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November 23, 2011

Self Portrait in Studio

Filed under: CAE,Co. TAKARA,Toy Love — cae @ 3:04 pm

Self Portrait in Studio - Takara King Walder Jr. Plantman - 9" doll
Takara King Walder Jr. Plantman – 9" doll

You may have already figured this out but I’ve spent a good (embarrassing?) chunk of the last decade collecting, photographing, and obsessing over (primarily Japanese) toys.

In the interim, I have taught myself a lot about studio photography, photoshop composites, and credit card debt.

One of the main effects this odd combination of craft and immature materialism had was the drawing of my incipient visual creativity out of its cave and into the light: due to my success with the tools and skills, I went from being overqualified as a retail schmuck to entering the fields of graphic and web design. Had I not felt the urge to share my toy-obsession online with similarly obsessed friends, I might still be toiling unhappily behind some store’s counter.

The flip-side, however, is that I somehow felt that what I was creating – images of other people’s plastic and zinc designs composited with scenes I chose to place them in – was viable beyond the simple titillation of my chosen group of online hombres.

Fueling this misconception, in the mid-2000’s and thanks to a friend, I reached a verbal (if you can call email “verbal”) agreement with a publishing company to produce a book of my composite shots, a deal that petered out a few months later when the company realized that marketing the images would be difficult.

Despite this reality check, I continued to make the images, not only for fun but also convinced by people’s professed enjoyment that I had a shot at marketing them. As a test, I began selling shirts and calendars of my toy pictures via Cafepress and gained a small following of people who continue to pick up my offerings with relative, annual regularity.

Though my situation eventually changed so that I could no longer afford to buy toys, I continued to make composites, using them as a bridge to my still-collecting, online friends … and my illusion of the images’ value outside this fan-boy circle grew.

Earlier this year, I felt ready to set out once again to produce the book. Before beginning, I solicited opinions from a few trusted parties and, with my new skills, decided to layout the book myself, thus creating a more professional vehicle (if not an actual end product) for the collection.

During this process, there was a war going on within me between the rational and the hopeful. On the one hand, I really felt that my work was not only fun but valid, marketable. On the other, I knew that what I was engaged in was really a gigantic cheat. The central focus of my images weren’t mine. Sure, I’d applied lots of hard-won skills, labor, and money into the project but that didn’t change the fact that the main designs had been stolen from others. Imagine a book of Disney-related toys in similar shots being produced and sold without Disney’s permission and outside their original story lines. Yeah, no problem there … *cough*

When I felt I had something to show, I asked the same friend who’d hooked me up with my original publishing deal, now wiser and a published author himself, to take a look at the rough draft of the book for me. He kindly did so and then hit me with the facts: this was good, fun, fan work but otherwise pretty unrealistic, as it constituted copyright infringement.

His tactfully presented but clear comments hit home, shattering the remnants of my illusion. I mothballed the project and entered one of the deepest funks I have known in years. I felt, after a life of half-assed creative endeavors, of endless, idiot pipe-dreams, that the one thing I’d finally managed to take all of the way, the one thing I’d finally created that held any real value … didn’t.

Rather than shouldering the burden of this knowledge, as I have now, and using my considerable creative momentum to blaze ahead into one of a dozen other potential projects I have lined up, I crumbled. I tried to put a brave face on it but, inside, I was a mess and ended up making an ass of myself on the forum of the website where the seeds of the project first took root; an act of public self-immolation I still shudder to think of. Awesome.

As with all superficial wounds, I eventually healed, grew up a touch, and moved on. Sort of.

I still sometimes have the urge to make toy composites and, yet, know that my motivation for wanting to do so is wrong-headed and that I’ll never be satisfied doing so again. I ache for the sense of accomplishment that producing something publishable will give me and, to that end, the toy shots amount to nothing more than a distraction and a dead end.

So I am saying goodbye to making my toy composites, at least for now. This year’s calendar will be the last. Ending with the image above, a self-portrait I produced for the ill-conceived book, is a bittersweet irony for me … but really, its just a silly composite, of a silly man, being silly with his silly toys.


November 6, 2011


Filed under: CAE,Daily Money Shots,Toy Love — cae @ 2:33 pm

READ! - Marmit Baruzas vinyl
Marmit Baruzas vinyl

October 15, 2011

Oh! Sorry …

Filed under: CAE,Daily Money Shots — cae @ 4:35 am

Oh! Sorry ... - Medicom RAH220 Kamen Rider villain Yamogerasu doll
Medicom RAH220 Kamen Rider villain Yamogerasu doll

October 4, 2011

Tell Me Your Troubles

Filed under: CAE,Co. POPY,Daily Money Shots,Toy Love — cae @ 12:07 pm

Popy Gan Gara Ganchan diecast
Popy Gan Gara Ganchan diecast

I’ve heard ‘em all, sir. Every one.
The cheating wife, the stubborn son,
the stupid boss; the kitchen sink.
You take a seat, order a drink
and, soon enough, you lend my ear
to troubles soaked in scotch and beer
One mug, two mug, three mugs tossed
straight down the hatch: hell with the boss!
You’ll learn that boy. You’ll kick his ass;
replace your wife with some young lass.
You pound the bar and slap my arm.
Bleary and weak, you’d bet the farm
your new friend (me) can cure all ills.
In sooth reverse: you pay my bills.

September 22, 2011

Fossil Fool

Filed under: CAE,Co. BANDAI,Co. BULLMARK,Daily Money Shots,Toy Love — cae @ 4:00 am

Fossil Fool - B-Club/Bullmark Aboras vinyl recast
B-Club/Bullmark Aboras vinyl

August 8, 2011

Electric Lunch

Filed under: CAE,Co. BULLMARK,Daily Money Shots,Toy Love — cae @ 7:10 pm

Electric Lunch - Bullmark Blazer diecastBullmark Blazer diecast

They said he was from Japan and that accounted for his funny accent but it was clear to me he weren’t no Japaner. They said his metal body was the result of wounds he’d received in a war or some such but I never believed that, not for one minute. Who ever heard of such a thing; a metal body?

He wasn’t a this earth, I tell you, not even this time, maybe. Sell my mother if it aint true.

What kind of a name is “Brayza,” anyway? It aint Japanese, that’s for sure. If he was a real Japaner they would’na never let him open up that restaurant a his, never woulda let him sign the lease. Oh, no, he wasn’t from here, that’s clear as the nose on m’face!

That crawly voice a his! All raspy and metallic like a giant insect with a spring, scrapin’ up the insides of a tin box. And him always tryna talk to motorcars and machines and the like as much as to people. You call that normal?

I tell you, that restaurant a his was a waitin’ place for his unholy friends! Why else would he a-called it the “Electric Lunch?” And the food! Good god almighty, who’d a-thunk a-such stuff? Green slimy weeds you never heard of all mashed up with fat, wormy noodles and stinkin’, sticky sauces with gaggy, fishy meat he got from who the hell knows where – it was enough to make you sick. Some claimed t’like it, if you you can believe that. He actually had reg’lars but I never trusted any that’d dine in there more than once.

He just weren’t cookin’ fer humans. Nossiree.

I don’t know as many people know this but he’d sit in there at nights sometimes, after hours and back in the dark, all kinda glowin’ and a-hummin’ and a-bip-boop-beepin’ along by himself. Just bidin’ his time, bidin’ his time. War wounds my puckered butt …

I tried to tell people, tried to warn ‘em, but they jus’ laugh’ me off even though not a-one of ‘em felt too sure around him themselves, if you pressed ‘em on it. Why the hair on yer neck would go up just from his passin’ you on the street, sometimes when you weren’t even lookin’ to know he was there. Him and his wheezy clank, clank, clank. There weren’t a dog in town who would stand him without barkin’ and growlin’ without end, and he *never* went t’church. Not once.

Well, one day the Electric Lunch just didn’t open up. It never did again ’til the bank took it and the works. What I would’n a-paid t’poke around back there in his dinky little room but they weren’t brookin’ no nosin’ around. No sir, it was all business and the next thing you know it’s a shop durn fulla gew gaws and what-nots fer gussied-up dudes and little, frilly girls, run by that ol’ Jew fellah, whatshisname. Not a bad sort for all that, to tell the truth.

Anyway, some say ol’ Brayza got tied up in shady dealin’s and hadda take it on the lam. Others like to joke that we’ll find him rusting away in the woods some day, or that he made a durn-fool attempt at swimmin’, him with all that metal on ‘im, an’ he’s at the bottom a some lake somewhere but not me, no sir, not me. An’ you can see by my hand a-pointin’ where I knowed he gone: up, an’ I don’t mean t’his jus’ rewards.

I look up nights, when it’s cool and clear, and I wonder when that sumbitch is gonna come back, come back here with his danged army when we’re all fast asleep. You mark my words: watch the damn sky!

July 29, 2011

Miraclon 34th St.

Filed under: CAE,Co. BANDAI,Daily Money Shots,Toy Love — cae @ 4:00 am

Miraclon 34th St. - Bandai Miraclon vinylBandai Miraclon vinyl

July 21, 2011


Filed under: CAE,Co. BULLMARK,Daily Money Shots,Stoopid,Toy Love,Toy News — cae @ 4:00 am

Fruit - Bullmark Rockbat diecastBullmark Rockbat diecast

I thought he was just a kid goofing around. Just another bozo-button at large and awash in adolescence. You’ve seen ‘em; teens, sans supervision in the supermarket, making public fresh for their friends.

But this was different.

For one thing he was on his own. No giggling gaggle of onlookers applauded his tomfoolery. No, he worked alone – and, looking back on it, I do think it was work.

He tottered in goofily enough but made a beeline for the produce and, upon reaching that section of the market, tongue out (in concentration or anticipation I can’t say), leapt directly into the bananas and burrowed in.

My jaw must’ve darn near hit the floor when he did it, too. I don’t know who else saw him but the act was performed in such a perfect, fluid motion it had to’ve been practiced. Had to’ve been. You don’t just do that on a whim without hurting yourself, you know? Not that silently. It was stunning.

Anyway, I don’t know if he was foraging for food or looking for cover under there but he stayed under, muttering and rustling about, until the store officials showed up and asked, rather politely given the circumstances, just what he thought he was up to.

Oh, all hell broke loose then.

He burst from the banana bin and evaded the shouting scramble of store employees by leaping from display to display, havoc in his path. Peaches, mangoes, grapes, and cantaloupes were squitched, kicked and, in some cases, hucked. We onlookers ducked behind whatever we could find. I took to the floor behind the bulk-nut cart and thought I’d gotten away scott-free until I ran my fingers through my hair sometime afterwards and discovered a mass of orangey pulp there from some fruit or another. Even helpless, fuzzy little kiwis were not spared as the kooky intruder made his explosively circuitous and sticky escape.

One minute he’s mid-leap and pelting the cowering store manager with an endless fusillade of bing cherries, the next he’s a blur shooting out through the store’s advert-plastered, automatic doors.

That was the last we saw of him.

July 16, 2011

The Neighbor

Filed under: CAE,Co. TAKATOKU,Daily Money Shots,Toy Love — cae @ 2:00 am

The NeighborTakatoku Bibyun diecast

Weird noises come out of his place at all hours and the windows are almost always dark. Some nights you can see little, flickering lights moving around in there like he’s maneuvering about the place with tea lights in his hands and plenty of shochu in his veins.

Oh, yeah he drinks alright. Sometimes alone, sometimes with what sounds like a million angry ghosts but always the next morning: the clatter of glass and aluminum out the back door, down the steps, and into the recycle container, often to overflowing.

He bangs that porch door a lot and, if you look over, he sometimes waves his little, plastic swords menacingly in your direction.

We turn our heads when this happens, politely sucking on our cigarettes, pretending we aren’t amused, interested, or even aware of his bizarre, red costume with the bumpy blue eyes.

You don’t fuck around with a guy like that. Not in San Francisco. Not when he’s … the neighbor.

June 30, 2011

wIsHy WaShY

Filed under: CAE,Daily Money Shots — cae @ 7:33 am

wIsHy WaShYButanohana Chibull Ningen

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