Tourmaline .

Miniature Diorama Photographer

Tiny Products

Miniature versions of everyday grocery packaging are all the rage!

I’m a product photographer by day, and a miniature diorama photographer on nights and weekends. I largely photograph grocery store packaging. So when I see tiny versions of the products I handle all day, I’m so hooked. I’m not the only one though it appears.

Cole’s Little Shop

Cole’s, a supermarket chain in Australia, began giving out individually packaged mystery packs to each customer that came through their checkouts for every $30 spent. This was July 2018, and whether or not Cole’s expected or anticipated the massive interest that follows is up for debate, but this promotion blew up! Kids started demanding their parent’s only shop at Cole’s, and collectors jumped heavily on board as well. I would have too if I lived in Australia. The original run of 30 minis is listed in it’s accompanying case as anywhere from $75-300 on ebay.

So Cole’s didn’t stop there and has since released other sets in limited runs from Christmas (5 items), to what seems to be upcoming Easter, Back to School and Kitchen (or maybe that’s just customer wishful thinking) themed sets to be collected 1 by 1 as you buy your groceries.

Shopkins Mini Packs

All you parents of little ones are certainly familiar with Shopkins. Shopkins are little squishy versions of food, kitchen appliances, make up, shoes, etc. Each with a little face and thus personality. Mini Packs puts Shopkins mystery packs inside tiny grocery product packaging – popcorn bags, ice cream tubs, you name it. Unlike Cole’s and the line below, these are cutesy Shopkins inspired packaging, that aren’t branded like a full scale counterpart. They still have adorable tiny barcodes though.

These were released as season 10 in May 2018, and have continued in January 2019’s season 11 release. I myself have quite a few of these waiting for their spot on a shelf. I don’t care for Shopkins personally, but I absolutely adore the tiny packages.

UPDATE: While I was writing this post, it’s been announced that Shopkins will be releasing a line of 50 branded items. This announcement came just in time with the release outlined below. These will be available August 1, 2019 under the name Shopkins Real Littles. Shopkins does have a similar Walmart exclusive, released December 2018 – Shopkins Oh So Real, but it appears the Real Littles packaging will be proportioned a little more realistically, we’ll have to see.

5 Surprise Mini Brands

5 Surprise has been around for a bit. Plastic balls with 5 compartments, a surprise toy in each. This month, exclusively at Walmart, Zuru, the 5 Surprise parent company, released Mini Brands. The same mystery 5 pack concept, but with tiny branded grocery packaging inside. This feels a bit like The U.S.’ response to Cole’s Little Shop, but without the free part. There’s also a tiny shopping basket, cart, and store display hidden in some of the mystery compartments.

There are 70 items to collect in the wave 1 release. And I’m hyped. This might be counter-intuitive to my recent sustainable post, but I’m more of a modern consumer than I’d like to admit, and am a sucker for tiny products.
Read a Washington Post article about them here. (Watch the video in the article however, and you’ll quickly notice the woman doing the unboxing is not a miniature enthusiast by any means.)


Thanks for reading! Do you collect any mini things? What are your feelings about tiny branded products?

The Toy World is Going Sustainable

Our World and Plastic

“If current trends in plastic production and waste management continue, the plastic debris housed in landfills and natural environments — currently 4.9 billion metric tons — will more than double by 2050”

– PBS News Hour

Much of the plastic we use in our daily lives is not degradable and therefore just sits in landfills, in oceans, etc. Reducing our plastic consumption has become a global concern. Not only does the amount of plastic filling our oceans greatly impact our sea creatures, plastic in consumer products has begun to show negative health risks in humans.

“Plastic has been found in more than 60% of all seabirds and in 100% of sea turtles species, that mistake plastic for food…Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments.”

-Ocean Conservancy

Exposure to plastic additives effect our health involving fertility, neuro-development, thyroid function and even cancer. Many additives remain untested.

Trying to solve the problem

There’s no easy way to get plastic out of our lives, but a good first push is getting rid of single use plastics. Restaurants like Starbucks and McDonald’s have been some of the leading businesses in this initiative. With McDonald’s removing plastic straws from its UK and Ireland restaurants and Starbucks beginning to phase out plastic straws world wide with an end date of 2020 in site.

Toy companies, a huge plastic producing industry, with 90% of toys being made from plastic, are beginning to do their part as well. Even if the world as a whole was better about recycling, plastic toys are often not purely plastic and therefore can’t be recycled. So finding ways to recycle toy packaging, or making toys from eco-material is vitally important.

LOL Surprise

If you’ve ever opened an LOL Surprise doll or seen anyone else do so, you know that not only is the ball plastic wrapped in plastic, each of the 5 individual surprises inside said ball are in their own plastic bags as well. Watch my video above to get a good idea of all the plastic that goes into this packaging.

To be honest, when I first saw LOL’s announcement in March I assumed all their packaging going forward was going to be biodegradable and I was hyped. That assumption was very short cited considering they’re telling consumers to save their current packaging. Spoiler, they’re not changing their packing at all, but they are offering a way to recycle it with their Terracycle partnership. In no way is this a full on answer to the problem, but it’s a good first step, and move in the right direction.

I will note, that while the 2 following brands seems to have made sustainability a top priority, it seems MGA is simply responding to customer complaints about packaging waste. But only time will tell if they’ll continue this trend through their other toy lines.

Hasbro

Hasbro Booth by Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons license

Hasbro may just be leading the toy industry in sustainability. They’re the 3rd largest toy maker in the world and earned #3 in Newsweek’s 2017/2018 U.S. Green rankings.

Since 2002, Hasbro has been pushing for more sustainability in their toy production, yet they say it’s been on the top of their minds since throughout their whole 100 years in business. With a focus on their products and packaging, they launched the Sustainability Center of Excellence in 2016. They have LEED certified facilities, and yet still a long way to go with their plastic usage. They’ve been upfront that they’ve experience issues with decreasing their plastic consumption while still meeting toy safety standards, but has said their is more news to come on this front. Their packaging windows however has been switched out from PVC, to recyclable PET.

lego

LEGO eco-botanical elements via LEGO

LEGO however has announced plans to reduce their eco-footprint by 2030. I’m late to the game on this because they launched their first non-plastic building materials in 2018, starting with trees, bushes and leaves. Instead of plastic, they’re using a sugarcane based bio-plastic. Weirdly enough, sugarcane ethanol can be used as a substitute for petroleum. In their partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, they plan to continue to expand their production of these eco-blocks. As of right now, they’re producing between 1-2% of their overall product with bioplastic.

This drive isn’t new for LEGO as they’ve previously invested $165 million in sustainable material research. They also power 100% of their operations with renewable energy.

what now?

Toy companies, and companies in general, still have a long way to go on the road to being green. LEGO, Hasbro and MGA Entertainment are on the right path with their initiatives however and hopefully their successes will convince other industries to follow suit.

Sources:

Thanks for checking out my post. Let me know your thoughts below and make sure to check out my portfolio here. Want to order a print? Want to commission something? Email me at tourmalinenow@outlook.com.

Color your World: Apricot

Welcome back to this weekly Crayola color based blog challenge!

This week, the color is Apricot.

  • Between now and next Tuesday share a post inspired by the color on your own blog or social media. A poem, flash fiction, photo, drawing, whatever you’d like!
  • Link back to this post and include your post link in a comment below so that I can share your link next week.
  • Tag your blog post ‘coloryourworld’ so others can find your post in their WordPress Reader.

Check out the CYW home page with links to all weekly challenges as they post.

Here’s my contribution:

Future challenges:

Last week’s contributors:

If I’ve missed your post, please let me know.

Painted Lady Monarchs

Last Saturday, May 18, I attended a release of Painted Lady Monarchs at the Jacksonville Arboretum!

I love the place, but I didn’t know that they did yearly butterfly releases, and I’m so glad I heard about it this year.

So first, here’s a slideshow of the previous time I wandered the trails here. Some images I failed to share on this blog.

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Saturday morning however, began with a talk on butterfly conservation, a caterpillar enclosure and plant and seed giveaways. Then the children in attendance were handed folded pieces of paper, each containing a butterfly. When I say children, I mostly mean the parent’s of, so that the butterflies would be carefully handed. The papers were then unfolded in the nectar garden, and the butterflies went on their ways.

And here are my images from the day!

 

Have you ever been to a butterfly release or butterfly garden? One way or another, tell me about it.

 

Open Bezel Resin Earrings for my Wedding

I’m getting married in 2020, and keep seeing items with that in mind. My colors are blue and gold, and shortly after becoming engaged I sew these jewelry charms at the craft store, and knew I had to use them for a resin project. So I got some dried flowers and off I went. Check out the video above and let me know what you think.

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Color your World: Antique Brass

Welcome to this weekly Crayola color based blog challenge!

This week, the color is Antique Brass.

  • Between now and next Tuesday share a post inspired by the color on your own blog or social media. A poem, flash fiction, photo, drawing, whatever you’d like!
  • Link back to this post and include your post link in a comment below so that I can share your link next week.
  • Tag your blog post ‘coloryourworld’ so others can find your post in their WordPress Reader.

Check out the CYW home page with links to all weekly challenges as they post.

Here’s my contribution:

Future challenges:

Last week’s contributors:

Let me know if I’ve missed your link.

Thank you all so much for being the first to join in on this challenge revamp!

Returning to Welcome to Marwen

A new look at Welcome to Marwen with the recent US & UK DVD releases. Read about my movie theater experience here.

Welcome to Marwen (2018) is a Robert Zemeckis movie based on the true story of Mark Hogancamp. Having already seen the documentary Marwencol (2010), I already knew the following about Mark and his incredible life story, which provided a useful foundation for this movie.

Mark Hogancamp is a hate crime survivor. He mentioned he likes wearing women’s shoes while drinking at a bar, and in return got jumped from behind by five guys. They beat him nearly to death, putting him in a coma for nine days. When he regained consciousness, Mark had no memory of his prior life and had to relearn to write, speak, and walk again.

His state funding for medical care soon ran out, so he turned to a miniature world for his own version of therapy. His hands were too shaky for smaller scale models so, at the suggestion of a local hobby shop owner, he settled on 1:6 scale (think Barbie and GI Joe) and created the fictional Belgian town of ‘Marwencol’, circa World War II.

An image by the real life Mark Hogancamp.

Previously an alcoholic, Mark never drank again after the attack. I say this as a precursor, but even in real life, yes, his views on women are somewhat off-putting. He adores them, but from a distance. They’re different than other people; held on a pedestal and lacking personal narratives.

I, myself, also photograph toys and have PTSD, just like Mark.

I didn’t begin photographing toys to heal from trauma (it’s been in my life much longer than that), but I can relate to the calming properties of creation. Toy photography provides a tangible way to illustrate emotions and work through personal stories. I also agree that war is a good allegory for personal struggle and I’ve used it in such a way in my own work. In this, I became quite interested in Mark Hogancamp’s fascinating story. Not only that, but his work is beautiful. His raw, non-art school principled, documentarian take on miniature war scenes are striking.

 One of my war images made with planes from the board game Axis and Allies.

Continue reading on movie review site, Frame Rated here.

The Ultimate International List of Miniature Exhibits & Museums (100+ Locations)

All the mini worlds in our great big world, right here for your planning pleasure.

Looking for a place in the U.S.? Check out my previous list here.

Looking for somewhere outside of the U.S.? You’ve come to the right place! Check out the below list for mini displays near you. Don’t see one that should be here? Let me know in a comment below.

Click on the site name to be taken to more information.

Australia

Austria

Azerbaijan

Belgium

Brazil

Cambodia

China

czech republic

Denmark

Ecuador

Egypt

England

Finland

France

Germany

Hungary

INdia

Indonesia

Iran

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Lithuania

Japan

Malaysia

Netherlands

Norway

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Scotland

Slovakia

South Africa

South Korea

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Taiwan

Thailand

Turkey

Ukraine

Wales

Compiled with the help of Google Maps, miniamerica.org, and ottini.eu.

Thanks for checking out my post. Make sure to check out my portfolio here. Want to order a print? Want to commission something? Email me at tourmalinenow@outlook.com.