Discovery Planet 10” Human Torso – In the Collection

If you’re as excited by scientific models of the human body as I am (that sounds weird), there are quite a few options to go for, some even ranging into the thousands of dollars. I don’t have that kind of money to spend (I didn’t even get my model new) so I’m gonna talk about one that’s quite a bit cheaper today.

The 27cm (10”) version of the 8 part human torso by Discovery Planet is the smaller of the two I could find (the larger being simply double the size). There are technically 8 parts to the model, but this includes the base and the main torso frame, into which slot/peg a heart, liver, intestines, stomach, and 2 lungs. Included in the box that unsettlingly says simply “Human Torso” is a small “manual” in full color that describes the basic shape and positioning of all the removable bits as well as some of the other “exposed” organs. Unfortunately missing from mine is a “Bonus Instructional CD”, but I don’t believe that has any effect on operation. The material is a slightly flexible plastic (vinyl?) with a very strange feel. It’ll probably hold up to some abuse from children even though it’s hollow, but then again there’s not much you could really do to it. Probably as a result of this material being hard to paint, the paint application is very minimal, but precise. It certainly doesn’t look real but it’s not all one color. Though, if I were a child I don’t know what I would actually do with it, because it’s more of a classroom “toy” than an actual one.

These kids are far too happy

This is backed up a bit by the company “Discovery Planet”, which is just a brand used by the Hong Kong import company Bowen Hill. Neither the brand nor the importer have a functioning website, but a few branded items can be found around, and there is an abysmal “Bowen Hill” Amazon Store that does sell science class product(s). This model is surprisingly still available in several places (Toys R Us for one but it can be found cheaper elsewhere), I suspect mine is quite a bit older, but there’s no copyright date on anything to indicate that.

My little statue will be going either on the shelf of weird things or the one of random artistic aids. I can see this being a nice, decently accurate model of a torso for a science class or drawing reference, and it was/is fairly cheap to aquire. If nothing else it’ll freak some houseguests out.

Table Topics Family 47 #93-94


1. Do you learn more when you win or when you lose?

2. If you had three wishes what would they be?

ANSWERS By: Austin Smith

1. You learn by doing, being in a win or lose scenario makes you learn. If the game is fixed so you either win or lose you learn nothing. But if the game is fair, you learn by playing.

2. The first would be infinite wishes, and then whatever suited me at the time after that.

Games That Teach – Axis & Allies and Short Term Planning

When talking about board games, games so old and still so loved as “Axis and Allies” are hard to find. With so many versions, updates, and house rules, defining the core that is “Axis and Allies” can be difficult at times. One of the core elements,though, is most definitely the controlling of factories to get points to build more units with. And while this mechanic (mechanism) might seem like it favors strategy and thinking over the long term, I’d argue that it really encourages planning in the short term, for your next turn and not for future turns.

The one I have isn't the greatest.

The one I have isn’t the greatest.

Let me try to explain before you scream at me for being wrong (or more likely just leave the page). The resources you get at the end of a turn will not be used until the beginning of your next turn or later. A player can save up for long periods of time but there is almost no point when you’re being punched in the face by you opponent’s pieces. The illusion of long-term consequences comes from this ability to save, but really the game is just about how many IPC’s (resources) a player can get at the end of this turn to have the most effective next turn. While a player deploys resources at the end of their turn, it still means that the maximum they are thinking is two turns ahead, and if they think farther than that (i.e. want a battleship or aircraft carrier, which are expensive) they are likely to get taken out by their opponent who didn’t do that and is fighting with superior strength.

This is also coupled with the fact that the ultimate goals of each side are placed only several spaces away, except for the United States, which is impossible to take and has to produce units and move them across an ocean to be effective (which is why they usually have China). Players don’t have the time to think about turns farther in the future because if they do they’ll be beaten by players who thought about the turn directly ahead.

Now I’m not going to say that this makes for a bad game, or an un-educational game. In fact, the game is quite fun and in certain cases even has the player going for historical objectives. I do think, though, that the idea of Axis and Allies being a grand strategy game is silly. It’s a tactical game on a strategic board, which in and of itself is quite a good way to teach people about proper resource uses in the short term. And saving a few IPCs each turn will lead to getting some more powerful units in the future if done right. I quite like the short-term resource management that Axis and Allies has. And I also like the fact that it has the realism of a series of tactical victories leading to a strategic victory. It definitely isn’t like chess where a series of tactical blunders could stumble you into a strategic success. I like games that reward short-term victories with long-term benefits, even if in some, if not most, will make you second-best to the person who thought through the whole game.

Really, though, “Axis and Allies” is just a good game for dice chucking and pretending to be some foreign super-power for a night with some friends. Even if it isn’t as deep as it looks, it still lasts for some time and holds one’s interest the whole way though (if the players like WWII.)

Games that Teach – Poker and Managment

How good are you at managing your assets? If you’re not, there is a way to improve your skill for only a few bucks. That is by playing the game known as Texas Hold ’em (perhaps five-card draw if you’re not as original). How? Well, perhaps I will be able to explain to you. (I should note I’m very bad at poker and this is not written on how to win, but on how to manage money so you don’t lose as hard.)

Though we go pretty hard

Though we go pretty hard

I’m going to be explaining this from my point of view, as it is more simple for me to explain (or at least I think it is). The first obstacle you learn to overcome in poker is how to not throw all your money into one pot (if that’s your poker technique you should really not be playing poker anymore). Ideally you should have put aside the amount of money you are willing to lose and use that to play the poker game. If you have not done that you should stop playing and go do that. To learn how to manage one’s money properly you first need to learn how to establish a fallback. Once you have your fallback of cash that will hopefully get you out of the bad situation you got into in Vegas, you can begin playing the game with the money you think you can lose.

The third thing you’ll learn is that bluffing works best with a hint of truth. If your opponents can’t gauge when you’re dumping your money into something good or bad they’ll usually back off. That has very little to do with managing money, but it is kinda important in poker. The third management thing you’ll learn is how to handle your winnings. Many people continue to bet heavily after they’ve won a big round and end up bleeding cash until they’re down to a bare minimum. But if one uses their winnings to gain a few smaller victories and not one big one they’ll quickly find themselves farther ahead.


This is literally the first photo I took on my phone


But the real trick with poker is to lose sustainably. You, as a player of poker, are going to lose. If you’re in a four player game you’re gonna lose about one out of every four rounds played, maybe more, maybe less. What one learns if one wants to continue playing poker is how to take advantage of their winnings and stall their losses enough to, at the very least, break even. This usually involves never going all in. But the most important thing is that you quit when you’ve lost. If you lose the money you set aside, don’t bring anymore into the game. Cooling off and restarting from a different angle is valuable in money, time, and overall life management. Poker is a great way to learn this, if one isn’t a habitual gambler, in which case you’re probably to far gone by now anyway.

I’m not really good at winning poker, but I’ve stubbornly stayed in the game as others have lost all their money. Some days I break even and some days I’m even up. But knowing your limits and how to manage your money keeps you in the game.