has put the thing up on eBay. It has so far received 15 bids with the current price at $269,900, which includes free delivery anywhere in the world.
Some of the world’s most famous meteorites are going under the hammer at a New York auction house in what is said to be the first sale of its kind.
The pieces are drawn from collections across the world and many examples are richly coloured and intricately patterned.
Price estimates range from $1.1m (£0.53m) for a 13-kilo (29-pound) piece to pebbles worth a few hundred dollars.
Victory smells like Red Bull. Maybe it’s body spray. The hall is alive with the sound of small arms fire: popping pistols, thumping shotguns, staccato assault rifles. The crack ‘n’ whistle of sniper rounds; the sudden, terrible boom of exploding frag grenades. There are breathless ooohs! and frustrated groans and the urgent, irritating bleeps of depleting deflector shields, squawking reminders that you are absolutely, positively about to die, or worse yet, get pwned — that is, blasted and humiliated — by some 14-year-old kid wearing a Pokemon Breeders T-shirt.
This crazy giant catapult, probably built by Wile E. Coyote out of two construction cranes and ACME industrial-grade rubber bands, is designed to send a man into space with no security cables or net. As you will see in the video, after surviving the bazillion-G-force launch in one piece, he has to open a parachute to return safely to land.
A US mother-of-three has invented a sex toy that connects to a vacuum cleaner to give an orgasm in just ten seconds.
The gadget, called Vortex Vibrations, works by concentrating the air flow to create a rapid and gentle vibration, reports the Sun.
Inventor Joanne Drysdale claims it can give multiple, back-to-back orgasms lasting up to a minute a time – and it does not even touch the skin.
Motorist admits speeding at 172mph
A motorist has pleaded guilty to driving at 172mph on a rural A-road, making him the fastest speeder ever caught in Britain.
Tim Brady, 33, was caught in a random speed check on the A420 near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, driving a �98,000 3.6-litre Porsche 911 Turbo in January this year.
The current highest speed to result in a conviction is 156mph.
A hot air balloon caught fire and crashed in an RV park and campground Friday evening, injuring as many as 11 people, police and a witness said. Two other people were unaccounted for.
The cause of the accident wasn’t known. Weather conditions were clear at the time of the sunset flight. At least three 30-foot RVs caught fire, said Don Randall, a witness who lives in the RV park. No one was reported hurt in those blazes.
Witnesses said passengers screamed and jumped to the ground as the balloon’s basket caught fire. The balloon reportedly took off from a grassy field with 12 passengers.
A submarine-like vessel filled with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cocaine was seized off the Guatemalan coast, U.S. officials said.
Four suspected smugglers were operating the self-propelled, semi- submersible vessel when it was located and seized on Sunday evening by officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, the Border Patrol said in a news release Wednesday.
A giant, smiling Lego man was fished out of the sea in the Dutch resort of Zandvoort on Tuesday.
Workers at a drinks stall rescued the 2.5-meter (8-foot) tall model with a yellow head and blue torso.
“We saw something bobbing about in the sea and we decided to take it out of the water,” said a stall worker. “It was a life-sized Lego toy.”
They look like great fun, and would certainly take the sweat out of skating.
But these motorised rollerblades could cause serious injury and death, safety experts warned last night.
The Chinese-made boots are illegal across the world, but trading standards chiefs fear the UK black market is about to be flooded with them.
With a 25cc engine attached to the right boot along with a small fuel tank, they carry the wearer along at up to 20mph.
US arms and aerospace manufacturer Boeing announced on Friday that it had landed a contract to develop truck-mounted laser cannons for the US Army.
As part of the Army’s High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD) project, Boeing will produce a “rugged beam control system”, which will be mounted on a monstrous 20 tonne Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.
The HEL TD is intended to shoot down incoming enemy artillery shells, rockets, or mortar bombs. Laser systems which can actually blast stuff, as opposed to merely lighting targets up for other weapons to hit, are big and bulky items – hence the big carrying vehicle (though the HEL TD is a mere peashooter compared to Boeing’s other famous blaster-cannon programme, the jumbo-jet mounted Airborne Laser).
To some extent, everyone’s in the market for a jet pack. But since Bell Labs built the first rocket belt (the correct, if less exciting, name) in 1953, potential buyers have been stymied by two problems: Rocket belts aren’t for sale, and even prototypes run on modern-day fuel (as opposed to whatever the Jetsons use) — which means rocket belts can weigh upwards of 100 pounds, with only enough fuel to stay aloft for under a minute. Now, a pair of companies have solved one of these problems — rocket belts are for sale.
Mexican start-up Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana (TAM) offers its custom-built TAM Rocket Belt for $250,000, which includes flight and maintenance training. On a full tank of hydrogen peroxide the belt weighs 124 to 139 pounds (the bigger the pilot, the bigger the belt), and provides 30 seconds of flight. TAM’s sole competitor is Jetpack International, a Colorado-based company that sells what it calls “the world’s longest-flying jet pack.” Technically speaking, it’s true — the hydrogen-peroxide-burning Jet Pack H202 can stay in the air for 33 seconds, 3 seconds longer than TAM’s model. The H202 weighs 139 pounds, and is competitively priced at $155,000, flight classes and all.
There’s an old game in town that is creating a new class of celebrities: “speed cubers” who can solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle blindfolded, one-handed or even with their feet.
Tyson Mao, perhaps the biggest name in speed cubing, taught actor Will Smith how to solve the brightly colored cube for the film “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Shotaro Makisumi is a math prodigy so dexterous he can juggle seven balls at once. And Leyan Lo, a senior at California Institute of Technology, was featured on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
“Those three guys are among the biggest names in the business,” said Chris Hardwick, 23, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. He holds the record for speed solving the Rubik’s Revenge Cube and the Professor’s Cube, two advanced models, while blindfolded.
A convincing twin of Darth Vader stalks the beige cubicles of a Silicon Valley office, complete with ominous black mask, cape and light saber.
But this is no chintzy Halloween costume. It’s a prototype, years in the making, of a toy that incorporates brain wave-reading technology.
Behind the mask is a sensor that touches the user’s forehead and reads the brain’s electrical signals, then sends them to a wireless receiver inside the saber, which lights up when the user is concentrating. The player maintains focus by channeling thoughts on any fixed mental image, or thinking specifically about keeping the light sword on. When the mind wanders, the wand goes dark.
Cords and cables have been a reality for consumer devices since the advent of home electronics.
That reality may be changing very soon, however, as a number of companies continue to make inroads into eliminating the wires that keep our gadgets tethered to a wall — and to one another.
Powercast, a new Pennsylvania-based startup, says its solution for wireless power harvesting is not only reliable, FCC-approved, and safe, but is also ready to debut in millions of small devices by the end of 2008, according to John Shearer, Powercast’s founder and chief executive.
The technology? Radio waves, the same technology driving cellular phones and your FM dial.
Whether it’s the promise of short-range wireless technologies like ultra wideband (UWB), wireless USB, and the wireless high-definition interface (WHDI) that transmit data from one device to another, or methods for supplying those devices with power, such as induction — or now, radio frequency (RF) — the future home looks to be increasingly cordless.
It sounds crazy, and it probably is: Skydive from 15,000 feet (4,600 meters) and land safely—without a parachute—wearing a getup that resembles a flying squirrel costume (wallpaper: flying squirrel).
“It’s pretty much considered impossible,” said Maria von Egidy, a designer with Jii-Wings in Cape Town, South Africa.
Von Egidy isn’t interested in trying the stunt herself. But she aims to design the first wingsuit that will help pull it off.
This has got to be the laziest way to SCUBA dive, the Scuba-Doo (where are you!). It looks like a cross between a moped and yellow submarine and promises to give people the thrills of SCUBA diving without the inconvenience of wearing a mask and having to swim.
Flatulence — it may cause uncontrollable giggling among kids, but for the rest us, it’s no laughing matter. Now two entrepreneurs have come the rescue with a seat cushion that also silences the sound and stanches the stink of breaking wind.
The GasBGon, conceived by husband-and-wife team Jim and Sharron Huza — he’s an air-quality and filtration engineer and she studied nursing — is designed to “clear the air, not the room” according the product’s Web site.
A FORMER World War II fort in the North Sea, which was settled 40 years ago and declared a state with its own self-proclaimed royal family, is up for sale. The tiny Principality of Sealand, which began life as Roughs Tower in 1941, is a 550 sq m steel platform perched on two concrete towers 11km off the coast of Harwich, eastern England.
WHEN I FIRST MEET PLEO, the tiny dinosaur is curled up on a kitchen table, its long tail and big head pulled inward. It’s snoring quietly, emitting a strangely soothing sound, almost like the amplified purring of a guinea pig. I’m tempted to reach out and touch it – but it looks so peaceful, I can’t bring myself to disturb it. Then I realize what I’m doing: I’m worrying about waking up a robot.
It looks like something from a James Bond film. Shaped exactly like a dolphin, this boat is the latest toy for millionaire adrenaline junkies. The Seabreacher can jump 10 feet in the air and even perform acrobatic tricks. Created by two water sport fanatics, New Zealander Rob Innes, 33, and Californian Dan Piazza, the Seabreacher is made of out of fibre glass, stainless steel and aluminium and uses the discarded canopies of US fighter jets. The two-seater craft can submerge 2 ft underwater for around 20 seconds at a time creating the dolphin-like dive effect.