|Freeze Frame: Toys, tots, and creativity close up|
This weekend was a cause for celebration in my household. Saturday, May 5, was a once-a-year outpouring of love, lettering, and loot: it was Free Comic Book Day, aka âFCBD.â As the name suggests, if you visited a participating comic book store, you were given a free comic book. Having two children who are partial to readingâcoupled with striking art panelsâand a husband and myself, who are admitted geeks/nerds/fans (we actually played Dungeon & Dragons in our youth, and beyond), FCBD was marked on my household calendar. We were definitely going to hit up one store, maybe two, or if the greed became uncontrollable, weâd drop in on three. (The greed did spin feverishly, and we did go to three stores, met the nicest people, took business cards, and pledged to return as paying customers. Iâm a former Girl Scoutâmy word is my bond.)
So, while we were in the store, receiving our freebiesâsome allowed us to choose; others just handed over a predetermined titleâthe kids explored every nook and cranny. In addition to the tons of comics on hand, there were also loads of dolls, action figures, models, and other 3-D versions of fabled characters.
In a bin, we discovered a jackpot of Tim Burtonâs âNightmare Before Christmasâ characters. The Henry Selick-directed movie ranks among one of my favorites, and scattered in a bin were a bunch of the flickâs leading players. Because they had been removed from their blister packs and cartons, they were tagged just a step above garage-sale prices. In fact, as we dug through these discarded pop-culture plastic people, we came across a Millennium Falconâs worth of âStar Warsâ figures. Han Solo and his Wookie were forlornly tossed in there, and bore stickers saying â$1.99 each.â That was an amazing discovery, and my kids were happier than a Jedi who just trounced a Storm Trooper without raising a light saber.
As they were burrowing amid the tiny heroes and little villains, my son, Tommy, asked me, âWhat can we do with these toys? Theyâre so small that they donât look very scary. How can they battle any of the larger dolls?â
I answered how he shouldnât be so judgmental. There is mighty power to be found in the smallest of receptacles. Plus, he could definitely engage any of these characters against his Lego people. That might be a âfairâ fight.
âAnd we can make a movie starring them,â chimed in my daughter, Jane. Last year, the two of them shot a âHarry Potterâ home movie starring Lego pieces, which was a valiant first effort. I was proud that they were planning to become miniature Steven Spielbergs again!
âCan we make money making these Lego movies?â Tommy asked. âCan we sell them to people or charge people to watch them? And then we can buy more figures for more movies.â (Good to hear that he is a budding entrepreneur who understands the value of reseeding his business.)
âI imagine if you get good enough, you can,â I answered. In fact, I told them, there are tons of different ways to be creative with abandoned action artifacts.
One of the big comic-book series that was a hit in my home was Alan Mooreâs âThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.â (This was a re-imagining of some of Victorian literatureâs greatest protagonists and scoundrels: Mina Harker, Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Dorian Gray, Jekyll & Hyde, to name a few.) The graphic novel was translated into a film, but it didnât really achieve the success that its producers had desired, so the attendant merchandising was never in demand. Still, the comic book has such a devoted cult following that a cottage industry has sprung up to create customized âExtraordinary Gentlemenâ collectibles. I told Jane and Tommy that maybe they can become the next Joshua Izzo, dismantling a torso from one figure, adding the wigging from another, painting and sandpapering, chipping away until he has assembled the League in all their glory. If they followed his lead, they could hand-make a cast of thousands for whatever project they envisioned.
âThat sounds like too much work,â they both groused. (So much for the entrepreneurial spirit!)
âWell, you could use what you currently have, and shoot them in interesting, odd ways. There are photographers who do that, and they are very successful!â I encouraged.
That piqued their interestâthey both have child-friendly cameras, indestructible when dropped and able to withstand jelly streaks on the lens.
I had recently learned about the works of two photographers who specialize in miniature figuresâthe kind normally found in model railroad environs. Both prove how toys that are often exiled to boxes in the basement or tables at flea markets can have a real important second life as artist muses.
For Slinkachu, a London-based artist, he brings his mini models to the streets of his hometown and sets them up as ordinary English citizens. For his âLittle People in the Cityâ project, he shoots them from angles that force perspective in very clever ways. And hereâs the surprising twist. After he successfully gets the shot heâs looking for, he abandons his figures, along with their props, for unsuspecting pedestrians to stumble upon. That sounds pretty cool to me! Imagine the excitement, on your way to work, of coming across one of his finger-size cuddling lovebirds or preteen in peril. (Sheâs being ferociously abducted by an octopus tentacle.) That would be a rare and wondrous day for sure!Another photographer who is gaining enormous respect for his ingenuity is Seattle, Washingtonâs Christopher Boffoli. In his series of photographs entitled âDisparity,â he pairs toys and food. In his meditation on Americaâs âoverconsumption,â he might position a lone tiny toy atop a cupcake, trying to hit a golf ball hidden amid the frosting; a group of cyclists pedal cheerfully across bananas; a CSI forensic team analyzes a blackberry-ridden crime scene, or a work crew takes a break from their asparagus refurbishing. These photos, plus his dozens and dozens of others, take the concept of work and worth in America and give us âfood for thought.â
The 2015 DOLLS Awards of Excellence Industryâs Choice winners (DAEs, also called the Diamond Awards) were announced at the International Doll & Teddy Bear Show in Asheville, N.C., June 6. The Industry's Choice winners will go on to become the nominee's in the Public's Choice voting, set to begin in late June.
Without further ado, here are the winners of this year's Industry's Choice Diamond Awards!
The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.
The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.
To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:
The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:
2003 Hildegard Gunzel
2004 Alexander Doll Company
2005 R. John Wright
2006 Wendy Lawton
2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2010 Helen Kish
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
2015 Kaye Wiggs
August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat.
You havenât seen a toy show until youâve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and childrenâs playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.
19 April 2014 â 5 October 2014
A special exhibition will take place at the Toy Worlds Museum Basle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese-Swiss diplomacy and friendship.