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The Delightful Toys of an 80-Year-Old Japanese Craftsman

Sure, augmented reality games played on your smartphone are fun, but there’s something to be said for the simplicity and whimsy of old-school wooden toys. AJ+ recently profiled octogenarian toymaker Masaaki Hiroi, a fourth-generation craftsman from Japan who makes spinning tops and other wooden toys with a sweetly humorous bent.

Hiroi specializes in Edo Spinning Tops, and he’s created almost 4000 since he began working on them in his 30s. According to the Japanese arts and culture site YAQMO, the tops are so named because they were particularly popular during Japan’s Edo Period (1603–1867). They’re known for doing more than just spinning—most add some kind of humorous flourish.

The Kid Should See This recently spotlighted the video, in which Hiroi talks a little about his process and expresses his wish to live to 200. Laughing Squid also shared several other videos of the toys, produced by YAQMO:

Due to his health, Hiroi is no longer taking orders, but you can also see more of his toys here.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

Header image via Al Jazeera.

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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