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TOYS

This summer, cute animal gizmos will make ‘cool biz’ even cooler

by Rick Martin

Summer is just around the corner, and office workers are starting to don their lighter “cool biz” clothing in order to beat the heat. Japanese gadget-maker Cube Works (you may know them from the infamous humping dog USB stick) has rolled out a series of cute little fans to help you stay chilled.

The Fun-Fan is currently available in four varieties: a blue elephant, a brown dog, a white bear, and a panda. The fan blades are affixed to the tail, and the animal peers back over its shoulder as if to check if you’re enjoying the breeze. I should point out that there is something a little unusual about enjoying the wind emitted from a dog’s behind. At least, from personal experience with my own dog, I prefer to impose a certain distance — depending on what he has recently eaten — if I hope to retain some level of comfort.

The fan gets power via your computer’s USB port (compatible with any operating system), and there’s a handy switch around the front where you can turn it on and off. The Fun-Fan comes with a 90cm connection cable, and is mounted on a tilting arm as well just in case you find you need to adjust the angle. Of course, while this is a very cute way to keep yourself cool this summer, you should always be responsible about your power consumption, particularly this year.

Cube Works’ Fun-Fan will sell for ¥1,580. You can find out more about Cube Works via its website, cube-works.co.jp.

Not to be out-chilled, Japanese company Solid Alliance has its own team of little animal friends that are even cooler (literally) than the Fun-Fan friends. Dubbed Fridgee Zoo, this army of sub-zero critters hang out in your refrigerator waiting for visitors to drop by. They’re half milk carton and half animal, making for an interesting addition in your fridge to keep your food company.

When you open the refrigerator door, each animal has its own special thing to say. The polar bear gives a very calm and stoic greeting, while the penguin is a little more high-strung. The cat greets you in a childish, whiny voice while the brown walrus bellows a deep “Hello!” There are eight different animals in all, including a cow, pig, tiger, and squirrel. Throw them all in at once and you’ll have a pretty happening fridge!

Keep in mind however that these little characters converse in Japanese. But perhaps that’s a good thing if you’re in need of a language-conversation partner!

Now that I think about it, these Fridgee Zoo animals would have been amazingly useful back in my university days. They’d have been perfect snack guardians to ward off hipster roommates stricken by the munchies.

Fridgee Zoo pets also do their part to help you stay energy conscious. If you happen to leave the refrigerator door open, they’ll remind you to come back and close it.

With a price tag of ¥1,980, one of these little guys might be good mental-health investment for anyone who lives alone in a tiny apartment. On the other hand it might not be, depending on how you feel about socializing with milk cartons.

For more information on Fridgee Zoo see www.apparestore.com/gadgets-apps/fridgeezoo/ Rick Martin is a contributer to Gizmag.com. Read more of his work at 1rick.com.