From A Scent Far, Far Away

New Star Wars Perfumes Finally Tell Us What Jedi Are Meant to Smell Like

Peppercorns, patchouli, and oranges, apparently.

Yes, Star Wars merchandising truly knows no bound, and after The Force Awakens took over women’s cosmetics at Covergirl last year, not even the makeup counter is free from getting in on the galaxy far, far, away. Case in point? A new line of perfume in Europe that comes in Jedi, Empire, and… Queen Amidala fragrances, complete with Lightsaber-inspired bottles.


So, how do you bottle up religious cults, horrifying dictatorships, and an elected monarch into smells? According to German-based perfumery Lifestyle Perfumes, it involves a large quantity of citrus fruits, which feature in all three of the themed fragrances. I’m sure there’s a Wookiepedia entry somewhere that explains why the citizens of the galaxy were so into citrus. Here’s the breakdowns for the Jedi and Sith perfumes:

Untitled-2 Untitled-1


Sadly no specifics on Amidala, just a picture that features oranges, chocolates, and vanilla, and presumably not the smell of whatever those big bulbous space cows she and Anakin were rolling around with on Naboo were called in Attack of the Clones. If you like Star Wars, smelling nice, and are European, these are available now.

James is a staff writer for io9. He reads comics so you don’t have to—but sometimes you should anyway!
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Check This, Mate!

This Giant Chessboard Is Made Of Refugees And Migrants’ Life Jackets

“It’s a metaphor for the human struggle for survival, for better life and prosperous future.”

06/09/2016 06:31 pm ET
  • Elyse Wanshel Associate Editor, Good News, Reposted from: The Huffington Post

Maria Chatziantoniou/University of the Aegean
The colossal chess board.

Talk about being strategic.

Students, staff and volunteers at University of the Aegean on the Greek island of Lesbos have taken the boats and life jackets left on beaches by migrants and refugees and have turned them into a giant chessboard.

Maria Chatziantoniou/University of the Aegean

“It’s a metaphor for the human struggle for survival, for a better life and prosperous future,” Maria Chatziantoniou, who teaches in the environmental department at University of the Aegean, told The Huffington Post.

The Greek island is a common stop for people fleeing war in the Middle East. In fact, the island saw almost 450,000 refugees pass through during 2015 alone, the Guardian reports. People usually travel to the Greek island by boat, rest there for a time and then head deeper into Western Europe in search of a new life.

When people leave their homes for these long trips overseas, they bring very few possessions with them, many of which get lost while en route. When they arrive at Lesbos, they are often forced to leave their sea gear behind before making their way to other countries on foot. As a result, their discarded items like life jackets and inflatable boats flood the beaches.

Maria Chatziantoniou/University of the Aegean
Students, staff and volunteers take the foam out of discarded life jackets.

The outdoor installation, dubbed “The Global Chess Board” and located on the university’s campus, was initially conceived by Fereniki Tsamparli, an artist and member of University of Aegean. It also includes the usage of discarded academic papers that act as a “fusion” between the students and the refugees and migrants.

Maria Chatziantoniou/University of the Aegean
The shaping of the pieces.

The chess pieces, which are roughly 4 feet tall, were shaped using the foamy interior of refugee life jackets and then were covered with pulp from the discarded paper. The board consists of plastic material derived from the boats and are covered by paper pulp as well.

Maria Chatziantoniou/University of the Aegean
The pieces covered in paper.

The colossal chessboard is available for anyone to use and the pieces are meant to reflect the thousands of people who have landed on the costs of the Greek islands looking for safety, peace and better future.

Maria Chatziantoniou/University of the Aegean

Yet, Chatziantoniou has another layer of symbolism she wants people to take away from the piece as well, telling HuffPost:

“That we can play by our own rules as long as basic human rights and the environment are respected.”

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Guys and Dolls

Mom’s Awesome Toy Line Proves Boys Can Play With Dolls, Too

“Why can’t a superhero, builder or dino explorer also be a nurturer?

Taylor Pittman Voices Staff Writer, Reposted from: The Huffington Post

When Laurel Wider’s son came home from preschool and told her that “boys aren’t supposed to cry,” she decided to tackle gender stereotypes through something that kids adore and appreciate: toys.The mom from Northampton, Massachusetts, is the creator of Wonder Crew, a line of dolls that aims to empower kids, especially boys who may be told by society that dolls are reserved for girls.

Wonder Crew is a line of dolls that aims to end the idea that boys can’t play with dolls.

Wider told The Huffington Post that she became inspired by the moment she learned about the gender stereotypes her son had encountered, specifically the idea that boys shouldn’t cry.

“I was shocked; he’d been raised in a household and community that was very pro-feelings — I’m a therapist after all!” she said. “But I soon realized that, of course, these messages and pressures about what it means to be a boy or a man exist everywhere. Of course my son would be affected, too.”

Wider interviewed 150 kids, parents, educators, psychologists and experts in the toy industry to learn more about how playtime impacts kids and discovered what they can learn from playing with dolls.

“I learned that doll play teaches a wealth of social and emotional skills,” she said. “Boys are interested in playing with dolls, yet for many parents and some boys there’s a stigma attached to this type of play and the word ‘doll’ itself is a barrier.”

And so Wonder Crew was born. Wider describes the “crewmates” as having a combination of “the adventure of an action figure with the emotional connection of a favorite stuffed animal.” The company completed a successful Kickstarter campaign in April 2015 and now has dolls and accompanying outfits available for order and pre-order in its online store.

Wonder Crew

“Why can’t a superhero, builder or dino explorer also be a nurturer?” asks Laurel Wider, creator of Wonder Crew.

Wider told HuffPost the 150 interviews she conducted earlier helped determine the clothes for the dolls, which include a chef’s uniform and a builder’s outfit.

“We learned about the most popular preschool pretend-play scenarios and then combined those with opportunities to nurture,” she said. “Why can’t a superhero, builder or dino explorer also be a nurturer?”

Though Wider became inspired to make the dolls because of boys, she clarified that all kids are encouraged to play with them. She mentioned plans for adding to the Wonder Crew line to create a diverse set of dolls that will include “female crewmates.”

Wider isn’t stopping at dolls though. She told HuffPost a Wonder Crew TV show is in the works to help spread an important message for kids.

“Our mission is to empower all kids to see themselves as connected, creative, strong individuals with the ability to go anywhere, be anything,” she said. “And we are doing just that!”

See the Wonder Crew site for more information.

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Board Games Win On Kickstarter

Old-fashioned board games, not tech, are attracting the most money on Kickstarter

Kickstarter has become less about Oculus Rift and more about Cards Against Humanity. The “games” category on the crowd-funding platform has attracted $495 million since Kickstarter’s inception in 2009, making it the richest segment of the site. The runners up are technology and design.

The games category on Kickstarter does include video games, but these account for a minority of the amount pledged. In 2015, video games attracted about a quarter of all pledges in the category. It’s also worth noting that pledges don’t equate to actual money changing hands for projects, since some efforts never get off the ground. In 2015, there was a gap of about $10 million between the pledged amount for games and the amount that was deployed to successfully funded projects.

The rise of boardgames on Kickstarter coincides with a boom in tabletop gaming generally. The size of the board game market has risen for seven consecutive years to become a billion dollar industry, according to estimates by market research firm ICv2.

Milton Griepp, who runs ICv2, says tabletop games have surged as players have grown jaded with the digital screens they toil over during the work day. “When they get home, they may be less interested in an online game and more interested in face-to-face interaction,” he says. “There’s an underlying change in leisure-time activities driving that.

Kickstarter is helping to drive the board game boom. The amount of money pledged last year, for example, represents almost a fifth of the total hobby games market by retail sales in North America, according to Griepp’s estimates, which currently don’t include Kickstarter projects. In other categories, like technology, the amounts raised on Kickstarter are tiny compared to the size of the market. “For board games, there was a big need for [Kickstarter],” says Thomas Bidaux, who runs video-game market research firm ICO Partners. “The industry was kind of dying.”

Games funded on Kickstarter tend to be for the sophisticated player. Cards Against Humanity, the “party game for horrible people,” got its start by raising $15,000 in 2011. A few days ago, the complex strategy game Dark Souls (itself an adaptation of a hit video-game) raised £3.7 million ($5.4 million). One veteran of the board game scene, Adrien Martinot of the game-maker Days of Wonder, likens the platform to an edgy film festival: “While regular game companies are like Hollywood, you could call Kickstarter the Sundance of board games.”

Board games may be especially well-suited to crowdfunding. Unlike digital gadgets with disastrously complex supply chains, or video-games with unpredictable development schedules, board games have well-defined components and costs. When game-makers pitch the crowd on Kickstarter, they can lay out exactly how the game works. They just need the money to pay for the tokens, boards, and boxes. “You’re funding the production of the game, not the conception,” says Bidaux.

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Just Another Brick in the Wall

German Artist Jan Vormann Uses Lego to Put Colorful Twist on Urban Design

MAINZ, Germany — An artist is repairing buildings and structures around the world, but he’s using colorful Legos instead of traditional bricks and mortar.

Jan Vormann, a 33-year-old sculptor from Berlin, has invested about six years traveling the planet to fix crumbling walls and buildings with multi-colored plastic toy blocks.

Image: A wall in Valparaiso, Chile
Plastic toy blocks on a painted wall in Valparaiso, Chile. Jan Vormann / dispatchwork

And now the colorful project, called Dispatchwork, has turned into a globe-spanning, voluntary design challenge.

“Dozens of organizations, foundations and strangers have already sent me photos of their repairs, which now have become a wider part of the art installation,” said Vormann, who publishes the images in an interactive map that he wants to turn into a user-run platform.

Vormann carefully chooses the objects for his “repairs,” before embarking on a creative journey.

Image: Dispatchwork art project in Tel Aviv
A Dispatchwork art project in Tel Aviv, Israel, which was done in collaboration with Darom Gallery and the Goethe Institute Tel Aviv. Jan Vormann / dispatchwork

To date, he has visited nearly 40 cities in Europe, Central America, Asia and the United States. He can use up to 20 pounds of plastic toy bricks on a project.

Many of the locations that he has visited have a historical background or a political meaning. “One idea is to juxtapose the dark history of the architecture with colorful modern elements,” Vormann told NBC News.

But Vormann is not only motivated by an “art project with a link to architecture,” he said — often times it is the interaction with bystanders.

“People go crazy and want interviews on the street with me,” he said. During an installation in Israel, children in the Jaffa district “swirled around” the group of artists, and “kept asking us when they finally can take the toys home.”

Image: Art installation on an old wall in Bocchignano, Italy
Art installation with colorful plastic bricks on an old wall in Bocchignano, Italy. The project was part of the contemporary art festival 20 Eventi in the region of Sabina, north of Rome, with friendly support of the Goethe Institute Rome. Jan Vormann / dispatchwork

Vormann also wants to “be part of the public sphere” and to “embrace the city.” And many of his contemporary art designs are an expression of “transience.” One of his most recent works included soap bubbles.

And sometimes, he said, reactions to the installations are unexpected.

In some places, officials have interpreted Vormann’s “patchwork” as a plea for permanent repairs, according to Vormann.

“Suddenly, a few days later, my colorful toy stones were gone and the object was renovated,” he said.

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Toys in Space

#Findsam: UK kids launch search for plush dog sent to space

Fri April 8, 2016

A GoPro attached to Sam the space dog's balloon sent home documentation of Sam's flight.

  • Sam the stuffed toy dog makes his way to the edge of space
  • Gear sent up with him is found, but Sam is missing

(CNN)“Have you seen this dog Sam?” “It was last seen flying across Lancashire,” reads a missing dog poster showing a white cuddly toy puppy named Sam taking a selfie against a spectacular view of Earth. People in Lancashire, northwest England, are anxiously awaiting his return.

Sam is not an ordinary stuffed dog. He was enlisted as an astronaut by children at Morecambe Bay Primary School for a science project. Launched attached to a helium balloon, with tracking equipment and documented by GoPro cameras, he was the first toy-dog astronaut sent on a mission to reach the edge of space. But after his mission, Sam was nowhere to be found.”All the children are obviously upset, and my two daughters really want him to be found,” said Emma Lotty Connolley, whose daughters attend Morecambe Bay Primary School.

Sam launches from Morecambe Bay Primary School.

To help find Sam, Connolley started a Facebook page to spread the word. After less than 12 hours, the group had been joined by more than 900 people and the hashtag #findsam went wild on social media.According to flight data, Sam rose at a rate of 20 feet (6 meters) per second, and reached an altitude of over 15 miles (25 kilometers) above the Earth before the balloon popped. Sam has not been seen since, although his equipment was recovered.

The program teaches astronomy and physics.

The program teaches astronomy and physics.
The space project, in which the school partnered with the Midland Hotel and, is meant to help children in Morecambe learn astronomy and physics. To support the campaign, the hotel announced on its website that whoever finds Sam will be treated to a free stay. Ben Berry, representative of English Lakes Hotels, told the local Lancashire Telegraph: “This has been an exciting science project for the children. It has put them in charge of their very own edge-of-space mission, and we were more than happy to give Sam the dog the chance to follow in Tim Peake’s recent footsteps.”
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The Fun Inside

Artist Dissects Toys to Reveal Their Skeletons and Guts

My bet is that you have never once asked yourself, “Hey, what does Mickey Mouse look like on the inside? You know, where his guts and everything are?” However, after you see the big-eared mouse’s anatomical make up it is going to be hard not to picture it all the time, like you’ve been cursed with some very specific X-ray vision you didn’t ask for.

Mickey-Mouse-DissectedIn fact, when you see the pretty amazing and one-of-a-kind work of this artist, you’re going to probably start imagining what all of your toys look like under their skin.

These figures are the work of Jason Freeney of Moist Production, who says his “unique” visual style is “influenced by artists such as Robert Williams, MC Escher, Claes Oldenburg, and Andy Warhol.” (And also, we’d imagine, whoever created the Inside-Out Boy character from Nickelodeon in the early ’90s.)

Freeney performs his “dissections” by carving out one half of a figure to reveal its skeleton and organs. While there may be something slightly unsettling about seeing toys the way your high school biology teacher may have imagined them, they are unquestionably cool and the work of a very talented artist.

He-Man-dissectedWe have a couple more pictures of his pieces in our gallery below. You can check out even more of Jason’s work, including his non-dissection art, at his website and Facebook pages. You can also purchase pieces of his work for your own collection.

Which fictional character would you like to see him dissect next?

HT: rocketnews24
Images: Jason Freeney
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Nutty Toys

Toy inventor creates mind-blowing pop culture portraits using peanuts.

Reposted from Facebook/BuzzFeed:

Toy inventor Steve Casino sifts through hundreds of peanuts until he finds the perfect nut. Why, you ask? To create unique, one-of-a-kind designer toys. Toys…out of a peanut, you ask? Sure. Why not!

Steve has created nearly one hundred 4 inch tall characters so far. The most intricate designs can take up to 20 hours to create.

Steve’s grandfather grew peanuts so it became a natural, albeit nutty, application for his art.

See some of Steve’s amazing creations below…

Peanut painter peanutsPeanut painter fallon

Peanut painter 2 guys

Peanut painter kung fuPeanut painter einstein

Peanut painter collection


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Topsy Turvy Toesies

Here are some pretty fancy shoes for your next tea party…

These Alice in Wonderland Costume Shoes Use Alice Figurines as the Heels

Published: Mar 3, 2016 • Reposted from Trend Hunter

314997_1_800Paying tribute to the themes and aesthetic of the magical world of Wonderland are these costume shoes by Irregular Choice. The heels opt for a surrealist design and collage of various patterns, prints and fabrics to create a design that perfectly captures the topsy turvy nature of Wonderland and the characters that live there.

The heels are an amalgamation of a variety of Victorian styles and themes paired together in a haphazardly manner. Prints of ornate blue flowers are paired with metallic gold trim, blue velvet, bows and stills from the Disney film version. Elements of the film are also found in the embroidered flowers along the right side of the shoes that are based off of the singing flowers in the garden. The heels are also creatively made out of a figurine of Alice.

314997_2_800 314997_3_800

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Is “Created by….” Coming to a Toy Store Near You?

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Credit where it’s due

Billy Langsworthy By Billy Langsworthy

Reposted from: /
February 4th 2016 at 12:30PM
UPDATED February 5th 2016 at 12:14PM

EDITOR'S COMMENT: Credit where it's due

Billy Langsworthy takes a look at why toy and game inventors don’t get the same limelight as movie directors, pop stars and other creators of mass entertainment.

I saw The Hateful 8 the other night, and as ‘The 8th Film by Quentin Tarantino’ appeared on screen, it got me thinking about how we credit creators in our industry.

Toys and games, along with video games, seem to be the a medium that isn’t too fussy about putting its creators front and centre.

On the toy side of things, I can understand it. The main audience for most toys is young kids and I can’t imagine many little ones sat through Inside Out waiting to see the ‘directed by’ credit. It also explains why most kids films don’t bother sticking a ‘directed by’ credit in its opening sequence, typical example below:


I had a chat with our columnist Richard Heayes on this and he made the point that toys are also closely alligned to consumer goods and in the same way that you don’t look at most things on your desk and ask ‘who designed that?’, that same is true of most people with toys.

On the game front, things are slightly different.

A game like Jenga is just as much embedded in the cultural lexicon as a movie like Pulp Fiction or an album like Abbey Road or even one hit wonders. Everyone knows who directed Pulp Fiction and who recorded Abbey Road and even who Chesney Hawkes is, but I’m not sure many outside of our industry knows the name Leslie Scott, or Charles Darrow, or Rena Nathanson.

There are sensible reasons for this of course. At the likes of the biggest firms, there’s often such a process of collaboration and teamwork on titles that any form of official credit just wouldn’t work. There’s also the issue of a firm’s designer being poached if they were splashed all over a hit game and, perhaps the major reason, there’s no real reason for firms to list designers when most toys and games are sold under the popularity of major brand names.

The truth is that putting a game’s creator on the box won’t do much to shift sales, especially if they’re an unknown name to the public.

However, the situation does change when you get to Eurogames and deeper strategy games.

Pandemic, Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride all list their creator’s on the box, and sometimes even the title’s artist, and it makes sense. The games are closer aligned to literature in detail and the audience for these sorts of games are passionate fans who, and I’m generalising here, are more invested in these titles than casual gamers are for something like Hungry Hungry Hippos.

As the listings on BoardGameGeek can testify, Knowing a bit about the behind the scenes of these games are all part of parcel of the process in the same way that a Tarantino fan might engage with the extras on a Reservoir Dogs Blu-ray.

But should the same ethos apply to more casual titles, a space brimming with indie talent.

Look at Schmovie, a great game made by the Brooklyn-based duo of Sara Farber and Bryan Wilson. While their company name, Galactic Sneeze, makes an appearance in the top right hand corner of the box, you have to travel to the murky depths of the ‘choking hazard’ panel to find a credit for them. The same is true of Stephen Wilson’s first foray into the game space with the wonderfully titled Go F**k Your-Self.

There are exceptions. Office favourite In a Bind carries ‘by Bez’ on the cover of its box, along with a self portrait of the man himself.

In our experience, toy and game inventors have just as much personality as the Quentin Tarantino’s of this world, but with noticably less ego. And that’s perhaps another key reason. While the worlds of music, film and TV are brimming with talent well versed in blowing their own trumpets, the toy and game inventor community seems to be a far more humble beast.

And while these mediums rely on star power to bring in the crowds, in our business, it’s gameplay and play value, rather than ‘starring Brad Pitt’, that draws the crowds.

Still, as champions of this community, we can’t help but hold a candle for the day when a title comes out with ‘The 8th Game By Bez’ on the box.

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Lego Iowa

Lego Iowa – Tracking the Iowa caucus results, brick by brick

As of 8:49 p.m. CT


After a year of campaigning, it’s finally time for the first votes to be cast in the 2016 primary season. And that means it’s finally time for the first results to be recorded … in Lego bricks.

Both Democrats and Republicans are making their preferences known in the Iowa caucuses on Monday night, and we’ll be tracking the outcome here on two #LegoIowa maps. Stay with our live coverage as the results come in.

Note: Bricks are added to the map only after 50% of the precincts in a county report results.


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Periodic Table Battleship

Mom Puts an Educational Twist on “Battleship” to Help Kids Learn the Periodic Table

Board games and the Periodic Table seem like unlikely partners in learning, but as writer and mom Karyn Tripp has shown, the two can have more in common than you might think. Tripp, the creator of homeschooling education site Teach Beside Me, paired Battleship with the table of chemical elements. Using the basic format of the classic game, she has turned it into a fun teaching tool that anyone can play.Teach Beside Me features simple instructions for making your own Periodic Table Battleship. To start, print out four copies of the table, laminate them, and secure them to folders with jumbo-sized paper clips. Position two of the Periodic Tables standing upright and lay the others down, with each row labeled alphabetically. Grab some erasable markers and you’re ready to play.The game follows the basic rules of conventional Battleship. Establish your “battleships” by circling rows of two, three, four, or five elements on the lower table. Afterwards, begin calling out coordinates—mark any misses with an “X” and hits with a circle. To learn more about Tripp’s game, check out the post on her website.

Karyn Tripp: Website | Facebook | Pinterest

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