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Amazon May Take Over Where Toys “R” Us Left Off

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I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a[n] Toys “R” Us Amazon kid: Before the children’s retailer has even stopped bleeding, reports have surfaced that Amazon will take over the store’s annual holiday toy catalog.

After 70 years of bringing joy to kids across the globe, Toys “R” Us last year filed for bankruptcy, and in March announced that its U.S. operations were going out of business.

Nationwide stores closed on June 29.

Not even a week later, Amazon was poised to step in, planning to publish a printed guide, which, according to Bloomberg, will be mailed to millions of U.S. households, and dispersed at Whole Foods locations—the grocery chain Amazon bought last year.

The Toys “R” Us “Big Book” catalog has long been a staple of the holiday shopping season; the 2017 directory launched in October, weighing in at about 100 pages.

As Bloomberg pointed out, there is something endlessly satisfying about flipping through paper pages of inventory; physical catalogs offer something that digital shopping can’t.

Dating back to the 1800s, when Pryce Pryce-Jones set up the fir modern mail order in Wales, these wondrous books have provided hours of entertainment—whether choosing a new sewing machine from Sears, sporting goods from J.C. Penney, or lawn ornaments from SkyMall (RIP).

Brick-and-mortar stores shouldn’t be counted out just yet, either.

The $6.5 billion in U.S. sales Toys “R” Us generated last year is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, other retailers—even those not known for selling toys—are scurrying to fill the sudden void seven decades of Geoffery the Giraffe has left.

Party City, for example, is opening 50 pop-up toy shops for the holiday season. And Target told Bloomberg it is expanding shelf space for toys ahead of Christmas shopping.

Amazon did not immediately respond to Geek’s request for comment.

As part of going out of business, Toys “R” Us is selling off its intellectual property—including some spicy sexual domains.

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Autonomous Sexbots Are the Future

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In a 2017 TEDx talk, University of London lecturer and writer Kate Devlin pointed out that “There are no actual sex robots in production yet—just dolls.”

What a difference a year makes.

Chinese robotics developer DS Doll is currently working on the world’s first autonomous sex robot.

According to Daily Star, the Dalian-based firm is 3D-printing component parts for its AI-powered humanoid. The advanced technology helps boost production speed and efficiency, allowing for the mass production of sexy cyborgs.

Able to move its eyes, mouth, head, shoulders, and arms, the first prototype is “almost complete,” DS Doll told the UK tabloid; engineers are putting the finishing touches on the mobile legs.

A slew of video clips shared via the company’s Twitter account highlight the unnamed android’s … talents: Watch her shake to life before fitfully stretching her arms and turning her silicone head.

Not exactly the smooth operator you’d hope to bed, the electronic skeleton is designed to mimic the human body. DS Doll uses 3D printing to develop and stamp out specific, uniform shapes. It can even scan full human bodies and prototype parts for replication.

The company constructs 400 custom models each month; its premium-range mannequins sell for around $5,000.

“We are still in the researching process,” DS Doll chief development officer Qiao Wu told the Daily Star.

“The full-body robot will have more physical expression to help with human communication,” he explained. “One day, we hope the robot can be used in etiquette, presentation, human companionship, front-desk services, and other areas.”

Sex dolls (because Devlin’s right—most of these devices are nothing more than life-sized hunks of plastic with no understanding of consent) have come a long way from the tacky, low-grade inflatable masturbation toys of yore.

They still have a long way to go, though.

The line between man and machine continues to blur. Which is why activists are calling for sex robot regulations. Learn everything you always wanted to know about sex robots (but were afraid to ask) and more here.

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SpaceX Signs First Private Passenger For Lunar Flight

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DIY a Desktop Arcade Cabinet With Retro Picade Kit

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This is the year of retro gaming: Classic titles are reappearing on modern consoles, and nostalgic appliances are reappearing as modern consoles.

So it’s no surprise that hobbyist electronic firm Pimoroni recently launched a redesigned version of its Raspberry Pi-powered mini arcade machine.

Unveiled in August, the build-it-yourself Picade features authentic controls, a high-res 4:3 display, and a “punchy speaker to hear those 8-bit game soundtracks at their best.”

The kit takes about two to three hours to build (according to the experts who created it). All you need is a Raspberry Pi, micro-SD card, power supply, and £150 ($198) to spare.

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The original Picade was introduced in 2012 as the UK’s first Kickstarter project, collecting more than £74,000 ($98,000) toward a £33,000 ($44,000) goal.

Six years later, Pimoroni has updated its “ultimate desktop retro arcade machine,” now more compact, with a better display, dedicated power button, and Picade X HAT “packed full of useful features.”

Fans may also notice splashier artwork and packaging. Each Picade comes with “a bunch of extra goodies,” like an enamel pin, sticker selection, poster, and assembly instructions.

In an effort to drum up interest in the new toy, Sheffield-based Pimoroni asked folks around the world to come up with a retro game concept that would suit the new Picade.

Entries from the UK, Europe, and US included hand-drawn posters, punny titles, and “screenshots.” Ultimately, the team behind Trolley Wars—a Supermarket Sweep-like game—won for its “simplicity and button-bashing of arcade favorites of old.”

New packaging for a new machine (via Pimoroni)

Everything old is new again, and arcade cabinets are no exception: British manufacturer STOA last year rolled out custom-built cupboards, each handcrafted from start to finish for one or two players.

In place of traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, STOA uses modern LCD screens, with the same 4:3 aspect ratio as the Picade. Every device comes with a curated selection of games (Ms. Pac-Man, Street Fighter II, Paperboy, Mortal Kombat, Space Invaders, etc.), tailored to the client’s preference and design.

You can do anything with a Raspberry Pi and a little imagination: DIY a Spotify speaker, upcycle a karaoke machine, track foosball scores. Check out our recent Geek Pick, the Retroflag SUPERPi case for Nintendo lovers. And stay up to date on all things Raspberry Pi here.

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