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Pausing to remember...Beanie Babies

Ah, Beanie Babies. Back in their heyday, my little sister took to collecting them with disturbing zeal. Suddenly, there was commercial interest not just from her Nerds Rope-addled matrix of grade school associates, but from adult neighbors with disposable cash and a house flipping gene. There were times I'd enter her room just to observe their impeccably organized assemblage...I stared at them and they stared back. Of course, those were the times my sister would rush in with three new strains of the Beans w/accompanying poems, always glaring at me lest I dared to condescend. How could I? I used to collect the remnants of paper hole punches--I preferred to call it confetti--in an old lunch bag. I used to collect dried lily pads of Elmer's glue that could double as press-on nails. My kind of OCD might not have transposed so seamlessly into the acquisition and hoarding of attractive merchandise, but I swear I wasn't judging. It just always fascinated me to hear stories of how far possessed consumers would go to obtain a "Ty" tag or twenty.

For instance:

  • At an Illinois guns-for-Beanie Babies exchange, police gave away every last Beanie and collected 40 guns.
  • People were smuggling foreign Beanies into the country at such an alarming rate that Ty had to issue an embargo:
  • "A consumer is allowed to have one Beanie Baby for personal use every 30 days," said Customs officer Ralph Hackney. To enforce the rule, the Customs people are forced regularly to go through the packing of children, parents and grandparents in search of the furry creatures. One inspection yielded a haul of 15,000 Beanies.
  • A U.S. trade rep was found in violation of the decree
  • A man getting a divorce files a motion to get his fair share of Beanies:
  • "It's ridiculous and embarrassing," said Frances Mountain, moments before squatting on the courtroom floor alongside her ex-husband to choose first from a pile of dozens of stuffed toys. Maple the Bear was the first to go, as a few people in the gallery snickered.

Of course, this is just a sample...Please do share any venal Beanie stories.

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Pop Culture
Cheerleaders and Chicken Suits: Funko is Releasing Several Special Edition Deadpool POPs!

Marvel’s “Merc With a Mouth” is not only getting a sequel—he’s also getting some new swag. Deadpool, the sardonic superhero/villain in red spandex, will soon be immortalized in a new line of special edition Funko POP! vinyl toys.

In keeping with the franchise's eccentric sense of humor, there will be several outlandish outfits to choose from, each one sold exclusively by a different retailer. Among the outfit options Funko lovers will find are a mermaid get-up (complete with starfish bra) at Target; a cheerleader uniform for BoxLunch; a king’s robe and crown at FYE; and a chicken suit for Amazon shoppers. There’s even one of Deadpool holding a chimichanga while wearing ninja gear for 7-Eleven.

These parody dolls seem to be keeping in character with the Deadpool films, which themselves are parodies of the superhero genre. The title character, played by Ryan Reynolds, often breaks the fourth wall in order to poke fun at both DC and Marvel. (The filmmakers also famously signed off on spending $10,000 for a quick shot of the unlikely superhero wearing a tank top with Golden Girl Bea Arthur's face on it.)

The figures will be out this summer following the release of Deadpool 2 on May 18, 2018. Funko also recently released its royal family line of POP! dolls, depicting Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Elizabeth II, and her kin.

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Watch a Robot Solve a Rubik's Cube in .38 Seconds
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The record for fastest Rubik's Cube completion is impressive, just 4.69 seconds as of September 2017, but the record held by a robot is hard to believe—even when you see it with your own eyes.

Blink and you might miss the feat accomplished in the video below, shared by The Kid Should See This. In it, a robot transforms the jumbled kid's toy into a cube with perfectly uniform sides in just 0.38 seconds, a time that earned the machine the record for fastest Rubik's Cube completion by a robot in March 2018.

The secret to the robot's remarkable Rubik's Cube skills is a smart software that can determine the color of each square from webcam images. From there, it calculates the exact movements necessary to produce a perfect cube, and then it makes them in a fraction of a second.

The biggest issue for the team wasn't engineering the robot to be super fast: It was making sure the cube didn't fall apart as it was being scrambled. To their surprise, they only destroyed four toys during the process.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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