Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year gnomes

Check out these vintage 1930s-40s gnome New Years cards I saw on eBay. Hilarious!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Marx Megatherium

I've been interested in prehistoric models for a while now. I was glad tp see the new production of 28mm scale metal prehistorics from Dazed Miniatures Unfortunately, it looks like they are no longer being produced. RLBPS is only selling off the old stock, so get them while you can.

My only prehistoric models are a few sets from Pulp Figures and some very old school mammals. Marx Toys produced some plastic prehistoric playset in the 1960s. You may have seen my painted Mammoth in an older post. That model was recast plastic from the old molds. This giant sloth is an original. I got them both from the Toy Soldier HQ. I was a little hesitant to paint a30 year old toy, but the plastic was kind of sticky, and I figure there's no sense in having it if I'm not going to actually use it for anything.
As with the mammoth, this megatherium model is glued to a plastic 60mm base. A 28mm Pulp Figures neanderthal is included for scale. The neanderthals, short faced bear, and saber tooth cats are hoping I'll paint them soon.

(The giant sloth looks a little out of focus in these shots, but I think that is partly because the model itself is not very crisp. The details in this soft plastic are rather smooth.)

WWII books

Note: I've been reviewing World War II books on my other blog. Ancient up to 18th Century book reviews will stay here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Garden Gnomes: A History, by Twigs Way

I've mentioned Shire in the past. This is a British publisher of brilliant little books on antiques, archaeology, architecture, and even military history. The style of the books—accessibility to the general reader, with detail for the specialist—is quite similar to Osprey Publishing's books. In fact, Osprey purchased this press in 2007. A very good fit, I think. (See the article about Shire on The Times website.)

A Lovely Gnome Tome
Published in June, 2009, Garden Gnomes: A History by Twigs Way is another of Shire's nicely designed books. A historian of gardening, the author tells the story of these European garden accents. She explores their origins (beliefs of dwarfs, nisser, and tomtar), studies the craft of their production, and charts their rise and fall in popularity. The text is illustrated with pages from period catalogs and photographs of gnomes in gardens throughout history. The book ends with a view of garden gnomes' affect on modern pop culture, with a mention of the trend in gnome liberation (stealing and relocating the ornaments as a prank).

My family's past is dotted with appearances by garden gnomes. There are currently three or four in my mother's garden. These were made by a family friend in the 1950s by pouring concrete into molds. In the 1980s I remember joining my grandparents as they visited their friend, Mr. Heiner. His father was from Germany, and he had created an extensive backyard scene with little gnomes digging, fishing, moving earth, etc. There were even diminutive doorways set into the roots of the trees. It was very magical to a kid. When vacationing on Lake George, NY we would motor up the lake to see "Gnome Island." This was actually someone's rock-covered backyard, projecting into the lake as a shallow peninsula. There were always a cluster of garden gnomes there. Sometimes they were r-arranged from the last time we saw them. My dad told us kids that they were the real thing, standing still to trick us. I bought this book for my mom's Christmas present this year. I'm thinking I should get myself a copy—and maybe a gnome for the front yard too.