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41  Shadow Box and Marbles Game III (lots of images!) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by ld on: March 15, 2008 10:46:48 AM
Third and (possibly final) shadow box game in this series, all of which are inspired by Newsies. This is my most complex box to date as I had to almost completely dismantle and re-design it, because my first attempt needed some adjustments that didn't become apparent until I'd gotten the thing all assembled and found out that the small margins of error were just enough to make it not work properly.


Anyway, this box can be played in two modes, one of which is a game (since it has a goal) and the other simply a desktop toy. It's named for "Carrying the Banner," the first big musical number in the movie. (If you're not familiar with the song, it's a cheerfully cynical rundown of penniless life in 1899 New York.)


The first involves, similar to my previous games, tilting the box to maneuver the marbles. This time the ground is a collage of pieces from an 1899 map of Manhattan. There are four wooden marbles and four recessed spots in the map, each corresponding to one of the major locations listed in the song: City Hall, 44th and Second, Grand Central, and Central Park, arranged in rough geographic sequence from downtown to uptown. The object is to roll the marbles along the narrow paths to get a marble into each spot.


But if I'm bored with that and want to let the marbles do their own thing, I can play it in the second mode. Standing the box on end turns it into a marble run and they'll roll down the gentle zigzag ramps to the bottom. (Here's where the shadow box's glass top really comes in handy. Plus you can see my camera!) I can flip it over and do it again and again, like an hourglass.


Scenes from the movie are on the sides of the ramps. The flat tops of each pair of ramps has a pattern from a reproduction Victorian tin ceiling. The box's inside walls are covered with a 1900 panorama of Manhattan.

I lined the back of the base with sandstone-colored felt.


Two interesting historical bits I learned while putting this box together:

1. Some of you who know the song may be wondering, why leave out the most obvious location: Bottle Alley? The fact is that by 1899, despite what the lyrics say, Bottle Alley was no more. Between 1895 and 1897 it was razed, along with the surrounding neighborhood, and turned into Mulberry Bend Park (Columbus Park today).

2. Corner of 44th and Second is none other than the location of one of the newsboys' lodging houses in 1899. I've known about the existence of this lodging house for a long while and it probably should've clicked much sooner since I maintain an entire website on this sort of thing, but I never made the connection between the lodging house and the lyrics until now! If you look close, you can see it on the map.



All three games in the series together:


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42  Re: Brooklyn Bridge: Newsboys in NY II (new photo!) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by ld on: February 23, 2008 09:35:30 AM
Thank you everyone for your kind comments. Half the fun of making these is putting in the details, like making sure the maps are from the right time period, and so on. Someone (not in the forums) asked me what the movie scene I referred to in my original post is about: it's a scene where three characters are making their way across the Brooklyn Bridge, hence the inspiration for the game.

Also, I've added a touch of hardware to both games.

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43  Brooklyn Bridge: Newsboys in NY II (new photo!) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by ld on: February 17, 2008 09:21:57 AM
This is a companion piece to my first shadow box game. This time around it's still Newsies, with a focus on a different part of turn of the century New York.




If you're a fan of the movie, you'll know what I mean by the "shouting off the Brooklyn Bridge" bit! At any rate, the object of the game is to tilt the box and line up all three marbles along the stylized bridge.




It's not as simple as it looks. The bridge's "cables" are quite deceptive; they actually do very little to hold the marbles in. Tilt a marble lightly against them and it might stay, but anything more than a very faint pressure will cause the "cables" to flex and the marble will roll right under them.

If I want to make it even harder, I can specify a particular order for the marbles. But it's pretty challenging as it is.




The "ground" is an 1897 map of New York. The bridge is constructed of balsa, clay, and fine chain. At the center of the bridge, I've caught the chain in small loops of wire so it doesn't swing when the game is tilted. Stills from the movie line the side walls, scenes featuring Manhattan characters on two sides, Brooklyn on the others.





As with the first game, it's all set into a glass-topped shadow box; the base is held in by pressure and can be carefully removed if I need to get at the interior for any reason; and the underside of the base is lined with felt.

I don't know what's more fun, playing these or making 'em!



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44  Newsboys In New York: The Game (image-heavy) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by ld on: February 02, 2008 09:20:46 AM
I was wondering: How to combine my love of shadowboxes, self-contained wooden games, old New York, and Newsies?

So I made this.


It's essentially a customized version of the game Pigs In Clover, which first came out in 1889 and was wildly popular in its time. Basic layout (three concentric rings and a central circle) and dimensions are roughly borrowed from the game. Instead of solid-colored "fences" and a covered central "pen," the marbles roll through a fantasy version of turn-of-the-century New York (all photos are circa 1890-1905, unrelated buildings are placed side-by-side, and you can forget about scale). "Fences" are double-sided and pictures in the inner three fences are viewed the right way around from the outside; the outermost fence is reversed to be viewed from the inside. The "ground" is an 1899 map of New York (Newspaper Row area).

The original game had three to five marbles (no one seems to agree on a definite number); I've put in six and made the game harder by specifying, as the goal, a specific combination of marbles in each of the rings.


Scenes from the movie fill in the corners (which are non-playing areas) and the side walls.


The original game was on a round board and had an open top. I've set the whole thing into a purchased glass-topped shadowbox which I painted, lightly distressed, and sealed with a matte varnish (sanded all the way up to 2000 grit). To make things easier to maintain, the base (I made a replacement for the rather ill-fitting one that came with the shadowbox) can be carefully removed if needed but fits snug enough to hold the game in without glue or other fasteners. The underside is lined with felt.



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45  My plushie Batarang. in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by ld on: January 17, 2008 10:46:40 PM

I throw it at the TV when stupid things happen.

I know, I know, I'm a big dork.
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46  Re: "Reign of Fire" Dragon (pictures restored!) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by ld on: December 18, 2007 09:12:12 AM
BlueCherryFaerie, he's made of acrylic craft felt. I have to treat him gently since fine details tend to fuzz when over-handled.

New pic! Here he is, menacing my friend's model tall ship.

Or, as another friend put it: Dragon says, "Om nom nom..."

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47  Peacock necklace in Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General by ld on: December 14, 2007 01:35:55 PM
I really, really wanted a choker with a peacock theme, so I set out to make one.






I don't make my own rings but I did all the linking by hand. The focal peacock tile is made from scratch.
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48  "Reign of Fire" Dragon (new photo!) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by ld on: December 10, 2007 08:57:06 AM
I made one of the dragons from the movie Reign of Fire, though I took some liberties with the color (and of course the size!). I based the shape and dimensions on the movie itself and on movie stills.

As he's only my second plushie (and my first without a pattern), I'd love to know what you think.




Here he is perched on one of my decoupaged boxes. "Hey, you takin' my picture back there?"




Neck and tail are wired and poseable, as are the wings from shoulder to wrist. Legs are movable at the hip joint.

Though I didn't use any patterns from it, my dragon owes a lot to Carolyn Vosburg Hall's Sewing Tiny Toys for construction principles.
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