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TOYS

Gadgets for fat fingers, rich kids and video thrills

by Jess Mantell

Whether you are big, small, active or lazy, here is your monthly round-up with a little something for everyone.

iPhone dialing wand

Here is a handy little product for the digitally well endowed — a smartphone touch-pen that plugs into the device’s earphone jack. The audio jack accessory trend has really been taking off lately and it is perhaps the contemporary answer to the keitai (mobile phone) strap craze of the 1990s and early 2000s that saw many a Japanese girl’s phone weighed down by dozens of cute trinkets. As smartphones tend not to have the little loop for straps, the new way to personalize your phone — when you aren’t listening to tunes — is by jamming a little plug in the phone’s audio jack which is topped with a decoration: jewels, flowers, and cartoon characters seem to be pretty popular. The Evergreen touch pen is interesting because it is more function than decoration. If, for whatever reason, you don’t want to touch your screen — extreme manicure, past run in with the yakuza, fat fingers — this dialing wand will have you banging out emails with precision and leave no smudges on the screen. It comes in five colors (red, purple, green, black, and silver) and retails for a mere ¥299. And if you pair the touch pen up with an audio-jack splitter, you can still type away while listening to your music. Available online at www.donya.jp.

LEXUS for kids

Where the Evergreen touch pen is useful for those with fat fingers, this next product is really just for parents with fat wallets who want to spoil their kids — or teach them about fuel efficiency and emissions while they are young. The sleek one-seater toy LEXUS LS600hL — which, like the Model-T Ford of old, comes only in black — is perfect for tots too posh for tricycles and is made by A-kids (www.a-kids.com). It has really great details in the dashboard, body and rims and even has working headlights and a sound system built into the headrest. It retails for ¥44,100.

JVC action-video camera

Now to catch the potentially viral video snippets of life, you really need to always have the camera rolling — which can be tough when your hands are full of luggage, coffee or handlebars. JVC has just announced a tiny, yet durable, action camera to catch it all. The new JVC GC-XA1 ADIXXION can be taken anywhere as it is truly palm-sized and weighs a mere 126 grams. The ADIXXION is up for any of your year-round adventures and doesn’t require any additional casing to keep it safe as it’s ready to go straight out of the box. It’s waterproof up to 5 meters, dust-proof (so you can take it to Burning Man), freeze-proof (so it’s good for treks up Everest), and it can withstand being dropped from 2 meters, presumably without the weight of a person or other equipment falling on top of it. In addition to its tough construction, the ADIXXION offers a lot of great technical features. It has built-in Wi-Fi, a 1.5-inch LCD screen, image stabilizer, HD recording capabilities, and it can take 5 megapixel stills. All video shot with the ADIXXION is recorded as QuickTime-compatible MP4 files which can be sent directly to a PC, smartphone or cloud service using the the built-in Wi-Fi. It can even be streamed live to Ustream. It comes with a USB cable and battery, two protective lens covers and two mounting devices; one flexible, and one goggle mount. There are other mounts available separately such as a bicycle handlebar mount and a helmet mount. Free iPhone and Android apps makes it easy to link to your phone, in turn making for easy playback and control when the camera is strapped to your head. If you aren’t already pumped enough to play rough with this cool little camera, I should also mention the fun capture options such as the time lapse recording function and ultra-wide lens. Very cool camera, kind of unfortunate name, the JVC GC-XA1 ADIXXION will be available in late summer for $349.95.

Jess Mantell is a PhD student in the department of Media Design at Keio University. Follow tweets about design, technology and urbanism @jessmantell on Twitter.