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Maybe now isn’t the best time to sell an Ebola plush toy?
10.14.2014
01:50 pm

Topics:
Current Events

Tags:
toys
Ebola

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I’m not sure if this will make it on to my letter to Santa this year, it might kind of look out of place next to my requests for, you know, world peace, an end to famine and war and the Scooby-Doo DVD box set, but you never know.

The Ebola plush toy is made by GIANTmicrobes®, a company that makes… er… giant microbe toys “designed as a teaching tool to help small children learn about the importance of handwashing”

GIANTmicrobes® have been created for many other purposes. There are now over a hundred designs depicting everything from the cells of the body, to the probiotic creatures that improve health, to the philanthropic microbes that make bread and yogurt, to the aquatic amoebas and paramecium familiar to high school students, to a wide range of medical pathogens.

The Ebola plush toy (a million times the real size) costs $9.95, while a gigantic toy is $29.95 and petri dish $14.95. Ebola is described as the “T. Rex of microbes” and this toy is a “uniquely contagious gag gift” even if it does look like a giant joby.
 
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Sadly, these are all currently out of stock, but there are 150 Originals to choose from including:
 
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The Black Death (Yersinia pestis).
 
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Acidophilus (Lactobacillus acidophilus).
 
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Amoeba (Amoeba proteus).
 
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Bad Breath (Porphyromonas gingivalis).
 
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Bird Flu (Influenza A virus H5N1)
 
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Diarrhea (Campylobacter jejuni).
 
While GIANTmicrobes® have an educational point to their existence, I’m not sure what the point of the Ebola baby suit is (though it claims “to speak for itself”) other than reminding us of our privileged position in the Western world compared to all the thousands of babies, children, women and men dying from the disease in Africa. Or maybe it’s just supposed to be in bad taste?
 
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Now, wash your hands!
 
With thanks to Duke.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Racist mechanical toys of the late 19th century
08.04.2014
06:51 am

Topics:
History
Race

Tags:
toys


 
This 1882 toy catalog from The Automatic Toy Works company in New York City depicts some impressive mechanical playthings, boasting “artistic designs, strength and durability of construction and elegance of finish.” The document, now preserved by the Library of Congress, is a fascinating record of what constituted early tech toys, and among the models advertised are a drummer boy on a cart, a crawling baby and a rearing bear.

Oh, and a “heathen Chinese.”

Yes, advertised even more frequently than animals or genial human figures are grotesque racial caricatures. Even the seemingly neutral depictions—the benevolent-looking “Celebrated Negro Preacher”, for example—are followed up by a counterpart like “Brudder Gardner,” who looks downright monstrous. There is one ugly face in the catalog that could be white—the politically-charged “woman’s rights advocate,” though the cross-hatching on her face implies a less-than-porcelain complexion.

For comparison, here is a woman at a sewing machine—one who is presumably not interested in obtaining the vote.
 

 

 

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More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Toys’: Grizzly GI Joe stop-motion animation from 1966 takes a dark look at war toys
05.29.2014
07:58 am

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
toys
Grant Munro


 
Last week Donald Levine, the man who brought GI Joe to millions of little boys, died at the age of 86. A Korean War veteran, Levine introduced the first-of-its-kind action figure to the market in 1964 while working for the company that would later become Hasbro. While GI Joe was initially a runaway success, the Vietnam War soon soured much of public opinion on war toys and sales quickly took a hard hit. Production was actually halted in 1976 and it was six years before GI Joe was relaunched.

There’s little evidence to suggest that war toys encourage violence and far more to suggest that dolls socialize children. When you consider the fact that GI Joe still has the distinction of normalizing doll-play for millions of little boys, it could be argued that he is inherently transgressive, maybe even feminist. For many adults though, the idea of war toys is at least vulgar, if not insidious, and “Toys,” the 1966 short by Grant Munro, articulates those feelings with brilliant GI Joe stop motion animation.

The film begins with a nauseating cacophony of childhood cheer, as the kiddies gaze into a window display of toys. Then there’s a switch—the kids become as static as the playthings they covet and the GI Joes come to life, reenacting gory scenes of a brutal war. It’s pretty evocative stuff especially considering it’s all plastic toys staged on simple diorama sets.

It’s difficult to say whether or not the film is directly condemning war toys, but I suspect the ambiguity is purposeful and that Munro intended to inspire critical thought rather than propagandize directly. Like Levine, Munro was a Korean War veteran, and as a member of the Canadian Forces, he even received the Presidential Unit Citation for his service in the Battle of Kapyong. It’s interesting that the film came out only two years after the release of GI Joe—“Toys” was, ironically, the very first GI Joe animation, proceeding even the Saturday morning cartoons that doubled as half-hour commercials for this iconic toy. 
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Princely Toys’: Creepy toy documentary
11.19.2013
11:11 am

Topics:
Television

Tags:
documentary
toys
automatons


 
I first discovered the amazing 1976 BBC documentary Princely Toys—about the incredible antique automaton collection of a man named Jack Donovan—on an art film tracker with the description “creepy toy documentary.”

That seemed too good to pass up and I’m glad I didn’t. Princely Toys is an unexpected pleasure and, yes, it’s a little creepy (check out the animated smoking monkey doll dressed as Napoleon in the beginning or the doll hacking a woman’s bloody torso with a butcher knife) but mainly it’s just… really neat. The soundtrack is probably from a music library, but it’s a suitably weird synth-based Muzak-y sort of affair that fits perfectly with the dimly-lit footage of Donovan’s superb 19th century animated doll collection.

There’s next to no information about this doc online. After his death, much of Jack Donovan’s unique collection was apparently acquired by the York Automata Museum, and after that closed down, sold to a Japanese collector.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
First record release ever on Fisher Price record player
06.24.2013
08:32 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
vinyl
toys

Fisher Price record player
If your first record player didn’t have a picture of Big Bird on it, you ain’t punk

Vinyl will never die—that’s obvious. The sound is rich and warm and the size is perfect for cover art—a 12-inch jacket is basically a poster and EPs make lovely little accents when displayed.

My last band sold cassettes at our EP release show, even though (except for a bonus song), it was available online for free. Due to the cost-effectiveness of the medium, cassettes never really left the punk scene, and with labels like Burger Records blowing up, it wasn’t much of a novelty (not that there’s anything wrong with novelty). Our drummer (an artist), even drew the inserts, so there was an added bonus of hand-drawn art to the purchase.

And I’ve seen more experimental formats for music, like a pencil and a cassette with all of the tape unwound sold in a mason jar. The idea was to use the pencil to roll the tape back up into the casing, as part of the experience. At least three bands I know have (half-jokingly, half-serious) declared their intentions to either release 8-tracks or mini-cassettes, so I’m familiar with the use of esoteric mediums for music, even the guy who made an Edison wax cylinder out of his own ear wax. Eeww!

Ottawa band, Hilotrons, however, have outdone us all, releasing nuggets of music on plastic records that only work for an all-but forgotten children’s toy. The Fisher Price record player is actually a simple wind-up music box, and each indestructible little plastic record is a spool that triggers different notes. What you get is the creepy, tinkling tones featured in the video below.

I want to be disdainful of this (if only because that’s my habit), but like I said, there’s nothing wrong with a little novelty, and the band seems to be approaching the project like a sort of self-effacing performance art—they only made five and sold them as a special package. It’s clever, really. In a time when the purchase of a physical medium has become all but a niche hobby for vinyl enthusiasts, this sort of takes the piss out of the last dying gasp of “tangible” music and its increasingly anachronistic hardware.

Anyway, I’d rather buy one of these than a CD!
 

 
Via Noisey

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Toy collector unknowingly showcases a dildo on his TV show, hilarity ensues!
06.07.2013
01:06 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Sex

Tags:
toys
guns
Dildos
sex toys


 
“What a wonderful idea for a gun. Quite mad, but great fun.”

Yep, it sure is great fun, Mr. Hendrik Ball!

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Man outraged after receiving threatening dildo in the mail from tractor supply company

Via Gawker

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Hours of Racist, Imperialist Fun!’: Toy predator drone + snarky Amazon comments
12.31.2012
07:45 am

Topics:
U.S.A.!!!

Tags:
idiocy
toys

Drone toy
“1:97 Scale Die Cast United States Military Aircraft - US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator with Display Stand”
 
While you may remember that US unmanned drones have killed 178 children so far, these particular killing machines do present a unique opportunity for childhood desensitization to war. You can’t make land mines, Agent Orange, or Napalm into adorable little toys, can you? Of course, it would be absurd to do that, right, since Napalm and Agent Orange are banned outright, and land mines are all but banned.

At least the fine people in the Amazon comment section are giving us this sardonic, commiserative gold to chew on:

‘Hours of Racist, Imperialist Fun!’

I bought this for my son and he spent countless, blissful hours simulating massacres of weddings, funerals, and other family gatherings of brown skinned foreigners! He even realized that if he circled the drone back around on the first responders, his effective kill rate soared! Neat-o!

Educationally, this toy can’t be beat - inculcating a predilection for indiscriminate, imperialist violence against non-combatants from oppressed and marginalized communities is precisely in accordance with truly “American values!”

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

Nothing teaches your kids about the fact that they may one day be the target of an extra-judicious execution by executive order via a flying death robot from the movie Terminator, then this beautiful piece of replica toy war crimes.

I remember playing with toy bulldozers when I was a young boy thinking how cool it was to be able to destroy things with my awesome machine. God what I would give to be able to be a child my sons age these days. They can make believe destroying houses and buildings from miles away up in the sky. They don’t have to get dirty, and are more environmentally clean than those dirty diesel engines. Plus, as an added bonus, the little brown people don’t have a warning to be able to run away so you get to kill many more people while you destroy the buildings. Plus, the mindset that this instills in my son will one day, I hope, allow him to become a productive member of the ruling class.

So feel free to join in, add a comment, and exercise the only voice you have in American war culture—that of a consumer!

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Silence will fall: Doctor Who alien plush toy
09.26.2012
07:40 am

Topics:
Television

Tags:
Doctor Who
toys
Silence
Plush


 
A member of Doctor Who’s alien race “the Silence” in a plush form by Suzannah Ashley.

Via Super Punch

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Air Swimmers: Remote-controlled flying sharks and clownfish
08.11.2011
11:44 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
toys
sharks
Air Swimmers


 
Imagine the hours of fun you could have torturing your pets with this!

It looks like the Air Swimmers website is currently down due to heavy traffic.
 

 
(via High Definite)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment