Star Wars toys dumped in Stourbridge garage fetch £250k

Star Wars actor sells props after lockdown ‘sort out’

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7 OFFBEAT YARNS: From flying sex toys to cane toad purses

1: The case of the flying dildo:

WHO knew that a story about a “flying cock” would garner 11,000 clicks in a day and go viral around the world?

That’s exactly what happened when Ocean Shores woman Felicity Durham put a post on social media about an unusual object which struck and damaged her car in November of 2018.

“On my way home to Ocean Shores from Brunz yesterday, my car was struck, breaking my headlight cover, by what I thought was a cockatoo,” Miss Durham posted on the Byron Bay Community Board Facebook page.

“So naturally, I turned around at the Rajah Rd roundabout to see if it was. But what I found in fact was a ‘King Cock’, not a cockatoo!”

Despite her pun, Miss Durham said she was surprised when what she really thought had been a bird, turned out to be an empty box, with the description of a dildo sex toy.

“I thought it was really weird, so I picked up the box but there was nothing in it,” the 33-year-old said.

“It was the most hilarious thing ever.

“I was just a bit shocked by the cock.

“The box has got skin that you can move, with a little hologram picture so when you move the box it shows you how it works, it’s hyper-realistic with a lube bottle and cleaner … it had all the bells and whistles.”

This unusual story was picked up by media around Australia and the world.

2. Wanted. Sword swallowing kit:

ZACHARY Abercrombie was keen to carry on the family tradition of sword swallowing but he had a bit of a problem.

The Brisbane man had to train himself using tyre levers and screw drivers as the swords that his grandfather and uncle used were sold to a pawn shop in Lismore.

In 2017 he contacted The Northern Star offering $500 to get them back.

“You learn sword swallowing with extreme caution and great difficulty,” he said.

“The trick is to overcome the physical gag reflex and I’ve had lots and lots and lots of practice.”

Zachary Abercrombie is a sword swallower.

Mr Abercrombie shared his search in the hope of being able to track down the swords that were sold to Paddy’s Pawnshop in 1985.

The items listed include a wooden suitcase containing three swords – a 1916 Lee Enfield rifle bayonet, a ceremonial Mason’s sword and a chrome sheath with three sheet metal swords inside.

We don’t know if he ever got them back, but would love to hear.

3: Good for nothing cane toads:

CANE toads are an invasive species in Australia, and there have been many programs put into place in an effort to eradicate the pest. However a Cairns company we wrote about in 2019 came up with an ingenious, and slightly nauseating, solution.

Marino Leather had been making genuine cane toad leather coin purses, created by humanely freezing the toad before tanning them.

The Leather Shop in Kyogle received a shipment and then store co-owner Mario Sanchez said the product had gone viral online.

The Leather Shop was offering the vegetable-tanned cane toad coin pouches for $25, and there were a number of different types, including pouches with front legs and those without, as well as coloured varieties.

4: Yowies are a thing on the Northern Rivers:

IT’S been years since The Northern Star reported on a local yowie sighting.

But in 2018 we wrote about the Australian Yowie Research report, which stated that one of the creatures had been spotted near Nimbin.

The beast in question frightened a woman on March 5 in Uki (Mt Jerusalem National Park) at around 7pm.

Yowie hunter Dean Harrison from Australian Yowie Research has been hunting the widely-thought mythical creatures for more than 20 years, and said he has had many encounters with the creatures of the night ever since.

Dean Harrison and a sketch of a yowie seen in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Dean Harrison and a sketch of a yowie seen in the Gold Coast hinterland.

He has collated an impressive database of written and audio witness accounts, news articles, images and physical evidence including footprints.

5: Messages do come in bottles:

WHEN Evans Head man Aaron Campbell and a mate were combing Airforce Beach in 2018 picking up bottles, they were surprised to find one containing a message.

“It was barnacle-encrusted and as I grabbed hold of it to throw in the ute, I held it up to the sun and saw there were letters in it,” he said.

“I managed to get the letters out of the bottle with chopsticks.

“It was only sealed with the screw top on the bottle, so it was lucky no water got into it.”

The letters were written by Brodie and Matisse, who normally live in Southern NSW but happened to be on a cruise just off from the Sunshine Coast.

“Hello, if you are reading this, you got my message,” one of the letters read.

“We have been cruising on P & O.

“We have had the best trip ever.”

There was an email address to which Aaron promptly sent a message and Brodie and Matisse’s mum Sally replied.

“Brodie and Matisse were so excited to hear someone had found their message,” she wrote.

6: Ghost story part one:

A SHADOW man, a ghost cat and apparitions of a strange woman on a cemetery hill are regular encounters for the Northern Rivers Paranormal Investigators.

The public ghost hunting group investigates “haunted” locations in the region, detecting and documenting “spirit” activity with specialised equipment.

Based in Lismore, NRPI’s core members then were Madelein and Robert Fox, their son Luke and daughter-in-law Rachel.

After years of encounters with “spirits” and feeling “too afraid” to share her stories, Mrs Fox said she created NRPI for others to connect, share their experiences and investigate “activity” in a non-judgemental environment.

7: Ghost story part two:

HAUNTED houses can be fun on Halloween, but what about real haunted places?

Two years ago we produced a list of the eight most haunted places in our region.

This was collected using The Northern Star archives and local folklore.

The Shaws Bay Hotel ghost. Photo Contributed Facebook

The Shaws Bay Hotel ghost. Photo Contributed Facebook

The eight most haunted places on the Northern Rivers are:

Fenwick House Ballina, Shaws Bay Hotel, Ballina Manor, Casino Courthouse, Old Lions Park, Lismore, Tulloona House, Goonellabah; Byron lighthouse; glowing cross North Lismore Cemetery

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Ghislaine Maxwell says she can’t recall a ‘laundry basket full of sex toys’ in Jeffrey Epstein testimony

Accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell repeatedly denied that she recruited underage girls for her former partner, the disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein, in a deposition released Thursday that she had fought to keep secret.

The denials form part of perjury charges brought against the British socialite, who is accused of grooming girls as young as 14 for Epstein, who killed himself in prison last year.

Maxwell – the daughter of late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell – denies sex trafficking dozens of minors and is due to go on trial in New York next summer.

Prosecutors also accuse the 58-year-old of lying in testimony she gave in 2016 in a defamation case filed against her by long-time Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre.

Maxwell’s lawyers fought for months to prevent the 465-page document from becoming public, citing sensitive private details, but earlier this week an appeals court ordered that they be unsealed.

“Stop right there. I never recruited girls,” Maxwell says in the deposition.

Elsewhere, she says: “I never had non-consensual sex with anybody ever, at any time, at anyplace, at any time, with anybody.”

Maxwell – who was intimately involved with Epstein in the 1990s – testified that her work for him included hiring pool attendants, gardeners, chefs, housekeepers, butlers and chauffeurs for his numerous properties.

She said all staff she hired were “age appropriate adults”.

Maxwell also repeatedly tried to evade attorneys’ questions by saying she had no recollection of dozens of events put to her.

“I don’t recollect anything about a laundry basket of sex toys,” she said.

Ghislaine Maxwell fought to keep the deposition secret.

Getty Images North America

Maxwell also said that she had “never observed” Epstein having sex with a minor.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” she replied when asked whether Epstein ran a pyramid scheme to recruit underage girls to give him sexual massages.

Maxwell faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted in the criminal case, which covers alleged crimes from 1994 to 1997. She is also accused of sometimes participating in the alleged abuse.

Victims say they were farmed out to some of Epstein’s wealthy associates.

Giuffre claims she had sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew when she was 17 after being procured by Epstein, an allegation the royal has repeatedly and vehemently denied.

Scores of names were redacted in the deposition, in which Maxwell called Giuffre “an absolute total liar”.

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SA gel blaster laws see toys treated as firearms, business owner fears the worst

Strict new South Australian gel blaster laws have seen a regional business crumble “overnight”, according to its young owner.

Last week South Australian Police (SAPOL) announced that gel blasters – typically used as toys – would be regulated like firearms following a number of incidents that caused injury.

This would mean owners and new purchasers would be required to hold a licence and store the firearms like other guns.

The rules announcement was devastating to Riverland teenager, Abran McIntosh.

The 16-year-old started Nadda 3D Prints two years ago.

He uses a 3D printer to produce gel blaster parts, accessories and even a complete gel blaster if requested by customers.

Abran McIntosh started a business using 3D printers to produce gel blaster accessories.(Supplied: Abran McIntosh)

“As of the announcement, we’ve effectively been shut down overnight,” Abran said.

“We have a six-month amnesty to hand them in or sell them interstate, but in that time, we cannot fire them or do anything with them, basically.”

SAPOL Officer in Charge of Firearms Branch Superintendent Stephen Howard said businesses like Abran’s were unlikely to be able to continue to operate under the rules, but it depended on the types of accessories that were being created.

“If they are integral to the operation of the gel blaster then they are manufacturing firearm parts and they could be committing an offence against the Firearms Act,” he said.

Projectile concerns prompt change

Superintendent Howard explained the changes were not just about the appearance of the blasters, despite their resemblance to real weapons.

“They meet the definition of a firearm because they compress air to fire a projectile,” he said.

“But [how they look] is also concerning.”

Superintendent Howard said more than 100 gel blasters had been handed in, ahead of the April 7, 2021 deadline, since last week’s announcement.

Two large guns and a small hand gun lay on a grey floor.
A man was arrested after allegedly pointing a gel blaster at another car on the Augusta Highway.(Supplied: SAPOL)

But he said skirmish field operators may be able to continue, provided they could comply with regulations.

“We’re sending one of our range inspectors out to a venue this week to look at their set up and see if they comply, and they will be able to apply for an operators’ licence and be registered accordingly,” he said.

Abran said the public needed to be educated about gel blasters and how they could be used safely.

“They do have the potential to cause fear in a public place … purely because they can be mistaken, in some cases, for a real firearm,” he said.

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Five classic paper toys you can make when you’re bored (whether you’re in school or not)

The more time you have on your hands, the better these toys will look. (Sandra Gutierrez G. /)

Children have such active imaginations that anything can be a toy, even if it’s not supposed to be. So it’s no surprise that young students have been able to create entertainment out of perhaps the most abundant classroom resource—paper.

School and work might look a bit different right now, but fun doesn’t have to. Just grab a sheet of printer or notebook paper, maybe a pair of scissors, and start folding.

How to make a paper football

Just a couple of paper footballs hangin' out.

Just a couple of paper footballs hangin’ out. (John Kennedy/)

This dense little triangle looks kind of like the ol’ pigskin, and it’s hefty enough to travel several feet if you’ve got a strong flicking finger.

1. Fold the paper in half lengthwise. Then, unfold.

2. Fold the long sides in. Make each side touch the center crease.

3. Fold the paper in half lengthwise again. When you’re done, you’ll have a long strip in front of you.

Make a triangle in Step 4, then fold down to complete Step 5.

Make a triangle in Step 4, then fold down to complete Step 5. (John Kennedy/)

4. Fold one corner down. Grasp the top right corner of your strip and fold it down until it touches the opposite edge. You’ll get a triangular fold.

5. Fold the triangle down. Square off the folded end of the strip by bringing the triangle down.

6. Repeat steps 4-6. When you redo Step 4, bring the top left corner to the right edge. Keep folding in this pattern until you have a small rectangle of excess paper left at the end of the strip.

7. Fold the excess paper. With the longest edge of your shape facing you, fold the top left corner down. When you’re done, you’ll have something close to a triangle.

8. Stuff the excess paper into the folded football. It might take a little work, but the excess paper will fit neatly inside the pocket in the body of the “ball.”

Now, choose an opponent, learn the rules of paper football, and pretend your kitchen table is a packed stadium. Or just make a target and take aim. Just don’t flick it directly at anyone’s face.

How to make a fortune teller

You can write pretty much anything you want on the inside.

You can write pretty much anything you want on the inside. (Sandra Gutierrez G. /)

This craft is one of the more difficult on this list, but we’ve placed it high up because of how common a tool it was for trying to find out if your crush liked you back, or if you were going to pass the next test. Before you start, make sure your paper is square.

1. Fold one corner to meet the other. Then fold the resulting triangle in half. Unfold everything—this will help you identify the center of the paper in the following steps.

2. Fold each of the paper’s four corners so they meet in the center.

3. Flip the square over.

4. Fold each of the four corners in to meet in the center.

5. Fold the paper square in half. Keeping the folds you just made on the inside, fold it like a hot dog bun or a taco shell. Open it up and fold it in half again, this time, perpendicular to the crease you just made.

6. Open it up. With the creased side (where the hot dog would rest) facing down, slide your thumbs and index fingers under the square flaps on the outside and slowly push the top corners together. The outside flaps will raise and once your fingers are in position you’ll be able to open the fortune teller in two directions.

7. Decorate. There are many ways to trick out your fortune teller, but we gave gave each of the eight inner triangles its own color.

8. Write the fortunes. Flatten the fortune teller so the triangular flaps are on top. Unfold each one and write two fortunes—one of the left and one on the right. On ours, each large triangle has two colors on the back. We wrote one fortune for each.

Now, reassemble the fortune teller, slip it back over your fingers, and turn to whoever you’re with. Ask them to choose a number, open it that many times (alternating directions), and have them pick a color. Flip over the corresponding panel, revealing their fate.

How to make a paper helicopter

A paper helicopter prepares for a flight into the abyss.

A paper helicopter prepares for a flight into the abyss. (John Kennedy/)

Real helicopters are marvels of engineering, but these are not. Still, they’re fun to drop and throw. Scissors will give you cleaner cuts and a more streamlined look, but we were also successful just tearing the paper with our bare hands.

1. Cut rectangular strips of paper. Slicing down the length of your sheet, make as many strips as you want, each 1 to 2 inches wide.

2. Fold one strip into approximate thirds. Once you’ve done so, unfold one layer, leaving a double layer of paper on one end.

3. Cut the helicopter’s blades. Snip down the center of the single layer of paper, lengthwise, but stop about a ½-inch from the double layer.

4. Fold the blades out in opposite directions. Bam: helicopter.

These little whirligigs will fly to varying degrees with no further accessories, but you can add paper clips for weight and stability or experiment with different types of paper and blade designs.

How to make a pirate hat

This hat might be a little too big for Ella.

This hat might be a little too big for Ella. (John Kennedy/)

Cosplay can be fun, and few characters are more classic than pirates. Don’t blame us if once you don this sweet headgear, you start feeling an insatiable urge to sail the seven seas.

1. Fold the paper in half. Fold it width-wise, so the short sides touch.

2. Fold the paper in half the other way. Make the new shorter sides touch. Then, unfold this step.

3. Fold the corners on the crease down so they meet in the middle. When this is done, you’ll have a strip of paper left over on the bottom. If you fold the open side, you won’t be able to do the next step.

4. Fold the bottom flaps up in opposite directions. These will form the hat’s brim.

5. Open the hat.

A hat made from one sheet of printer paper will fit a kid’s little head, but you’ll need something bigger if you’re looking to join the fun as an adult. Try a sheet of newspaper. Or don’t, if you like the silliness of wearing a tiny hat.

How to make a paper boat

Calm seas and clear skies.

Calm seas and clear skies. (John Kennedy/)

The paper pirate hat is so versatile that any swashbuckling seafarer can whip it right off their head and turn it into a worthy watercraft. Follow the directions for making a paper hat, then continue here.

When you've finished Step 3, your paper should look like this. Put your fingers where the arrows are pointing and pull out to the sides to complete Step 4.

When you’ve finished Step 3, your paper should look like this. Put your fingers where the arrows are pointing and pull out to the sides to complete Step 4. (John Kennedy/)

1. Form a square. When you open the hat, keep pushing in from both ends until it becomes a flat square. Make sure the loose pieces overlap each other so the whole thing lays flat.

2. Fold the square into a triangle. Take the part of the square with the hat’s brim on it and fold it up on both sides.

3. Open the triangle and turn it into another square. Like you did in Step 1, push in on both ends until you’ve flattened it into a square.

4. Open the flaps and push up from the bottom. Getting the boat to form properly can take a bit of work, but when you’re done, it’ll have a small sail in the middle.

We suggest setting out in the sink or tub, but you can take the little ship outside if you want. Just don’t send it off down the street during a torrential downpour. Storm drains are no laughing matter. Even if we all do float down there.

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Toys ‘R’ Us brand may be brought back to life

The company closed all of its US stores in June as part of a bankruptcy liquidation. But the owners of the company’s remaining assets are looking into restarting the business, as well as the related Babies “R” Us brand, the company disclosed in a court filing this week.

Toys “R” Us had planned to auction off the rights to its name and the Babies “R” Us brand. Bidders had already made offers for them, according to the filing. But the company’s owners decided to cancel the auction.

The company said it is considering “a new, operating Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us branding company,” the filing said. The plan would “create new, domestic, retail operating businesses under the Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us names, as well as expand its international presence and further develop its private brands business.”

The details of when and how the brand would be brought back to life were not disclosed.

The fact that other bidders were interested in buying the name doesn’t necessarily mean that others were looking to bring it back to life. Companies often buy the brands of out-of-business competitors in bankruptcy court to make sure the brand can’t be used again by a new rival. Details of who was looking to buy the Toys “R” Us brand also was not disclosed in the bankruptcy filing.

Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy a year ago, with the plans to use the reorganization process to shed debt and remain in business. But after a disastrously bad Christmas shopping season the company announced in March that it would close its remaining 800 US stores and go out of business.
That cost about 31,000 workers their jobs. The 70-year old retailer shut down in June.

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