equality in toy lines i say!

I’ve already trained a neural network on the names of real horses. But what about fictional ones? From, say, a certain line of toys that was turned into an equally popular cartoon?

I extracted the list of names from the Wikipedia List of mainline My Little Pony ponies article and trained a few models with different parameters. Due to the relatively sparse data set, I ended up finally going with an input length of 20, as that seemed to give the best balance between creativity and not being complete gibberish.

So without further ado, twenty names from an alternate-universe My Little Pony generation:

  • Star Yistle
  • Ms. Peachtystings
  • Lickety-Swill
  • Sunset Rate
  • Glever Clutter
  • Colonomon Cheam
  • Ginger Creed
  • Sporpwicket
  • Sweetloot
  • The Tredleet
  • Mincer Pie
  • Whipstry
  • Tuzzler Flutter
  • Piccy Tunch
  • Tunershy Flare
  • Glody
  • Da-inc-Ta-Too
  • Starlowe
  • Bow-a-Pon-Toto
  • Party Bae

Sometimes it would even generate alternate names for a single pony, just like the original training data:

  • Salty Con / Baby Sninty Rover
  • Fazzy Hapsy / Nottem Flare
  • Zippurt Thob / Viny Lugash
  • Die Flae / Baby Licknyston
  • Mose / Tic-a-Light
  • De-On e Swertheacks / Baby Lilbon / Nickety-Stlor
  • Shining Dusk / Baby Sundwise

(Bonus points for that last one being vaguely sensible despite the word “dusk” never appearing in the original list.)

I reordered the Thames & Kosmos Barbie STEM Kit with Nikki Scientist Doll from the Amazon Warehouse, and had to wait 8 business days for her to ship! Again! I thought they were going to cancel the order on me again!

But they finally shipped her, and she arrived with the tiniest bit of box damage.

That qualified it as a Warehouse item? I guess some buyers might be more picky than I am.

Nikki is nice! And is only held in with two twist-ties.

No plastic tabs in her head or anything! Her head does seem a bit hard, so she probably has glue.

She’s obviously not dressed for the lab or any type of construction work with loose hair, a short skirt, a midi-sleeved lab coat, and open topped, high-heeled shoes.

She does have goggles and a tiny microscope which has nothing to do with physics or mechanics.

This was kind of disappointing. Yeah, the skirt, top, and lab coat are all one piece. Mattel has gotten cheap and lazy with doll clothes the past few years.

I don’t know if you can see, but Nikki on the box has curly hair, and the doll has apparently had a silk press.

The hard, plastic parts of this kit are standard Thames & Kosmos parts. The thin plastic sheets are too thin and aren’t punched out well enough.

The box says this set is for ages 4-8, but I honestly can’t see a child that young being able to manage punching out those deco pieces without breaking them. I broke one, and I’m 36.

Assembling these projects takes more physical strength and mental patience than you might think. Most children will need help, so be prepared to participate.

On the plus side, the instructions are clear and easy to understand, unlike Thames & Kosmos’s Physics Workshop and Physics Workshop Pro, which we also have.

The first project we made was the Closet Spinner. I had to pull pretty hard on the pink gear strip to connect it, and had to use my fingernails to properly install the joints for it. That probably would have frustrated a child to the point of quitting if they didn’t have adult help. And we omitted a superfluous gear, attaching the crank to a main gear instead.

Then we had a good time spinning it way too fast and flinging the flimsy hangers all over the place.

They cannot hold clothes. If the pink gear strip had been made of plastic chain links and it came with “real” Barbie hangers instead, it probably could.

Even though we burned through a lot of the projects in one evening, there are still more to do.

There have been a lot of complaints about the subjects of the projects. A closet spinner, a clothes washing machine, a spinning shoe rack, everything pink… Obviously, Mattel and T&K heavily gendered this product in the hopes it would appeal to girls.

They’ve once again made the grave error of believing girls wouldn’t like building dump trucks and back hoes.

I have a feeling the heavy gendering has more to do with getting parents to allow their girls to play with the kit than anything else. When I was a little girl, I wasn’t allowed to play with “boy” toys, and that wasn’t my fault or my preference at all. When I would spend time at my grandma’s house, she’d let me play with my step-dad’s old toys. There were Hot Wheels and LEGO’s among other things, and I loved playing with all of them AND my Barbies at the same time.

I know this kit is STEM for girls, and that’s important.

However, I have a son.

My son is, obviously, white. (And also obviously a bendy noodle.)

He needs just as much, if not more, encouragement to accept women in STEM fields and see girls/woman as equals, especially WOC. That’s why we have Scientist Nikki to oversee our projects instead of Scientist Barbie

Thankfully, his father is on board with that line of thinking, so there hasn’t been any conflict because of my son’s “girl” toys.

My son kept saying “Do you like this toy? I like this toy. It’s two toys in one:  Barbie and Physics Workshop!” and things like that. He would have liked the set a lot more if it were Monster High themed.