Archive for the ‘toys’ Category

New Body Shapes for Barbie

February 16, 2016

New Body Shapes for Barbie

The multinational Mattel corporation has announced three new body shapes for its Barbie doll. Soon petite, tall, and curvy dolls will join the anatomically non viable classic Barbies scattered across the floors of girls around the globe. Given the “fashionista” variations in skin tones and hair texture, there will now be 33 types of Barbies, as varied as the young women playing with them.

But what about Hijab Barbie? And Lego just issued a minfigure in a wheelchair. Just sayin’.


Can Hackers Hijack Wi-Fi Barbie Doll to Spy On Your Kids?

December 4, 2015

Can Hackers Hijack Wi-Fi Barbie Doll to Spy On Your Kids?

The Mattel corporation has introduced the Hello Barbie ™ interactive doll that not only talks, it listens. And records your kid’s conversation with her. And connects to Wi-Fi so her recordings can be analyzed by the ToyTalk ™ voice-recognition software, and the information shared with parents or … who knows.  What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, say Matt Jakubowski of LookingGlass Cyber Solutions and Andrew Browne of Lavasoft’s malware lab. Like Wi-Fi baby monitors, the dolls can be hacked by 3rd parties, and we’re not talking about Barbie’s Princess Tea Parties here, but persons of bad intent. ToyTalk says that’s not so, that Barbie’s software cannot be hacked. Frankly, we will reserve judgement until we can ask Hello Barbie ™ about this in person.



January 6, 2012

A Steve Jobs action figure! Only $99, from InIcons. Isn’t that the coolest Steve Jobs memorial ever?

Not to the folks at Apple:

“Apple says it owns rights to Jobs’s likeness, and its letter reportedly states that it’s a criminal offense for any toy to feature Apple’s trademarks, logo, or products, as well as the appearance or name of its late co-founder.”

— “Report: Apple Goes After Latest Steve Jobs Action Figure,” Leslie Horn, PC Magazine

— “Apple ‘threatens legal action’ over Steve Jobs action doll,” Amy Willis, The Telegraph

The result of the legal threat: those InIcon action figures are fetching $135 on eBay.

In 2010, Apple stopped sales of an earlier “SJ Action Figure” that was more of an affectionate caricature. Shame, really. It was smaller, and would have looked great on the dashboard of your Prius.


Food Fight

June 1, 2010

Food Fight

In the beginning was the pea shooter. Boy-men of the late Neolithic placed dried peas in hollow reeds and propelled them by breath at wild beasts — each other. Curious kids may have tried large-bore chickpea models, but the weapon remained virtually unchanged until the Twentieth Century, when bored schoolboys constructed long-range, accurate, non-pneumatic peashooters from mechanical pencils or Bic pens and elastic bands. The Alimentary Arms Race had begun.


March 17th — St. Pratie’s Day

March 17, 2009

March 17th -- St. Pratie's Day

St. Patrick is a patron of Ireland.  March 17th, the liturgical Feast of St. Patrick, almost always occurs during the Lenten fast. Think about it.

And think about the potato (Solanum tuberosum; Gaelic “práta,” anglicized to “pratie“). Successful introduction of the New World crop bolstered the Irish countryside; the crop failures of the Potato Famine sent Irishmen to America; the Irish-American secular observance of St. Patrick’s Day was exported back to Ireland. Faith and Begorrah! And you thought “Globalization’ was new.

Read Gregory McNamee’s excellent post on the Britannica blog, and stop by the Potato Museum on your way back from the pub.


Sure, an’ all, wee Mr. Potato Head® is a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc.,  used here under the “satire” provision of the Fair Use doctrine, dontcha know.  Mr. Head is a Yank “Baby Boomer,” but clean the  paidrín up and he makes a proper little leprechaun.

Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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