August 04, 2017

FRIDAY'S WITH FARLEY: Another Dose of Useless Tidbits

Farley returns with more useless information after extended vacation that included the World Model Expo in Chicago and the IPMS National convention in Omaha and a good helping of R&R on the side...
• The Good Stuff...
Meet The Super Collectors
Tim Baker has over 12,000 toy soldiers…
Welcome to The Collection, a pop-up exhibition at the Proud Archivist that shines a spotlight on a wonderfully obsession –  collecting. Alongside Tim Baker’s soldiers are a tiny part of Liz West’s Guinness World Record-holding treasury of Spice Girls’ memorabilia; around a third of the 3,000 Pez sweet dispensers that Kelle Blyth keeps in her Norfolk garage; a very few of the countless items of vintage clothing that TV presenter Dawn O’Porter has amassed. 

The items at Proud not only represent a small part of their owners’ total archives, but of the wider mass of collections squirreled away in the nation’s attics and spare bedrooms. “Seventy-one per cent of Brits class themselves as collectors yet almost half of us hide our collections away,” says Myriam Ruffo, head of storage at Ikea – the furniture company who have curated the exhibition. The idea behind it is to “encourage people to show off their passions”. Indeed, with the rise of online trading site eBay (founded by the husband of a Pez dispenser-collector to facilitate her hobby, according to Kelle Blyth) plus the judicious emergence of celebrities who have confessed to the obsession, it seems collecting may be ready to come out of the closet again.

Historically, it was a noble pastime, the practice of adventurers and amateur scholars, not just men but women too: think of fossil hunter Mary Anning. Some of the greatest museums in the world owe their existence to the acquisitive instincts of private collectors, from the Ashmolean in Oxford to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. But at some point in history – I would guess after the Second World War, when consumer goods, clothing and printed matter became relatively cheap and plentiful – obsessive, monomaniac acquisitiveness began to be seen as something suspect, infantile or just plain strange. Stamp collecting, once a harmless habit passed on from father to son, became the epitome of suburban small-mindedness. It didn’t help that the business was carried on secretively, at collectors’ fairs or in specialist shops. 

But then came the second wave of the collector. Those cheap Penguin paperbacks, 1960s Playboy magazines, and 1970s items of household packaging themselves became desirable. George Lucas famously accepted a reduced wage to direct the first Star Wars film in 1977 if he could retain the rights to any future merchandising, kick-starting his own mini-industry in the collecting world. Rod Stewart came out as a collector of model trains, Nicolas Cage as a collector of comics, and Paul Smith as a collector of, well, everything.

Plus, those supposedly worthless assemblages of ephemera started to make serious money. A piece of chewing gum spat out by Britney Spears at Wembley Arena in 2000 sold on eBay for $14,000. More recently, a Boba Fett Star Wars figurine that originally cost £1.50 sold last year for £18,000 at auction.

Most true collectors, though, aren’t in it for the money. Tim Baker simply started buying toy soldiers aged eight and never stopped. He reckons the 1,000 soldiers he has with him today are worth about £4,000, but he has already lent the bulk of his collection – and is leaving the rest in his will – to a museum in his hometown of Silloth, in Cumbria. Hunter Davis recalls a mental shift from simply not throwing stuff away to “actively going out and buying things”, but the only time he ever deliberately bought something as an investment – a set of stamps – he lost £2,500 when he re-sold them. His Beatles collection is probably the most valuable of all those represented at Proud: he bequeathed the original handwritten lyrics of Help, I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Yesterday (“a bit of a fiddle – Paul wrote that out later for me in 1966”) to the British Museum in 1985 when he realised “they were worth more than my house”. Kelle Blyth has some very rare items but just loves the way her multi-colored, different-headed Pez dispensers look: she doesn’t even like the sweets. Jill Latter started making dolls’ house furniture while caring for a mother with dementia, then started buying it. Her late husband supported her hobby, as does Blyth’s husband and Davies’s wife (“though if I go first, everything’ll go in the skip”). Only Tim Baker concedes that his obsessive habit of haunting toy shops on family holidays may have been a factor in his divorce.

The creative spirit of collecting is, however,  best expressed in the Proud show by Darryll  Jones, a South African photographer who remembers staging scenes with action figures as a boy and thinking “God, I hope I never lose this sense of excitement”. In adult life he has built a collection of Stormtrooper toys (“it’s all about them, I’m not a Star Wars nerd”), which he poses in comic or bittersweet situations and shoots for an Instagram page that has gathered 100,000 followers. One Stormtrooper, Billy, is a daredevil who flies Spitfires and rides motorbikes and is constantly trying to cheer up his more maudlin friend, Eric. The two are named after Jones’s uncles.

Jones has not lost his childhood sense of fun and wonder, just as Hunter Davies has never lost “the thrill of the chase, of accumulation and of completion”. (He also sees his lifetime’s accumulation of stuff as a riposte to decluttering gurus like the currently fashionable Marie Kondo). The collectors at Proud pursue their passion without embarrassment or hope of financial gain. Which is why I – who am writing this in a room stuffed with an inchoate mass of magazines, toy cars and trains, skulls, old photographs and giant whisky bottles – salute them. 
• Game On!
The British Invasion of Egypt 1801

• Digital Delights...

Figure Painter Magazine # 45

Now Available for Download

From the publisher-
In this issue we have some great tutorials from Roman Lappat, who gives us two takes on his Frank Von Stein and from Joan Carles Ros Magán, who shows us how he painted his Alexander the Great bust with oil paints. Our very own Marko Paunovic also continues his Post-Apocolyptic Diorama.

We also have a closer look at the recent Dante's Inferno Kickstarter from Aradia Miniatures. Unboxing reviews from Mr. Lee's Minis, Nuts Planet, FeR Miniatures, Kabuki Studio and Kimera Models. We also have lots, lots more.

STILL THE BEST DEALS ON THE WEB! FPM and Initiative are available as a downloaded PDFs for less then $2.00 a copy.  FPM is a independent magazine dedicated to sculpting, painting, displaying, collecting and gaming with miniature figures from all genre's. The magazine has details on new releases, reviews, interviews with the industries top painters and sculptors, show reports, tutorials! Initiative magazine is a new digital publication focusing on boardgames, RPG's and Skirmish and War-games and the miniature figures that accompany them.

The seventh issue of digital magazine Blitzscales is ready to download, with a good number of armour modeling articles.
The contents of this issue are:
 6 - USSR printable base for models
8 - Blitzscales previews
26 - Sturmmorser Bär
34 - M-41 in Spain
40 - Scammell Pioneer SC2S
47 - Modern soda can crates 1/35 scale 50 - Skode Radschlepper OST
58 - T-14 Armata, the “steppe wolf” 67 - T-54B early
It can be freely downloaded from the website

• Built...

• Best Use of Photoshop...

Rust Never Sleeps...

• Benched!

The You Tube channel of Huw Parkinson features his hilarious videos including the infamous Life Accordion To Trump parts 1 & 2 and Winter is Trumping. Stop by if you need a good laugh!

• The Parting Shot!...

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