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#a434 :: Z-card robot

April 26, 2009

I’ve posted some Z-Cardz before – they’re nifty little 3-D models that you assemble from pieces that you punch out of precision-die-cut 2-D plastic cards. This is not one of their better ones – and I guess that’s why I’m posting it – as an example of Not Good Enough. Warner Bros. cartoons had their […]

Filed under: Facsimile, Fetish, plastic, Toy | Comments (0)

#a421 :: Paper sculpture

April 13, 2009

I delight in finding the delight my children find in simple acts of creation. Paper is an adventure. Fold it and make a city, a castle, a world. A couple of these things have been floating around the house this week. I have no idea what they are. All I know is that my son […]

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, Found Object, Toy | Comments (0)

#a412 :: Nerf one-shot pistol

April 3, 2009

Stuff a foam dart down its hazard-orange bore, pump up the air chamber with the piston slide and blow the captured pressure with the thumb valve. And piff you’ve fired what probably amounts to the most reprehensibly disposable and insulting form of non-lethal ammunition known to man: the rubber dart. It’s got a belt clip […]

Filed under: Ephemera, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a408 :: Meggy Jr. RGB

March 30, 2009

It’s finished. My son and I just soldered the last wires into place on this tonight, and it lit up perfectly. The Meggy Jr. RGB – a handheld video game with open-source, programmable memory chip – is ready for business. Eight solid hours we hunched over a dizzying array of resistors, capacitors, transistors and LED, […]

Filed under: Fetish, Instrument, Objet, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a405 :: Qee by Jeff Soto

March 27, 2009

I’ve been a huge, drooling fan of Jeff Soto for years but couldn’t afford his work until I spotted this fine fellow in a little toy store the other side of the reservoir. Yes, he’s mass produced. No, it doesn’t matter. Done and done.

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, Objet, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a403 :: Wooden puzzle

March 25, 2009

Some mysteries we humans hold to be self-evident and unanswerable – except by synthetic, nonscientific means: Consciousness. Identity. Creativity. Beauty. Spirituality. Meaning. Diversity. Freedom. So we make up religions and start cults and set things on fire and paint and write and bloviate and fight and kill and destroy because it’s easier than trying to […]

Filed under: Art, Objet, symbol, Toy | Comments (1)

#a402 :: “B.O.B.” toy

March 24, 2009

Since my wife is a member of ASIFA we got passes to a pre-release screening of Monsters vs. Aliens tonight. Verdict: It’s no Kung Fu Panda or Bolt, but it’s got enough yuks and snappy design to make an honest buck, and I might even see it again. They were giving away McDonald’s toys in […]

Filed under: Ephemera, Miniature, Model, Toy | Comments (0)

#a393 :: Used car key

March 15, 2009

In all my years on this blog, I’ve never unpacked the symbology of a key. It’s almost so perfect a metaphor on its own, that trying to explain a key pretty much dooms you to being accused of mental masturbation. But a car key is profound. It represents a heavy, expensive and rather large member […]

Filed under: Fetish, Part, symbol, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a391 :: Neodymium cylinder

March 13, 2009

I have a thing for magnets. These are powerful enough to leave blood blisters if you let two of them snap together on you. A single one can support close to 10 pounds, depending on how you rig it. And when you place pinballs around one the magnetism distributes evenly through five of them, a […]

Filed under: Instrument, Mineral, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a388 :: Chinese traveling hare

March 10, 2009

Where is he going? What is he carrying? Why is he important? Chinese factory workers so beautifully aped the luster of carved coral with cast, burnished and “age”-dusted red plastic resin that I’m left wishing I had the answers to these questions. In lesser hands, he would have been a child’s plaything, a little knicknack […]

Filed under: Ephemera, Fetish, Miniature, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)

#a387 :: Pinballs

March 9, 2009

Thanks to my dear longtime friend, former college classmate and co-conspirator John, I am now in possession of ten of the coolest, most perfect HLOs known to the art of manufacturing. Back in college, John and I poured an absurd amount of time (and hard-earned library wages) into pinball machines. There may have been other […]

Filed under: Fetish, symbol, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (3)

#a372 :: Kaleidoscope

February 22, 2009

I think we forget how to see. We’re so absorbed with processing most of the time that we fail to register the weight of anything in front of us. “Oh, there’s a car.” Not, “if I could have an exploded-view version of that floating around, I’d really have something.” This was a Christmas gift at […]

Filed under: Art, Fetish, Instrument, Toy | Comments (0)

#a359 :: Silicone dolphin

February 8, 2009

If there’s a story behind this creature, my father will have to supply it. It arrived in a box of things he offered for photography, and it suggests nothing but a happy life aquatic, swimming through the dust in a drawer and surviving on pencil shavings until he’s required to dance on his tail, chatter […]

Filed under: Facsimile, Miniature, My father's HLOs, Objet, Toy | Comments (0)

#a357 :: Rokenbok ball

February 6, 2009

Children’s toys approximate reality. In the happy world of Rokenbok this is not a huge, filthy boulder shot through with veins of iron and smeared with the engine oil it’s been sitting in in the junkyard where you unearthed it after the glacier dropped it 3.2 million years ago. It’s just part of a load […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Jetsam, Part, Toy | Comments (0)

#a346 :: Rotring Core ballpoint

January 26, 2009

It used to be Bic Stics, Bic ballpoints, the occasional Shaeffer Bros. throwaway or oddball Pentel gel-tip – whatever. Whatever the newspaper clerks stocked the supply closet with – that’s how I wrote. Tools didn’t matter. The work did. Once I moved out of dead trees and into the trackless wastes of the interwebs, I […]

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#a345 :: Kershaw pocketknife

January 25, 2009

My old Kershaw. I carried it 12 years ago, then laid it down three or four years later after the liner lock quit holding the blade stiff, and the rubber in the handles began to degrade. It’s still an elegant little tool and feels wonderful to open. I hang onto it because, well, you never […]

Filed under: Jetsam, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a340 :: Potato gun ammo

January 19, 2009

Here’s the other end of this equation – a fine brown potato, now pocked with the wounds of a thousand battles … well, not really. This is simply what it looks like when your son swipes your Christmas present and gets crazy with a hapless spud … the potato’s a couple of ounces lighter, there […]

Filed under: Life form, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a339 :: Potato Gun

January 18, 2009

I scoffed at these things, which used to appear alongside ads for X-ray spectacles, sea monkeys and GRIT on the backs of Marvel comics when I was a kid. Potato gun. Hah. My friend Phil has a BB gun that he once used to nail the pillar on a house nearly a block away once, […]

Filed under: Ephemera, Facsimile, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a334 :: Tin advertising whistle

January 14, 2009

Vintage viral marketing, for what may or may not be Captain Black tobacco. Blow through the stem and you get a sweet bosun’s-pipe peep. By the look of the printing, this dates back at least 50 or 60 years, but Googling bears no clear clues to its origins. You gotta love the mascot’s pissed-off expression […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)

#a326 :: Porcelain doll head

January 5, 2009

He was rendered in porcelain bisque, no bigger than the end of my thumb many, many decades ago. This angelic countenance stands ready to receive whatever whim, benediction or mad wish a child of 18XX might bestow upon him. If he had a body, it’s gone now. No matter. Capped with glazed curls, his smile […]

Filed under: Artifact, Facsimile, Miniature, Part, Toy | Comments (0)

#a324 :: Fuse-Bead eyeball

January 3, 2009

My son shambles in, his hand covering his brow. “Dad, I hate to tell you this, but I’ve got a terrible case of pinkeye.” “What??? Oh, no. C’mere, let me see.” He turns and I see this fantastic Fuse-bead concoction clapped to his face. It’s still warm, fresh from the iron. I’m doubly thrilled – […]

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, Facsimile, Model, Toy | Comments (0)

#a315 :: Z-card

December 25, 2008

Have I mentioned these? I got a motorcycle in my stocking this year. I picture myself cut about an inch tall from 1/8″-thick styrofoam, clad in teeny, tiny laminate leather, my shiny mug grinning. Flat helmet under my flat arm. Peace to all out there. I hope yours has been a warm and strengthening holiday. […]

Filed under: Ephemera, Miniature, Model, Objet, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)

#a311 :: Littlest Pet Shop shower cap

December 21, 2008

Naturally, a party of that size has its aftermath. Among the dead soldiers (easily policed up) and the bowls of dip that threaten to go off the minute you put them into the fridge, you get an explosion of toys everywhere. Littlest Pet Shop creatures and accessories littered the floor, including a hand-stitched iridescent vinyl […]

Filed under: Part, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)

#a300 :: Homies grilled-corn vendor

December 10, 2008

Little plastic characters from barrio life, the Homies get as much flak as they get props. They were created by Mexican-American cartoonist David Gonzales, who clearly launched the collectible-toy phenomenon (120,000,000+ figurines sold) from a place of respect. Maybe I’m just a stupid white guy, but this vendor’s face and stance seem to radiate the […]

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, Fetish, Miniature, symbol, Toy | Comments (0)

#a294 :: Ideal “Powermite” orbital sander

December 4, 2008

In 1969, the Ideal Toy company came out with a line of fully operational miniature powertools that plugged into battery supplies built into their small carrying cases. This “Powermite” sander is about three inches long by two inches tall and less than an inch wide, and came with little sheets of sandpaper, which clamped onto […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Fetish, Found Object, Miniature, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)


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