Category Archives: Toys

Dinovember Update #1

If you’re not already following Secret Dad Society on Facebook and Twitter (hint, hint), then you’ve been missing all of the dinosaur hijinks going on at our headquarters. There’s plenty more mischief to be had, so be sure to tune in for more dino fun!

Here’s a recap of the last few days:

We've got our eyes on you...

We’ve got our eyes on you…

Our hero!

Our hero!

It's not at all what it seams.

It’s not at all what it seams.

Just foilin' around.

Just foilin’ around.

Whistlin' Dixie

Whistlin’ Dixie

"OK, who's the best swimmer?"

“OK, who’s the best swimmer?”

It’s Dinovember!

"OK, who's the best swimmer?"

“OK, who’s the best swimmer?”

Well, the month is half over and I’m just hearing about Dinovember, a month-long assault by toy dinosaurs that come alive each night to wreak havoc in homes around the world. It troubles me that I am just now hearing about this, when my love affair with dinos began over thirty years ago.

Is Dinovember news to you, too? Well, there’s no need to get your conifers in a twist, because plenty of time remains to get in on the action. Report sightings of dino-destruction near you by using the hashtag #dinovember. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to catch the Jurassic chaos here at Secret Dad Society – ROOOAAAARRRR!

The Unicorn Horn

Amera

My daughter was thrilled to pick up a “unicorn” for a whopping fifty cents at a yard sale this weekend. Wasting no time, I felt it my fatherly duty to explain to my her that, without a horn, it was technically just a pretty white horse.

Pretty White Horse

My daughter was having none of it. Meanwhile, I realized this to be a parenting blunder that could have easily been avoided if I’d just kept my stupid mouth shut. Next, just to seal my fate, I arranged a quick check of the Barbie of Swan Lake DVD cover, which further confirmed my daughter’s worst fear: Daddy was right. She had, in fact, bought just another pretty white horse.

There was no need to fear, however, because I’d already devised a plan to get myself out of this predicament and to make all parties happy. I had a stash of polymer clay sitting in the craft drawer for several months now, without an ounce inspiration for how to use it. A few globs of clay, a small screw, and fifteen minutes in the oven, and Amera was born (If my memory serves me right, the unicorn in the Barbie movie was named Lila. Not that it matters – I’m partial to Amera).

IMG_3665

unicorn horn IMG_3675

A Song of Cardboard and Packing Tape

Castle, front view

IKEA trips are always a blast, and the fun doesn’t have to stop after assembling all the furniture. That is the fun part, right? After all was said and done outfitting the kids’ rooms with new beds, dressers, bar stools (those were for mommy and daddy, of course), and more, we were left with a huge pile of large cardboard boxes – perfect materials for a fort!

I knew right off the bat that it would be a castle-themed fort, but beyond that I had no concrete plans. While I thought to research how to best approach the design so that I could then draw up some proper blueprints, the cardboard just sat there taking up space. With my wife lustfully eyeing the recycling bin as days passed by, I decided to just ditch the plans and wing it. So here’s what I did:

Starting with same-sized boxes for the four corners, I set each one up at ninety-degree angles. This would set the height and width of the structure. I then found some other boxes to fill in the gaps, again utilizing ninety-degree angles, which would act as load-bearing walls to help support a roof, while at the same time adding some visual interest inside. Everything was secured with my trusty packing tape.

There were flaps on the tops of the boxes, so I began cutting them at intervals to make the tops of the walls into crenelated battlements (the alternating notches atop the castle walls from which archers could defend the castle) purely for the visual appeal, although subsequently realizing that the folded down sections would be great for laying down and attaching the roof.

CornersIn the spirit of any fan of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and the whole A Song of Ice and Fire series, I felt obliged to include a throne. Not just any ordinary seat, but an over-the-top, hulking, behemoth of a cardboard throne. Thus, when laying down the roof, I left a very large semi-circular hole at the back, where the cardboard throne could be lowered into place. Fortunately, I had kept all of the thick cardboard strips, used in place of styrofoam, to hold the IKEA pieces in place inside the boxes. They made for some great swords that could be attached to a back piece. The seat itself is basically a box with reinforced cross-sections inside, which could easily hold the weight of two tiny butts, and possibly even a cat.

Photo Aug 24, 10 51 01 AM Photo Aug 24, 10 53 49 AM View from aboveFInally I cut out arched windows and doors, added some lantern hooks, and threw in a working flagpole. While I still have a few minor touches to add, “The Cardboard Keep” is all but finished.

flagpole

It sounds like a lot of work, but the whole thing came together rather quickly. The hardest part was just getting started. Watching my kids dress up and play inside everyday made it well worth the time spent. I’d really love to see how other people went about creating forts of their own, so if you have some photos, please send them my way!

Dragons!?

Yard Sailing and the Giant Ape!

We had a great time yard sailing yesterday. My wife and kids all picked up a bunch of neat stuff. Some of my highlights include finding the game Risk, which I has long been on my list of board games to buy. It had been opened but never played, with all of the armies still in sealed bags – score!

RiskI was equally happy to find a sweet Mayan statue for my bookshelf.

Statue And best of all, we came across  a house with an attached garage under the protection of a giant ape! Overall, it was an epic yard sale outing,

Ape garage

Mayan statue: $1.

Risk: $2

Gigantic garage ape: Priceless.

Return of the TMNT Party Wagon: The Interview!

The other day my wife was shopping at the same location where we had previously spotted the real-life Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party wagon, when she serendipitously spotted it again! Can you believe it? Knowing that I would have loved to speak with the owner but had missed my chance, my wife took it upon herself to find this person and obtain his contact information. Do I have the coolest wife in the world or what? I promptly emailed Dan, the owner, who agreed to an email interview about his bodacious green machine. I’m so excited to share with you my first ever interview on Secret Dad Society!

TMNT Party wagon

Hi Dan!  So tell me why you decided to trick out your car? Was the decal just an afterthought or was it all part of the master plan?
Originally when shopping for a Scion xB I really wanted the first line of them put out in 2005. (The brownish copper limited edition ones). I wanted one of those so I could put decals stating, “fragile handle with care,” and “this side up,”  to make it look like a cardboard box. The green 2006 xB just kind of fell into my hand along the way while shopping for the other one. The moment I got the green one, I knew what I had to do. I looked to try to find the TMNT decal for months with no prevail. Finally, I decided to have it custom-made.
Do you have any customizations on the inside?
The inside has a DVD player with two screens, one in the back of each headrest, and there are neon green lights that line the floor of the car all around.
 
Do you have any other modifications planned?
I would like to get a red band around the middle of the car with a knot in the back that would wrap around all of the way to the head lights to form a mask. also in the back small windows I would like to get the faces of the turtles peering out.
 
How big of a TMNT fan are you? 
I was a huge TMNT fan in my child hood. Growing up in the eighties who wasn’t? But I held on to that childhood fandom well into highschool, and even further, when most kids let it go as they got older. I couldn’t get enough. While in high school I started collecting the comics, both old ones and current ones, and they never left my side.
 
What do your friends and family think? Always asking for a ride or refuse to get in?
Everyone loves the car. Little kids point and stare at it as they tug at their parents clothing, trying to show them as I drive by. I get compliments on it at least two or three times per week. Friends love it. Even the ones who would never do it themselves say things like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you actually got that,” but always follow it up with, “It is pretty awesome though.”
 
Somewhere along the line I parted with my childhood TMNT toys, which is a bummer because I would have loved to pass them on to my son. Do you have an action figure collection, and if so, is it original, the new line, or both?
I don’t have so much of a collection anymore, however, I do still have about five or six of the old original figures stored away.
 
Have any other crazy people snapped photos or otherwise commented on it?
Quite a few people have snapped pictures. I even stumbled upon a picture of it on Facebook on a random persons page once and was just like….. wait … that’s mine…. glad they liked it.
 
My favorite Ninja Turtle was Donatello because he was so stinkin’ smart and because the bo staff is an awesome weapon. Who was your favorite Ninja Turtle and why?
Growing up it was Leonardo. He was the leader, and well, he had not one – but TWO swords. Pretty badass in my opinion. As I got a little older, I grew more fond of Mikey.  He was more fun, always goofing off. But as I hit highschool and my adult years I grew more fond of Raph. He was darker, more gritty, especially in the first movie.

Do you watch the new cartoon series? If so, how do you like it?
I have seen a few episodes of it, and I like it. The CG leaves a little something to be desired because of the skinny form of all of them, but other than that I dig it. It is entertaining and still feels like the old turtles I used to know. But, for the love of god, keep Michael Bay away from the new movie plans. I am terrified to see what he is planning for the new movies. Teenage alien ninja turtles. Help us all! Look into that you will see what I mean.
Any last thoughts?
Just a big thank you. This was pretty cool. I hope your readers enjoy.
Thanks so much, Dan! Make sure you send us updated photos of any modifications when they come to fruition. As for the new movie, I don’t think there is any official word out yet. I, for one, certainly don’t mind them holding off until they can do it right, and besides, by that time my son may be old enough to see it with me! 

Robot Part Roundup #3

Robot

Today we have an old toy toaster and a broken kiddie cup. The toaster is solid upper body material, while the cup lid looks like it may make a good helmet. The kitty is already wary of this whole situation, which, on a side note, reminds me of a fun game that we play on the iPad called Robot Wants Kitty.

Robot Roundup 3

Previously:

Robot Part Roundup #2

Robot Part Roundup #1

DIY Look and Find Tube

Look and Find Tube

I keep a supply of nuts and a container of Sunsweet Ones (individually wrapped prunes) on my desk for grazing throughout the day. I know how this sounds, and to give you a balanced picture, let it also be known that I have been on a quest for the perfect hot dog and hamburger for quite a few years now. I like to balance working out with pigging out.

Anyway, I recently finished off the last prune and found myself staring at the empty canister, wondering what I could use it for. It had definite potential to be repurposed for something else… Robot part? Shaker? Drumstick holder? All viable uses. What about a look and find tube? Bingo! It would make a perfect look and find tube! Really, you can use any plastic container that you wish, such  as a soda bottle.

I consulted with my wife about dying rice for the filler, sine she had recently died pasta for another project. I used her technique and it worked out great.

The tube held two cups of rice with a little room to spare, so I divided that into five ziploc bags, adding about a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol and about four drops of food coloring to each bag. Then I let my daughter shake them to her heart’s content. We spread out the rice on a foil lined pan and  left it out to dry while we played outside in the snow.

Died Rice

Later that day, I looked around for tiny items to hide in te tube. I thought about putting little miniature people and animals in it, but I didn’t want to have run out and purchase anything since I had already made everything else from what was readily available. My list of found treasures is below. I mixed them with the rice and dumped it all into the tube, using super-glued to seal it. I’d also recommend some packing tape on the lid. This is one toy we do not want to break in the car!

  • Saxophone lapel pin
  • Pink Pez
  • Blue M&M
  • Brown M&M
  • Mini green M&M
  • Flintstone vitamin
  • Chalk
  • Pistachio
  • Cocoa dusted almond
  • Broken red crayon
  • Goldfish cracker
  • Red bead
  • Pair of googly eyes
  • Pencil eraser
  • Black pen cap
  • Red paperclip
  • Washer
  • Drywall screw
  • Penny
  • Nickel
  • Dime
  • Match stick
  • Yellow paperclip
  • Hair clip
  • Large nut
  • Small nut
  • Dog treat
  • Pushpin
  • Pen spring
  • Tiny yellow hair band
  • Blue gem
  • Toothpick

When my kids get board of finding item from this lists I’ll cut open the container, throw in some different tiny treasures, and seal it back up in a new container. You can also take a picture of all the items so your  kids can know exactly what they are searching for (I wish I would have thought of the BEFORE I sealed the lid).

Here Fishy Fishy

E.T. Is Back!

E.T.

E.T. was spotted by my family outside of a Sweet Frog frozen yogurt, in the back seat of a Subaru Outback.  It made for some lively family discussion:

“WHAT THE!?” -Mommy

“The windows are up. He’s all alone. Should we call Alien Protective Services?”  -Daddy

“Mommy, why can’t E.T. have ice cream, too?” -Daughter

“I bet there is an app for phoning home.” –Daddy 

“I’m glad to see that he is buckled in, at least.” -Mommy

“Is this foreshadowing of a reboot?” -Daddy 

Points and stares but is rendered speechless. -Son

We’ll never know the full story. In any case, it made our day!