PM’s Great Stuff pages have featured an extraordinary variety of gadgets over the years, introducing readers to everything from desirable consumer electronics to essential camping gear, from high-tech toys to weird items that defied categorisation (but that we really, really wanted). Here’s a selection of items that captured our attention during the past decade…
Vamp it up
We had a lot of fun with this gadget, flying it around the office and scaring unsuspecting colleagues with its realistically flapping wings and glowing red LED eyes. Technically, it was a radio-controlled ornithopter; in practice, it became a scary vampire bat in pursuit of fresh blood.
Who needs two wheels, anyway?
Voted Best New Product at the International Cycling Exhibition in London, the KMX Kart was a trick machine designed for kids aged 7 to 14 years. This nifty recumbent three-wheeler featured Ackerman centre point steering and 5-speed derailleur gears.
Data in your pocket
It was 2003, and we were very excited about this USB flash drive from Lexar Media, with its eye-watering 128 MB capacity and giveaway price of R1 140. That’s megabytes, people. To put this into perspective, we’ve just bought a 32 GB flash drive from an online merchant for around R200 – that’s about one-sixth the price for 250 times the capacity of the 2003 device.
Aimed at hands-on home builders who didn’t believe in getting all hot and sweaty, the Dingo K9-4 Mini Digger from DingoworX was sold with 64 different attachments that allowed it to dig ditches, drill holes for posts, mix cement, lift blocks, breaks rocks, and more. It sold for around R190 000, and we really liked it.
Ride anytime, anywhere
Part skateboard, part snowboard and part bicycle, the mountain board featured an adjustable steering system, rugged pneumatic tyres, a handheld V-brake, and foot straps. Prices for these rugged devices ranged from R1 600 to R5 400.
Starry, starry night
Sky-Watcher’s ED PRO Apochromatic refractor telescope, equipped with full GoTo functionality, was among the sexiest and most efficient we could find, although the price was a little steep: it started at R16 500 and went up to R25 000 (for the 120 mm model).
Own a cannon, start a craze
This beautifully detailed, hand-built replica of Long Cecil, the cannon that became famous during the Siege of Kimberley, was showcased in our very first issue (August 2002). Weighing a formidable 8 kg, the 1:16 scale model featured a 19 cm steel barrel. Ten years on, its creator, Port Elizabeth’s Zane Palmer, is still turning out some amazing models (that is, when he can find the time). If you’d like to get in touch, call him on 083 261 6513 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the time, we wondered why no one else had thought of this. The portable, collapsible paddling device was called JetBlade, and it equipped leisure boaters to paddle with their feet, leaving their hands free for more important stuff (you know, fishing and drinking beer).
Robot with attitude
Robosapien 2 was the second robot we’d bought for ourselves (hey, it was for research), and we made it work for us at shows and promotions wherever we went. It was capable of very clever stuff, including the ability to track movement and recognise objects; it even extended its hand for a shake. Unlike the original Robosapien, however, its wake-up routine did not include an endearing fart.