Tail Toppers

These people emailed me and tried to get me to feature their project while it was still running. Presumably they were hoping I’d send them some ‘ironic’ backers, but that’s not how I do things. So here’s “Tail Toppers” a year after their project failed.

Tail Toppers journey began about one year ago when I scored a dream job at a major toy company. I noticed that leaving my cat alone for over 12 hours a day had a toll on the overall quality of life for my kitty cat. He wasn't as frisky as he used to be. He was depressed.  I did some research and realized this was a major issue with many pets, and rightly so, I mean we're the only ones who are their whole lives. It's especially worse if your cat is an indoor animal at an apartment. I feel terrible.

Aww… So sad. Poor kitty.

Ok, so … you invented a thing to pinch the nape of their neck?

Oh. Hmm…, that’s not…

Do you even know where your cat’s neck is?

Really? Huh. I would have thought that the risks of leaving a piece of plastic clipped over your cat’s butt-hole while you spend 12 hours at work would have risks that were more scatological in nature.


Rocketships for the Imaginationless


Generations of children saved up their allowance and lemonade-stand money to take advantage of this amazing offer.

Imagine how disappointed they were when they finally realized it was made of cardboard!


Oh, But how times have changed! Nowadays the cardboard is a selling point!

That’s right, It’s another cardboard box specially manufactured for kids to play in. No longer will kids have to take a refrigerator box and design their own spaceship.

But, don’t put away those crayons just yet! Just like last time, there is a single panel specially designed by adults to be drawn on by children. (Or by an adult moving a child’s hand around, as shown in the video.)

It also comes with “Imagination Triggers” which are “Short stories” to help you “improvise” when you play. Because apparently some people can’t think of a way to make spaceships and astronauts interesting to a four year old!


Currently available are Castle, Space Capsule, Teepee, and Windmill. (Volcano coming soon!)

But don’t worry, they all come with “Imagination Triggers”, in case you have so little faith in your child’s intelligence that you don’t trust him or her to come up with a fun fantasy involving a castle.


Kickstarter Loves Balls

Haha, it’s a pun, right? I said “Balls” to make you think of testicles, but actually I’m going to show you articles about baseballs, or footballs or something, right?

No. Wrong. This is about testicles.

So let’s give those balls a kick!



This project is still underway. It’s a pair of balls to hang from the underside of your desk. … so you can fondle your balls while you work.

I bet it’ll succeed. Kickstarter loves balls. Just look at this project from 2015!


Bike balls! Why should trucks get all the ‘fun’? This project was successfull, and they’re now selling them as a product. You can order these from their web site.

They even made it on the news in Norway.
balls_03 “Confused” isn’t the word I would use.

balls_04 I’ve wondered this. If truck-nuts are supposed to make a truck look like a dog, why don’t we see female trucks with truck-vulvas? Or, I don’t know, why not just a nice, innocent truck-tail?

Why’s it always about the balls?


Gizmo – The Dog Bowl

Kickstarter : Gizmo The Pet Bowl - The friendlier and engaging pet bowl made to reflect the personality of your best friend in the simplest way.

A pet bowl? Hope this is better than that last one.

Kickstarter : Most pet bowls on the market today aren’t made to reflect the fun and spontaneous personality of our pet friends. My goal was to conceptualize and develop a pet bowl that characterizes the key attributes of a pet while still reflecting balance and elegance. Engaging and simplistic, Gizmo is a product that a pet owner would be proud to display in their home.
Well, that’s quite a load of designer-speak.

I don’t really know what any of that means, so let’s check out the picture.

Kickstarter : Bowl set $45
They’re two thin, vacuum-formed plastic bowls with a colored stripe.

I guess it’s “fun and spontaneous” because the top curves a little?

Kickstarter - From ideation to fabrication, gizmo has made quite a journey. Through concept development and establishing various design constraints, Gizmo is finally ready for production. The prototypes for the Gizmo bowl set were made at the University of Illinois at Chicago using our lathe and vacuum-forming machines.
This project is a perfect example of why I hate the word “ideation”. It’s only ever used by people who think the act of having an idea is magical and special. It’s supposed to imply that having an idea is a process that talented people have to work very hard at.

That’s all complete bullshit. Everybody has a hundred ideas every day. Having an idea is not something to be proud of. It’s not something to brag about. It’s just a thing that happens to anybody that isn’t isn’t functionally brain-dead.

The thing to be proud of is figuring out which ideas are good, Figuring out which ideas will work, Figuring out which ideas are valuable and desirable, and then (and this is the important bit) doing all the hard work to make the idea a reality.

Kickstarter - sketches of dog bowls

So before you put yourself up on a pedestal for being special and creative enough to “have an idea” and then rush to Kickstarter to unveil your idea to the world, stop and figure out if the idea is honestly better than the sea of ideas we all wade through every single day of our lives.

Because this one wasn’t.


Steampunk Jewelry


I’ll grudgingly admit that this project, to make jewelry out of 1950s watch movements ‘counts’ as real steampunk, and not just just glue-some-gears-on-it opportunism.

But here’s what caught my eye :

These are bracelets, with small clocks attached to them. You’ve probably heard of this invention before, but these are special : The clocks don’t work.


loe, the Shoehorn iPhone Cover

Kickstarter :  loe cover is a new smartphonecover with shoehorn

Have you ever wished your phone could help you put on a tight pair of shoes? Of course you have. Well this project tried to make those dreams a reality.

Back in the day it was quite common to own a shoehorn.

This genius apparently believes that shoehorns are some kind of lost technology. He probably found one on an archeological dig and realized that the ancients must have used these mystic devices for putting on tight shoes.

In actual real life, shoehorns are available cheaply in a wide variety of styles. If you haven’t seen one lately, it’s probably because you hang around with people who only wear sneakers and other easy-to-put-on types of shoe.

Kickstarter - iPhone case / shoehorn prototype

Ah, but those old-fashioned shoehorns don’t attach to your phone. … and somehow that’s a problem?

Maybe some people change their shoes so often that just leaving a shoehorn wherever they store their shoes isn’t sufficient. Maybe some people change their shoes constantly, on the road, at coffee shops, during business meetings, weddings, and other situations where they couldn’t carry a shoehorn, but they’d definetely still have their phone!

Prototype iphone case / shoehorn hybrid So go ahead. Use your phone as the handle to what is basically a small pry-bar. What could go wrong?


Lifestyle Design Journal


The “Lifestyle Design Journal” appears to just be a diary with writing prompts. Boring. But I don’t want to talk about the product.

Also, The project was mysteriously canceled after reaching its funding goal. That’s weird, but I don’t want to talk about that either.

I want to talk about this video.

This is so generic it feels like it’s a perfect parody of all those tech startup promo videos we see on Kickstarter and elsewhere. Like all these videos, it’s a festival of stock-footage that serves as a self-congratulatory ode to how awesome upper-middle-class white men are.

Let’s look at the important elements that are required for any start up company’s video :

☑ Creator/Founder sitting in front of wood panels, gesturing with his hands and asking rhetorical questions

☑️ White dude writing inspirational nonsense on a piece of glass.

☑️ A specific example shaming people who don’t use the product.

☑️ White dudes being “creative”

LDJ_Vid_6 LDJ_Vid_5

☑️ Montage of stock footage illustrating “success”

LDJ_Vid_7 LDJ_Vid_10
LDJ_Vid_9 LDJ_Vid_8

☑️ Only show non-whites doing weird “cultural” things.

LDJ_Vid_4 LDJ_Vid_13

☑️ Look! We designed our product on a computer!

☑️ Tropical Sunset

The only thing they forgot to include was a shot of a couple of bearded dudes in a workshop wearing old-fashioned overalls, indicating that their product is made with old-world craftsmanship.


Absurd Survivalist Fire Starters

Let’s be honest. “Survivalist Fire Starters” are just toys.

If you really did find yourself out in the woods in danger of freezing to death, you’d probably be a lot happier with a BIC lighter you got at the drug store for two bucks than some crazy gadget you got off Kickstarter for $25 + shipping.


This device is powered by 2 AAA batteries and will start a fire if you shove it into a large piece of steel wool. This would be perfect for anyone stranded in a forest where steel wool grows naturally, somehow!

… Actually, even in the forest of steel sheep, it wouldn’t really be ideal. A Bic in a plastic bag will easily beat it at both reliability and weight, and if you absolutely have to start a fire with batteries and steel wool, you could achieve the same effect by taking the bulb out of your flashlight and shoving some steel wool into the socket.

Fire pistons are fun science demonstrations, but they’re probably the most annoying way to start a fire known to man.

Any fire piston small enough to carry and operate with your bare hands will only generate a minuscule amount of fire. You need to prep it with a super-flammable material like powered magnesium or “char cloth” to capture a tiny ember barely big enough to see with the naked eye. It’ll take you five minutes to carefully nurse that ember to a fire the size of the flame a lighter would just give you automatically!
fire_tinyspark Oh look! He’s created a fire! Look at it burn!
If I was freezing to death out in the woods, and had just created this pin-prick of fire, I’d sure feel proud of myself for not wimping out and bringing a lighter.

Here’s another one that belongs in the classroom, not the survival kit.
This was actually removed from kickstarter, not because it’s an absurd product, but because it’s a reselling scam. You can pick these up on eBay for about $7 each. (Cheaper in bulk!)
In ideal, sunny conditions, you could light a cigarette with these, but can you imagine using it as a “Great survival tool”?

There you are, stranded on a mountaintop. You spent the daylight hours hiking back into civilization or hunting for food, and now the sun is setting so you need a fire to cook your dinner and avoid freezing to death in your sleep. You reach into your survival kit and pull out … this. Don’t you feel clever?


I really can’t think of a situation, from a plane-crash in The Alps, to being the last survivor of the Zombocalypse, where I would prefer to have one of these crazy tools instead of an ordinary lighter, but if you absolutely must stock your survival kit with a non-standard fire starter, just get yourself an ordinary ferro rod. They’re dirt cheap and work perfectly fine.

Just be sure to also pack a lighter or some waterproof matches for when you get tired of playing cave-man.