Talk-To-Me Elmo

Tickle Me Elmo walkie talkie smart assistant alexa siri plush toy teddy ruxbin electronics dave delisle davesgeekyideas 2020

For years I thought it would be fun to embed a smart assistant like Siri or Alexa into a plush toy like Teddy Ruxpin so a child can converse endlessly with a character they enjoy. However I was not comfortable with all the electronics that would be inside the plush toy, or the upkeep that would be needed (like charging the battery or cleaning the plush toy).

I feel it would be best if all of the electronics were completely separated from the plush toy, and placed in a walkie-talkie that the child can interact with. The plush toy would be holding a walkie-talkie too, but it would have no electronics, it is just a prop. The battery, speaker, microphone — everything needed to engage with a smart assistant is in the main walkie-talkie.

As for the smart assistant, I’m not sure if Siri or Alexa can be given the helium treatment to sound like Elmo, or if the character’s voice actor would need to record new dialogue, but either way the voice is a very important feature for this toy, it is the main selling point after all.

Ideally a child can have entire conversations with Elmo, play games, or even be quizzed for an educational aspect. The sky’s the limit with smart assistants, although this one would need parental controls obviously.

Tiny Train Set

Tiny Toy Train Set design miniature

In 2006 a new miniature scale of model trains were introduced, the T gauge. I believe we can go even smaller! This is a complete train set that is the size of a book, featuring a motorized train that has variable speed and the ability to switch tracks on demand.

The locomotive is propelled by a magnet attached to an on-rails motor in the base. This system is a lot like those mechanical PONG tables which debuted a few years ago. The nose of the train has the metal needed to be pulled by the magnet below.

The rails system is something you’d find in a 3D printer, image scanner, or even an Etch-A-Sketch. It would guide the tiny train along its route that is stored in an onboard computer. It would be nice to swap out the track for different layouts (these could be printed on cardboard).

This desk toy would feature dedicated controls for the track switches, and a big dial for the speed. When this device is powered off, the train is automatically diverted to a side rail where it parks. The design above is sparse but the layout could be populated with buildings, trees, vehicles, and so forth. Lights and sounds are also possible.

There are drawbacks! Only one functioning train is possible, the train length would need to be short, and the terrain would need to be flat (you can add tunnels, but no bridges over rivers for example). And lastly if the motor is loud this concept wouldn’t be worthwhile, this thing needs to be quiet!

In the meantime you can buy these neat tiny trains but they feature basic oval tracks.

Last Starfighter Mini Cabinet

Last Starfighter mini cabinet bartop video game 2020 dave delisle davesgeekyideas

Mini arcade cabinets are all the rage these days, even SEGA is getting in on the act! My hope is that a company like Basic Fun or My Arcade will issue a Last Starfighter-themed mini cabinet. Or even better, Arcade 1UP releases a bartop cabinet.

While there are fan-made video games of what was featured in the film, I think the twin flight sticks may make things difficult to execute. I would settle for a Galaga or Missile Command re-skin, or a generic shmup will do. As long as the iconic attract mode from the film is present in some form.

Even a Hallmark keepsake ornament (like this) would be neat. One can dream.

I’ve looked into building a bartop cabinet of this recently (I made the above mockup for that purpose), but I’ve hit a wall: all my email inquiries for custom side panels and vinyl prints have gone unanswered! Probably due to the recent worldwide hullabaloo.

Baby Yoda Gift Box And Greeting Card

baby yoda mandalorian gift box certificate early bird papercraft 2019 dave delisle davesgeekyideas

This is a papercraft project where you can make a small gift box or greeting card. I recommend card stock paper, both are designed for regular 8.5″ x 11″ paper. Find the template for the gift box here, and the greeting card here. The greeting card can be used as a certificate too.

As you know Baby Yoda toys are nowhere to be found this holiday season, which reminds me of what happened when the original Star Wars film came out in 1977. During the holidays of that year, toy company Kenner issued Early Bird Gift Certificates (seen here on the left), because the toys wouldn’t be ready until the spring of 1978. This stop-gap measure was a huge success, and is fondly remembered by toy collectors to this day.

So I made this gift box/greeting card for fans who find themselves in a similar predicament here in 2019. I hope you enjoy! Happy Holidays.

Note: I will probably delete this in a few months when Baby Yoda toys are everywhere, much like Baby Groot was in the summer of 2014. The look of this design matches a recent 40th anniversary reissue, not the original (sorry).