Italian firm goes nuclear with atomic toys

Italian toy maker Brumm has created miniature models of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.
Italian toy maker Brumm has created miniature models of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.EuroPics

Those of us who enjoy military history usually just switch on the History Channel for our daily fix of guts, gore and armed conflict. But if you’re a serious war buff, and you want to relive one of the most horrifying moments in the deadliest war in human history, an Italian toy maker has just the thing.

Brumm recently unveiled miniature models of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man.” Those names may conjure up images of cuddly cartoon characters, but they’re actually the codenames for two atomic bombs that the U.S. military dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the final days of World War II.

The bombs were detonated above the Japanese cities in August 1945, killing tens of thousands of Japanese civilians, and thousands more would later die as a result of nuclear fallout and from cancer. Just in case the gross insensitivity of their new products went unnoticed, Brumm chose to unveil its mini bombs earlier this month at of all places the Nuremberg toy fair in Germany.

“In everyone’s mind eye the words Hiroshima and Nagasaki have always evoked the nuclear tragedy. However very few people know the actual appearance of the bombs that caused this tragedy,” notes Brumm in breathless tones on its Web site. “With the faithful scale reproductions of ‘Fat Man’ and ‘Little Boy,’ we plan to provide a small historical contribution so as not to forget what generated the worst catastrophe of the twentieth century.”

Tiny weapons of mass destruction are an unusual departure for a company that to date has focused on miniature models of Ferraris and Fiat Pandas that it fashions from a metal alloy of zinc, copper and aluminum at its factory near Como, Italy. Each bomb costs around $10 and comes mounted on a fetching display inscribed with the location, date and exact time of detonation.

Not surprisingly, Brumm has been roundly condemned for making the atomic toys. Critics say they are in poor taste, but the criticism, apparently, is unwarranted. A Brumm spokesman said the company was only trying to do its bit for world history, protesting “against the insanity of nuclear-war” according to a report in the U.K.’s Scottish Daily Record. We reckon actually producing these tasteless model bombs will end up being a fairly insane act too.

President who?
When it comes time to launch a new product, sometimes offering up the findings of a bold, new survey can help you connect your brand with a target audience. Or not.

To accompany the roll-out of its new 2006 Commander, the folks over a Jeep decided to tap some of the patriotic good will Americans have felt toward their own Commanders-in-Chief through the years. That was the plan anyway.

Unfortunately, the Jeep-sponsored survey found that most Americans are — like — clueless about their presidents. Among the survey’s findings:

  • Almost one in ten 18-24 year-olds named Abraham Lincoln as the first president of the U.S.
  • Three percent of college graduates could not name the current president of the United States.
  • More than half didn’t know that Franklin D. Roosevelt was president for most of World War II.
  • More than half couldn’t name Andrew Jackson as the president on the U.S. $20 bill.

Not to be deterred, the company offered up another solid reminder of the link between the Jeep brand and the country’s greatest leaders. It turns out that the first Jeep was sold the same year Mt. Rushmore National Monument, the towering homage to four great presidents, was completed.

Alas, nearly 90 percent of Americans can't name the four presidential faces carved into the monument.

Just in case you get a call from Jeep, the answers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

Wrong @#*&ing way!
Tired of that sweet, polite voice giving you directions from your car satellite navigation system? You’re in luck — well, if you’re in the U.K.

According to The Sun newspaper, a company called Voice Skins is offering impressions of Ozzy Osbourne’s voice for download to navigation systems.

You can download a version with swearwords or one with just bleeps. The newspaper reported that the Osbourne voice tells drivers when they’ve reached their “@#*ing destination.” Delightful.