140925 Updates

A bit of new activity going on at Gakken this week.

First, a couple updates on the Otaku no Kagaku facebook page. One is an announcement of the Theo Jansen film shown in Kyoto on Sept. 21st, accompanying a “beests” workshop the same day. The other includes a couple photos of the film and workshop venue on the day of the event.

Next, the Otona no Kagaku website now has the details for the latest kit, the electronic steel drum. The official release date is Sept. 29, meaning that I won’t see it in Kyushu until Oct. 1. 3,300 yen ($33 USD), plus tax. Looks like it’s a small stand to hold a drum plate, with a guitar-style pickup in the base. The pickup plugs into a signal processor for clean-up and amplification. Output is either to a guitar amp, or wireless to an FM radio. (The box has a jumper for selecting 1 of 4 FM frequencies: 88.2, 88.4, 88.6 or 88.8 MHz.) It’s powered with a single CR2032 button battery. I’m not really happy with that, because it means changing more expensive batteries more often. I think one mod is going to have to be attaching a regular AA battery case to the main unit. The kit instructions give a 30-minute assembly time.

The mook will have an overview of steel pans, an interview with Yann Tomita, a look at how the kit works, suggestions for other surfaces to use as drum pads, and an article on electronic drum kits. There’s also the next manga from Yoshitou Asari in the Manga Science series.

One thing that I don’t like is that Gakken pulled the link on the “Next Up” kit. Hopefully this just means that they’re trying to keep some suspense until after the steel drum comes out, rather than showing that they don’t have a “next kit”…


Also, Newsletter #161 just arrived in my email. It starts out by asking if readers have had fun playing with the last kit, the Auto Writer, and then mentioning that the free app on the website allows you to make your own writing cogs for drawing pictures or writing letters. Anyone that hasn’t used the app is encouraged to.

1) The Cute Electric Steel Drum goes on sale Sept. 29
2) Big hit mini-Theremin kit gets reissued
3) “Twin V-Engine” workshop report
4) 100,000 Rainbow Loom Starter Kits sold!

1) The Cute Electric Steel Drum goes on sale Sept. 29
The editors ask if readers are familiar with steel drums, which became popular in the second half of the 20th century. There’s a bit of history about how they first came to use in 1939 in Trinidad, and then this turns into a commentary on how Gakken decided to make the kit. The main focus of the column is on how the pick-up works.
Mook: A4 size, 100 pages
Release: Sept. 29
3,300 yen plus tax

(no photo yet)
2) Big hit mini-Theremin kit gets reissued
200,000 of the mini-theremin kits have sold so far. To commemorate this event, Gakken is releasing an updated, fully assembled version for people that don’t like building things. New features will include an earphone jack, a 3 octave range, and a mint chocolate-colored outer case.
Pamphlet: 16×12.8 cm, 24 pages
Release: Sept. 30
2,500 yen plus tax


3) “Twin V-Engine” workshop report
On Aug. 24th, Gakken partnered with Mercedes Benz to present a workshop for school kids. The first hour was spent assembling the Gakken Twin-V steam engine kit. The second hour consisted of presentations on how Indy 500 race cars work.
Location: Mercedes Benz Connection, Tokyo
Attendees: 24 pairs of children and adults, 48 people total


4) 100,000 Rainbow Loom Starter Kits sold!
This section is a repeat announcement for the Rainbow Loom kit, for making bracelets, and the fact that 100,000 units have sold so far.
Mook: A5 size, 28 pages
Ages: 6 on up
1,200 yen plus tax

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