2049: Unfulfilling Toys
Title text: We were going to do a falling-apart Rubik's cube that was just 27 independent blocks stuck together with magnets, but then we realized it was actually really cool and even kind of worked, so we cut that one.
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This comic lists and illustrates a number of classic toys that are missing a key piece or attribute that makes them work and/or that makes them unique. As such, they are not much fun.
Rigid Slap Bracelet
Slap bracelets are flexible curved strips of spring steel that roll up and become a bracelet when you slap them against your wrist (This function operates on the same principle & basic design as the rolled band of metal inside a tape-measure). A rigid one would not twist and would be deeply frustrating and potentially painful.
Sealed Stomp Rocket
A stomp rocket has a rubber pouch full of air, connected via a hose to a vertical cylinder contained snugly within the base of an air propelled rocket. By stomping on the pouch, the air is forced out the top end of the cylinder, launching the rocket into the air. By sealing the air channel, the rocket would stay on the cylinder and the person would just be bounced into the air by the pouch -- acting like the world's smallest bouncy house -- or the pouch will burst rendering the toy even more useless.
A Super Soaker™ is a brand of water gun that works by first pumping air into the gun, thereby introducing pressurized air above the water, then releasing the water using the gun's trigger -- the extra pressure from the pumped air makes the water go much further than a traditional water gun which relies upon the pressure generated from a single pump of the trigger itself. In Randall's version, the water cannot be released, so the fun part of the water gun -- getting to spray your friends -- isn't available.
Glass Glow Stick
In a classic glow-stick, made of flexible plastic, one must first bend it enough to break the glass cylinder inside. This allows the chemicals inside to mix and begin glowing within the plastic tube. If the entire tube were made of actual glass, however, it would not only shatter into many sharp glass pieces, but would also cover the hands of the unfortunate user with a mixture of mild but not harmless chemicals.
Wingless Sky Dancer
In the original toy, a doll or figure with folded-up wings sits on top of a hand-held device with a wrapped string or other mechanism that lets it spin the doll very fast. As the doll spins, centrifugal force causes the wings to unfold and provide lift, and the doll rises up in the air and flies, spinning, sometimes going quite high. Without the wings, the doll will spin but otherwise remain flightless.
In a traditional yo-yo, one attaches a string to their finger and the other end of the string is looped around the shaft of the yo-yo, in such a way that it will hold the yo-yo but the yo-yo can still spin. In this case, the string is included but not attached to the yo-yo, so when the yo-yo reaches the end of its string it will fall off, instead of coming back to the person or spinning at the end of the string.
XKCD probably did not know this, but this is called off string yo-yoing and has been a division of the World yo-yo contest since 2003. It was popularized by yo-yo player Job Gates. It differs from the juggling you called a Diablo because the string is tied to a finger on one end and not tied to the yoyo at all. The return is accomplished with a twist of the string called a bind. A good example is here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tVpuh5aMhTQ
Title-text: Falling-Apart Rubik's cube
In order to build the magnetic Rubik's cube, you would need to embed magnets (like the little hockey-puck shaped ones for magnetic bulletin boards) in the the uncolored (inward-facing) sides of each cube. You would need to take care to have the correct pole of each magnet facing outward in order for it to work, but you can achieve that by having the corners and the central outside cubes use one pole (say north) facing outward and have the edge and center (hidden) cubes use the other pole (say south) facing outward. In that way each piece would be attracted to its correct neighboring piece and if you rotated a side, it would resist turning until you got half way around, then it would be drawn into the correct new position.
This also exists, is rather functional, and is the only way to make fun Rubik's cube shapes such as 1x5x5. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb8ENlS-5Go
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