Why didn't it take off? #3 – Betamax

Everyone of a certain age (why do I get the feeling that soon all of these posts are going to begin with that phrase?) will be familiar with the epic sales and popularity battle that dominated the home entertainment explosion of the 1980s. It was either trusty VHS, with its superior recording time that eventually trounced the, frankly, inferior Betamax system.

Even though the tapes themselves were smaller and sleeker (manufacturers apparently were given the size of a paperback book as a guideline), the Betamax couldn’t compete with the might of VHS for a number of reasons. Sony’s pre-cursor to the Betamax format was the Umatic – a format that allowed 1 hour of recording time. “Wow,” consumers must have enthused, “that’s two whole episodes of ‘Only Fools & Horses on one cassette!”, while Sony failed to realise that one of the major pitfalls of such a small capacity was that it wouldn’t allow room for a Hollywood movie.

Marketing genius

JVC, the main manufacturers of VHS, succeeded in realising and quite cleverly kick-started the video rental business. No longer were forgotten classics only viewable on wet Sunday afternoons at the Odeon – you could get hold of them and watch them from your sofa. It strikes a resemblance to one of our own most important entertainment movements of the last five years or so, the notion of catch-up TV. Even though it was possible to record TV broadcasts via VHS, it has never been so easy to actually view them as it is now.

So VHS royally tanned the hide of its home entertainment rivals. Well done, VHS! But what about the Betamax? Bizarrely, since its demise, its place in public consciousness has recently become one of affectionate nostalgia. Wall-E watches his copy of ‘Hello Dolly’ on Betamax, the Mighty Boosh memorably created a monster out of spools of Betamax tape, and even Dr. Who is in on the act, happily destroying Maureen Lipman by erasing her off one. So even if it didn’t take off, the Betamax format obviously still has a place in the hearts of those who admit to being of that certain age.

It’s progressed to the point whereby people are actively trying to save and revive the format as it is threatened with total obsolescence. The slightly unhinged very sane folk at savebetamax.org need your support!

Share Button

RC Millennium Falcon – At Last!

Now we can rest happily in our beds, safe in the knowledge that one of the world’s last great inventions has finally been completed (we’re still waiting to hear back on the hoverboard, the fridge that follows you around and the yard-and-a-half of ale… it could happen!).

The movie tie-in masters at Hasbro have eventually done the decent thing and created an RC monster that no self-respecting Star Wars fan (how many of those do you know?) in the universe wouldn’t want to waste an afternoon on – The Millennium Falcon. Don’t be alarmed by the gaping hole in the middle, we’re guessing it’s essential for flight.


Say they at Hasbro:

“Han Solo once bragged that the Millennium Falcon made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs…and now fans can give it their best shot with the all-new Star Wars R/C MILLENNIUM FALCON! For the first time ever, the MILLENNIUM FALCON — the most beloved and iconic Star Wars ship of all-time — is available as an indoor flying remote control vehicle. Measuring an impressive 11 inches long and 8 inches wide, the largest flying Star Wars R/C to date is highly detailed, easy to fly and includes a charging controller and vehicle battery for up to five minutes of flying time.”

For goodness’ sake, five minutes?! Is that all? You can’t deftly negotiate an asteroid belt in five minutes, nor can you feign a cloaking device and silently attach limpet-like to the back of an Imperial Star Destroyer… pffft. Ah well, at least it exists – it’s a step closer to me owning my own mini Rebel fleet ready to launch a large-scale assault on the downstairs neighbours.

Via the official Star Wars blog – absolute manna from geek heaven every day.

Share Button

Pancake Day… Moscow-Style

Fat Tuesday is back again (though nowadays we should probably call it Overweight Tuesday), and we’re positively flipping out with excitement. Did you get it? Flipping? Pancakes? Cos you flip them? Yeah? Oh, forget it…

Anyway, as usual the masses will whip up their batter and try and eat as many Pancakes drowned in Nutella as they possibly can before Lent gets underway, before feeling slightly sick and lying on the sofa for a little while to get over it. Flipping will take place up and down the country, and maybe even the odd pancake race will disturb one or two primary schools this afternoon, but we certainly don’t celebrate it like the good people of Moscow do:

No pancakes that we can see...

Maybe there's one at the top?

According to these photographs (of which you can see more here), pancake day in Moscow is an excuse to climb poles and engage in some light wrestling… and who are we to frown upon that? Wouldn’t the UK’s Pancake Day traditions benefit from a bit of a wrestle? At the very least you could burn off that last pancake you had (just because it had banana in doesn’t mean it’s healthy…), and think of what it could do for neighbourhood relations! Cripes, it could even bring us back to an age of street parties, bunting and premature Summer fetes.

Or, of course, we could buy some pre-made batter and an economy tub of chocolate spread and pretend it’s the weekend… ho-hum.

You can find more info about Russian pancake day here… barmy, it is.

Share Button

IWOOT Valentine's Love/Hate Competition Winners

So, Valentine’s is over, we’ve scoffed the chocolates and watched “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” and had an early night – there’s only one thing left: who has one the IWOOT Valentine’s Love/Hate Competition?

We’re rather pleased to announce that the winner of the Love category is Sammy Murray and her t-shirt slogan:

Sammy Murray

Lucky old Sammy will receive a Couples Experience from IWOOTE. The winner of the Hate category is Maria Webster:

Maria Webster

Maria gets to selfishly enjoy a notably un-romantic Adrenaline Experience, again, from IWOOTE. We hope they both had textbook Valentine’s Days. Thanks to everyone who entered, and you can have a look at the final 10 slogans over at our Facebook page, here.

Share Button

Helicopter Obstacle Course

If you look hard enough, there are some amazing examples of RC Helicopter footage out there. As you may already know, we at IWOOT Towers are a little obsessed with RC Helicopters of late and, having mastered the art of controlling our very own Nighthawk, are thinking about the possibilities. What’s next for us now that we’re getting the hang of the “fly it to the lockers, fly it back to the ledge” game? An obstacle course, with its myriad hazards to negotiate, is the natural choice.

However, as they so often do in fields such as these, the Japanese have gotten there first… how can we compete with this?!

Share Button

Trade Fair Round-Up

Occasionally, it is necessary for the good folk at IWOOT to look for new products. It’s a task that involves lots of international travel, toys, games, amazing gadgets that the world hasn’t yet been exposed to, and is as close to going on tour as you’re likely to get in this industry. Honestly, we hate it. Ugh.

Not really. Let our very own Ella Woot guide you through the melange of this year’s finest fairs…

“Well, what a hectic last few months it’s been in the gadget world. Christmas came and went, and New Year’s resolutions were made and then thrown out the window when Las Vegas was our first Trade Fair destination in early January. Good old British weather tried to hold us back but after being snowed in, flights cancelled, we finally touched down on 8th Jan in Las Vegas, ready for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Melissa and I (Buying Team) scoured the super-sized American halls laden with tech to find lots of new items for our gadget section for 2010. In most cases it was a ‘first look’ for exciting new tech that will be ready for Christmas this year. September is going to be techy and shiny with lots of fun things for your iPhone, making vids, listening to your tunes, charging your gadgets and of course flying and causing general mayhem.

Back in Blighty, Melissa and Tim-Yee (Merchandiser) headed off to the London Toy Fair to stock up on things for the toy cupboard. A few fun things were found for outdoor play, some cute robotics, and Star Wars fans won’t be disappointed. January also saw Melissa turn into a prettier, better-dressed version of Simon Cowell as she joined the judging panel for Gift of the Year at Top Drawer in London. Her face was splashed over the place and she did us proud.


February saw Melissa and myself shoot off into even more snow as we went to Nuremburg Toy Fair in Germany. Nuremburg is famed for wooden toys and supremely intricate train sets which whilst fun to pop in on, isn’t what you guys are after. Unlike some other trade fairs we visit that are 9 times out of 10 packed with lots of things IWOOT fans would devour, this trade fair is more hit and miss. We had some good meetings with some of our suppliers and found a few fun cuddlies and flyers. When the show closed we huddled into what can only be described as a cross between a caravan and a sauna in the middle of Nuremburg town square for a hard-earned Gluwein.

Two days later we trouped off to Birmingham with our Creative Director and Founder Tim to the Birmingham Spring Fair. James our Graphic Designer joined us too and he summed up his experience at the show as “rad, rad, rad”. Essentially it is 12 enormous halls rammed with Toys, Gadgets and Homeware. We found absolutely loads of cool stuff that will start trickling in from next month. I grew up in Birmingham (many pity me for this) but it just goes to show that Birmingham has a lot to offer – honestly!

Our search for fab IWOOT products is by no means over. Tim and Melissa are heading off to the Big Apple for the New York Toy Fair next week and I am popping off to good old Germany again for the Frankfurt Ambiente Home show. March and April see us scouring the States again and hitting Hong Kong. Lots of hot new things coming your way – we think you’ll be as excited as we are!”

Share Button

Talking Husky Says "I Want One"

We encourage all are readers and customers to get in touch with tidbits they think we might find amusing, but we were a little surprised that dedication to IWOOT has crossed over into the animal kingdom. That’s right: man’s best friend has started living the brand.

An animal-loving customer of ours has sent us this great video of her husky Loki saying “I Want One”… which obviously isn’t quite the whole of our website name, but what an effort! You can make up your own mind as to whether Loki is in fact spluttering out the hallowed phrase.


Our thanks go to Niamh for making her dog do such a thing, and videoing it as well. Impressive. We’d be over the moon if you managed to make Loki go the whole hog (or, indeed, the whole dog… ha ha ha…) and nail “of those dot com” as well, but for now this is ace!

Share Button

We Continue To Excel At Aviation

Or not.

At least we have Tim on board now, the seasoned professional compared to Danny Woot and Jimbo Woot’s inability to make even the most basic of manouevres.


Share Button

The Valentine's Day Love/Hate Competition

Some of you, we know, will love Valentine’s Day. Some of you will hate it with equal vigour. But who is right? Should we dote unknown expense on those we love for this one day of the year above all others, or is it a cynical money-making exercise exacerbated by greetings card companies and the like? Well, either way, we want you tell us what you think of this most dividing of occasions – in a t-shirt slogan!

We want you to come up with a pro or anti-Valentine’s slogan that would look good on a t-shirt. The top ten we receive (five pro, five anti) will have their t-shirts made and, even better, have their efforts judged by the harsh critics of our Facebook page! The writer of the most popular Love slogan will win an amazing Couples Experience, while the most popular Hate slogan will win an Adrenaline Experience. You could end up powerboating through single life or Jet-skiing with the one you love – it all depends on how you feel about Valentine’s Day!

There are three ways to enter:

1: Fill in the form on the competition page with your slogan and your details.

2: Enter via Twitter, making sure to include either the #ilovevalentines or #ihatevalentines hashtag.

3: Visit our Facebook page and leave your slogan as a comment under the Love or Hate pictures in our photo gallery.

All this info and competition terms and conditions are available on the Competition Page, at this link.

Good luck, lovers and haters!

Share Button

January's Review of the Month Winners

January was a great month for reviews – all your Christmas presents got rated, snapped and video’d! So, as you’d expect, it was an especially difficult task to sift through the thousands of reviews we receive each month and select the very creamiest of the cream of the most carefully harvested crop.

First of all, and winning a satisfyingly chunky £50 IWOOT Voucher, is Timboosler. His review of the ol’ faithful Cash Stash is below:

“Such a good idea:
Remember when your Mum sewed a shiny shilling into the lining of your pants so you could always make a phone call home if you were lost? No? Then you’re obviously too young!
This brings that concept right up to date with a key ring containing a craftily folded tenner, a score, or even a half a ton if you can afford it…enough for a phone call, a kebab, and a luxury cab-ride home…maybe even stopping off at the ‘Offie’ as well.
Never get stuck again with the moths flying out of your empty wallet… this is your emergency lifeboat should you fall asleep on the last train home, or just forgot to go to the cashpoint for more beer tokens.
The only thing to remember is if you use your sneaky secret cashpoint, remember to replace it as soon as possible. And of course, it goes without saying… never, never, ever tell your girlfriend what’s inside!!”

Sage words indeed. For submitting our favourite picture review, someone referring to themselves as Kaleidoscope (enigmatic, eh?) wins a suitably beefy £75 IWOOT Voucher for this picture review of Henry The Hoover at work:

Nice one, Henry. Now can you do my kitchen floor?

And finally, we went for PlinkyPlonkyDonkey’s Twilight Turtle video. One can only assume that that is a self-applied pseudonym. Nevertheless, a whopping £150 IWOOT Voucher is on its way to you – well done!

Don’t forget to enter this month if you buy one of our products – you could win some serious, err… “wonga” to spend at IWOOT!
Share Button