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Tag: Toys (51-60 of 62)

'Avatar' and augmented reality: The future of toys?

You may not know it yet, but your kids are definitely going to want some Avatar toys. The movie, like Star Wars before it, is a visual-effects watershed that should blow the minds of 10-year-old kids everywhere (and should blow your mind too, as long as you can get past the simplistic plot and occasionally hokey dialogue). Mattel’s new line of Avatar toys includes action figures, an assortment of Pandora creatures, and a few nifty military vehicles. But the toys wouldn’t warrant an association with Avatar if they weren’t high-tech in some way, so Mattel went to the effort to make this the first toy line that uses augmented reality.

Each toy ships with an “i-TAG” badge that you hold in front of your computer’s webcam. Magically, a 3-D model of your toy appears on the screen. As you move the badge around, the animated model follows. Most impressively, if you purchase the Battle Pack collection ($14.99), which features six i-TAG badges, you can have various 3-D models actually fight one another on your screen. READ FULL STORY

Dalton's '80s sweater evokes Rainbow Brite doll

Sorry, buddy. You wear an ’80s sweater with horizontal sleeve stripes to work, you deal with the consequences. You don’t have to pout about it. Next time, please go for it a little harder with some fun leggings. Now come by my office and we’ll find a nice shiny blue ribbon for your hair.

The Nook: EW's hands-on review of the new e-reader

Is Barnes and Noble’s Nook this year’s Kindle killer? Nearly: The sleek e-reader offers some notable improvements, but it’s still plagued by problems common to the Kindle and similar devices. Perhaps that’s not a ringing endorsement, but don’t close the book on the Nook just yet.

Look and feel: At just under 12 oz., the Nook weighs about as much as a mid-sized hardcover book, though it’s only about as wide as the cover and as thick as a few chapters. The main, black-and-white screen occupies the bulk of the surface area; below it is a secondary color touchscreen, used mostly for navigation. Throw in the white trim, and it’s that iPod-on-steroids design we’ve come to expect.

Navigation: The majority of the Nook’s operations have been relegated to the touchscreen, leaving only forward, back, and home buttons as part of the device’s body. As you’d expect, the touchscreen changes depending on what you’re doing, displaying a keyboard, an options menu, a flip book of book covers, or arrow keys to move the cursor on the main screen. Those spoiled by the iPhone’s touch-responsiveness will find the Nook slow on the uptake, but when it comes to packing maximum control and flexibility into minimal space, this design element does wonders.

Reading: The matte e-ink screen displays crisp text when viewed from any angle —  it’s uncanny how print-like the screen looks. With the ability to change the font and size with a few taps on the touchscreen, reading under normal conditions is a breeze. Problems arise in both expected and unexpected ways when the lights dim: The Nook’s screen mimics print, so, obviously, no light means no sight, but in low light, the glow of the touchscreen washes out the text even more — at least until the touchscreen goes dark a few seconds later. Also, the Nook hasn’t managed to improve on previous e-readers’ achingly slow page-turn time. Rather than queuing up the next page in its memory, it loads each one as needed, which adds a second or two between pushing the right arrow and the new page appearing. No, not an eternity, but it’s surprising how much the delay interrupts the flow of reading. And the Nook’s bookmark system could do with a standard naming format. We’re not sure how helpful “3,OEBPS/superfreakonomics_fm01.html#point…” is.

Bonuses: You can loan books to friends using the Nook’s borrowing feature, called “LendMe.” It’s currently in beta, but it seems to work well — that is, if the book itself is actually loanable, as only about half the titles in Barnes and Noble’s store currently are. Open the book you want to loan, punch in your Nook-toting friend’s e-mail address, and they will get seven days to accept and download your book, and 14 days to read it. As with loaning out a real book, you can’t read a book you’ve shared with a friend, but oddly you can only loan a book one time. Downloading books is a snap, as the Nook’s 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities are speedy. The most unexpected cool feature, though, is “The Daily,” a section of the home page that displays your newspaper subscriptions, short humor pieces, and book excerpts. It’s only one click away from everything, and its dynamic content, along with “LendMe” feature, lays the foundation for a community built around the Nook.

Verdict: While it’s not perfect — or even markedly superior to the Kindle — the Nook is a sleek, easy to use device with a lot of potential.

Hannah Montana doll, mouse toy say the darndest things

What’s worse: A Hannah Montana doll who drops an F-bomb or a terrifying British mouse doll who screams “pedophile”? Hmm. Well, neither of them actually do that, but that doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of these two weird videos: READ FULL STORY

'True Blood' busts: Bite?

Finally, I can act out my Eric/Sookie scenes with something marginally more than my imagination: True Blood “busts” are in production and should be available over the summer. You can buy Eric, Bill, or Sookie, plus a Merlotte’s sign. The figures cost $69.99 and the sign costs $89.99, which… seems like a lot? Kind of?

If I’m going to pay $70 for a statuette, I want a full-body option so I can dress it in Barbie clothes so I can make Slezak put it in “Doll Bachelor” so it doesn’t disrupt my careful height-order system for desk dolls because I just do, that just makes more sense, jeeze, get off my back already. They’re limited edition and all, though, so there’s that.

Man, I miss True Blood. Would you shell out for this statues, PopWatchers, or are you biding your time in other ways?

'Twilight': Taylor Lautner is a doll, literally

Twilight-Jacob-Taylor-doll_lIt has arrived — the item that will singlehandedly revitalize the American economy. Behold the Barbie doll of Twilight‘s other teenage heartthrob, Jacob Black. Although my knowledge of dolls may be even less than my understanding of Twilight, I shall proceed to make a few observations. First, this doll actually resembles 17-year-old actor Taylor Lautner, whereas the previously released Bella and Edward dolls hardly approximated their thespian counterparts. That was especially the case with Bella, whose “innocent face,” as Mattel described it, was really just a generic Barbie head plopped on top of the character’s signature blue jacket. Second, while the Jacob doll looks like Lautner, its face is a bit on the younger side. I’m getting a disturbing “13-year-old on steroids” vibe here. Most of the kids I knew in high school didn’t strut around with eight-pack abs; then again, none of my friends were werewolves, or kick-ass martial arts champions for that matter. And third, I want a pair of Jacob’s black shoes, even though I will never be cool enough to wear them sans socks.

Mattel will release the Jacob doll in February for $24.95 (the Edward and Bella versions are available now for the same price). Twilighters, do you plan to grab one and make your Twilight Barbie collection complete? Non-Twilighters…snark away!

Ball finally inducted into toy hall of fame

toy-hall-of-fame_lThe inductees to the National Toy Hall of Fame this year were announced today, and they are, drumroll please, Game Boy, Big Wheel, and…the ball. Yep, the ball, just that generic ol’ orb!

Last year, the HoF inducted the stick, so I guess a ball isn’t that out of character. It just seems a little too basic to warrant specific admission rather than just be recognized as part of the ur-concept of toydom. It’s like the Baseball Hall of Fame inducting the idea of keeping statistics. I don’t know how the ball wasn’t already there, you know? Especially because Atari, Barbies, baby dolls, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Lionel trains, marbles (kind of a form of ball?), Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Play-Doh, the rocking horse, and View-Masters already made the cut. (Among others. Full list here.) Even the Strong National Museum of Play (which includes the National Toy Hall of Fame, naturally) admits the ball is “as old as civilization itself,” but for some reason it is just making the cut now, along with toys that launched in 1969 and 1989.

That said, good call on the Game Boy, toy folk! Sweet heavens, I loved my first Game Boy. Here’s hoping sled and doll house make the cut next year. What toy would you induct, PopWatchers?

Lego reality show: One brick at a time

There’s a Lego reality show in the works according to Variety, which means there’s a fandom obsession in the works, according to me. Scott Messick, reality producer of such shows as Destroy Build Destroy and Shaq vs, is currently developing a doc series around the Lego “master builders” who create the most insane Lego sculptures all over the world. Another possible series might be based at the Legoland park and be a contest of some kind.

Let’s think about how awesome a Lego show would be for a moment while we watch this amazing feat of Lego construction:

I am so on board for a Lego show. I’ve definitely seen one-off docs about Legoland and the building school and stuff, but a full-on series is my ticket to nerdvana.

Might you develop a block about a show like this, or would you back it, brick by brick, PopWatchers?

'Carnie Wilson: Unstapled': The only way I'd watch...

Carnie-Wilson-operation_l…is if it were an animated tragicomedy series based on the Operation! board game. That’s what it sounds like, right? This seems fair. Which is worse — movies on The Weather Channel or a Carnie Wilson weight-loss reality show on Game Show Network? Also wait a minute: Is the general public at all interested in Carnie Wilson? Munch on something from the Bread Basket and then get back to me.

Photo Credit: David Livingston/Getty Images; Master J. Castro

The Barbie movie: Plastic fantastic or dollpocalypse now?

Barbie_lNow that boys and their toys (G.I. Joe, Transformers, et al) have essentially turned the cineplex into a giant sandbox, isn’t it time to let the girls play? Never fear, ladies; your time is near: Universal just signed a deal with Mattel to make a live-action movie starring the biggest—in sales, not waist size—of all girl toys: Barbie.

None of the project’s details have been worked out yet, but we’re already a little skeptical. Isn’t the whole point of Barbie that she’s got a personality as blank as her expression? That works fine for a doll, but 90 minutes of pretty hair and pool parties does not a movie make. (Or does it?)

Time for you to sound off, PopWatchers. Take our poll below to let us know what you think about the idea of Barbie on the big screen.

We also want to hear your plot ideas for the movie: Should Barbie get evicted from her Malibu dreampad and have to move in with her bratty lil sis Skipper in the big city? Or maybe they go for comedy and make Barbie a distaff Don Quixote who sails through life thinking everything is as perfect as her smile (à la the post-modern masterpiece known as The Brady Bunch Movie)? Go ahead and leave your best (short!) pitches in the comments below!

Image Credit: Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua Press/Corbis

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