What do you get if you cross one of the most evil empires the universe has ever seen, with a fictional character from Star Wars? The answer is this; the Hot Wheels Darth Vader Car. I kid of course, Mattel isn’t all that bad, it’s been a full seven years since they accidentally tried to poison children with outsourced Chinese-made toys coated in paint which contained 180 times the acceptable limit of lead.
The timing of the release of the Darth Vader Car, along with more Hot Wheels Star Wars vehicles and playsets isn’t just random either. They arrive ahead of the new Star Wars movie which is due out in 2015. But what makes the Darth Vader car the stand-out vehicle of the bunch is the fact that as well as the 1:64 scale model – which comes with its own lightsaber-inspired collectors care and commemorative box – Hot Wheels actually built a full-size fully functional version of the car.
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Thinking about it now, it seems odd it’s taken this long for someone to come up with the idea of a luxury, high-class jetski or personal water craft. Generally speaking, if you’re in the market for a PWC, you have the choice between the more difficult to ride but sportier single-person standy-uppy style, or the more common design with anywhere between one to three seats. Generally speaking they’re covered with garish graphics and look like sportsbikes of the water. Nobody, until now, has offered a classy-looking jetski.
The Strand Craft V8 Wet Rod is a 16-feet (4.8 metre) long vessel capable of carrying up to three people. As the name suggests it’s powered by a 5.7 litre V8 engine producing 300 horsepower which is connected to a water jet drive. Top speed of the vehicle is a claimed 65 mph.
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Daimler may have killed off the Maybach brand last year, but this particular Maybach – based on the Maybach Exelero prototype from 2005 – looks like it’s ready to take the fight to the undead.
Created by the Jordanian designer Khaled Alkayed, the Mad Max-worthy Maybach Exelero concept features a range of enhancements which turn it from a 700 horsepower V12-powered luxury coupe, into a battle-ready, gun-toting, armor-plated sinister death machine.
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Even if you hate Star Trek, you still know the flagship spacecraft of the Federation is the Enterprise, you also probably know it can travel at warp-speed. That’s faster than light in case you’re wondering. What you might not know, is that despite its sci-fi storyline, much of the technology used in the show was based, albeit very loosely, on scientific hypothesis, theory and fact.
Using the best available information from NASA, and adding a healthy dose of artistic license, designer Mark Rademaker has created a series of images showing what the very first warp-capable spacecraft built by humans might look like. He’s called it the ISX Enterprise.
Believe it or not there are in fact some very clever people working at NASA right now on trying to figure out, in theory, how you could build a warp drive. Just to be clear, we’re a long, long way away from something actually being built. But Dr Harold White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center has been working hard to prove that it could one day be possible. His research is based on an earlier theory put forward by Miguel Alcubierre in 1994.
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A guy in Australia called Daz Fellows, or Daz the Cowboy as he’s better known, is in the stages of putting the finishing touches to a jet powered street luge he hopes will propel him into the record books.
His creation, which has been several years in the making and relied upon help and sponsorship from numerous specialist companies is pretty amazing. It’s based around a carbon fiber chassis with two jet turbine engines with afterburners fitted. The Jet Luge measures just a fraction under 10 ft (3 metres) in length and just 2 ft (0.6 metres) wide. In total the vehicle weighs just 72 lbs (33 kg).
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Hot Tub Boats, based in Seattle, Washington are in the business of building boats that are purposely designed to keep their occupants soaking wet. For any other boat company this would be a disastrous proposition, but when you’re offering a boat / hot tub combo it somehow works.
The vessel is not just a simple dingy filled with some warm water though. It’s a custom-built design with luxury appointments and plenty of hidden gadgets. The 15-foot (2.4 metre) Hot Tub Boat features a built-in diesel boiler with thermostat control which can get the water up to a very toasty 104F (40C). Propelling the craft is a quiet 24-volt motor offering a top speed of 4 knots. The boat is controlled via a small joystick located on the deck on the right hand side. The batteries provide up to 10 hours of cruising time before requiring a recharge.
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In the 1950s, military aircraft designers were becoming increasingly interested in developing VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft. In these early stages there were many unusual designs – perhaps most notable were the “tail-sitter” aircraft like the Convair XFY-1 “Pogo” and the Lockheed XFV-1 “Salmon”. In the mid ’50s the first jet-powered tail-sitter arrived in the form of the Ryan X-13 Vertijet. Then in the late ’50s the French unveiled the mother of all weird tail-sitters, the SNECMA C.450-01 Coleoptere.
SNECMA, or the Societe nationale d’etudes et de construction de moteurs d’aviation – which in English translates as the “National Company for the Design and Construction of Aviation Engines” – developed the aircraft based on experiences learnt from a previous VTOL aircraft, the SNECMA Atar Volant.
The SNECMA Coleoptere was a completley unorthodox aircraft from top to bottom. Whereas the Convair and Lockheed prototypes had more or less conventional wings and enlarged vertical stabilizers, the Coleoptere had an annular wing which wrapped around the aircraft’s fuselage like a giant barrel. Four small stabilizers at the rear of the wing provided directional control.
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It might not look like it, but this futuristic-looking giant was actually inspired by the one-of-a-kind Antarctic Snow Cruiser which was constructed way back in the 1930s. The original vehicle was designed by arctic explorer Thomas Poulter and used in an antarctic expedition commanded by Rear Admiral Richard Byrd, Jr. It proved to be a massive failure, primarily because its slick tires were almost completely useless on the slippery snow and ice.
Poulter never got the chance to make changes to his creation to make it more suitable for polar exploration. He wanted to, and even drew up plans, but something called the Second World War prevented him getting the funds and support from the US government to do so. Now, 73 years after the original vehicle was abandoned in the Antarctic, we’ve put together a 21st century snow-conquering leviathan inspired by Poulter’s visionary Antarctic Snow Cruiser.
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Back in the 1980s, when returning cosmonauts were sat in their Soyuz capsule awaiting collection, there was a possibility that the first person they saw would be driving one of these things. The ZiL-2906 was a screw-propelled vehicle designed specifically to retrieve cosmonauts who had landed in extremely inaccessible areas. Possibly a swamp or a bog, or even in water. Areas a helicopter couldn’t land, and a regular truck couldn’t drive.
The vehicle was transported to the general area of the returned space capsule by a six-wheeled amphibious leviathan called the ZiL-4906 or “Bluebird” – a version of which is still used to collect returning Soyuz crew. If the Bluebird was unable to get to the capsule, then the ZiL-2906 would be deployed to go and retrieve the cosmonauts. Continue reading ‘ZiL-2906 Cosmonaut Recovery Vehicle’ »
The DFS 346 was a rocket-powered reconnaissance aircraft prototype developed by the Germans in the later stages of the Second World War. It was designed by Felix Kracht who at the time was working for DFS (Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug) – or in English, the German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight. The DFS 346 was developed alongside the DFS 228 project which was a high-altitude low-speed reconnaissance sailplane. In sharp contrast however, the DFS 346 was envisaged as a super high-speed rocket powered aircraft with swept wings and a streamlined fuselage. Interestingly the aircraft also featured an unusual prone-pilot cockpit, not dissimilar to the one used in the later Gloster Meteor “Prone Pilot” experimental aircraft.
The idea behind the DFS 346 project was to create an aircraft which could take reconnaissance photos of England before returning to base in either northern France or Germany. The mission would involve the aircraft being transported close to its intended surveillance target by a carrier aircraft – in this case the Dornier Do 217. After release, the pilot would fire up the rocket motor and accelerate to an estimated top speed of Mach 2.6 while climbing to an altitude of 100,000 ft (30,500 metres). The pilot would then glide over his target while descending, using the rocket motor in bursts to maintain speed. After taking photos the pilot would then head for home, gliding his aircraft back to base. Well that was the idea anyway. The war ended before the aircraft was finished.
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