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This week:
Clothespin Toys: IQlip = Descendant of Basamingar? Power Mac G3-style iPod Nano Cover, Scopedog Mecha, Original Gakken Bird Organ Compositions, Dorkbot Tokyo, The Effects of LED Eyes, Japanese Middle-Aged Men Fuel The Plastic Model Revival?

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Clothespin Toys: IQlip = Descendant of Basamingar?
Undoubtedly inspired by clothespins, Kokuyo’s IQlip building blocks deviate from the traditional stacking of pieces from top to bottom. These clamping pieces clip to each other in a diagonal pattern, and the pieces don’t just stay in place, but rotate and make a clicking noise as they are adjusted. Taking hints from the popular LEGO brand, IQlip are also available as theme sets, although I don’t think we’ll be seeing any Hollywood tie-ins anytime soon. In researching this product, Gizmodo Japan did me the huge favor of noting that this closthespin-like toy is quite likely inspired by previous forays into clothespin crafts. Namely, the mid 90’s clothespin tour-de-force Basamingar, a fierce action hero who is brought to life through the magic of Photoshop and serialized web fiction. All I can really say about that is wow. Wow. Truly a mid-90’s web gem. Behold:
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Clothespin warrior, wounded on the streets:

Could this be a female clothespin warrior?

Clothespin warriors fight each other on the streets:


Power Mac G3-style iPod Nano Cover
Designed to look like the old Power Mac G3s and G4s, MacMod Labs’ latest project is an iPod Nano cover that looks a little bit less like plastic on a white sofa than other iPod covers. Although the model shown above is done in ABS, MacMod’s final product will be made of aluminum and dry carbon. This iPod case is especially dear to me because I still rock a G3 desktop as a recording computer at home, and I honestly don’t see myself retiring it any time soon. Long live the G3, and the mods that make modern iPods resemble it.


Scopedog Mecha
Amazing work from metal artist Kogoro Kurata:

As part of its 150th anniversary celebration, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation got ironsmithing genius Kogoro Kurata to display his insane 1:1 scale model of the Scopedog mecha from the 80s anime series VOTOMS. Weighing in at two tons and standing a full four meters tall, it dwarfed everything else at the exhibition. The cast iron structure was actually finished in 2005 and has been on display before at other Japanese conventions, but it still thrills every time it rears its mechanical head.

In an interview with PingMag, Kogoro said that he built the entire structure out of iron mainly to prove that it was possible. The project ended up taking a year, because he broke a bone while working on it.

[via]


Original Gakken Bird Organ Compositions
Everyone’s favorite Japanese tech mook Otona no Kagaku has featured a “bird organ” that comes with issue #20, and in addition to the pre-punched song card that comes with the organ, the clever Gakken readers have taken some serious initiative in punching their own songs onto the song cards in piano-roll-like fashion:

The organ is called the “bird organ” because of the chirp-like sound that it makes, and as you may be able to see in the video above, the user has even attached his own bird to the organ as decoration:

Another original song card, I dig this arrangement:

Gakken, in case you haven’t noticed all your state-side fanboys, the time to consider doing an English-language version of Otona no Kagaku might very well be now. よろしくお願いします。



Dorkbot Tokyo
Tokyo was abuzz with Dorkbot Tokyo, which took place on Saturday, the 26th. Although there will still be plenty of info on this trickling throughout the week, here’s a list of a few of the participants to get you excited:
High Engery Technology Lab (pictured above), Punsuka, Make: Japan, MechaRoboShop, b-lab, The Breadboard Band, YukaRitty, Engadget Japanese, The-menz, Audible Realities, zeni, Tosa Nobumichi of Maywa Denki, and AGEZERO.
With guests like that, I’m sure there wasn’t a dull moment. Japanese bloggers, bring on the coverage!


The Effects of LED Eyes
The folks at DPZ never let up on their probes into the bizarre and crafty extremes of life, this time with a bold look into the effects of endowing various toys, creatures, and people with LED eyes.
From cute to creepy in only 5 volts:





Japanese Middle-Aged Men Fuel The Plastic Model Revival?
Japan Probe brings us this video clip of a news article covering the persistent popularity of plastic models among the males who enjoyed them as youngsters. The video features Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba waxing poetic about realizing his dreams through plastic models (must have worked, look at him now!):

Fifty years have passed since Japanese companies started selling plastic model kits, and Fuji TV has reported on how middle aged men looking to relive their childhood hobby have caused a small boom in the industry:

The report begins with Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba describing his love for plastic models. Ishiba started making plastic models when he was in elementary school, and he has continued his hobby without shame for 45 years of his life. He claims that his hobby allows him to memorize the weapons systems used by many countries, knowledge that is apparently very important for individuals in charge of national defense. Plastic models can be found in his office, and a few unfinished models sit in boxes on his shelf. (Unfortunately, he’ll have to complete them somewhere else, since he lost his position in yesterday’s cabinet reshuffling.)

The next part of clip is about the Tamiya PlaModel Factory, a special shop that recently opened in Yokohama. The shop caters to middle aged men who seek a special work space in which to create plastic models without angering their wives. The PlaModel Factory provides tools, airbrushes, and a special photography area.

The report interviews Kunihiko Hisa, a cartoonist and plastic model hobbyist. Hisa’s house is littered with plastic models, and another building he owns is completely filled with them. His wife has pretty much given up on stopping his hobby.

[via Japan Probe]


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