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1  Re: Fake Swap Craftalong for Swap Junkies!!! 2016, 2015 in Craftalongs by Patraw on: August 10, 2016 02:56:47 PM
I received my fake swap craftalong prize, from alwaysinmyroom, in this afternoon's mail, a $25 GameStop gift card!  It even has a cool picture of a man with a sword-and-shield on the front, which, while very similar to Nintendo's Link, from the Zelda franchise, is probably just some generic guy.

(Note: The areas I blurred out are bar codes and numbers.)

When she saw what I had, Rainbow Dash grabbed the gift card out of my hands, informed me that she was going to hold onto it for me for "safe keeping", and then flew out the window.  Several hours later, she came back with a plastic bag in her mouth, wouldn't show me what was inside, and proceeded to pop something into her Nintendo DS and start playing.  Surely, she wouldn't spend my card on me, right?  Roll Eyes

Many thanks again for the prize gift, alwaysinmyroom; I really appreciate your generosity!
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2  Re: Doll Invasion & Repairs (Warning: Way too many photos--for realz!) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by Patraw on: August 04, 2016 08:21:09 AM
@pottermouth:  Thank you again for your gift and I'm glad you enjoyed the post!  Maybe that damaged Barbie will acquire some cybernetic upgrades someday, only time will tell . . .

@shortmom:  Mattel typically uses a more petite body and younger-looking head sculpts for their Skipper dolls, but, it is possible that the freckled doll could be a Skipper of some sort, and, yes, there were some Skipper garments in the bag of clothing.   There's a recent (2015) Barbie Fashionistas doll that has a similar appearance (blonde hair and freckles), but I don't know that she's an actual character with a name though.  I don't have said doll, but here's a close-up of her face that I just pilfered from eBay:

EDIT:  Pottermouth just PM'd me and wondered if she might me Tickle Me Elmo Barbie, and that looks like the correct identification.  The hair length/style is right, and, looking at a nude photo of the doll on eBay, so do the joints in the elbows.  The sunglasses Pottermouth included also match up.

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3  Doll Invasion & Repairs (Warning: Way too many photos--for realz!) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by Patraw on: August 03, 2016 10:12:41 AM

How many photos can you put in one post before Craftster breaks? And to think, some members put "lots of pictures" in their subject lines when they only have something like ten of them. When the king of photo spammers issues such a warning, he's not messing around!:D

Pottermouth has been sorting through tons of toys lately, and, very generously, she offered to send me a free box of things that she, and other family members, had weeded out! I often buy blind-bagged random assortments of toys from thrift stores, so, getting this package from Pottermouth was almost like one of those, just on a larger/grander scale! Yes, I already have way too many dolls, but I never let that stop me from acquiring even more!

So, what all was inside that magic box? Well, I'm a gonna tell/show you!

Some 11-12" Mattel Disney Princesses. Cinderella (plus a little Gus mouse figurine), The Princess and The Frog Tiana, and The Little Mermaid Bride Ariel. I have several Ariels, but no bride version, a bunch of small Cinderellas, but not a larger one like this, and no Tianas at all, so, all three are useful to me. I haven't watched The Princess and the Frog in quite a while, so, I can't remember if she ever wore blue or not (I usually see dolls of her wearing green), but the dress Tiana has on strikes me as a Cinderella one. Rainbow Dash is adamant that Pottermouth also sent Jaq but Gus ate his rodent pal on the way here . . . I told her that it doesn't make any sense that Gus would eat Jaq instead of the cupcake (see below), but there's no reasoning with that pegasus.

Two Polly Pocket style Disney Princess dolls, Belle and Snow White (wearing rubbery Polly-Stretch garments). I love these things, and, while I didn't have Snow White, I already do have this Belle, but my version doesn't have all of those extra roses all over the front of the gown's skirt like this one does, and Beast never says "no" to more Belles (he is an animal after all, what did you expect?) One of the off-the-shoulder straps on Belle's gown is ripped, but, for practical purposes, it doesn't really matter much because the rubbery material retains its sculpted shape, and I've torn Polly-Stretch garments myself in the past, even when I'm being careful (they can rip/snap pretty easily if you stretch them too far).

I also got two different Dopeys, Sneezy, and Sleepy dwarf figurines. I have some other Snow White Dwarf toys in my collection, but not these particular ones. A firm believer that all jokes should be run into the ground, Rainbow Dash gravely informed me that, after eating Jaq, Gus was still hungry, so, he proceeded to devour Grumpy, Doc, Happy, and Bashful too, which is why they're absent. She also insists that Dopeys reproduce via fission and that the resulting pair are even less competent than the original, as they had to split a brain between them. Did I mention that Rainbow Dash failed biology? Twice.

Five-inch Disney Fairies, left-to-right, Rosetta, Tinker Bell, and Periwinkle (Tink's sister). I thought that I had this Rosetta, but she's actually slightly different than the ones I already have; likewise, this Tink isn't the same as my others, and, while I do have a larger Periwinkle doll, I didn't have one in this scale at all. Besides, there's no such thing as too many fairies in my opinion! Sadly, while you can't see it in this photo, Tinker Bell's plastic wings are ripped in half and they're missing the attachment peg that secures them to the hole in her back. That's actually pretty typical; thin plastic fairy wings on dolls tend to be very fragile in general (fabric ones hold up a lot better)--in my experience, most secondhand fairy dolls that I find have either missing or broken wings. But, fear not, that shall be corrected shortly!

Pottermouth also included a large selection of Disney Fairy dresses, footwear, and some accessories. Only Rosetta's pink dress is fabric, all the rest of them are rubbery ones that close in the back with button/hole arrangements (they don't stretch like the previously messed Polly-Stretch clothing though). While they all have clothes, several of the Disney Fairies in my collection were lacking shoes, so I appreciate the extra footwear, and you can never have too many dresses (or so I'm told, as I don't wear them, I wouldn't know)! All of the Disney Fairies I already have came with fabric clothing, not this rubbery sculpted variety, so that difference was interesting. While I'm not absolutely certain that they're Disney Fairy items, I grouped the ladle, purse, and spoon here because they have that rustic, nature-made look that Tink and her friend's usually favor.

A trio of Barbie dolls. The first one has freckles, so she's probably one of Barbie's friends or family members, rather than Barb herself (Midge is sometimes given freckles, but she's usually a redhead, not blonde). The first and third both have '98 heads and '99 bodies, while the one in the middle has a '76 head and '66 body, but I very much doubt that she's actually that old, because Mattel loves to play mix-and-match Dr. Frankenstein with their doll parts, and they seldom change the years molded on the individual pieces, as such, just because a Barbie has a particular date on it, never assume that was the year in which it was actually produced. The Barbie on the far right's legs are molded in pink vinyl (but her panties are flesh tone, like her torso, which looks rather bizarre when she's undressed), so she permanently has tights. I like all three of these ladies, so, I can't pick a favorite from this group.

And here's a Disney Tangled Flynn Rider (a.k.a., Eugene Fitzherbert), dressed in princely attire, rather than his usual travel clothes, and two more Barbies.

I have several Tangled Rapunzels, but this is my first Flynn, and, as you can see, that's going to be a problem. A firm believer in (literal) Occam's Razor, Rainbow Dash offered to chop him up into pieces so that each Rapunzel could have her own chunk of Flynn, but I passed on that suggestion.

Unfortunately, the center Barbie's head/neck is broken. When I opened the box, her head was pushed way down onto the neck, to keep it in place, and I thought to myself, "Well, that's the shortest neck on a Barbie doll I've ever seen.", and, as soon as I started messing around with her noggin, it came off and I knew why! She must have ticked off the Red Queen. Her left hand is also a little chewed up, possibly from the teeth of a pet. Our cat likes to gnaw on my toys from time-to-time, and he almost always goes after projections like fingers, toes, and horns.

The Butterfly Barbie on the far right is also interesting in that she has a wind-up, motorized wing flapping mechanism on her back, but, alas, no wings to go with it. That will be corrected by the end of the thread!

Pictured is a trio of Kelly (Barbie's youngest sister) dolls. Mattel renamed her Chelsea in 2010, but these dolls all seem to predate that event anyway. My favorite is the winter-themed one of the far left; I love her outfit and using a white pom-pom as a snowball was particularly clever in my opinion. The center one appears to be dressed as an angel, and I don't trust the one on the far right, because she's got Monster High-esque fangs painted on her lips (while her current attire doesn't reflect that, she's probably a Halloween-themed vampire Kelly)!

Pottermouth also gave me a huge (one of those gallon volume ones) Ziploc bag full of 12" doll clothing. You can never have too many garments in your doll wardrobe. I seriously have more doll attire than clothing for myself, but then, I mostly go around in jeans and a hoodie 95% of the time, so, it's not like I need much anyway. And, yes, I've been stopped/questioned by the police, on more than one occasion, just because I was wearing a hoodie with the hood up. Remember: hoodie = degenerate criminal, no hoodie = law-abiding citizen. Nine-times-out-of-ten, when a crime is committed where I live, and the police are looking for the perpetrator, they usually say to watch out for a guy in a baseball cap and a hoodie, which describes a large percentage of the male population in my area, including myself, making said description almost useless. Besides, any criminal with two brain cells to rub together is going to change/dispose of their attire if they know witnesses saw them wearing it whilst performing the crime in question, right?

I tried to roughly organize things by garment type, and match tops with bottoms, but I wasn't entirely successful. Please note that the ones that Pottermouth sent the dolls dressed in aren't pictured here.

Care Bear figurines, left-to-right, Cheer Bear, Tenderheart Bear (maybe . . . his fur color and appearance are right, but his tummy symbol is different than I'm used to), Wish Bear, Grumpy Bear, and Share Bear. They're more modern designs (from the Care Bears: Adventures in Care-a-lot 2007-2008 cartoon I believe), but still super cute. I used to watch the original cartoon regularly when I was a kid, and I have some plush Care Bears/Cousins, and a couple of the new Just Play blind bag figurines, but none of these.

A small red Hello Kitty storage box (that, while not pictured, Pottermouth packed several of the Disney Fairy shoes/boots into) and a charm that seems to depict Hello Kitty as some kind of marshmallow-like sandwich treat with a smaller chocolate cookie charm connected above that. I have LOTS of Hello Kitty toys (mostly McDonald's and Mega Bloks ones), but I didn't have either of these two items.

A quartet of Domo-kun charms (he's the famous mascot for the Japanese broadcasting company NHK if you're not familiar with him), a devil, a mustachioed one, and a pair sporting gold necklaces that would make Mr. T envious. I have a couple of larger Domo-kun figurines, including a cool flocked rapper one, but I didn't have any of these.

Now, if you're wondering how this Japanese mascot gained a foothold in America, and elsewhere, I'm afraid that the answer is rather sordid. You see, years ago, people online started sharing a fake public service announcement photo, that depicted Domo-kuns chasing a cat, with the text "Every time you masturbate . . . God kills a kitten (Please, think of the kittens)." Which was soon followed by a similar response photo, showing felines hunting a Domo-kun, that bore the legend, "Every time you send that @#$%*&! picture . . . God kills a Domo-kun (Please, think of the Domo-kuns)." Things snowballed from there to the point that a lot of people online around the world instantly recognized who Domo-kun was, despite having little to no familiarity with his Japanese origins. That was my first exposure to the character as well (and I still have those dumb Domo-kun/kitten pictures saved on my hard drive, even after all these years).

A pair of Shopkins shopping bags. Shopkins are little blind-bagged figures that depict food, cosmetics, household items/appliances, etc. with cute faces. I think they're cool, but, at the moment, I only have one (a red dress) and a children's sticker/story book of the characters. Even so, these work well as bag accessories for larger dolls like Barbie.

This final assortment is mostly odds-and-ends that didn't specifically fit in with the other things or that I'm uncertain about. Out of the three brushes, I only recognize the silver, key-shaped Ever After High one--those will all be going into my giant Ziploc bag of doll combs/brushes. The little fairy doll is Polly Pocket--secondhand Polly Pocket play sets are often missing these tiny dolls, so, it never hurts to have more of those. Her fairy wings were coming apart (the iridescent front material was peeling back from the webbing on the back), but a little white glue fixed that up right quick. The red running dude is DC's Flash, from a 2011 McDonald's Batman: The Brave and the Bold toy assortment. I think I've got that same baby bottle in yellow, but I can't remember what it's from--maybe it'll fit in my baby G3.5 Rainbow Dash's mouth. And an extra pitcher, glasses, spoon, cupcake, etc. are always useful for diorama displays.

Anyhoo, this is a crafting community, so, I'd better actually do some of that instead of just posting photos of, and writing about, toys, or I'm going to get into terrible trouble, right?

Let's start with 2000 Flying Butterfly Barbie and her missing wings. The first thing that I did was search online, on eBay and Amazon in particular, to find some good, close-up photos of the doll and her wings to use as reference models. I then did some calculations, in a spreadsheet, based on the dimensions of the actual doll as well as two of said photos, to determine the approximate height/width the wings needed to be. This spreadsheet may, or may not, make sense to you, but my math told me that I should make said flapping appendages 9.5 cm wide by 10.7 cm high, that's all that matters!

Once I had that figured out to my satisfaction, using the GIMP art program, I placed a black grid overlay on top of one of the photos to aid me in replicating the wing's shape on paper.

This is my paper template, transferred from the photo via drawing the contents of the individual grid squares onto it. I then took this, placed another piece of paper on top of it, held both up against my bedroom window's glass (to provide the necessary light for tracing; you can use a lightbox too, but, I never bother with that during the day time when the sun is easier and free) and traced it, twice, onto the other piece of paper, glued said copies onto cardstock, played some Freecell and Klondike solitaire on my computer for a little bit to allow them time to dry, and then cut them out. Voila, wings!

Here are the working, cardboard prototypes (made from a box of Cookie Crisp cereal--I don't want to live in a world where tiny cookies aren't an essential part of a nutritious breakfast!) I had to tweak the shapes of the wings, where they connect to the flapping mechanism, a little bit, but, other than that, the initial fit was near perfect.

These are the finished plastic wings, which I cut out of transparent sheet plastic from a toy package. I didn't have any hot pink paint, so, I went with purple instead. Surprisingly, at least to me, the cardboard wings actually worked better than these plastic ones. While they're functional, due to how thin and flexible the material I used is, the tops of the purple wings wobble when they flutter, not unlike gelatin. I should have used thicker and more rigid plastic than I did. The stuff I employed works fine for transparent wings on the tinier figures that I sculpt, but, I have a tendency to forget that things don't always behave the same way when making larger objects. I also considered making her some alternative bat and bird wings, so that she could play succubus and angel, but, after working on these projects, I had my fill of tinkering with dolls for the time being.

This dress came from the bags of clothing that Pottermouth gave (and seemed appropriately fairy-like to me), but I stole the white boots from my Pink Label Hello Kitty Barbie. Oh, and if you're wondering what that hook, sticking up between her wings, is for, the original toy came with a zip line, attached to a butterfly wand, that you could use to make the doll "fly" from one spot to another. And, no, I'm not going to make one!

On to Tinker Bell. Here's a closer look at her broken wings, torn in half and missing the connection peg that plugs into the hole in Tink's back. She must have had a bad run-in with Captain Hook!

Unlike Butterfly Barbie, I didn't have to do any research online or mathematical calculations before I could fix Tink's wings, because Periwinkle's intact pair are identical, except for the color/pattern, so I already had the perfect model to take measurements from. Here are the three components of the peg connector piece that I fabricated from scratch, using paper, cereal box cardboard (Cookie Crisp is magic stuff I tell you!), wire, and white glue. The original peg was made from transparent plastic, but, to replicate that, I would have had to make molds, and cast the pieces in transparent resin or something similar (which would have taken a LOT of extra time and work that I was not willing to invest, no matter how much Tink pouted), so, my replacement pieces are opaque.

Those components finished, I painted them spring green, to match Tink's usual garment color choice, joined the broken wings with super glue, and then assembled and glued all of the pieces back together again to complete my repair job. Voila, Tinker Bell flies again, pirates beware! You can still see the crack lines where the wings were broken, but, all-in-all, they're not too bad. In retrospect, perhaps I should have painted the back square of the peg assembly sky blue, rather than green, as that would have matched that side of the wings better.

Finally, let's reattach decapitated Barbie's head. Thankfully, inside the neck, the horizontally-orientated plastic cylinder that the missing neck post would attach to was still intact, otherwise, that would have made things much more difficult, as I wouldn't even have anything to attach a new neck post to! The first thing I did was bend a piece of wire into a hook shape and went "fishing" with it, inside the neck hole, to catch it around said cylinder. Once I had the wire looped around that, I took a pair of tweezers and pulled the short end of the hook, elongating the wire again until both ends were the same length. I then twisted the two ends together, at the cylinder, to fix the wire in place. I actually had to do this twice, because, the first time, I twisted the wire too much, which put kinks in it, so the wire wasn't straight enough for the shaft of the neck post I made to slip over it.

Next, I fabricated the new neck post out of (what else?) paper, cardboard, wire, and white glue, copying the structural design from a photograph (you'll know that you're serious about dolls, and that your life is really sad, when you just happen to have a comprehensive collection of doll neck post images, from multiple toy manufacturers, saved on your hard drive). After all, I wasn't about to rip a head off one of my "good" Barbies, potentially breaking her, just to get a look at another neck post to use as a model for this damaged one! If you're not familiar with Barbie doll construction, the idea here is that, after jamming the neck post inside her head, the little pointed "wings" on the post catch on the interior rim of the head's hole, keeping her melon in place. Doll heads can be a royal pain to get on/off without damaging the neck (and this one is already cracked to begin with). Normally, you can heat the head/neck, with hot water or a hair dryer, to soften the plastic up and make the removal or insertion somewhat easier, but, as my neck post isn't made out of plastic, that probably wouldn't help all that much in this case.

That said, I didn't have a hard time getting Barbie's head onto the neck post at all; it went on the first try. It's not a perfect fit though; Barbie's head is a bit loose, and sits a little high, but her noggin stays on now, and that's what's important. And, on the upside, that does allow the neck joint to tilt/lean at sharper angles . . . and she can headbang to heavy metal music. If I were to do this all over again, I'd make the shaft of the neck post several millimeters shorter and reduce the space between the post's "wings" and disc, to get a tighter fit. While there is definitely room for improvement, this was also the first time I had ever made a new Barbie doll neck post from scratch, so, I'm just happy it even worked and that her cracked neck didn't shatter from the stress I subjected it to.

Sadly, when I stripped this Barbie down to work on her (to keep glue and other debris from getting on her dress), I also discovered more damage. She's got unsightly discolored/bleached spots on the vinyl of her right thigh and buttock--this poor girl can't catch any breaks! While I would never buy a doll in this condition, having one like this to try repair techniques on is good practice, and, if I ever get ambitious enough (don't hold your breath), maybe I'll customize her into someone, or something, else someday.

My wife is VERY unhappy with Pottermouth (she HATES my out-of-control toy collection). "Why is some woman in another state sending YOU dolls in the mail?", she demands to know. I keed, I keed. I'm not married. Cheesy

Well, that's it. If you actually read the entire post, you deserve a medal or something! Many thanks again to Pottermouth for generously contributing a box of goodies to my toy/doll addiction!
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4  Re: Something Horrid in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by Patraw on: July 28, 2016 09:03:50 AM
Silent Hill: Homecoming's Siam is another one that's on my to-do list; I'm not into bondage or anything, but I like that man-and-woman-strapped-together, back-to-back, monster design--one of these days perhaps.

I did consider making the Twin Victims from Silent Hill 4 as well, but never did.  I did, however, make the Bottoms creature, which is a variation of the Twin Victims model that can be found near the end of the game (these photos aren't that great though, I had a terrible camera at the time):

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5  Re: Elephant made from a toilet paper roll in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by Patraw on: July 16, 2016 09:52:08 AM
Pretty nice tutorial.  I'm used to seeing animals made from toilet paper rolls orientated in a horizontal fashion, so it was neat to see your vertical design.   Pipe cleaners, as you used, definitely look better for a poseable trunk, but, if an individual doesn't have any of those handy, I imagine that wire twist ties (from bread or garbage bags, electronics, etc.), or even an old, extra shoelace, would also do the trick.

I took a few quick screen captures from your YouTube video, so that Craftster members who don't, or can't, watch it, can get an idea of what your project is about:

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6  Just doing my part to keep Barbie's termites fed in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by Patraw on: July 15, 2016 10:08:56 AM

A while ago, I was about to buy a big book of paper airplane models, but then I said to myself, "Fool, when are you ever going to make a bunch of paper airplanes, and what on Earth would you do with them if you did? Besides, you've got a bunch of other art and craft kits at home that you haven't done anything with!" That's true enough, thus, I decided I needed to start working on some of those projects, in order to have something to justify my buying habits with and counter that inner voice the next time it tries to stop me from wasting money, and, so, here we are!

When I pick up secondhand doll houses, they're often unfurnished, or at least only partially so, thus, when the opportunity to acquire some scale model furniture presents itself, and the price is right, I usually bite. I also enjoy building/assembling stuff, so, in my opinion, anytime an individual can combine multiple hobbies into one activity, they should go for it, as your enjoyment will be multiplied.

Surprisingly, other than some shelf wear on the outer packaging, this this vintage 1988 Superior Marketing Products Wooden Mini Furniture Dining Room Set item was in great shape and had never been opened or used until I purchased it. I very much doubt that something like this would be worth much of anything, but, still, to find a product, almost factory-fresh, twenty-eight years after it was produced doesn't happen everyday. The kit still had its original price sticker on the front too, which was $4.99 (I paid a scandalous fifty cents). I don't know what a similar item would go for these days, but, due to inflation, I would guess at least $10.

Punching the furniture components out of the pair of pre-cut wooden boards was pretty easy to do, although you'll want to be careful with how much force you apply, particularly on the thinner bits like the legs of the chairs and table, to avoid damaging them. I did find the material (there's a thicker layer of brown wood, sandwiched between veneers of paler-colored wood, balsa perhaps) to be pretty tough--none of the pieces cracked or broke on me at any point during the removal or assembly process. I had to use the blunt end of a needle to get the two small circles out of the cabinet's top, simply because my fingers were too big to perform the job, but everything else I did with my hands alone.

The manufacturer also supplied a small square of sandpaper to clean up the edges of the wood and widen/shorten the slots/tabs as needed. My table and cabinet went together with very little trouble (they were actually on the loose side, so, I applied white glue to those to make them sturdier and hold the components together more securely), while the chairs were very tight and several of the tabs required multiple sandings and test fittings to get everything properly assembled. On the upside, that meant that the chairs didn't need any adhesive.

Here's a shot of the four chairs in various states of completion:

And this is what the fully constructed Dining Room set looks like. Some of the individual components weren't perfectly symmetrical, so everything isn't exactly flush/square, but the results are still pretty good all things considered. I did contemplate filling in and smoothing all of the tab/slot joins, painting or staining the furniture, adding decoupage decorations, making cushions for the seats and a tablecloth for the table, etc., but, on the other hand, I liked the look of them as-is (that, and I'm far too lazy to perform any of the previously mentioned improvements). Besides, if I was going to invest that kind of time and effort, I might as well have just designed and made the furniture from scratch while I was at it. Sure, the visible slots/tabs are somewhat unattractive, but I would argue that also gives them an authentic doll house look.

This was just something that I had to do, to see if I could successfully balance all of the furniture on top of one another or not. I like to imagine my toys collaborating and using this technique to reach a door knob, raid the cookie jar, or enact some other kind of mischief, when I'm not around to witness it!

Speaking of dollies, it's time for a gallery of them displayed with the furniture. I strongly suspect that a pixie-dust-and-energon-laced moonshine drinking contest was going on here, but I didn't dare ask, 'cuz I know Rainbow Dash would just tell me to mind my own business and bounce a horseshoe off of my forehead to emphasize her point. The other three characters are a JAKKS Pacific Disney Fairies Tinker Bell, a Hasbro Transformers Action Masters Devastator (a Transformer that doesn't transform--lame!), and a Playskool Definitely Dinosaurs! caveman (nobody online seems to know this particular character's name). My Little Pony Rainbow Dash, the alien plant (a Phantasy Star II Kite Dragon) on the cabinet, and the liquor bottles and bowl on the table were all made by me from scratch.

Three Strawberry Shortcakes (the one in the center is an older Bandai one, the two flanking her are more recent Hasbro dolls) about to enjoy a purple cake (which, for their sakes, I dearly hope that they didn't get from The Peculiar Purple Pieman). I'd tell you that there was a fourth doll that fell off her chair and out of the shot, but, this trio of redheads are berry certain that never happened.

Several MGA Lalaloopsy Mini dolls (clock-wise, from (blue-haired) Marina Anchors: Blossom Flower Pot, Crumbs Sugar Cookie, Peppy Pom Poms, Peanut Big Top, and Ember Flicker Flame) plotting how to steal children's souls, er, I mean planning Saturday's slumber party.

A Mattel Fashionista Barbie, her poodle (everything she owns has to be pink, it's the law), Kelly/Chelsea and Lorena child dolls, and, just because he happened to have the pose I needed for a dog sneaking out of a cabinet, Disney's Pluto. The furniture is far too small for 11-12" figures, unless you use it, in conjunction with child dolls like these, for a classroom or playroom type arrangement.

Here's a bunch of tiny stuff that I've made over the years (accessories for other figures) crammed onto the cabinet's two shelves. You may spot a helicopter, teddy bear, cutlass, bat, radish, book, bottle, vase, banana, key, bag of money, flower, and flamethrower tank, amongst other things. There's enough friction present that the doors stay closed, even if you tip them so that they're facing the ground, so, the cabinet would actually work pretty well for storing miniscule items like this long term.

For comparison purposes, here are (1) a wingback armchair, scaled for Barbie-sized 11-12" figures, that I made from scratch in 2014 and based on a combination of a real one in the house and a photograph of a Collins model that I found in one of my Home Decorators Collection catalogs, and (2) a rather dusty Castlevania: Symphony of the Night "Ouija Table" creature (poltergeist-possessed dilapidated furniture) that I fabricated, also from scratch, in 2009, which accommodates figures about 2.5" in height (assuming the demonic thing would ever permit anyone to sit on it that is). I wasn't blowing smoke when I wrote earlier that I could have made the Dining Room Set from scratch if I wanted to. Cheesy

Given the choice, I think I would have preferred the Living Room set, as that's a more versatile play/display environment in my opinion, but this Dining Room set would have been my second pick, so, I can't complain, especially not for the small sum I paid. Besides, if the store had somehow miraculously possessed all four kits, I likely would have bought the whole shebang, as each furniture collection has its own appeal and I'm not known for restraint.

I have other slot-together toy sets in my collection, namely dinosaur skeletons and a car (I almost bought a similar horse model several months ago too, but, its' tail was badly damaged), but this is the first set of furniture in said style that I've ever owned. I've always liked the "magic" involved in taking a bunch of 2-dimensional planes and re-arranging or folding them into a 3-dimensional structure, which is one of the primary reasons I love paper/cardboard sculpture so much.
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7  Re: Ongoing ATC Swap -- June 2016 Gallery! in The Swap Gallery by Patraw on: July 08, 2016 07:44:20 AM
P_E_S_T picked my "a paper doll (preferably a girl/woman or an animal, but it's up to you)" theme. I received my letter from her yesterday, which had to be signed for, and it so happened that I had just gotten home about five minutes before the mailman showed up, so, the timing worked out perfectly (other than the dog having one of his psychotic barking fits, like he usually does, whenever he sees anyone at the front door that he doesn't recognize). This was only the second time in my life that I've ever gotten mail from Great Britain too!

Inside of the padded envelope was this piece of white paper, folded around the cards (that's right, she went the extra mile and made me two of them!), and held shut with a colorful piece of speckled tape:

Sadly, bad things happened to the pair of ATC dolls during transit. Whatever the substance was that P_E_S_T used for the dolls' surfaces, the sticky/tacky coating adhered to the paper, preventing me from removing the cards from said covering. I could be wrong, but it looks like it might be nail polish. The cards themselves, which have a different finish, didn't stick, just the dolls. Upon opening it, this was as far as I could peel back the paper, for fear of tearing or destroying the cards inside:

The red doll was stuck worse than the blue one. In this side view, after cutting the covering open, you can see the right arm and leg firmly glued to the white paper:

After carefully prying apart everything that I could with my fingers, I cut away all of the white paper possible, with scissors, freeing most of the cards' surfaces:

Now, how am I going to get the rest of that paper off?

I considered various approaches (besides dynamite) to removing the remaining white paper and the two best ideas that I could come up with were either water or steam. As a lad, I used to collect stamps, and soaking letters was a great way to get canceled ones off of envelopes, so, I figured I'd give that a try here. My initial plan was to immerse the cards entirely in water, but, upon further consideration, that seemed excessive and potentially disastrous, so, instead, I wet my fingertip with a little bit of water and carefully rubbed the liquid onto all of the remaining bits of white paper until they were fully saturated. Then, I let them sit for a bit before proceeding to gently roll/scrape the dampened paper off with a finger, which worked out surprisingly well. I did end up with some minor damage to the surface of the dolls, but it's barely noticeable. However, I presume that both dolls' limbs and heads are supposed to be movable, but, alas, said appendages and their wire joints are completely gummed up and fused together, so they don't rotate at all like I'm thinking that they should. While it might be possible to free them up, I didn't want to press my luck any further than I already had, and decided to leave well enough alone and quit while I was ahead (which is a small feat in itself for me, as I usually overdo it, and later regret my actions, when it comes to fixing things). Immobile ATCs are far better than ruined ones.

Finally, here are the liberated cards. I really dig the dotted and striped patterns running over the bodies, which, coupled with the somewhat abstract design, gives them a primal or cosmic flair to my eyes. I like to think of the red one as being female, and the blue twin as male, and they also remind me of oxygen rich (red) and depleted (blue) blood. Strawberries and blueberries, fire and water, anger and sadness--those kinds of things. Also, when I first opened these up, my initial impression was that, rather than joints, the coiled gold wires were attachment points for clothing, which is something that I've never seen on a paper doll, design-wise--I wonder if that would actually work to hold garments in place?

This is the back of the red doll card (they're both more-or-less identical in that respect, which is why I'm only showing one of them). Judging from the shape, heft/feel, and underlying stars pattern, it appears that this set of ATCs are modified/customized playing cards, which is neat. I pixellated P_E_S_T's real name for privacy purposes.

It's too bad that the cards ending up getting stuck like that, but, despite one's best intentions, things like that happen to all of us from time-to-time. Besides, even immobile, they still look cool, and I appreciate that P_E_S_T put in the extra effort to make me two of them too. Just to be on the safe side, I think I'm going to store these ATCs, long term, with their fronts covered with either wax paper or plastic cling wrap to prevent the pair from sticking to each other or anything else. Thank you for the doll card duo, P_E_S_T!
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8  Re: Alice and the Red Queen, topsy turvy dolls in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by Patraw on: July 05, 2016 09:18:19 AM
Pretty awesome; Alice and the Red Queen are a great pairing for a Topsy Turvy doll!  This 2-in-1 doll also begs the question: If the Red Queen has Alice's head removed, is she not also cutting off her own feet?  Grin

I rotated and cropped the sideways photo of Alice for you:

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9  Re: Channelling my inner fashion designer . . . or some such nonsense in Discussion and Questions by Patraw on: June 29, 2016 08:20:47 AM
I bought another one of these fashion plate kits on the 24th, but, as I've been busy lately, I didn't get around to trying it out until yesterday. This one is a fairly recent 2013 Horizon Group USA model (the unit itself has a 2010 date molded on the bottom of the chassis though, so, it's probably a re-release, as it's very unlikely that the company sat on the original molds for four years without putting them intro production). Luckily, it was remarkably complete for a secondhand sample; the 12 double-sided plates, six crayons, rubbing tool, paper, instructions, and even the cardboard packing inserts, were all present and accounted for. The original owner seems to have only used it a handful of times and then discarded it, which is a shame, but that works out to my benefit! I did have some problems with the plates lying flush in the frame though, due to there being plastic flash (undesirable artifacts left over from the sprues used during the plastic injection molding process at the factory in China) on them, but, once I sanded those down with an emery board, everything worked beautifully!

A fun little bonus (at least to me) was that there were still a couple of samples of the previous owner's work inside of the box. They're kind of rough--perhaps the individual didn't hold down the lid tightly enough when she was doing her rubbings and/or the flashing artifacts I just mentioned caused her problems.

Here's a couple that I did, with the included crayons, but they came out too dark/heavy, so I used my colored pencil rubbings instead.

Finally, these are the two that I inked and finished.  I painted them with acrylics, which came out pretty nice. You can still see some of the colored pencil rubbing lines that wouldn't erase, particularly on the floor of the first one, but, as I don't consider these "serious" art, I don't mind the little imperfections. The heads on these girls remind me strongly of Craftster member Spikefan's ATC portraits!

This model is a bit cheaper in design/construction than the previous one I bought, but it's still a pretty nice toy. I was a little disappointed that there weren't any textured plates (to add print patterns to the girls' clothing), but, I can easily use the ones from the other set for that if I really want to, so, it's no biggie. And, while it arguably makes them less versatile, for mixing-and-matching purposes, I do like that these tiles have background scenery/elements on the plates (plants, clouds, a dog, etc.)--if you don't want those, you could carefully just rub the heads/legs to exclude those objects (or just erase them afterwards if you're using a pencil to do your rubbings).
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10  Re: Ongoing ATC Swap -- June 2016 Gallery! in The Swap Gallery by Patraw on: June 27, 2016 08:04:34 AM
@geekgirl10000100:  Awesome Dia de los Muertos skull; the colorful floral patterns on its ossified surface look fab, as do the surrounding gem stones!  Even the departed appreciate a little bling.

@beautifulsoul:  All hail Queen Moon!  The golden crown was a great touch and the repeating circle pattern background complements the spherical form of the regal orbiting body perfectly!

@P_E_S_T:  I wouldn't worry too much, you are all the way across the Atlantic after all, so your cards are going to take longer to arrive than the ones being sent within the continental USA.


Rockingbearranch selected my "TLC (the musical group) members [T-Boz, Left Eye (deceased), and Chilli]" theme. I received my letter from her Friday afternoon (and you'll soon see why it took me until now to share photos). Inside of said envelope was this pretty Bella Ink floral card. I was a chronic truant in high school, so, I only showed up for my French class a grand total of maybe four or five times (and I seem to recall that my too-forgiving teacher still didn't flunk me--God Bless the high standards of our American education system!), but even an incorrigible delinquent like myself knows that "Merci" is French for "Thank you"!

Rockingbearranch actually combined said TLC ladies with my "an ATC that's also some kind of art project for me to do" theme and created a little TLC color-by-number exercise--that's pretty cool! She wrote that she drew this freehand on her art pad (and I presume she later added the color guide and numbers with a computer program). Rockingbearranch sent me two copies of the project to boot, one on card stock, the other on paper. I liked that, because I could paint one and still keep the other in its original condition, for comparison/reference purposes, plus it was nice to have an extra just in case I screwed up (which I didn't)! The card is actually double the standard ATC size, which was fine by me, as that just made it easier to paint, and, it doesn't matter to me what dimensions my incoming ATCs are, because variety is the spice of life and I don't keep them in an album or anything like that anyway, just the envelope or box that they arrived in.

You know, it just occurred to me that, someday, a comedian might take my "an ATC that's also some kind of art project for me to do" theme to the logical extreme and just send me nothing but a blank card. Easiest swap ever, right?  Grin

Anyhoo, TLC is the best-selling American R&B/Hip Hop girl group of all time (they've accumulated an impressive 65 million record sales, worldwide, to date). While still active, their peak years were in the 1990s and early 2000s. TLC was originally composed of T-Boz (Tionne Watkins), Left Eye (Lisa Lopes), and Chilli (Rozonda Thomas), but, sadly, Lisa died in a car accident in Honduras in 2002 at the young age of 30. Watkins and Thomas have continued on without Lopes as a duo, but, thus far, they haven't been as successful without Lisa. Rockingbearranch's card depicts the group in their earlier 90s years, when they typically wore very colorful urban fashions (Lisa apparently really loved those big, crazy hats). If you're wondering, the circle over Lisa's left eye is an unopened condom. TLC are advocates for safe sex, so, back in the day, they often had condoms pinned to their outfits, and, of course, playful Lisa had to be clever and use hers as an eye patch to complement her stage name!

Rockingbearranch also included this little square of cardstock that depicts a bear's head over a rocker (because I'm painfully oblivious to the obvious, I initially thought that said curved line was a smiley mouth, until she explained). That's a neat little symbol to represent her username!

Here's what the card looked like late Friday night, after I got done laying down the first layer of acrylic paint. It was mostly just solid colors at this point, as such, I still had a lot of shadows, highlights, etc. left to apply to the three women.

And this is the finished card, on Sunday evening, after it had been sealed, pressed, and dried (I elected to paint the paper one and keep the cardstock version in its original state, so, to improve its durability and make it more rigid, I glued said paper one onto heavier stock too). As I am wont to do, I also applied ink and colored pencil on top of my acrylics. All together, I'd say this took me about eight hours to paint/embellish, and I went back and changed/tweaked small things several times too, both before, and during, the sealing process.

Remember when I typed above that I didn't screw up? I lied. Sunday was hot and sunny, so, I left the card's sealed surface to dry in the window while I went downstairs to attend to other business. Shortly thereafter, I came back upstairs to find the TLC girls cheerfully plastered to the mesh window screen! You know how the wind blowing sometimes creates a vacuum, sucking your curtains into the window frame, rather than blowing them outwards into the room? Well, that's exactly what happened while I was gone. Thankfully, the card was almost dry when that happened, so, I only had to do an emergency fix on the bottom area around Lisa's left pants leg and Rozonda's right suspender. Note to self: Close the window next time!

Finally, here's the back of the (cardstock) original:

I don't think I've ever worked on a paint-by-number project before, or, if I have, I just can't remember doing so, but I found it to be an enjoyable process. It's nice to be able to just paint with all the elements already in place so that you don't have to worry too much about the arrangement of the composition. The only similar item I can recall ever making was one of those plastic sun catcher things (a butterfly I believe) where you color the individual panes with translucent paint to get a stained-glass-like effect. Many thanks for this do-it-yourself portrait of the lovely TLC ladies, rockingbearranch!

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