Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Working with Brio

Don't we all have a holy grail list? I know I do, and it's hard to tell how long it will take to tick off each item. The Kaleidoscope House was on there, and it took over a year to cross that one off. Brio Mobilia pieces are on there too, and I have just happily crossed off one set: the office! It popped up on UK eBay as a regular auction recently, and then disappeared, only to come back as a BIN. There was a bathroom and kitchen set as well, all mint, as well as another office set. I actually tipped off a collector friend on the NIB kitchen set, which was on his holy grail list, and he snapped it up!

The office is a fab set, and I had so much fun working with it in the Villa Sibi. I devoted one side of the house to it and some other furnishings, including my first piece from the very talented Annina (check out her Etsy shop, here). See that lovely tulip-shaped mirror on the wall? Nice, huh? I also got some pillows, but have not used them yet.


I took a bit of a leap on the other side of the house. A while ago, I bought Ryan's Room "Bathroom and Bubbles" furniture that is geared toward the younger set. While a bit clunky, it is well-made and I decided to give it a whirl. Here's what the set looks like:

I've been in a big silver paint and Japanese washi tape phase, so I painted the faucets over and added a bit of tape to the tub. The pieces are a bit big here, I think, but I do like their simplicity.

What's on your wish list? ;)

Credits: Desk set is Brio Mobilia; rug is a Chilewich place mat; Medrazzo stool is Reac; zebra couch is vintage Creative Playthings; wall mirror is by Annina; wall plate is a scrapbook item; black and white mini artwork is from the Paper Source; coffee table is Lil Bratz; apple bowl, wastebasket, and plant are AG Minis; white shelving, globe, and recycling basket are Re-ment; divider is from the Villa Sibi; lucite bench is a vintage drawer pull; artwork is a postcard showing Kristian Vedel's birds from the Architect Made booth at the Gift Fair, edged in washi tape; bath set is Ryan's Room; rug is handmade by The Shopping Sherpa; bath mat is a window shade sample from Lowes; cork stool is from JoAnn's Fabric; flower pot is vintage German; artwork in bath is the packaging from an Ajiri Tea Company package (thanks, K!). Accessories are Re-ment, Liv, TOMY, AG Minis, ELF, Delph, Manor House Miniatures, Playmobil, beads, handmade by me, and random eBay finds.

THANKS for voting for me in the Readers' Choice Awards for Best Miniature Blog! I am currently in 4th place, and have a chance at 3rd! Please log in a *daily* vote if you feel inspired HERE. You can vote through March 8. Much appreciated!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Affairs of Toys and Gifts

Whoa! It's the Bennett in the flesh, at Toy Fair 2011
I logged in some serious miles at the recent New York International Gift Fair and the Toy Fair, which both took place at the Javits Center in New York City in the past few weeks. These major events are open to the trade (and press, which is how I got to attend), and showcase the latest trends in design, playthings, house/home wares, and (many, many) related products. Major companies, small businesses, and individuals from all over the world attend to show and sell their products--it is a bonanza of ideas, people, wheeling and dealing, and its takes window shopping to a whole new level.

If you have never been, the shows are organized in long numbered rows, which hold booths that are grouped together by category; the aisles look like this:
Toy Fair

Gift Fair

So, this gives you a sense of the magnitude: multiply these pictures by about 100 and that's how much there is to see! The purpose of my visits to both was to see the offerings through my "mini goggles," but I had to be selective since I only had one day for each fair (both events run over a period of days). I will say that I got some *very* strange looks when I said I blogged about modern miniature design, but at least it was a good ice breaker.

The ice breaker was not needed at the brinca dada booths, however, and I had the pleasure of meeting owner Doug Rollins at the Gift Fair and architect Tim Boyle at the Toy Fair to see their latest wares. Let's start off with Doug, who had the prototype for the new collapsible Dylan on display (I blogged about it here). Doug demonstrated the Dylan and answered a few questions for me as I drooled....please excuse my inadequate use of my kids' Flip camera (I need to get some tips from them!)

It was great to see the Dylan up close and imagine its potential (the scale is still undetermined, but likely will be close to 1:16). Doug let me know that originally there was to be a drawer that would hold a set of paper furniture, but that was abandoned in the interest of making this as light and portable as possible. The paper furniture will still be done, though, and Doug and Tim promise great modern fun. I'm intrigued!

When I met Tim at the Toy Fair, he, too, was kind enough to indulge my lame Flip work, and showed me the gorgeous, gorgeous 1:16 Bennett House. I was happy to see it there, and Tim admitted that it took some late night hours to get this lovely prototype into shape for the Fair! First, a video of Tim and this gem:

Fantastic, right? I really do love the lines and structure, especially the play possibilities when it is both open and closed. As Tim notes in the video, there will be a new line of furniture for the Bennett that will be sold as a group, as with the Emerson furniture. By the way, Tim did note that they are working with a new manufacturer for the Bennett and Dylan, and are confident that the quality woes encountered with the Emerson are behind them. Price on the Bennett: $500-600. Timing for the Bennett: Fall 2011.

Care for Some More Highlights from the Gift Fair?
The Jonathan Adler booth had a lovely showroom space, prominently situated at one of the main entrances. I enjoyed speaking with the staff there, including Starrett Zenko, who heads up marketing and PR for the brand. Will there be more minis from Jonathan (you may recall his line for Barbie's 50th Anniversary)? Not likely, at least not in the near future, but I noted that a shrink gun would come in mighty handy! I did notice Adler's "Junior" display of smaller items for the home...would LOVE those pillows in 1:12!

The "Accent on Japan" section was a real treat, and not surprisingly, there were lovely things to see. I was intrigued by mini paper instruments by Inatome, known as PePaKuRa, or the phonetic Japanese pronunciation for "paper craft." The instruments are laser cut, made out of a single sheet of paper, and they were amazing to see up close:

More paper craft in another booth:

And a mini garden!

Umbra was next on my list. I have many Umbra products that I use in my 1:1 life, but my mini use has involved the ingenious "Fish Condo, " which I enjoyed setting up as a sleek beach pad. Their booth had a storage cube that has serious mini potential:

Even some nice picture frames that could serve as a backdrop, or two could even be used to create a little minimalist environment:

This wall decoration is fantastic as well -- many possibilities here, for flooring, a wall divider, even a ceiling in a room box!

Nearby, there was a fantastic gathering of iconic mini chairs at Karen Alweil Studio's booth, featuring the Australian company Little Nest:


The AMAC booth was like a candy store for us modern miniature collectors...
Little gems!

White opaque sleekness

OOOH! Black opaque!

Owner Steve Catechi was very intrigued and happy to see my open-mouthed reaction to the sea of beautiful plastic boxes, some gem colored, some shiny and opaque, in all shapes and sizes. HUGE mini potential here. Haven't we all used these boxes in some shape or form? The company has been around since the 1960s, and is recognized for its pure design by the Museum of Modern Art. I hope to share more from AMAC very soon!

Other Toy Fair Tidbits

One of the four major trends at this year's Toy Fair was "cent-sational," or the "pennies-per-play" model of mini collectibles and mini versions of toys already on the market at mini price points. Anyone else collect those LEGO action figures??? Speaking of LEGO, I thought of my buddy Pubdoll when I saw this LEGO car from the movie Cars, which was situated on the main floor. Over 100,000 pieces needed for that one!

The HaPe showroom was a highlight. The Sunshine Bamboo Dollhouse was on display, along with all of the funiture; while I have admired it on other blogs, it was nice to see it first hand. I had a long talk with the marketing head about the fun and challenges of producing and promoting these houses. I took some pics of the one they had on display, and admired the smooth, durable quality of the pieces.

We also discussed their new All Season Dollhouse, from their Educo division, which is a more straightforward structure, but still with an eco theme. I liked the hanging mod light and rocket ship accessory!

On to Plan Toys...we're all familiar with the Green Dollhouse, and I liked handling the furniture and seeing some new items, like the flower bed.

Cute, huh? I love how the felted flower buds are fashioned.

Along the way, another company caught my eye, Maxim Enterprise. They do make an eco dollhouse, the 3 Level Rotating Dollhouse, which has some potential, but I was intrigued by their new wooden modular rooms that you can fit together to create a dollhouse. All eco friendly as well.

They also were showing a barn that I thought could work as a studio to a larger house (sans the stalls), as well as a cute tree house that sprouted leaves! The Micro Timbers were pretty neat as well.

Some final eye candy that I love to use in my scenes: Tynies and the Beanie Eraserz, a line of new collectible erasers created by Ty and in partnership with the Japanese company Iwako. I love Tynies and am so glad my local toy shop carries them; it was good to see all the varieties here. Not just for kids, folks!

The Beanie line with Iwako is incredibly cute, and they feature "Beanie" colors. The eraser samples were on view in an enticing row of plastic dispensers, which attracted a lot of attention!

If you have read this far, thanks for your interest and patience! I had a blast at both fairs, and look forward to attending the next ones. If you went to any of the fairs as well, I'd love to hear your feedback!

Oh, a reminder to log in a *daily* vote for me in's Reader's Choice Awards! I'm up for "Best Miniature Blog." I've received emails from some of you out there wondering why Call of the Small is in last place (or close to last place). If you don't vote daily (once per IP address), then I will stay there, folks! I appreciate your support! VOTE HERE! Voting ends March 8.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Vote for Modern Minis!

I was surprised to learn this week that I was chosen as a finalist in the Reader's Choice Awards on in the category of "Best Miniature Blog." I am truly flattered and am really pleased to be in such good company with the other blogger nominees, each of whom takes a different, fun approach to their craft.

If you feel compelled to vote for me, I wouldn't stop you!

Voting opened today, here. 

When you go to this page, you will see my blog listed along with the other four nominees; you can click on mine to read my take on modern minis, and then move on to vote. You may vote daily (once per IP address, per day) until March 8. You can see the most current results here. The winner will be chosen on March 15.

Thanks for voting!

By the way, if you are not already familiar with Lesley Shepherd, you should be! Lesley is the Guide for miniatures on, which is part of the New York Times Company. Lesley is very knowledgeable, and is always willing to answer your questions about all things mini. Please check out the miniatures forum, and sign up for Lesley's newsletter, too!

Wish me luck, and I really appreciate your support!