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I've addressed the ideas of early mechanical men elsewhere in this blog (just enter "robot" in the site search box at left and you'll find two or three dozen related posts on the subject), but failed to include this very fine and early example by William Heath in his March of Intellect series (printed from 1825-1829).
He was particularly bitter about what he saw as an aristocracy of official ruination, and created an unusual steam-driven mechanical man with a book-driven intellect that swept up the great "rubbish" and "dust" of society. At the top of this early robot (preceding the invention of the term by about 100 years) was a pile of books with a "crown of many towers", which was London University, beneath which was a set of gas-light eyes, iron arms, and legs made of printer's tools, sweeping away useless and insulting lawyers and jurists and their legal wigs and obsolete and repetitive rules, medical quacks, and the dust of other official abuses, "sweeping rubbish from the land".
Another near-robotic image by Heath is his pre-Rube Goldberg automatic house, a central feature in the March of the Intellect No.2 (1829) which features fantastic flying machines hovering and screaming past the house.
[Source: Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University libraries, here]
It isn't a robot unless you consider the entire house as a host for all of the things going on inside itself, and then you have something else entirely.
Johannes Gutenberg just couldn't last long enough to enjoy his vision. His venture--or at least his end of it--went bust after his business partner filed for teh return of his investment, and Gutenberg, not having the cash and with proceeds from the sale of his bible being slower than expected (and so on), was forced to pay off the debt with his business. He certainly got a lot of things right, and his vision was sound and accurate, but his financial planning was just not there. He need some more money-room, as the introduction of movable type printing did not take off as quickly as he would have liked. (THis is true even though it was widely recognized as a major achievement--it was just somewhat slow in taking footholds elsewhere.) Plus, the Gutenberg Bible was an expensive thing, equal to the yearly wages of a skilled mason--had he invested more effort (and paper) into publishing more popular titles, he may have been much better off, and wouldn't in the end wind up losing most everything, and broke.
[Source: Gustave Silbermann, Album typographique, Strassbourg, 1840]
He is hardly alone in the history of science and technology innovators/discoverers/inventors who thought that they could manage the business-end of their scientific/tech expertise. Edison, Ford, Tesla, De Forest, Farnsworth--and I suspect an alphabet of other famous examples--all thought that hey could handle the transaltion of their discovery into the marketplace, but they couldn't. (Edison and Ford had many more successes than failures, but they had a number of interesting/bizarre bad calls as well.)
Anyway, Gutenberg to me is a different case because he got almost everything correct, except for timing the money.
The animated human created by Victor Frankenstein in 20-year-old Mary Shelley's anonymously published Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus was a far more intelligent being than was ever portrayed in the many movies that made the novel famous in the 20th century. “Frankenstein” refers to Dr. Victor, not the creation, who refers to himself as the Adam of his maker's labors (and then later as Victor's Fallen Angel), while elsewhere in the book he is called “it”, as well as “being”, "creature", “daemon”, “Fiend, “monster”, “vile insect” and “wretch”, among other adjectival variants.
“Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous."
Mostly the creation is referred to as a “monster”--the word being used 35 times, mostly in reference to Victor's animated man.
It is difficult to refer to the creation as a “monster” once you get to know him a little—he is exceptionally smart, teaching himself to read, and then reading difficult and complex works with deep understanding, which is hardly something that is expected from what Boris Karloff gave to us.
Ted Nelson had a lot of ideas about computers, though not that many are remembered today, in spite of a bunch of them being pretty smart. (He coined the words "hypertext" and maybe "hyperlink", for example.) In any event there's this little diagram of the possibilities of his "world wide network", which I think no doubt is one of the earliest "maps" of the yet-to-exist internet.
[Picture source: Ted Nelson, Dream Machines (1974) via Alex Wright, Glut, Mastering Information Through the Ages (2007), p 215.]
It is also interesting to see that the frontis illustration for his book uses Tik-tok, a metal/machine character from a series of books by (Oz) L. Frank Baum, this one Tik-tok of Oz (1914).
This cover illustration for Alte Welt und Neue Sterne ("Old World / New Star") really does break through the headlines and into its own space. It is a DDR publication and although my copy has two outer wrappers for decoration and title it has no title page--the celebration skips the necessaries and gets right into the forward and then the crux of the matter, most of which was a high-principled statement of accomplishment and a low-dark anti-American humor in having "lost" the space race. (While Eisenhower golfs, the Soviet Union has launches a new moon, losing not only the apce race but prestige as well--one cartoon places a joyous Khrushchev successfully courting a young woman labelled "Lesser Countries" with a beaming gesture to an orbiting Sputnik as Uncle Sam reels on his heels and drops his going-courtin' flowers in the process. "Wer sonst koennte dir einen Mond schenken" ("Who else can give you a moon?"), proudly offered as commentary that had appeared in the New York Times.
In any event, I just wanted to share the design, which is pretty strong. (The pamphlet is undated but I suspect it was in print immedaitely following the 4 October 1957 launch.)
Johannes Mueller (1801-1858), a heavyweight physiologist/anatomist and idea-adventuring-synthesizer, had the idea that the speed of nerve impulses in humans was about 11,000,000 mps—that's somewhat like the Enterprise's Warp 2, almost two orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light. At about the same time the remarkable and thorough Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894), a universal knowledge guy who knew pretty much everything, a polymath's polymath, had a different idea about this speed, performing a series of elegant experiments and showing the speed to be about 150-300mph.
[This is a detail from an image by the great Santiago Ramon y Cajal ( 1852-1934), who drew the first accurate picture of nerve cells in the cerebellum (found in one convolution of a mammalian cerebellum), which helped formulate his theory that the basic structural unit of the nervous system as the neuron.]
At the time of Mueller's appraisal the speed of the nerve impulse seemed an unknowable entity. I wonder about other unknowables like this and what their estimated speeds might be that might put us more in touch with the major domo Mueller's imaging the impossibility of knowing this reclusive and invisible speed?
What is the speed of attribution? The speed of recognition? Of growth? Of absent love resuscitated? The speed of caring and not so? The speed of being in a space that you want to be in? The speed of imagined motion, of a bending cane, of finding the perfect broken seashell?
Perhaps though the most interesting thing about the idea of speed is the speed of ideas.
An Alphabet of the Suggested Speed of Various Types of Ideas
Abstract idea: 35 mph
Bad ideas: 375 mph
Cryptic ideas: 50 mph
Dangerous ideas: 250 mph
Envious ideas: 350 mph
Fanciful and farcical ideas: 100 mph
Great ideas that are not Your's: 28 mph
Half-an-idea: 150 mph and a buck-two-eighty
Ideas that are not ideas: 200 mph
Jokingly-said ideas that are taken for real ideas: 200 mph
Knowledgeable but sniffily restrictive ideas: 30 mph
Lyrical ideas told in a non-lyrical way: 31.23 mph
Practical ideas that have no direct application: 45 mph
Quixotic, queenly-quizzical, and not understandable ideas: 125 mph
Random idea: 125 mph
Salacious ideas: 450 mph
Tiresome ideas that are really notions: 20 mph
Underthought and underwhelming ideas: 55 mph
Vexating, poorly-ventilated, porous ideas of multiple misunderstandings: 44 mph
Wonderful ideas that belong to someone else: 4 mph
Zealous and impudent ideas: 75mph
Of course I've had some fun with this idea—but it came to me in a flash (at 250 mph) so I went ahead with it. And possibly it delivers some sense of the impossibility of knowing something that even the leading lights of those fields sensed as being unknowable.
Jorge Borges wrote a powerful and wonderful short story called The Library of Babel, where the universe is basically composed of books the center of which is an anti-black-book-hole. I was thinking about this in a waiting room a few hours ago, and thinking of the Infinite in general, all of which somehow led me to the Finite Library and Forgetting.
["The Librarian", is a 1566 work by Giueseppe Archimbaldo, 1526-1593, who painted incredible portraits such as this at a time when expressioin in this form would have been extremely uncommon--his semi-Boschian sense and image palette makes him the Vermeer of constructed object painting, I think.]
In a country set into thin mists, compulsive and repetitive feeding instruments were replaced with Ideaoterias. Rather than an endless maps of interwoven McDonald's restaurants set at predictable intervals, there are libraries.
Each library contains 10,000 books.
All 10,000 books are the same from library to library.
Each location must organize their 10,000 volumes differently, each grouping identifying ideas inherent in the contents of each volume, in support or negation of one another, arranged with other books that were complimentary, or supplementary, or antagonistic, or worse, or better.
4. The organization of thought contained in those 10,000 volumes would be different from location to location, the librarian-explorers having organized the library so that the books were freed into new spaces.
5. The number of books is finite; the infinite aspect is the continuous shifting of material and the expanding structure for the display of ideas. The simplest aspect of this arrangement makes it possible for every book to actually be seen. (Even in cursory browsing the mind has certain expectations of what-come-next when browsing a shelf, sweeping past things that have been swept-past before, rejected or unneeded for whatever reason. The deeper aspect is for the association of ideas by the placement of book, the arrangements suggesting themselves for the reader to have a new experience witn an old idea or book or set of books.
6. The McBorges' Library is a learning, memory, and forgetting experience.
7. Forgetting may be a key to making these libraries an infinite experience: re-re-re-etc.-learning does not imply necessarily that the learned bits will be cumulative, and useful. Maybe the best we can do is have learned and re-learned bits in a new context, making it possible to have more ideas; this means that a certain amount of forgetting is necessary, where that forgetting unleashes existing associations of ideas.
8. At McBorges', forgetting is an important aspect of learning, but really only in regard to what it would take to open the possibilities for new ideas by rearrangement of old relationships. The palaces of memory work hand-in-hand with the Palaces of Forgetting.
If you defined the internet as a transporting device for vast amounts of information and data then perhaps Abdul Kassem Ismael (938-995), the Grand Vizier of Persia, produced such a thing over one thousand years ago. I found the story in Albert Manguel's A History of Reading (a fabulous book published in 1996), who relates that when the Vizier traveled he did so with his library. That was an enormous effort, as ther were 117,000 volumes in the library, all of which were packed up onto 400 camels, and sent on their way.
That camel train--which I imagine must've been 1.5 miles long--was piloted by 400 drivers, and then attended to by an entirely different camel train of support of food and water for the perhaps other 400 people traveling in support, making the whole enterprise 2 miles long or more. The books were all arranged alphabetically, so the drovers maneuvered their camels in a certain way, making them mobile librarians in their way.
In any event, the whole movement of that vast library 1000 years ago can romantically be seen as a sort of internet--for one man.
It seems that this is a mostly not-true story/interpretation of a near-event, but I'm running with the interpretation.
I've come across two telling pieces of ephemera on the history of work, of women and working, and of labor unions, and they both address the textile strike in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1926.
The pamphlet was an appeal to like-minded people to contribute to a fund to help relieve the dire conditions of the textile worker strikers. There were more than 16,000 people involved in this sometimes-brutal strike, people who were trying to stay even in their lives, looking for a little more money and a little better working conditions than what they had. The Passiac (a working city just south of Patterson in an industrial triangle section of the state) strikers were moving against a number of textile (wool and silk) mills there, trying to force management to pay them something closer to the $1400 annual income for a family of four to survive.
Most workers there were making $1,000-$1,200 a year ($800-$1,000 if the worker was a woman, and about half of them were) for 50+ hours of labor per week. The result was that the workers could not afford good housing and food, and those disadvantages paid off in high rates of tuberculosis, very high incidence of child mortality, and a low average life expectancy. The strike began slowly in January 1926, with the mills responding with vicious attacks by paid thugs and by police. It was a long and involved process for the strikers, with the strike lasting its way for another 14 months, finally getting choked out in March 1927. It looks like there were some victories, but those seem mainly pyrrhic to me--at the end of the process many of the strikers were hired back but soon terminated, replaced by other workers who agreed to work for less.
The second item is a broadside--it was the communal effort involved with keeping the strikers (and the strike) going in the face of hunger and goons and police. The strikers needed money to live, as there was certainly no money coming in, and since there was obviously no union, there was no general fund from which any of these families could draw food money from). they needed money just to buy food and pay for housing. So the call for "Give all you can!" and "Give right away!" were as desperate as they sounded. My guess is that there would be a representative of the International Workers Aid society national office going from factory to factory, or door-to-door, soliciting for money for the Passaic workers' relief. The strike was no doubt a very nasty business, with a victory only a victory once there was more food on the table, less illness, and far fewer babies dying from preventable causes. Probably this looked like a victory to others so far as the future of fair labor/pay was concerned, but not so much for the strikers who brought this about.
There's quite a bit written on this strike, and most seem to say that it was an important event in the history of "labor relations", and that it was the first time that a Communist-led strike succeeded in the United States, (There is a complex legacy as to who the leadership was for this strike, but the end result is that, at the end, the Communists were in charge.)
It is also interesting to note that both of these items were given at some point to H.L. Mencken, who gave it right away to the Library of Congress, where it wound up in a forgotten "Pamphlet Collection", and then sold to me (years afterwards).
Eric Mann, a professor at NYU, wrote this unusual pamphlet towards the end of WWII, in the summer of 1944--the end was near but still there was the Ardennes to come and much more fighting, much more bombing, much more of everything. He wrote for the Society for the Prevention of World War III--which caused me to think of when it was that I first remember seeing a reference to "World War III/WWIII", and then the first use of World War II/Second World War, and World War I.
The first mention of the term "World War II" in non-fiction literature/reporting appeared not much earlier than this WWIII term, really--according to Scott Kaufman in The Chronicle,"World War II" appeared in the 31 December 1939 issue of the L.A. Times--just four years before this mention of the third world war. The Oxford English Dictionary locates another source that is slightly earlier; the first use in general is found in the sci-fi novel City of Endless Night in 1920. The term "First World War" predates the conflict itself (OED as 1909) but World War I seems to come into existence about half-way through the war. (The histories of these terms is a little complicated and deserving of their won post, but I think this gets the point across for now.)
This may be an extremely early use of the term "World War III". The term evidently comes up in the British contingency plans for the U.K. and U.S.A. to overtake the Soviet Union at the end of WWII in its Operation Unthinkable, but as that was a, well, secret plan, the WWIII stuff didn't seep out into public very much. "The Society for the Prevention of World War III" began in 1944, and launched its magazine in May of that year, so the seat if the term may actually come about at about that point.
The odd bit about WWIII in this case is that it is in context to the devastated Germany, and not with regard to the Soviet Union, the usual culprit for the initiator of the next Great War. The Society was voraciously opposed to very much leniency in the treatment of Germany post-war, wanting to dismantle the country stick-by-stick, so that it would be impossible for the Germans to launch any wars in the future.
Of course people would have had a difficult time seeing Germany in a Second World War just following the end of the First, that country badly tottering and chained out with reparations and stripped of major industries. But here we are with Mr. Mann foretelling a future war--another World War--begun by Germany while Germany was still very busily involved in destroying itself and millions of others in dragging out the war it was fighting in 1944.
There are reasons many and few and large and small supplied by Mr. Mann in support of his theory--one set of which, though, deserves some special attention. It was his contention that Hitler was seeding "German concentration camps" with "thousands of his most ardent followers" to infiltrate the Allied ranks with Sub Rosa agents taken in with camp survivors. HE maintained that there were dozens of thousands of young women being sexually trained for underground warfare; 60,000 young men being trained for underground warfare based largely on what occupied Allied countries were doing. And so on. These small bits--true or not--were certainly worth thinking about in terms of securing a lasting peace, but the Society's plans were overtaken nearly from the beginning of the end of the war, and then mostly abandoned following the introduction of the Marshall Plan in 1948.
I guess it would be worthwhile to look at the origin of "the war to end all wars", though I expect it to be of great antiquity--the idea if not the actual phrase.
Let's Plan a "Peacetime" Home was published in 1945 by a home gas heating company to try to answer and capitalize on a severe housing shortage being accentuated by returning WWII vets--I'm not sure why "Peacetime" is placed in quotation marks in the cover copy; perhaps it was just sloppy editing. But the planning was real, and the ideas were sort of fresh for the time, including a number of new and innovative ideas regarding heating/heat retention and cooling services. It is a slick, bright, shining publication filled with simple luxuries for the middle class--roomy kitchens, playrooms in the basement, extra bathrooms, storage for baby carriages in the garage, and other pieces of happiness that were still relatively new to the Depression-recovering working folks of the United States.
I can see a lot of interest in the archaeology of comfort in the many plans and pictures in this brochure, but that's not why I'm presenting it here today. There's more than a heavy helping of bulbous Bauhaus design, and lots of small rooms surrounding large big main rooms with enormous windows. But the thing that seems to bookend all of this development are women-in-aprons. There are men sitting and leaning around plans, smoking pipes, sleeves rolled up, and looking very earnest; at their elbow or across the table is the woman, usually in an apron, looking on in appreciation.
[This item may be purchased at our blog bookstore.]
What happened to art in the period before Impressionism that was made by people who needed glasses and didn't or couldn't wear them? The answer is obvious because, I think, nothing quite like that exists in galleries or public collections: people who painted but had poor vision were probably/simply told that they couldn't paint. If a far-sighted person without corrective specs attempted to paint a sunset over a forest, and painted it exactly as they saw it, and were doing this in 1787, there work undoubtedly would have been rejected as utterly failing in realism. On the other hand, the result of their work may have been beautiful collections of forms and colors capturing the essence of the forest and the sunset, but they would have been 50 years shy of the JMW Turner time, and 70 years or whatever shy of the Impressionists.
A person with poor or disturbed vision who tried to paint during this time would have been roundly scooted out of the palace of correct painting, though they could have been inspirations to generations of Barnett Newmans and Jasper Johns and Clyfford Stills and Wassily Kandinskys.
All this said, does something like Edvard Munch's The Voice (1893) start to look a little "different" if you imagine a far-sighted artist at work without their glasses?
Or a vision-impaired person producing Les Alpilles (1890) instead of a visionary Van Gogh?
Or a macular degenerating issue producing a painting like Georgia Okeefe's Light Coming on the Plains III (1917)?
Or a half-blind artist painting Matisse's The Open Window, Collioure (1905), simply painting exactly what they saw?
I don't think of revolutionary artworks in terms of their common ophthalmologic varieties--I just wanted to make a point about what happened to all of that artwork that was no doubt produced by people with impaired vision before the Impressionists and Fauves and non-representational artists came into being. I wonder if those who received J.M.W. Turner (as with, say, Rain, Steam, Speed--the Great Western Railway, 1844) so badly so early on in his career and so early in the History of Disappearing Details wondered whether he had a visual issue, or not?
And in a way, similar to the probably non-existent vision-challenged art of the past is the Robot art of the future--or at least the robot art of what was described by P.K. Hoenich in his article "Robot-Art, the Hopeful Monster" that appeared in two part in the unlikely journal Cybernetica in 1963 and 1964. It was with high hopes that I started reading this article wanting the author to address robots-making-art in the future. After all, my friend George Widener, who is a fabulously gifted artist, directs some of his fantastically involved calculating/numerical artworks to the interests of his robot-collectors of the future--given this case, why (if the robots are collecting) wouldn't they also produce art themselves? And why, if given the legions and multitudes of robots of the future couldn't they produce every recorded piece of art that has ever existed and then insinuate development and trends and institution and all of the other gifts of the singularity and produce all of the works of art that will ever be produced?
Well, Hoenich turns out to be describing "robots" of a very different sort, whether he uses the term "monster" in his title or not. He was broadly addressing a style of art that is produced by externally-controlled structures (mostly), and his particular brand was a mobile-like device with art bits whose movement was powered by the wind...and also used found spectra and sunlight. It was not what I was hoping for, the vision of robots-at-the-easels/keyboard/whatever remaining unfulfilled.
Still it was an interesting read, mostly in laying Hoenich in a continuum of similar artists whose "robots" were the wind (as for example with a Calder) or Nicolas Schoeffer (with spectacular luminodynamics) or Mohly-Nagy (with a combo of light and movement) or Arp (with chance painting) and maybe even Pollock. I guess even Duchamp could be included in a category like this if you considered his work to be governed by selective, found chance, a sort of choice-chance, for his Readymades.
So in a way these artworks were made by "robots" insofar as they were produced by not-exactly the artist but with external assistance.
"Squinting with Art" perhaps could have been the title of this post--squinting at your landscape to see it with semi-non-representational vision, and squinting at the titles of other works to make their possibility more appealing to what you 'd like to see.
Nothing quite says "bizarro" like the bizarre1--and there has been plenty of that on this blog. There have been a number of places that I have identified as Bizarro Worlds, but so far it seems that the only self-proclaimed Bizarro World is this one, from the Superman2 comic book--a place that was the opposite of the Superman-y traits that made Superman Superman. Somehow to equate bizarreness on this world everything appeared as geometrical shapes with basically no sphere or rounded edges. (How Braque or Picasso and company would have reacted to this is unclear.)
It is evident that Bizarro World inhabits a place in the universe that allows for bizarre things to happen, a sort of bizarrograviation, that also allows for shadow to be cast in space without regard to light source.
It is a lovely to addition--if only by this brief note, to a continuing series on Extra-Earths. This is an Earth, and it is Extra, hence: Extra Earth. Some of the other Extra-Earth posts include:
1858 W. Bagehot Lit. Stud. II. 194 The bizarrerie of Mr. Dickens's genius.
A. In Nietzschean thought (also with capital initial): an ideal superior man of the future who transcends conventional Christian morality to create and impose his own values; = Übermensch n. More generally: a man of extraordinary power or ability; a superior being. Cf. superwoman n.In later use sometimes influenced by sense 2.
1894 Forum May 302 The ‘cosmic, super-man’ of the future.
1903 G. B. Shaw Man & Superman 196 We have been driven to Proletarian Democracy by the failure of all the alternative systems; for these depended on the existence of Supermen acting as despots or oligarchs.
1909 T. Common tr. F. Nietzsche Thus spake Zarathustra ii. xxvi. 108 Never yet hath there been a Superman. Naked have I seen both of them, the greatest man and the smallest man... Verily, even the greatest found I—all-too-human!
1925 H. V. Morton Heart of London 110 Above the kneeling priests is the Pharaoh, that ancient superman.
1969 G. Jackson Let. 28 Dec. in Soledad Brother (1971) 179 How could there be a benevolent superman controlling a world like this.
2008 K. Hawkins Talk of Town 241 Poor Nick. He's determined to be a superman and resist emotional entanglements that could cloud his judgment.
2010 M. G. Kendrick Heroic Ideal ix. 161 The Zarathustrian vision of a post-Christian faith rooted in the real world and dedicated to the creation of the superman, inspired a whole generation of radical Russian artists and Marxists.
B. With capital initial. (The name of) an almost invincible superhero having the power to fly and typically depicted wearing a tight blue suit with a red cape; a person likened to this superhero.The character first appeared in 1938 in a U.S. comic strip by writer Jerry Siegel (1914–96) and artist Joe Shuster (1914–92) and has since been the subject of radio and television series, as well as numerous films.
1938 Action Comics June 1 So was created..Superman! champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!
1940 Time 26 Feb. 44/3 Last week Superman took to the air in earnest, as a three-a-week serial.
1958 Times Lit. Suppl. 1 Apr. p. xx/4 The impression remains of a sense of values associated with ‘Superman’ and American comics.
1968 S. Ellin Valentine Estate iii. iv. 142 ‘How the hell did he come to miss me?’.. ‘You're Superman,’ the first man answered. ‘Bullets bounce off you.’
1980 F. Weldon Puffball 77 ‘Now it's our turn.’ ‘I don't want it to be,’ she said, as if he, like Superman, could turn the world the other way.
1995 FourFourTwo Oct. 135/1 Presenting Shearer as a goalscoring Superman seems a bit OTT.
This glorious and anonymous photograph features 22 women, 20 of whom appear in U.S. flag dresses in front of a 40-star American flag. The 40-star appeared in 1889 with the entrance of South Dakota into the Union, one of the four new states in that single year.
When I looked though the original, looking for the image-within-the-image, I was surprised by a photobomb by the fellow in the tie and cap.
Here he is:
The outfits/costumes are nothing but stars and stripes, and each woman holds a staff with a small flag.
There is a great experience in this not-so-incidental image.
This is emphatically not a robot-type contraption, not by a long shot--it just happens (if you look at it in a certain way) to look like one. The automatic man was still a bit away, though Steam People and the like had certainly made appearances decades before this one.
The toys--Crandall's Acrobats, patented in 1867--came in boxes, a number of "acrobats" per box, as seen in the following post from Tracy's Toys blog: