Posted in zany, offbeat, somewhat silly humor

DIY Hobbies For People With 20:5 Vision

About a year ago I was leafing through a Signals catalogue (Motto: “Gifts that inform, enlighten & entertain” ) and I came across these DIY Miniature House Kits made by a company called Robotime. (Somewhat Opaque Motto: Fun time together. Best hobby forever.)

Thinking that pretty much everyone needs a hobby these days and that pretty much everyone wants to be informed, enlightened and entertained and because I didn’t have any better ideas for a birthday gift for my daughter, I went ahead and ordered the “Sam’s Study” kit.

hobby kit
Innocent-looking Sam’s Study kit

Little did I realize…

Contents of Sam’s Study DIY kit:

Instruction booklet, at least several hundred bits of breakaway laser-cut wooden pieces needed for shelves, cabinets, furniture, tiny faux books and picture frames, a small sheet of transparent plastic, a Snellen chart, small sheets of green, yellow and red fabric, four big sheets of paper imprinted with dozens of tiny book covers, dozens of tiny fan-fold strips of faux book pages, dozens of tiny pictures (suitable for framing), a few tiny tufts of weasel fur, tiny fake flower parts, long lengths of fine-gauge insulated wire, shorter lengths of brass wire (for door- and drawer-handles in case you were wondering), four LEDs, heat-shrink tubing, glue, paste (there’s a difference between glue and paste), Optical Tweezers, a paint brush, a small bottle of white latex paint, a vacuum-sealed foil packet which I thought contained astronaut food at first glance but actually concealed an owl pellet, two coin batteries, a battery holder complete with a tiny switch, and tiny metal items including a miniature coffee mug, a miniature fruit bowl and and last but not least: a teensy Karl Rove action figurine.

Snellen chart

OK I confess. Some of the foregoing might be Fake Kit Contents. But not much of it. And be forewarned, some of the parts are fussy to work with. That’s why Robotime threw in the Optical Tweezers. (Optical Tweezers use a high-powered laser to manipulate atoms, molecules, droplets and other objects such as microscopic Karl Rove action figurines.)

Maybe the kit just includes a regular tweezers. That would make a lot more sense.

You’ll just have to see for yourself. And speaking of seeing, 20:5 vision might come in pretty handy for assembling this kit. But at 20:5 you’d probably be an eagle. Or maybe a Blakiston’s Fish Owl. In which case you wouldn’t be reading this.

I still think The Optical Tweezers might be an OK name for a band. But I freely admit that the name Robotime is a tad off-putting compared to catchy on-line store names like Zulilly, Zazzle, Etsy, Betsy, Itzy, Bitsy, and Doc. Robotime doesn’t even have a “y” or a “z” to call its own. But it means well. It just needs to work on its grammar. And people need to stop anthropomorphizing it for Heaven’s sake! Me included.

Here is an excerpt from the Robotime site:

Tired of mobile technology and video games? Want to get away from work and pressure? Let’s build something amazing!

Why is Robotime?

ROBOTIME was founded in 2557 BC and has designed over 400 DIY items…It is our purpose to encourage people to have a creative and healthy lifestyle. And that’s why we are dedicated to providing unique, well-designed and innovative products…While building ROBOTIME crafts step by step, everyone will relax their mind and relieve pressure naturally. Let alone the strong sense of fulfillment…” 

No one is going to argue with these sentiments. Because deep down inside, along with being informed, enlightened and entertained, we all want to relax and build something amazing. This desire to build goes way back. I mean way back. Just go visit Egypt if you don’t believe me.

Robotime’s first DIY kit…

So what was it like to build Sam’s Study? Well…after you decode the instructions and figure out how to work the Optical Tweezers, you will spend a good 20+ hours or so glueing, cutting, assembling and wiring, but if you remember to take lots of deep breaths through your nose on a regular basis, you will eventually be rewarded with a charming 1:24 scale book-nook aka study, complete with a working chandelier!

Your mind will be very relaxed. Your pressure will be low. Your brain circuitry will have rearranged itself in subtle ways. Your nostrils will be clear. You will be glad that you own a lot of clamps in a wide variety of sizes-as well as a large swivel-mounted illuminated magnifier. (We both know you can’t get an Optical Tweezers-even a used one-for less than $10K)

You will feel very fulfilled despite being out of glue. You will have redesigned the nook wiring. You will have spent quality time with your daughter every week for several months. You will have trained her to bring you a Grande Americano with cream when she comes over. She will have learned to tolerate your whining. Amazingly, she is only four years old.

Unamazingly, I’m lying. She’s thirty-one and counting. But we both love books. And coffee. And cats.

Anyway, here’s what the finished product looks like. Our version is complete. We just haven’t put all the bits in place yet. We may trade out the Karl Rove figurine for a tiny cat, but that’s still a moot point. (Moot, by the way, originally meant up for debate but more recently can also mean hypothetical or irrelevant.)

charming 1:24 scale book-nook

Sam’s Study really is charming. I say this in all seriousness. Any member of the Borrower clan would fall over in a fit of covetousness and amazement if they saw it. I may yet fall over in a fit of amazement.

I feel like I want to shrink myself by a factor of 24, grab a tiny mug of coffee and sink into that red armchair in the back corner, of course making sure I don’t accidentally sit on the tiny Karl Rove action figure-or maybe the tiny as-yet-hypothetical cat. I want to read the tiny faux books that I painstakingly assembled one by one. All 135 of them.

Here are some of their titles:

Just Wait Until You See Sam’s Furnace Room

A Complete History Of Optical Tweezers

The Role Of Optical Tweezers In Biology, Nanotechnology, Spectroscopy, Stochastic Thermodynamics, Critical Casimir Forces, And Personal Grooming

The Stochastic Thermodynamacist’s Long-Lost Australian Cousin’s Pet Kwokka

Why Some People Can’t Shut Up About Optical Tweezers

Why Many Popular On-line Store Names Contain The Letters “Z”, “Y” Or Maybe Both.

If books aren’t your thing, just know that Robotime has several dozen other equally charming kits including Carl’s Fruit Shop, Simon’s Coffee, Dora’s Loft, Emily’s Flower Shop Alice’s Restaurant and Harold’s Tattoo Parlour. If you’re into heirlooms, any of these kits would make a great heirloom gift. Just don’t give one to anyone who happens to be on a minimalist “I only want to own 100 items at any given time” kick. These kits will blow that sentiment all to hell. Unless the recipient rationalizes by saying, “Well it’s really only ONE heirloom.”

And they would be right. I’m probably just splitting heirs. Or is that heirlooms? Maybe it’s a moot point…

P.S. I forgot to mention that the Sam’s Study kit also contained four tiny red balls destined to populate the tiny fruit bowl.

Next post: Everything you always wanted to know about breathing


Dave Barry fan and Medical Director at Rocky Mountain Analytical