A Timeline of the History of Miniatures: From Ritual and Religious Object to Plaything and Collectible

A re-look at a past post, miniatures since the beginning of time.

Tourmaline .

Miniatures have taken the world by storm. And why wouldn’t they? The internet allows the spread of their tiny glory to miniacs all over the world. But they have a hugely amazing history, dating back to ancient Egypt, if not further, and I think that history needs to be explored.

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The Toys I Loved

My and my Barbies in between the couch and the side table circa 1996 ish
My and my Barbies in between the couch and the side table circa 1996 ish

Today we’re not going to talk about the Polly Pockets, Fashion Pollys, Barbies, Bratz and Beanie Babies. Although all those things hold a very important place in my childhood and in my heart. We’re going to instead talk about the toys that got away, the ones that still pull at my heartstrings and the ones I want back.

First and foremost, help me find this one

There was a book sold at the Scholastic book fair somewhere between 2000 and 2004 maybe. It was called Make your Own Cool Girls Room or something similarly not creative. A hot pick cover, and pop out hot pink, yellow, aqua and purple cardstock furniture pieces to glue together. There was a little clear zipper pouch to hold the extra ribbon, beads and glue (all included).

I loved it, it was love at first sight. I want it again, but can’t find record of it anywhere. I contacted Scholastic, but they don’t keep record of old stock. It’s probably not as cool as I remember it being, but if I ever get my hands on it, I’d make all the furniture again and find cool ways to photograph it nevertheless.

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Walmart Toy Catalog 2019

We listen to Spotify at work and every few songs for the past week there was a Walmart ad talking about the big toy catalog release on November 2. You could go to Walmart, get a physical copy of the new toy catalog and test new toys from noon to 4. So I went to Walmart on November 2. I went to 2 Walmarts on November 2. And then I gave up. No toy catalog (although I’m told they should have it in the coming week or so) and no toys to test (although I hadn’t planned on doing any testing myself).

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3 Christmas Toy Catalogs that brought back all my Nostalgia

Is anyone else here nostalgic for printed toy catalogs?

I’m talking about this way too late for it to be useful for your gift buying this year, but I wanted to talk about it anyway :P

I was a kid in the 90s and early 2000s. I remember fervently looking through the toy section of the JC Penny’s catalog, dog-earing pages and even cutting out the pictures of the best toys and placing them in my view binder cover. It was a very special binder that held floppy disks of my Crayola Make a Masterpiece digital drawings and print outs of some of those same drawings, and then on the cover were mini cabbage patch dolls that Santa never got around to bringing me.

When I’ve talked about this to peers as of late, they nostalgically mention the Toys R Us toy catalog, but for some reason I don’t remember that one as well.

This joy at pictures of tiny things I could maybe own didn’t stop at Christmas toy catalogs though. The Dollshouse Emporium used to produce printed catalogs. Each category featured a room display with letters corresponding to that item’s product listing. The little dollhouse scenes with ornate furniture, and toys for the toys told me stories and I longed for every piece. They were exponentially out of my price range however, so I just enjoyed their 2-D counterparts. I ordered a catalog to fill this void, but that will be for another post :P

In attempting to fill the void that Toys R Us left, other retailers decided to release printed versions of their toy offerings this year. Of course Toys R Us says they’re coming back, and KB Toys said they’d be back by this coming Christmas, but it doesn’t seem those things are coming to light yet.

However, Target, Walmart and Amazon all released printed versions of their catalogs this year. Worse for the environment I have to admit, but I was also stoked about it. Amazon left me off their mailing list, I tried to call them out on twitter (I’ve bought plenty of toys from them this past years, I mean we bought an LOL Surprise house, what more do they need?), but to no avail. Target did send me theirs though (shout out to Target, although it was addressed to an Ashley, but at my address). And all three can be found and perused online.

Click on each catalog cover to be taken to that specific digital catalog.

1:18 Scale Magic

Some toy photographers and collectors are so specific about what scales they’ll purchase, but I can’t settle for the life of me. I choose what I feel illustrates my ideas best and that switches between 2cm tall HO scale, to 1:12 scale dollhouses to 1:18 scale action figures and everything in between.

My boyfriend recently bought me the most stunning 1:18 scale RV and I plan to take so many more photos with it. Inside, the chairs move and cabinets open and it even comes with little detachable bikes.

The top detached and used as a background prop.
Through the front windshield.

And while there’s so much more I can talk about in this scale, I’m here to talk about the magic of Lundy. I don’t own any, but I’ve often admired it, and for some reason it just feels so genuine and pure.

Lundy is a Swedish company, so just think Ikea, but tiny. They’ve been in the dollhouse business since 1945 and really know their stuff. In 1967 they won the Best Toy award from the Swedish Toy Merchants Association. They were also the very first dollhouses to have electricity.

While I could talk about how terrible the dolls look, with poorly formed neck attachments and eyes that are too far apart, I really just want to talk about how beautiful the design, furniture and accessories are, and how I often wonder if I could fit a fully armored Acid Rain action figure (like those pictured above) in those little chairs.

from Lundby.com

My absolute favorite accessory sets, just from online perusing are this armchair, bathroom and aquarium. The fabric selection for that chair is just perfect, and truly no where can you find a modern dollhouse shower. The shower being one of my favorite places in my home, always seems like an important thing to portray in miniature. And well, a miniature aquarium with tiny little fish is good enough on it’s own, but I love how many of the accessory sets come with tiny paintings that are miniaturized versions by Lisa Rinnevuo

Lundby has remained true to its scale throughout the years, meaning it’s vintage stuff, which is just as cute, can fit in with all the new if you’d like.

Find this set here.

I also think, in coming off of my Kid’s Dollhouse Trends post, that lundby houses, while smaller than the traditional 1:12 scale are a good balance of aesthetic. They’re made for children and have a clean modern design, but don’t insist on minimalism and pastel colors. They’re homey without clutter.

Simple Weathering with Enamel Paints

MMM

**Please note, the weathering effect discussed in this post should be used with metal and hard plastic models only. Enamel paint can dissolve soft plastics. However, for softer plastic, apply the effects below, but use acrylic/ water based paint instead. A great resource for acrylic techniques is this site – http://www.angelfire.com/mech/jinsaotome/guides.html.

There are many techniques when it comes to weathering your plastic models. That said, this post is about using what you have. And I presume, if you modify or make models, you have some enamel paints around aka Testors. Other useful supplies are chalk pastels, spray enamel equipment, and weathering palettes. While I’m not going to touch on any of those today, you can read more about some of them here.

Supplies:

You will need a large soft paintbrush brush, a thin paint brush brush, a foam craft brush or paper towel (not pictured) and a toothbrush or hard bristled paintbrush.

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You will also of course need paint – for the below I used Gloss Wood, Flat Rust and Flat Rubber. However these are simply a red-orange, dark brown and beige. If you have other colors, try mixing them to make similar shades.

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Optional: Mat Finish Spray & sand or dirt

  1. Paint details. Dont worry too much about being exact, as you’ll be painting over these with rust and dirt shortly.

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2. Coat roughly with a rust shade.

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3. Use a foam prish or paper towel to dab the new paint layer to even out the texture.

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4. Optional: sprinkle sand or dirt over the surface of the object.

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5. Use a tooth brush or other hard bristle brush with thinned down dark brown (rubber) paint. Fill the brush with the thinned down paint, then, holding the brush in your hand, flick your wrist in toward the direction you want the paint to splatter. If you’re willing to get messy, hold the brush up close to the object you’re weathering and run your thumb over the bristles. If you’ve used sand, some of the paint will get absorbed by it.

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6. Use your light brown/beige (wood) paint with your tooth brush or hard bristle brush. For this you will use a dry brush technique. Lightly dip the brush tip in the paint, then dab the brush on a paper towel. This will leave a minimal amount of paint on the brush. Use this to emulate mud and dirt splatters, or other similar residue. If you are weathering a vehicle, add this to the tire tread and bottom portion of the vehicle bumper, etc.

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7. If you’d like, spray the finished piece with mat finish spray. This will make the overall surface appear less glossy and protect the paint and added sand/dirt from coming off with wear.

And that’s it! You’re done.

To see some more weathered items, go here.


Have you used any weathering techniques before. What have you done? How has it turned out?