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Not Your Parents' Action Figures

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Action figures began with Habro's introduction of G.I. Joe in 1964. Since then, they've become associated with the marketing of TV, film, and comic book characters. But those are just the ones you see all the time. If you look, you'll find just about anyone available as an action figure, which can spur imaginative play, fill out your collection, or give you bragging rights when your friends see them.

Steve Jobs


The tech world is talking about the new Steve Jobs action figure from Inicons that is eerily realistic. It comes with a ton of accessories, but no iPhone or iPad. Take a look at all the different poses the figure lends itself to. See more pictures here. It should be available in late February for $99.

Advertising Characters


About a year ago, Herobuilders saw the writing on the wall and introduced a line of action figures based on TV commercials. Here you see Mayhem from Allstate Insurance, Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World, and the Old Spice Guy. All of them talk, too, giving you the lines and catchphrases from their ad campaigns.

Revolutionaries


Action figures of Karl Marx, Henry David Thoreau, Mao Zedong, and Lenin were put together in a set called Mountain Men by Mountain Research, sold by Couverture and the Garbstore. Just imagine what scenes you could play out with these -maybe a discussion on dialectical materialism? Unfortunately, this limited edition sold out quickly.

Crazy Cat Lady


Not exactly heroic or epic, the Crazy Cat Lady is an icon that many can relate to. Imagine the wonderful adventures you can have with her and the six cats that come as accessories!

The Brontë Sisters Power Dolls

I wanted this set of Brontë Sisters action figures, but alas, they were built specifically for this parody video, which was produced in 1998. However, you can get a Jane Austen action figure!

Albert Einstein


The mental_floss mascot, Albert Einstein, is also an action figure. It serves as an inspiration for those who appreciate the power of the brain. And who don't care about the perfect head of hair. The same vendor has action figures of Sigmund Freud, William Shakespeare, and Oscar Wilde in stock for $8. Or for $40, you can get a version of Albert Einstein that talks (even if he does look more like Mark Twain)!

Rosie the Riveter


She was an advertising icon, encouraging the home folks to get behind the war effort during World War II. Now she's an action figure! Actually, I found two versions. The figure on the left was sold by many vendors but has been discontinued. However, you can still find her here and there. There's also the version on the right from Eleanor's Girls that looks more like the kind of figure you actually play with. Check out the other Women of World War II figures on the same page.

President Obama


We first saw this awesome Barack Obama action figure in a series of poses on a Japanese website. It appears that it is still available through DID Corp. in China for $80.

Other Politicians


Herobuilders makes custom action figures, and they are known for producing action figures of who's who in the political world. Right now, you can order action figures depicting Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Christine O'Donnell, Rod Blagojevich, Joe the Plumber, Hillary Clinton, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Nancy Pelosi, as well as classics such as Dick Cheney, John McCain, and many different versions of President Obama. You'll even find some relatively obscure figures, like the "Don't Taze Me Bro" guy, Elliott Spitzer, Bernie Madoff, Jimmy McMillan, and Scott Brown.

The Big Lebowski


Movie characters don't have to be superheroes or science fiction characters to become action figures. They don't even have to be particularly active. If you relate more to The Dude or Walter or or Jesus or Donnie from The Big Lebowski, your action figures are waiting.

College Faculty


Dr. Jesse Weiss, a professor at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas, makes action figures of his friends and colleagues! He uses customizable action figure base units from a manufacturer that no longer supplies them, and sculpts the head and face to resemble the people around him. Weiss says:

“All it takes is a dremel tool, model paint, and Sculpey modeling compound for the hair, beards, glasses – and time.”

Weiss says he has plenty of spare parts to continue with his hobby. Image by Kaia Larsen/Times Record.

Me

CMT action figure

I'm not a really a superhero, I just play one on the internet. I was surprised to receive my own action figure as a promotional tool for a TV series. I still haven't taken it out of the box -not because I think it will be valuable someday, but because I know how my kids are with toys.

Your Very Own


You, too, can be your own action figure. Be A Doll makes custom action figures. Send in some good pictures or video, and money, and they'll make an action figure of you or someone you want to surprise! Don't worry, everyone gets a "slim, youthful body," but the face will be you.

As a matter of fact, these could be your parents' action figures - if they chose to collect them, or if you were to give them as a gift!

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Watch Craftsmen Shape Gobs of Molten Glass into Colorful Marbles
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Marbles aren't just for schoolchildren. Humans have likely been playing with the tiny toys for thousands of years, as indicated by ancient Egyptian artifacts and other objects studied by archaeologists. These trinkets have been crafted from materials including clay, stone, wood, glass, and metal. But in the early 1900s, Akron, Ohio–based Martin F. Christensen changed the way the playthings are made when he invented an automated machine that produced glass marbles.

Christensen's machine ultimately paved the way for the mass production of marbles. But in the video below, you can see how they're made the old-fashioned way. Produced by The Magic of Making—a series of short educational films created along with BBC—and spotted by The Kid Should See This, the clip shows glass makers in action as they use large ovens to melt granules of sand into liquid, and as they stretch, twist, and shape the molten goo into fragile (yet still playable) creations.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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10 Fun Facts About Play-Doh
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As any Play-Doh aficionado knows, September 16th is National Play-Doh Day! Let's pay tribute to your favorite modeling clay with some fun facts about the childhood play staple that began life as a cleaning product.

1. IT WAS FIRST SOLD AS WALLPAPER CLEANER.

Before kids were playing with Play-Doh, their parents were using it to remove soot and dirt from their wall coverings by simply rolling the wad of goop across the surface.

2. IF IT WEREN'T FOR CAPTAIN KANGAROO, PLAY-DOH MIGHT NEVER HAVE TAKEN OFF.

When it was just a fledgling company with no advertising budget, inventor Joe McVicker talked his way in to visit Bob Keeshan, a.k.a Captain Kangaroo. Although the company couldn’t pay the show outright, McVicker offered them two percent of Play-Doh sales for featuring the product once a week. Keeshan loved the compound and began featuring it three times weekly.

3. MORE THAN 3 BILLION CANS OF PLAY-DOH HAVE BEEN SOLD.

Since 1956, more than 3 billion cans of Play-Doh have been sold. That’s enough to reach the Moon and back a total of three times. (Not bad for a wallpaper cleaner.)

4. IT USED TO COME IN JUST ONE COLOR.

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Back when it was still a household product, Play-Doh came in just one dud of a color: off-white. When it hit stores as a toy in the 1950s, red, blue, and yellow were added. These days, Play-Doh comes in nearly every color of the rainbow—more than 50 in total—but a consumer poll revealed that fans' favorite colors are Rose Red, Purple Paradise, Garden Green, and Blue Lagoon.

5. FOR QUITE SOME TIME, DR. TIEN LIU HAD A JOB SKILL NO ONE ELSE IN THE WORLD COULD CLAIM: PLAY-DOH EXPERT.

Dr. Tien Liu helped perfect the Play-Doh formula for the original company, Rainbow Crafts, and stayed on as a Play-Doh Expert when the modeling compound was purchased by Kenner and then Hasbro.

6. YOU CAN SMELL LIKE PLAY-DOH.

Want to smell like Play-Doh? You can! To commemorate the compound’s 50th anniversary, Demeter Fragrance Library worked with Hasbro to make a Play-Doh fragrance, which was developed for “highly-creative people, who seek a whimsical scent reminiscent of their childhood.”

7. HASBRO RECENTLY TRADEMARKED THE SCENT.

Anyone who has ever popped open a fresh can of Play-Doh knows that there’s something extremely distinctive about the smell. It’s so distinctive that, in early 2017, Hasbro filed for federal protection in order to trademark the scent, which the company describes as “a unique scent formed through the combination of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla-like fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, and the natural smell of a salted, wheat-based dough.”

8. IT CAN CREATE A PRETTY ACCURATE FINGERPRINT.

When biometric scanners were a bit more primitive, people discovered that you could make a mold of a person’s finger, then squish Play-Doh in the mold to make a replica of the finger that would actually fool fingerprint scanners. Back in 2005, it was estimated that Play-Doh could actually fool 90 percent of all fingerprint scanners. But technology has advanced a lot since then, so don’t go getting any funny ideas. Today's more sophisticated systems aren’t so easily tricked by the doughy stuff.

9. IT HOLDS A PLACE IN THE NATIONAL TOY HALL OF FAME.

Unsurprisingly, Play-Doh holds a coveted place in the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. It was inducted in 1998. According to the Hall of Fame, “recent estimates say that kids have played with 700 million pounds of Play-Doh."

10. YOU CAN TURN YOUR PLAY-DOH CREATIONS INTO ANIMATED CHARACTERS.

While Play-Doh may be a classic toy, it got a state-of-the-art upgrade in 2016, when Hasbro launched Touch Shape to Life Studio, an app that lets kids turn their Play-Doh creations into animated characters.

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