Build-A-Bear
Build-A-Bear

Build-A-Bear Unveils an Exclusive Stuffed R2-D2 for Star Wars Day

Build-A-Bear
Build-A-Bear

Adorable—and officially licensed—Star Wars items are nothing new, especially around Star Wars Day. Several years ago, Hasbro unveiled Darth Tater, a Mr. Potato Head spinoff spud that adopted some of the breathing apparatus of the franchise’s key villain. He was followed by Luke Frywalker. There are R2-D2 handbags and popcorn makers, Chewbacca throw rugs (which carry a somewhat sinister hint of Wookiee slaughter), and others.

Now, the popular stuffed animal factory franchise Build-a-Bear Workshop and Disney are teaming up to up the cute quotient by a considerable margin. In honor of May 4, an unofficial Star Wars fan day dubbed May the 4th Be With You (or simply Star Wars Day), Build-a-Bear will offer a stuffed R2-D2, which will be available exclusively online. Standing 13 inches tall, the Droid will come pre-stuffed with a sound chip that can chirp six distinctive warbles.

This latest and most polyester-filled iteration of R2-D2 is one of several Build-a-Bear-themed Star Wars products to see a recent release, following a 16-inch Dark Side vs. Light Side Bear, whose loyalties can be determined by its owner: Rebel supporters can make sure the blue side of his ears face forward, along with the Rebel Alliance logo on his paws; flipping either around reveals First Order colors. It’s hard to conceive of the Empire rising from the ashes based on the support of a cute plush animal, but at least the option is there.

Previously, Build-a-Bear issued Bears sporting the distinctive features of Kylo Ren, a Stormtrooper, Boba Fett, an Ewok, and Yoda, the latter of which really doesn’t look like a bear at all. Existing Bear owners can also shop for accessories that can be used on their more conventional models, including a Han Solo vest and lightsabers.

Are these items slightly bizarre? It depends on your reference point. In the 40 years that licensees have adopted the franchise’s characters for store shelves, there have been Wampa arm ice scrapers, fishing kits, and air sickness bags. Famously, Kenner pulled off the boldest cash grab in toy history when they sold an empty cardboard box with a voucher for Star Wars figures that they hadn’t been able to produce in time for the 1977 holiday season.

The web exclusive R2-D2 retails for $42 and will be available only while supplies last. To further incentivize Star Wars fans, the company is also offering a free lightsaber (for bears, not humans) with a $50 purchase.

The current, plush R2-D2 should not be confused for their Bear who is not actually R2 but more of an R2 fan, sporting a Droid hoodie and blue jeans. He’s out of stock anyway.

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Potato Island, One of Connecticut's Thimble Islands, Can Be Yours for $4.9 Million
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If you're in the market for waterfront property in New England, you can't do much better than this property spotted by Coastal Living. This Cape Cod-style house comes with its own island off the coast of Connecticut, and the whole package is listed on Realtor.com at $4.9 million.

Called Potato Island, the patch of land is part of Connecticut's Thimble Islands, an archipelago made of pink granite. The four-bedroom home dates back to 1912 and includes a heated pool, granite Jacuzzi, and wrap-around porch. The island itself covers 1.1 acres.

Anyone interested in living on a private island is hopefully comfortable with isolation, but if the urge to rejoin civilization ever strikes, the town of Stony Creek, Connecticut is just a two-minute boat ride away. Potato Island is 135 miles away from Boston and 85 miles from New York City.

Finding a private island with a house for less than $4.9 million is difficult, but not impossible. Islands with their own cottages in Maine and Michigan have been listed for less than $1 million in the past. On the other end of the spectrum, it's not unusual for private island homes in the Florida Keys to approach $100 million.

[h/t Coastal Living]

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Science Has a Good Explanation For Why You Can't Resist That Doughnut
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Unless you’re one of those rare people who doesn’t like sweets, the lure of a glazed or powdered doughnut is often too powerful to resist. The next time you succumb to that second or third Boston cream, don’t blame it on weak willpower—blame it on your brain.

As the New Scientist reports, a Yale University study published in the journal Cell Metabolism provides new evidence that foods rich in both carbohydrates and fats fire up the brain’s reward center more than most foods. For the study, volunteers were shown pictures of carb-heavy foods (like candy), fatty foods (like cheese), and foods high in both (like doughnuts). They were then asked to bid money on the food they wanted to eat most, all while researchers measured their brain activity.

Not only were volunteers willing to pay more for doughnuts and similar foods, but foods high in carbs and fat also sparked far more activity in the striatum, the area of the brain where dopamine is released. (Chocolate is one of the foods most commonly associated with increases in dopamine, working in the same way as drugs like cocaine and amphetamines.)

Presented with these findings, researcher Dana Small theorized that the brain may have separate systems to assess fats and carbs. Modern junk foods that activate both systems at once may trigger a larger release of dopamine as a result.

This study doesn’t entirely explain why different people crave different foods, though. Much of it has to do with our habits and the foods we repeatedly gravitate towards when we want to feel happy or alleviate stress. Another study from 2015 found that certain treats associated with high levels of reward in the brain—like pizza, chocolate, chips, and cookies—were considered to be the most addictive foods (doughnuts didn’t make the top 20, though).

It's still possible to turn down foods that are bad for you, though. While many people try to improve their self-control, one of the most effective ways to avoid an undesired outcome is to remove the temptation completely. Free doughnuts in the break room? Stay far away.

[h/t New Scientist]

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