Parrot’s AR.Drone at CES

January 11th, 2010

Heading between halls, I stopped by the Parrot tent to see the AR.Drone, their iPhone-piloted quadricopter that’s been building buzz all through CES.

Flying the copter is really easy — you’ll hear the demoer (a member of the drone’s dev team) explain the controls in the video below — and while I didn’t get to try any of the augmented reality games, the piloting app and craft’s movements were fluid and responsive.

I do wish they’d had two drones up and running to allow folks to duel, as I wonder how difficult it’s going to be for players to maintain the drone’s orientation while flying aggressively and constantly looking up and down from the craft (and opposing drones) to the iPhone.

Inquired about gaining a seat in Parrot’s dev program, as the AR.Drone would be a blast to design for, but not sure if we’d want to throw down the $1200 entry fee for an entirely unproven device just yet.

Still, as long as Parrot can price the AR.Drone reasonably for retail, this thing is gonna be a hit.

Highlights from Christmas 1977.

November 3rd, 2009

KLOV forum member Empire found a Montgomery Wards catalog from 1977, and has been uploading scans of the choice bits.

Video Games:

The newest development in full-color electronic TV games!
1977 was the tail-end of the dedicated console era, and most of these didn’t have long to live. By the time kids got down to circling their favorite items in the catalog, the Atari VCS would have already been released.
Telstar Galaxy
Bally Arcade
APF 4-player gun game
Telstar Combat

Toys:
Shogun Warriors
1977 was also just prior to the three and three-fourths inch action figure explosion, started by Takara (in response to higher plastic costs due to the oil crisis), and dominated by Kenner’s Star Wars line.
Superheroes and Space:1999
You just dumb, son. You just dumb.
Redd Foxx

Housewares:

Beer can collections must’ve been a back East thing.
Show-off Beer Can Rack

Hm. Guess that’s pretty accurate for a 1977 fridge, except I don’t see any cigarette cartons in the freezer.
Meat
More meat

GI Joe stories

August 27th, 2009

For us kids, GI Joes were a starting point.

We’d take our Joes apart (usually one screw in the back and an O-ring connecting the torso to the legs) and lay out the pieces in groups: left arms, right arms, legs, torsos and heads. Two separate piles for heads and torsos, actually. Nodding GI Joes were segregated from the older figures that could only look side to side, as heads from one series wouldn’t fit onto torsos from the other.

After pondering the piles, the next step was the parts draft. This alone could kill an afternoon. You choose a head, I choose a head, you choose a torso, I choose a torso…

Next came assembly, devising new Joes based on the lots before us. A handful of favorites, a pack of unexceptional mundanes, and always a few unfortunates, 4th stringers unlucky enough to be left with garish combinations from the leftovers.

We’d spend the rest of the day writing up stats and drawing pictures of our invented heroes, cutting up cardboard and imitating the design of the backing boards that official G.I.Joes were pressed against. We’d develop backstories: who they were, their specialties, what role they played in the organization, things like that. Then we’d unscrew the torsos, pull apart the bodies and start all over again.

Blind rivets were swords, although sometimes they would stretch a Joe’s thumb far enough from the rest of the hand that regular accessories could no longer be held.

Lengths of string with bent nails tied to an end were grappling hooks.

Cut out a large square of plastic from a gallon storage bag, punch holes in the corners, and tie equal lengths of string from the figure to each. Parachutes were easy enough to fashion — getting to them actually deploy on descent after being thrown off the roof was the hard part.

One time while exploring the desert behind our cul de sac for fort locations, we came across a construction site where sewers were being installed to facilitate the housing developments soon to follow, the same spot where my friend’s brother would later kill himself. Behind a backhoe, a wide sheet of plywood covered an enormous hole that must have extended a mile into the earth’s surface. It begged to be explored. Shipwreck, almost useless as far as body parts went, drew the short straw. Fastening the grappling hook onto his hand, we unspooled the string and began to lower him into the depth, sitting cautiously away from the edge lest we follow. And then the line went slack.

How long does it take for a G.I. Joe to decompose? I wonder if he’s still down there, resting underneath the asphalt or the foundation of a house or whatever else has been built since then, cars passing overhead, listening to the rumbles of the sewer and the whispering of families above.

Now you can own the World’s Largest Lite-Brite.

October 17th, 2008

Just stumbled across this while digging around on ebay:

World’s Largest Lite-Brite -DaVinci’s “The Last Supper”

The pegged image itself measures approximately 4’9″ tall by 9’9″ wide and is comprised of exactly 124,418 brand new, original Lite-Brite pegs. After running out of clear/white pegs from my initial bulk peg order from Hasbro, I had to buy out the entire Lite-Brite stock of every Toys-R-Us, Wal*Mart, and Target in a 15 mile radius several times over just to replenish the shortage of pegs in that color.

An actual Lite-Brite toy has a black background which utilizes blank spaces as “black”, but does not have actual black pegs. For artistic and Guinness certification purposes, I was unable to leave blank spaces. What to do? Unused pegs were painted black with several layers of a special glossy paint made specifically for plastics. The result is a strong-bonded paint that doesn’t chip or flake in the slightest.

The pegs are fixed to the “canvas” with 8 layers of glue. Not just any glue, but non-fogging cyano-acrylate (the most expensive and hard-to-find of the super glues). This non-fogging glue was chosen for its unequaled bonding strength and the fact that it wouldn’t discolor the pegs, inhibiting light transmission.

Buy it now for $5000.

link love 06-18-08

June 18th, 2008

More on the subject of comic books, read the tales of the Mile High Collection and its sordid sequel, two of the largest finds in the history of comic book dealers and collectors.

This weekend is another free Team Fortress 2 weekend on Steam. Looking forward to seeing how the PC version plays compared to the 360.
Also, Meet the Sniper. [via game|life]

New mega64 videos! Marcus’ Corner episode five, and uh, Assassin’s Creed.

Hot Toys is preparing to release 1/6 Dutch & Billy figures.

And as they say, the future of gaming is user generated content.