Lego Brick Sifter Sorts Bricks by Size

Trick your kids into tidying up with this OCD-friendly Lego brick sorter

Like every human child, I loved Lego. And like every human being ever, I hate tidying up. So the Box4Blox would have been just about the second best gift I could have received when I was small. Box4Blox is a simple sifter that sorts your lego blocks by size.

It works by grading the bricks. Of the four layers, three have holes in the bottom which only let through a certain size of brick. As you go lower, the holes get smaller, so you end up with similar-sized bricks stored together.

The best part is that you can trick your kid into tidying up. We all know children like to make noise and shake things. The Box4Blox lets them do both at the same time.

The Box4Blox holds up to 1,700 pieces, and goes for $40. A small price to pay for a tidy living room.

Box4Blox product page [Box4Blox via Chris Scott Barr]

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Crayola Trace & Draw Turns iPad Into a Sheet of Paper

Great kids’ toy or cynical attempt to keep selling pens and paper? You decide

There are a few things I know about kids. One is that they never stop screaming or wanting something. The other is that they press really, really hard on my iPad screen, which is why I no longer let them near it.

If you are a breeder, however, and can no longer endure little Johnny’s wheedling pleas to let him play with your iPad, then you might consider the Trace & Draw from Crayola and Griffin.

The toy consists of two parts. A kid-resistant polycarbonate case with stick-on screen protector form the hardware part, and a free drawing app is the software part. Little Johnny clips a sheet of tracing paper over the screen and traces whatever is on screen. There are variations on the drawing theme, with connect-the-dots games and coloring-in pages.

If this sounds to you like a way to keep selling pens and paper, despite the forward march of technology, then you’re probably right. After all, why even bother with paper and ink when you could use a stylus directly on the screen (Crayola even sells one)?

In fact, the best thing about preventing the kids from producing paper “paintings” is that you’ll never have to hang them on the front of the refrigerator, only to shrink in shame every time your singleton friends see them.

The Crayola Trace & Draw is available now, for a whopping $40, with pen and paper included. The app is free

Crayola Trace & Draw product page [Griffin. Thanks, Madison!]

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Adjustable Balance Bike for Fast-Growing Kids

The Strider ST-3 grows with your kid

Some people think that bikes are just for kids. Those people should be sterilized. But bikes are pretty great for kids, and the sooner you get them started, the sooner they’ll be riding without training wheels. Seriously. I know bike polo players whose kids were riding at three years old, which is pretty badass.

Which brings us to Strider’s new pedal-less balance bike, a two-wheeler which will carry toddlers from 18 months to three years. The ST-3 grows with your kid, with adjustable-height handlebar and saddle. Grown-up roadies will envy its 6.4-pound weight, and anyone can appreciate the polymer tires, which won’t ever go flat.

These things look like great fun, but there’s an even better way to save money. Just take the cranks and chain off a regular kids’ bike and put them back on again when little Johnny learns to balance.

The Strider ST-3 will be out for Christmas, and will cost $130. It is not yet on Strider’s site.

Strider product page [Strider via Urban Velo]

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I-Wood ‘Laptop’ With Chalkboard Screen

Awesome toy or huge disappointment? For $50, you can afford to find out the hard way

This amazing little kids’ notebook is just 2.5 cm thick (about an inch) and likely weighs in at less than even the MacBook Air. It will never get hot, the battery will never run down and the keyboard can be configured to any layout you like, from QWERTY to AZERTY to Dvorak.

You’ll never have to worry about your offspring going crazy on your credit card at the App Store, nor cringe when they stab their sticky, stubby fingers at the “screen.” The only thing you might have to replace from time to time is the “trackpad,” which has been replaced by sticks of chalk for scrawling on the blackboard screen.

The device is called the i-wood (of course) and comes from Germany by way of kids’ store Rasselfisch. You could buy it for your young child, or — even better — you could swap it into your teenager’s proper laptop case when he goes back to college. Hilarity will ensue.

I-wood product page [Rasselfisch via Gadget Review]

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Four-Way, Big-Screen Multiplayer Coming to Real Racing

Four players with their own iDevice combined into one split-screen view via AirPlay

This is pretty awesome. The already great Real Racing is about to get “Party Play.” Party Play lets up to four people play the game on their iOS device, and all four of their views can be combined in a split-screen view on your TV via AirPlay.

Party Play is the next step on from AirPlay video mirroring (also coming in the next update). Any AirPlay-capable device can be used to join in, but at least one of them has to have an A5 chip inside to do the heavy lifting. This means an iPad 2 or iPhone 4S.

Aside from making a great way for non-players in the room to follow along, and to sneakily peek at what your opponents are up to, you can also switch to a map view on the iDevice’s screen and use the big-screen view for actual playing. It’s a little like the one-player split-screen view in the original Super Mario Kart.

Party Play will be added to Real Racing in the “next major update.” Now might be a good time to get out and make some friends.

iPhone 4S: Massive Real Racing 2 update featuring Party Play [Firemint]

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Marty McFly’s Air Mag Sneaker — In Lego

Sneakers. Back to the Future. Lego. What more do you want?

You probably can’t decide which is worse: That you can’t afford a pair of Nike Mags, or that Nike finally made Marty McFly’s Back to the Future II shoes, but still couldn’t be bothered to give them self-lacing closures.

Lack of funds didn’t stop Alex Jones. He decided he had to have a Nike Mag, so he did what any self-respecting nerd would — he built one from Lego. And not only did he render the sneaker in plastic bricks, he managed to add the glowing lights of the movie original, and even to make a section of Marty’s hover-board for it to sit on.

It’s funny. It wasn’t until I saw Alex’s rendering of the board that I realized just how 1980s-looking is this view of 2015. It’s like the old fifties sci-fi movies filled with spaceships that look like quaint, retro diner-kitsch today.

Alex aka Orion Pax isn’t selling his plastic shoe, nor is he offering instructions for download. If you want one of these, you’re going to have to dig through your Lego box and work it out yourself.

NIKE MAG BTTF [Flickr via Brothers Brick]

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iPhone ‘Life of George’ Combines Real Lego With Virtual Lego

Lego’s Life of George marries a video game with real life. Sweet

Life of George is kind of like backwards Tron, only with Lego. Backwards Tron because it takes something already inside a computer and takes it out, and Lego because, well, it uses Lego.

The worst part of the game is its dull name. The best part is everything else. It works like this: The game throws up a picture of a Lego model on the iPhone’s screen, along with a ticking countdown. The player picks up the supplied bricks and copies the on-screen model as quickly as possible. He then snaps a photo of his creation (placed on a special background mat) and the game compares real life with simulation, awarding points. Check it:

Players can also make their own models and photograph them, whereupon they enter into the computer like real, forward-playing Tron.

Annoyingly, the Lego set is U.S-only, which counts out players in the home of Lego. The set will cost $30 and be in stores on October 1st, and the game is already available in the app store, for free.

Life of George product page [Lego]

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Cute Yellow Robot Dances for a Good Cause


The yellow blob-like My Keepon is a small stationary robot that reacts to touch and music. It’s been tickling audiences over the web for years, but in a month from now, you’ll be able to take home one of your own.

We got a chance to check out a final production prototype of My Keepon in real life. It’s no Wall-E or Jonny 5, but if you’re looking for a dancing companion who won’t steal the spotlight, it’s an entertaining addition to your desk or bookshelf.

My Keepon has two modes: music and touch. In music mode, it listens for a rhythm using sophisticated beat detection software. It can either detect strong beats, like hand clapping or drum hits, or listen in a different way to react to more complicated music. The “dancing” is a mix of squirming up and down, leaning side to side and rotating around his base, and the style varies depending on the music being played. You can choose which mode you want it in with one of two buttons toward the bottom of its black base.

The robot has a sensor on its head, a mic in its nose and sensors all around its belly. You can scratch its nose, bop its head, or poke it in the side or the stomach, and it’ll react with a combination of sound and movement.

“He doesn’t like being poked in his butt,” said Marek Michalowski, co-creator of the robot. When My Keepon is poked in the rear, it issues an indignant exclamation and sometimes turns around to “see” who did it.

The robot was responsive to the various stimuli Michalowski and I put it through. It sometimes had trouble finding the beat of more mellow tunes, but a quick song change fixed that (and who wants to rock out to Celine Dion anyway?). The prototype we used was responsive to pokes, prods and hugs when you squeeze both sides of its spherical body, and the little sighs and squeaks, beeps and boops, are completely giggle-inducing. If I had one of these at my desk, rest assured my productivity level would go way down (and my coworkers might hate me). Unfortunately, like many toys there is a degree of novelty to My Keepon that could get worn after a handful of uses and leave it dusty and forlorn on a bookshelf.

Though the robot is cute (and fun!), it’s also dancing for a good cause. Michalowski helped develop the $30,000 original Keepon used to study social interaction with autistic children. A portion of proceeds from the My Keepon toy go back toward putting more research Keepons in the hands of clinics working with autism.

As the consumer version of the robot won’t run you $30,000, it’s obviously a bit of a downgrade. For instance, the research version of the robot is made of silicon rubber; the consumer My Keepon is made of a similar, cheaper material able to be mass-produced. The consumer version also lacks a camera, which the research version includes for tele-operational purposes.

The My Keepon robot will be available for purchase in late October for less than $50.

RC Monster Truck, Controlled by Your Phone

When not being pushed around by your iPhone, this RC monster truck will dance for your entertainment. Photo Dexim

“Enjoy three hundred and sixty degrees of excitement, right from your hand.”

That’s the promise of the AppSpeed Monster Truck, which — apparently unlike any other RC vehicle — is controlled by a handheld remote. In this case, the remote is an iPhone running the free AppSpeed app. Plug the RF dongle into the dock connector and you can steer using any iOS device using the rather hideous interface on the app, which consists of go and left/right buttons.

Better, you can ignore the eye-insulting app altogether and steer by tilting your iDevice, whereupon your over-compensated flailings will be transmitted to the truck.

The truck itself is regular RC-toy fare: a little cab atop giant wheels, and with a quick charger box with which to inject electricity from 3 AA batteries.

There is also a multiplayer mode that gives users “the option to race their RC vehicles with friends.” This wonderful feature has only previously been possible by using one’s eyes to look at RC cars to see who won. One genuinely new (but questionably useful) feature is a mode which lets makes the truck “zigzag, spin or dance” to music. Sigh.

The truck kit is available now, for a reasonably Christmas-gift-friendly $70.

AppSpeed Monster Truck product page [Dexim. Thanks, Alyshia!]

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Lego Camper May Turn Children Into Hippies

Any still-living hippies are going to love Lego’s new VW Camper Van. Photo credit: Lego

It’s not until you actually try to build a VW Camper out of Lego that you realize it’s not as square and boxy as it seems. Still, you don’t have to worry about that, as the hard design work has been done for you. Instead, you can just drop $120 and then take care of construction when the bag of plastic bricks drops onto your front doormat.

The 1,322 piece model is a miniature version of the 1962 T1 Combi, and Lego designer John-Henry Harris has made every part of the hippy wagon as authentic as possible. An engine is squeezed into the back, the top pops open (with a custom fabric skirt never before seen in Lego), and inside you’ll find plaid curtains, a sink, a fold-down table and even a lava-lamp.

In fact, the clever, in-joke details are continue. Check the (non-embeddable) video to see Harris explaining all his little touches, along with just how he managed to squeeze in surfing and peacenik references.

This is probably my favorite Lego model in a long time, and will arrive in October, just in time for Christmas. In fact, if you know me, and are somehow reading this after October 1st, then put down you computer and go buy me one. Otherwise you might as well just go an find a new friend.

Make LEGO models, not war with a LEGO Exclusive VW Camper [Lego via Werd]

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