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02/15/09 ::: Unexpected Toy Joy

I left a box of toys with my friend David a few weeks ago. I thought he was going to use them to make a video for our band but instead he made this batch of egg tempera paintings, which I think are super cool.

These are all roughly life-sized, and painted with real egg. I love the way David has captured the very specific range of positioning for each toy. The guy in the wearesmall shirt with the white hair stands JUST LIKE THAT, and Chrome Baby's haughty, stiff-legged slouch is so picture-perfect it could be a medical illustration. Way to go, David!





12/13/09 ::: The Arrival of John Yossarian

Our friend John Yossarian arrived last week! Yossarian lives in France and is a friend of Traveling Man's host there, Tesla. We are all so happy to have John here for a visit

As you can see, John is of a larger size than the majority here. We all knew about this condition long before he arrived but we didn't think to round up larger, safer chairs that our guest could sit in comfortably. On a similar note, after John landed we discovered that most of the available local housing had ceilings so low that he would be forced to crouch. The Dept. of Accessories had to scramble but we finally found a place for John to call home during his stay.

It's not like we are size bigots or anything. Some of my best friends are Action Men. There are no local ordinances preventing toys larger than 9 inches tall from walking around freely in the daylight and enjoying the many fine modern conveniences to be enjoyed here. They're just going to bump their heads on stuff a lot and really stand out in a crowd, is all.


In the living room, between the useless tv antenna and the trumpet, stands the grand gothic workshop of Emelius the Alchemist. The basement of this building is one of the few available rooms in all of our Small Kingdom that has high enough ceilings for John, and Emelius was excited by the idea of a new and unusual tenant.

After Yossarian settled in he received a visit from the Board of Scale Relations. Agent Crackers was sent to enlist John's help as an internet celebrity in an upcoming awareness campaign, hosting fundraisers and doing PSA about the terrible conditions that most 12 inch figures endure locally. John politely took the pamphlets, and learned that most toys his size live on a single dusty shelf reservation, high and out of the way, far outside of general Small population.

Agent Crackers was also assigned to see which available helmet best suited Yossarian for his upcoming trip into space!


"Hello! We found some big chairs for you!"


Emeilus the Alchemist and his assistant Ruprecht, in the workshop's central conjuring station.

Bains and Ada are two other tenants in the building. Both are in some way involved in the graphic novel industry.

Just above John's new flat is the Natural History wing of The Alchemist's workshop. Creepy, huh?




We made a popular music video recently, too. It must be around here somewhere. I'll have to show that to you some time.


10/12/09 ::: Small Repatration Event 10/11/09

"Free the tiny people!" was the chant heard 'cross the room as 574 free-range action figures were set loose again this weekend. If there is one thing toys here don't like it is boundaries, and if there is one toy who complains louder than most it would have to be Chrome Baby.

So anyway, the deal was I put each Small on the table after I took its picture, and when I got done with all of the pictures I needed to get everybody off the table and back to their home-shelves. So we had a party. Kids from my band and their excellent relations helped us repatriate the wee masses and it was wicked fun, too! It's so nice to see them all in action again. Thanks, everybody!



This very morning, with the help of an elite team of specialists, I hung my best giant toy spaceship in the lobby of the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts. This is part of a sci-fi art show that runs in conjunction with WICA's upcoming production of The Rocky Horror Show. I understand there will be Time Warp dance lessons conducted directly underneath T19!


10/01/09 ::: Reports from Afar

Wow, it's been a long time since I put anything here. I suppose that could be because I'm distracted, or it could be that I'm focused. I could tell you which is the answer but that would be telling.

One thing I do know is that we received some pictures of Traveling Man visiting Paris this week (thank you, Tesla) and I have included them here! The titles speak for themselves, and the shots in the posh graveyard are especially super-cool - plus a shot from the Barbie Expo! I will eventually add them all to the TM-Tesla Gallery (along with an amazing batch of pictures from TM's recent adventures in Indonesia) but since I'm distracted (and/or focused) I'm putting them all here for now.

Another swell thing is that I'm nearly done with the New Census photography. For the past few months as I have worked on this project I had to sequester those photographed on a single table top, so they (and I) would not get confused about who was done and who was not. Now that I'm at the end of the project EVERYBODY is on this one single table, and it is just sick and wrong.

So, I have decided that the best way to distribute the wee masses back to their shelf homelands is to have other people do the dirty work, and have a party. Expect candid pictures of humans with toys very soon, and please send good thoughts for a peaceful repatriation.

I seem to have a lot of other hens in the oven, too, but I can't tell you much about most of them for one reason or another. Or maybe I can, I forget now.




08/10/09 ::: Them Toys Is Armed!

I spent the morning setting up my cardboard western town at the Island County Fair. This is Boxtop Hill's first public display and I'm happy with every dang bit of it. After suffering on a very cramped shelf for many months it is good to see the whole town set up and spread out the way it otter-be.

Much hat wavin' and happy skyward gunfire goes out to Mary Ann Mansfield, curator of the exhibit and fan of that which is Small. It was our great honor and pleasure to accept her invitation to show our toys at the dang-ol' county fair! Ain't that a hoot?


07/30/09 ::: Just when I think I'm out they pull me back in...

I'm delighted to announce that our western junk has been invited to the Island County Fair! Apparently the Gems and Minerals people have opted out this year and a show about paper has claimed their territory, and since cardboard is paper (of a sort) the entire town of Boxtop Hill and my pirate ship The Gimlet will be on display! I assume of course that this means complimentary tiny doughnuts and pork ribs for the whole toy crew, for the duration of the event. We'll keep you posted right here on this SmBlog.

It's been some time since our last public display. In fact, everything I'm taking was built after the last Big Small Show. Outside of the pictures on this website and the pest control people, nobody seen none of this twizzel, jack!

Too bad there isn't a 4H Ribbon for Giant Plastic Spaceships.


07/28/09 ::: Thee Vesties

It's funny how something comes along and you get all geeked up about it, because it is new and shiny and it gives you personal-type butterflies. Fear and excitement are great indicators that one is alive, and I recommend them both to varying degrees.

Which is to say that my attention has been recently yanked by a punk rock band, by name Thee Vesties. It's a horrible mess that is doomed to fail but I can hardly think of anything else. We still have toys here and there will be more toy stuff sometime, but right now I'm in a band and I can't be bothered. Write if you need to know how the western turns out, or if you have a good 2XL+ story idea, or if you just want shoot the breeze. Or cans and bottles.

Play nice while I'm away and thanks for the cake.


07/02/09 ::: TM in Bali, Bangkok, and Jakarta

I've been meaning to post these for some time - Traveling Man is still on the move! I have no idea who the flashy girl toy is...

Bangkok: Water Festival, Airport

Jakarta: Batavia Cafe'



Bali: YEA!!

06/14/09 ::: LAKE

I'm not entirely sure yet, but I think it is possible that some toys of mine might end up on a record cover. It could be a 7" single, even! Like I said, I'm not really sure and all I have to offer is this story.

Some while back I got a call from someone who had been to a bridal shower at our house. She said she needed some pictures for her band's upcoming release, and she needed them fast. That night I met Ashley from Lake and she played with toys, took lots of pictures, and offered to pay me. I set up some lights at one point and assisted in the assembly but Ashley did the lion's share of the playing.

I didn't hear anything more until today, when this picture and website was pointed out to me.

Is it possible that our toys are going to be on a cool record cover?
We'll let you know when we find out more...


top: Ashley at play
bottom: my best shot of her scene.

 06/04/09 :::

I don't know about you, but I have been looking for good Star Trek chairs for over 30 years. When I was a brat I loathed the stools that came with Mego's U.S.S. Enterprise Playset. Who do they think they were fooling? Even though Sulu and Chekov were nowhere to be found, everybody knew they wouldn't be sitting on a piano stool to plot important warp-speed courses in space. The disappointment has been ringing in my ears ever since.

But a few weeks ago I got a tip that some dude was making quality chairs. I checked out the link and they looked pretty cool, which I define as, "handmade with great affection and attention to detail." He was also making Spock's 3D chess board in 1:9 scale which, if you must know the truth, totally pushed me over the edge. This dude looked like a diehard plastic carpenter, and the rates were reasonable like Radisson.

So I wrote to this guy I don't know, and he wrote back. Later I PayPal-ed this guy and he sent the goods soon after, and now everything is here before me, after 30 years. And this guy rocks!

Paul Wasson (this guy) is really on to something. The magic elf or whatever he uses to cut plastic is really good at it, and his designs are simple and perfect. The ST chairs look totally at home on my Bridge Set, and Sulu and Chekov finally look like they belong there. The whole thing makes me dizzy-happy.

The chess board is equally impressive and I have been considering making a "Mr. Spock's Quarters" playset just to show it off. I happened to already own a set of tiny chess pieces, and Paul was kind enough to sell me just the board. I'm certain his custom chess pieces are further examples of his plastics skills and demonstrate the same love of toys found in the rest of his line of products.

Two Action-Thumbs Up for!



Yeoman Foxy models the chair.


Mr. Spock vs. Mr. Bones

05/17/09 ::: Tesla has An Excellent Idea!

It is a great pleasure to present our latest toy feature, and for very many reasons. As you may know, for the past few months we have been getting pictures of our own Traveling Man during his extended stay in France. Besides the great pictures, we have had the pleasure of becoming friends with Tesla Rostropovich who is, in every measure, truly Small Like Us. A modern doll with a keen sideways glance, Tesla is our hero!

I wanted to build a story with some of the pictures I had been getting from around the edges of this great European adventure, and when I asked Tesla to get some additional shots in a particular flower patch that looked very cozy she sent a perfect batch the very next day. I cobbled together this and that shot until a story emerged, and then I tried to get out of its way. It was heap-big fun!

Big Thanks to Cécile, Sabina, Jantima, and Isis for taking such great pictures for us to play with! Traveling Man's story is in motion, and we are delighted to have so many friends keeping it that way.


05/07/09 ::: It just burns up my goat when...

I can't believe that so much great stuff is going on and I haven't posted anything about any of it in weeks. It's disappointing on my part, and more than a little telling.

As the cool new picture on the index indicates, Traveling Man made it to Paris at last! As I understand it, he is in Thailand or maybe Indonesia right now. I have pictures and will post them for you poor hungry readers of SmBlog as soon as possible. I'm also working on a narrative thing with TM using the great pictures we have been getting from our French Agent. I included a picture of the storyboard for y'all's amusement.

The Revised Census Project continues to be a glorious thorn in my side. On the one hand, I'm looking forward to having a new picture of Everybody and an accurate list of Them All, and on the other hand I'm personally offended that I have to line up all my toys in order to complete the project. Never in the history of have we treated our toys like numbers, or had them so moronically lined up like commodities, for so long. It is a great sadness. Join in the daily sorrow at:

The other thing is this new app I got for my phone that lets me take 3D pictures... It crashes a lot and I'm still pretty new to it, but I have the feeling that (after the Census, and Pony Latitudes Part II) this will be the stuff of my next project. I've included a clunky sample with this post!!

Remember people: when in doubt, play with it!


03/29/09 ::: Traveling Man in Spain

I continue to be amazed by the fantastic stuff we are getting from our European correspondent, Tesla. Right on top of the thrill of Belgium and Romania, here comes Spain! And these are not just average toy pictures from distant lands... lots of these involve huge burning art in the streets. Oh, how I love this kind of Play!

Near as I can tell, a 'falla' is a big paper and wood structure like a parade float, strung with fireworks and other combustibles. As Tesla put it in her email account of the Spanish visit,

"The falla groups brings flowers on the day before the burning. Each falla is comprised of one small one, the 'falla infantil' which is lit up by the 'fallera mayor infantil' (the 'head girl' of the children in the falla group), and one big one, lit up by the 'fallera mayor' (adult 'head girl')."

Honestly, I haven't any idea what it all means, but as you can see the event calls for huge fires in city streets, which appear to be diligently controlled by firemen (called "Bombers"), and lit for the pure thrill of it all! At last, something to show people in America who are offended by the possibility of danger during Independence Day!!!

There are also some additional shots of Romania with today's update, and I changed the picture on the index page. Could you tell?


A Dolly in Dali's Museum, Spain 2009

Burning fallas, Spain 2009

03/08/09 ::: TM in Romania

Our European connections are coming through with some great surprises! Look at the awesome new pictures of Traveling Man visiting a brand new (to him) country, beautiful Romania!

Not much in the way of travel details, but there are gorgeous snowy slopes with skiers visible far below, and some great interior views of Romanian domesticity. There is also this great shot of a real Romanian dog:

Thank you Sabina (and Tesla!) for putting our little man in great new territory!



02/28/09 ::: Blog and Blogability

As if rounding up hundreds of freewheeling toys for a head count was easy, I have also decided to re-photograph everybody as part of the Census update! The pictures are happening in a rapid-fire amateur way, and one of our specialists suggested a Small-A-Day type blog to show them off...

My past attempts at regular blogging have been decidedly irregular, but I figure I'll give it a try anyway since I already have nearly a full year of content. So if you want to see a freaky new toy thing every day, you can and it is here:


And just to prove that I have no form or strategy of any kind, I started another blog featuring pictures of Dogs in Cars. You know, in case all of the toys with funny names just don't reach you:


Neither of these new blogs are wordy, just pictures with titles. I will save my cryptic verbosity and linguistic pabulum exclusively here for you, Mental Readers of SmBlog.


02/14/09 ::: Traveling Man Goes Crazy, Everywhere!

So, I'm a little confused. As I said earlier, I sent Traveling Man off to France late last year, and we have been getting great pictures from Tesla and the gang, but this week new bizarre photos surfaced! Thanks to our man in the streets, Jon Hendy, we now have conclusive proof that TM was in Florida very recently, and he wasn't alone, either.

All I can guess is TM's little friend stole the parcel I sent, took him out for some time in the sun, and then somehow slipped a refreshed and resealed toy back into the international postal stream (IPS). I am now remembering that TM's arrival in Lille was later than expected by a few weeks. Hmmm...

Speaking of that, did you know that the cockerel is the emblem of France? Our friend Cécile sent some alarming pictures of toys involved in basic food preparation, and they are so very charming and gruesome that we had to include them with this update.

Please DO NOT VIEW the link at the bottom of the Tesla Gallery if you are sick, ill, stupid, weak, vegetarian, pregnant, suffer from spells, fear anything, are litigious or perverted in any way, or if viewing dead animals will be harmful or offensive to yourself or others in your community.

And Happy Valentine's Day!


At a political rally!

In Florida!

Killing chickens!

02/02/09 ::: Another wild divergence.

So, last week, I'm looking intently at the wall and thinking about stuff for my next western thing, and I suddenly realize that RIGHT NOW is the best time to ditch that cowboy junk and re-photograph the entire Census!

With will over 500 custom free-range action figures scattered around our estate, some very dusty and others in need of serious repair, one can appreciate the enormity of the task I have bitten off for chewing. I started with "#1" and I'm working my way numerically through to the other side, making long overdue updates to the Original Census Database (OCD) in the process. Glorious tedium!

I don't need to do this project right now, in fact I have other stuff ready to go, but the die has been cast. I learned long ago that it is ok to listen to the many voices in my head, and with few exceptions to do their bidding.

Included here are a few examples so far. I might post the new pictures in batches of 100, but right now I'm still collating data, listening to ethereal instructions, dusting, and polishing boots.


01/26/09 ::: More TM in France, and now Belgium!

I just posted some updates in the new TM/TESLA Gallery, adding captions and some larger files for your desk-topping pleasure! We hope to announce even more world travels for TM very soon...


In Belgium!

By the River Aa.


01/23/09 ::: Hawk Rules!

I did something this week that I don't do very often. Something really, really fun and technically illegal, too. Something I would do again and again if I had the proper parts. And my wife was there with me the whole time!

Of course I'm talking about making a custom Hawk action figure. Let's start with a little history:

When I was young my friend Shane and I broke down Mego figures and created our own hero characters, and we drew from many different inspirational sources in the process. One such source was TV, and on this TV at the time there was this show, called Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

And yea, from deep within the murk of this show came a bird-man character, named Hawk! His people and their huts were all destroyed by stupid drunken humans, so a little revenge and some misunderstanding and yadda yadda, he ends up as Buck Rogers' alien sidekick until the show finally collapsed under the weight of its own cement-like pacing.

We kids loved Hawk. He was so cool, and we wanted the show to ditch Buck and go fully Hawk! Why this character didn't get a spin-off show of his own is beyond my comprehension. 'The Ropers' got a green light, but no 'Hawk'? I remain mystified.

So, innovative brats that we were, Shane and I made our own Hawk action figures. Mr. Spock was an obvious place to start. We used White-Out to paint his hair, and an inverted pair of Star Trek pants with a hole in the crotch for a shirt. We called our Hawk-oid figures Avians, and they rode 'dragons' (that were actually 1:6 Marx horses). Good times...

I guess Hawk has been on my mind recently because I keep taking pictures of him and posting them on FaceBook. It was this kind of detailed research that drove me to the parts bins last week. I thought it would be cool to make an old-school Hawk figure, just the way we used to make them back in the day. But once I got going I found that what I really wanted to make was a faithful representation of the character from TV, Hawk!

The biggest challenge was Hawk's feathered head, something that looked like it came out of a Busby Berkeley swimming pool number. I discovered some air-dry (no baking) modeling clay called Prang at the craft store - great stuff, first time using it, will use it more, happy to recommend it. After the feathers the rest was pretty easy; black tights, clunky gloves, a leg holster, and a pair of black mystery boots that have been kicking around here for a while (anybody recognize those boots?) and a scrap of craft fur with a knotted chain closure.

In the end, I did use White-Out and inverted Star Trek pants. I confess it kind of looks like Mr. Spock is playing dress-up with Grandma's fur stole and bling. Which is totally what I was going for; authenticity.




It's HAWK!

01/19/09 ::: Behind the Sails, The Making of The Pony Latitudes.

It's funny how one thing leads to another. I started out with cowboys and have spun off into pirates, and from here at least it all seems a very normal progression of events.

The idea for The Gimlet was hatched shortly after construction of my cardboard stagecoach (featured in Grunt and Disgruntled) and came out of the general question I am always faced with after I finish an adventure; what's next? I was leaning in the direction of a locomotive when I banged my knee on the idea of a pirate ship!

I guess it was probably obvious to some people, but for the most part I tried to keep the Gimlet's construction a secret. Not that I was embarrassed or felt moronic or anything, it's just fun to have a secret project sometimes. My original concept was 'an all cardboard pirate ship' but I quickly realized that I'd need a wooden structure to make proper cardboard decks, and once I had that it was clear that wooden decks and trim was the only real answer. I kept the corrugated look where I could, because I love it.

I used a wooden strawberry basket for the crow's nest, chop sticks for boat launch beams, a drum stick for the bowsprit, and slices of thick cardboard tube for portholes.

I regret taking so few construction pictures. You can see how bright the deck planking was before getting stained. I decided that everything had to be really dark for the pirates so I stained cardboard and craft wood alike with Dark Oak Mini Wax, and went with black hemp rigging and black paper sails. My lovely and talented First Mate even found a source for tiny brass screw-eyes, used in great quantity throughout the Gimlet's sails and rigging. Our hooked hand salutes you, bonny lass!

The last picture is the kind of stuff I ended up photographing a few months after I first imagined the ship. Throughout The Pony Latitudes I used a giant green screen background to isolate and cut out various elements, saving millions of man hours and innocent lives in the editing process. I sort of blew my "take one good picture" rule a lot in this episode, but I think what I came up with is better than any other toy western at sea on the market today. I also enjoy sweeping.

So anyway, it's off to see if freedom can survive collectivism. Stay tuned, sodbusters! "The Pony Latitudes, part 2: Blow Your Men Down" is already in the works...


01/13/09 ::: New, New, New!!

Welcome to our new Page 5 of SmBlog! You can still dig the previous pages by clicking the links at the top-right.

We thought it best to start off the New Year with a new look for the index page, a new SmBlog page, a new Traveling Man adventure, and a brand new Western sepiasode! As we've mentioned recently, this is the new SmBlog page.

Pictures of Traveling Man's new adventures come to us from Lille, France! We have been receiving reports from a 1971 Skipper doll named Tesla, and her 1:1 associate Cecile. They invited Traveling Man to come stay with them in the north of France, and we have been sent so many great photos of the two of them I decided to build a new gallery. There are sure to be more pictures of these freewheeling international action figures - we'll keep you posted!

The Pony Latitudes, Part One: A Rotten Wind is the final new thing in our New Year's kickoff of newness. I'm going to post some "Behind the Sails" stuff about it later, and I'm working on Part Two: Blow Your Men Down pretty soon. It's amazing what fun one can have with cardboard, foil, and a few weeks off. I guess you could say it was one of my favorite westerns to make, and I hope you enjoy it!

Oh yeah, new Western menu button, too! Try it now!