Get Pixar's rendering software behind 'Toy Story' absolutely free

Pixar's award-winning, in-house rendering software, RenderMan, will be free starting in August. All you have to do is sign up. The Emeryville studio has announced that it will offer the $500 rendering software for free, provided it is used for noncommercial purposes. The animation giant has also stated that the "free non-commercial RenderMan is exactly the same as the commercial version." This is pretty awesome news for aspiring digital artists.

The free version of RenderMan will be released with its commercial counterpart sometime in August. You can sign up here to get notified once it goes live. … Read more

TimeToy4 for Mac review

TimeToy4 for Mac is an audio editing program that lets you adjust various features of your audio tracks through an intuitive interface. While the program's features make it a better fit for someone who has experience editing audio tracks, the streamlined controls make the software accessible to even novice users.

As soon as you install TimeToy4, you can begin adding and editing clips. There is no Help file, but it's not too hard to figure out where to start. You can add a clip from the file menu, and then use the three tabs at the top of … Read more

Prepare Barbie for battle with 3D-printed armor

Barbie can be anything -- an astronaut, doctor, Air Force pilot, rock star, police officer, computer engineer -- so why not a warrior? That's exactly what 3D designer Jim Rodda, known as Zheng3 in the hobbyist 3D-printing community, envisioned when he started a Kickstarter campaign to create Barbie-compatible 3D-printed medieval armor.

It started because Rodda's 4-year-old niece has a birthday coming up and he wanted to design and print a unique gift for her.

"The original plan was to make My Little Pony-compatible glitter cannons, but the engineering turned out to be beyond what I could handle in a reasonable amount of time," Rodda told Crave. "So I back-burnered that idea, but was still interested in making accessories for toys she already had. I've been playing Dungeons and Dragons since forever, so my design thinking often goes towards fantasy medieval themes. From there it's a short mental hop to armor for Barbie dolls." … Read more

Get a smartphone-controlled RC race car for $39.99

I've never met a kid who didn't love radio-controlled cars, and I know plenty of adults who dig 'em as well.

For a limited time, and while supplies last, StackSocial has the Griffin Moto TC Rally RC car for $39.99, shipped. It normally sells for $99.99, and the best price I've seen elsewhere is around $60.

First things first: This is no wimpy little racer. The Moto TC Rally measures around 10 inches long and sits on big rubber tires atop an independent shock-absorbing suspension. It's far more substantial than you'd expect, and … Read more

Artist seeks crowdfunding for normal-looking Barbie

I'm sorry, but Barbie's never really done it for me.

It's not Barbie's fault. It's that every woman I've met who tries to look like her always seems to exude a certain asensuality.

I am fascinated, therefore, by the attempts of Nickolay Lamm, who has decided to create a realistic Barbie.

Artist and researcher Lamm asked himself a simple question: "What if fashion dolls were made using standard human body proportions?"

Indeed, that's the headline for his crowdsourcing campaign to bring his prototype average-looking Barbie to market.… Read more

Got the 'Star Wars' collector gene? Advice on turning droids to dollars

When an original 1980 Palitoy "Empire Strikes Back" medical droid action figure sold at a UK auction last week for more than $11,000, "Star Wars" fans and collectors were in a state of shock. It's not every day childhood dreams translate to big dollars, after all.

"I was gobsmacked by the price!" Steve Sansweet, author of the book "Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection," told Crave. "When you add the buyer's premium and the value added tax, it comes to over $14,400 -- for a nearly 34-year-old 4-inch piece of plastic sealed on a card. But as in any auction, it only takes two slightly crazed, somewhat wealthy folks to drive a price up to incredible heights. It may have been the last piece someone needed to complete a run, it looks like it was as in near-mint condition as these things get, and the heart-beating competition of an auction can lead to a lot of adrenaline pumping." … Read more

Kids play with gadgets more than toys, study says

Why bother twisting real, plastic arms when you can play twisting games on an iPhone?

What's the point of unpacking a board game when you can alleviate boredom instantly on an iPad?

Kids, you see, don't need the hassle. They just want instant gratification. Yes, they're little adults.

A study performed by child-education specialists the Michael Cohen Group, suggests that touch screens have overtaken all other forms of playful delight for kids.

The research, which examined the world of Digital Kids, shows that more than 60 percent of parents say their kids aged 12 and under play … Read more

The best robots (and RC toys) of Toy Fair 2014

Toy Fair has a lot of remote-controlled things. Robots, RC vehicles...and odder stuff. I drove a few, was shot by a few, and ducked while nearly being hit by a few. While there are admittedly more than I could ever take in during my one day on the floor, here were my favorite funky robots and RC toys I saw. (For more toys, check out Bridget Carey's journey.)

Nerf Combat Creatures Hasbro's first Nerf robot is headed to stores this fall for $79.99, and it looks like a spider fused with a dart gun. The six-legged … Read more

Transformers, meet 3D printing: Hasbro and 3D Systems team up

3D-printed products from multinational toy company Hasbro -- which oversees brands such as Transformers, Star Wars, Scrabble, and Monopoly -- may be a future fixture of children's playrooms, classroom show-and-tell, and family board game night thanks to a partnership that could accelerate the adoption of 3D printers in mainstream settings like households and schools.

The Rhode Island-based company announced Friday that it has partnered with 3D Systems, a maker of wide-ranging 3D printers and accompanying software, to "co-develop, co-venture and deliver new immersive, creative play experiences powered by 3D printing for children and their families later this year.&… Read more

Adorkable 'Star Wars' statues from best-selling kids books

Nothing is cuter than a little-girl version of Princess Leia lovingly hugging Darth Vader's leg after cutting out hearts from his cape. Then again, a young Luke Skywalker giving Darth Vader a tie is pretty adorable too.

"Star Wars" fans will be able to buy these statues, available from Gentle Giant Studios, depicting precious scenes from author and artist Jeffrey Brown's best-selling kids books "Darth Vader and Son" and "Vader's Little Princess." … Read more