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12 Deliciously Different Plush Toys

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Look around the world wide web if you want to get a gift that no one else will think of, with a little help from your friendly mental_floss internet scouring service. Some of these plush toys are suitable for children, but not all of them!

1. Alex


Artist AngelaTiara made a rag doll version of Alex DeLarge from the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange. This was a custom order, but I hear you can contact her to have a doll made for yourself.

2. Biochemies


Jun Axup is a graduate student and science artist who started Biochemies as an art and comic site to make science fun and accessible. Biochemies is now branching out into the plush toys business, starting with these cute DNA molecules. The set includes adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine, all with magnets in the correct spots in order to bond with each other! You can pre-order yours through Kickstarter.

3. Admiral Akbar


It's not a trap! Jennifer at Handmade Stuffs made this 18-inch tall Admiral Ackbar doll to guide your troops safely to victory against the forces of the Dark Side.

4. Slimer


Jennifer's Etsy Store, Handmade Stuffs, is full of plush characters you won't find at the local toy store. She's got a cuddly Skeletor, Hellboy, Mr. T, and this soft Slimer from the movie Ghostbusters.

5. Two-headed Teddies


Sara at The Tangled Web makes and sells knitted mustaches and anatomical hearts, but I particularly like the two-headed teddy bear. The heads are not identical -they have different-colored eyes! It also has two hearts for twice the love. And get this -the felt fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles.

6. Companion Cube


The cake may be a lie, but the Weighted Companion Cube Plush is real. And you can choose not to incinerate it! If this makes any sense, you must be a fan of the game Portal. The Companion Cube cushions your Portal dreams and is available from Think Geek.

7. Pancakes


How tasty it would be to cuddle up with a stack of pancakes! A stack of three includes a pat of butter and a smile.

8. Pillow Fight!


Swinging a plush sword or light saber makes an everyday pillow fight into something awesome. Bryan Ku's Pillow Fight! is, sadly, an art project at this point, and not (yet) mass-produced. He made these weapons and explosives by silk screening fabric.

9. Edward Gorey's Black Doll


The Black Doll is a creepy unfinished rag doll that appeared in many of the author/illustrator's stories. Now you can have your own!

A life long friend of Edward Gorey's made The Black Doll for him in 1942. Gorey visited her while she was making it and upon seeing it insisted on keeping it in its unfinished state, lacking a face, arms and clothing. In spite of her objection, Edward Gorey prevailed. It may be the first recorded instance of Gorey's enduring dedication to engaging the imagination. The incomplete Black Doll has remained a recurring enigma for almost 70 years appearing in many of Gorey's books and drawings as well as being the subject of his silent screenplay. This is the first time The Black Doll has been produced for Edward Gorey's devoted following.

The doll is offered in a limited run of only 2,000, in conjunction with the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.

10. Nyan Cat


Most likely to be named the biggest meme of 2011, Nyan Cat comes in many handmade plush versions, but every time I try to track one down, someone buys it! As of this morning, the plush Nyan Cat shown here is available from Etsy seller SunlitDaydreams.

11. Red Shirt Bunny


This brave bunny looks as if he knows what fate befalls all Star Trek red shirts! He is a Woolykin, and was sold almost as fast as he appeared. Jennifer Hugon is the artist behind the Woolykins, which have been made in other cuddly pop culture critter forms. If you want one, you'll have sign up at her Etsy shop to be notified when she returns from maternity leave.

12. Teddy Scares


Teddy Scares are teddy bear zombies! The bear pictured here is named Sheldon Grogg. The bears come in both 6-inch and 12-inch sizes, and each come with their own dreadful backstory.

See also: 10 Bizarre but Cuddly Plush Toys, 13 Plush Toys Grownups Will Love, and 10 Strange and Wonderful Plush Toys.

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Radio Flyer
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Pop Culture
Tiny Star Wars Fans Can Now Cruise Around in Their Very Own Landspeeders
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Radio Flyer

Some kids collect Hot Wheels, while others own model lightsabers and dream of driving Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder through a galaxy far, far away. Soon, Mashable reports, these pint-sized Jedis-in-training can pilot their very own replicas of the fictional anti-gravity craft: an officially licensed, kid-sized Star Wars Landspeeder, coming in September from American toy company Radio Flyer.

The Landspeeder has an interactive dashboard with light-up buttons, and it plays sounds from the original Star Wars film. The two-seater doesn’t hover, exactly, but it can zoom across desert sands (or suburban sidewalks) at forward speeds of up to 5 mph, and go in reverse at 2 mph.

The vehicle's rechargeable battery allows for around five hours of drive time—just enough for tiny Star Wars fans to reenact their way through both the original 1977 movie and 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. (Sorry, grown-up sci-fi nerds: The toy ride supports only up to 130 pounds, so you’ll have to settle for pretending your car is the Death Star.)

Radio Flyer’s Landspeeder will be sold at Toys “R” Us stores. It costs $500, and is available for pre-order online now.

Watch it in action below:

[h/t Mashable]

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11 Well-Drawn Facts About The Etch A Sketch
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iStock

Even if you didn’t grow up to become an artist, chances are you honed your childhood drawing skills on an Etch A Sketch. Here are 11 nostalgia-inducing facts about the classic toy, in honor of National Etch A Sketch Day.

1. IT’S A PRODUCT OF FRANCE.

While the Etch A Sketch seems as American as apple pie, it’s actually a French invention. According to lore, an electrician named Andre Cassagnes was installing a light fixture in a factory during the 1950s. The factory produced an ornate embossed wall covering called Lincrusta. Aluminum powder used in the manufacturing process made its way onto a light-switch plate that Cassagnes was installing, and he noticed that when he made pencil marks on the plate’s translucent protective decal, they showed up on its other side. Turns out, Cassagnes’s pencil had raked a line through the metallic powder, displacing the particles that had clung to the decal thanks to an electrostatic charge. Observing this phenomenon inspired Cassagnes to create his own drawing toy using a plotter and aluminum powder.

2. CREDIT IS OFTEN GIVEN TO THE WRONG INVENTOR.

Cassagnes perfected his design and he soon won a prize in a French invention competition. However, he didn’t have enough money to patent it so he teamed up with an investor named Paul Chaze. Chaze’s accountant, Arthur Granjean, helped the duo receive patents for the Etch A Sketch in both France and America. Since Granjean filed and paid for the patents, he was mistakenly referred to as the toy’s inventor for years.

3. THE ETCH A SKETCH ORIGINALLY HAD A JOYSTICK.

This was present in Cassagnes’s original designs. He later re-designed the toy to have two knobs.

4. TOY MANUFACTURERS ORIGINALLY REJECTED THE ETCH A SKETCH.

The Etch A Sketch was showcased at the 1959 Nuremberg Toy Fair, but toy companies didn’t want to pay a steep fee for the rights. Eventually, Ohio Art—who is said to have also passed on the Etch A Sketch—reconsidered and acquired the invention.

5. IT ALSO HAD A DIFFERENT NAME.

The toy was originally marketed as the “Télécran" in France, but was later called the “L’Ecran Magique,” or Magic Screen. It was eventually re-named the Etch A Sketch by the Ohio Art Company.

6. IT WORKS AS A PLOTTER.

Although the Etch A Sketch’s inner workings might seem like a mystery, they’re actually pretty straightforward. The inside of the toy’s glass screen is covered with aluminum powder, which has tiny beads mixed in to keep it from clumping. A stylus is connected to a pulley system, which, in turn, is attached to the horizontal and vertical metal rods. These rods are affixed to two knobs. When you move the knobs, the stylus is dragged through the powder, creating a line. Not happy with your drawing? All you have to do is shake the toy, and the aluminum powder will re-coat the screen and erase the markings.

7. IT FOUND A MARKET VIA TELEVISION.

Production of the Etch A Sketch began on July 12, 1960. America soon caught wind of the toy thanks to a televised marketed campaign featuring a little girl named Pernella who hides underneath a basket with her Etch A Sketch because everyone wants to play with it. She eventually emerges and announces that her favorite toy “is magic!" The ads were such a hit that, come holiday season, Ohio Art was hard-pressed to fill orders.

8. IT’S A BEST-SELLER.

In 1998, the Etch A Sketch was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, cementing its place in history alongside inventions like the Slinky, the skateboard, and Silly Putty. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association ranked it as one of the 20th century’s hundred best toys. According to CNBC, more than 100 million Etch A Sketches have been sold since its introduction in 1960.

9. IT’S SOMETIMES TRANSFORMED INTO PERMANENT ART.

While Etch A Sketch drawings aren’t meant to be permanent, some people use the toy to create professional works of art. One particular artist, Nicole Falzone, has been referred to as the “Monet of the Magic Screen” for her detailed Etch A Sketch portraits of celebrities like Jim Carrey, Stevie Wonder, and Bill Gates. The secret to creating long-lasting drawings, she says, is to drill holes in the back of the casing and drain the Etch A Sketch of its aluminum powder. That way, the lines won’t be erased. Other notable Etch A Sketchers include George Vlosich, who drew an Etch A Sketch portrait of President Barack Obama prior to his inauguration, and Christoph Brown, who refers to himself as the “World’s Fastest Etch A Sketch Artist."

10. IT’S A POP CULTURE—AND POLITICAL—PHENOMENON.

Over the decades, the Etch A Sketch leapt from children’s toy boxes onto TV and movie screens across the world. Pixar’s Toy Story franchise features an Etch A Sketch named “Etch” who’s described by Woody as having the “fastest knobs in the West.” In the first season finale of the AMC series Breaking Bad, protaganist Walter White uses the aluminum powder inside several Etch A Sketches to create thermite. He then uses the corrosive substance to melt the lock off a door.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign advisor Eric Fehrnstrom compared Romney's politics to playing with an Etch A Sketch. “You hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again,” he said. Thanks to Fehrnstrom’s comment, Etch A Sketch sales rose by 30 percent. Etch A Sketch responded by releasing limited-edition election versions of the toy in red and blue. Each came with a sticker depicting a donkey and an elephant playing tug-of-war on the White House lawn

11. IT’S BEEN MANUFACTURED IN RED, PINK, SILVER, AND BLUE.

The Etch A Sketch is known for its iconic red frame. However, if you purchased one in 1971, it might have came in “Cool Blue” or “Hot Pink.” For the toy’s 25th anniversary in 1985, Ohio Art released a silver model with bejeweled knobs and a hand-carved signature (the flashy toy reportedly cost a cool $3,750).

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