Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pixieland, Oregon's Brigadoon

   Brigadoon, a mythical magical place that appears for a short time, then disappears, not to be seen for another 100 years. In 1969 Pixieland appeared near Lincoln City (Otis) on the Oregon coast, and a short four years later...disappeared. We have quite awhile to wait and see if that 100 years thing holds true, but Pixieland still appears in the memories of the folks that visited. I was one of those lucky few. I was born at the right time, and had wonderful Grandparents that liked to travel around the state with me in tow. I only remember small snippets of things about Pixieland, the train, the log ride, an odd bear dark ride, getting rock candy at one of the shops, and the surreal calm that the place seemed to exude. That calm, in adult terms, translates to "very few customers" possibly explaining Pixieland's short life. It now just rides around in my head as a happy childhood memory...or does it?

   My collector's mentality won't let it just stay a simple memory, I wanna own it, see it again, get the T-shirt, and stick a snowglobe on the shelf. One could argue that all collecting is just that, that need to have the past be more than a memory, a thing you can see, touch, and never lose. So I collect Pixieland memorabilia, no surprise. There are figurines, metal trays, postcards, keychains, all the classic tourist items. I have many and most (not all), and always enjoy the thrill of the hunt. The one thing I hoped I'd find, is photos of my own visit, but haven't yet. My Grandma took pictures everywhere, but I have yet to run across any of Pixieland. In fact, if you search the internet, there are very few photos other than the sold postcards, or publicity shots that everyone seems to have.

   That is going to change though. I recently purchased a private collection of slides from the '50s, '60s, & '70s, and guess what...2 rows are marked "Pixieland". I'm excited for people to see some shots of the magical place that are not the same old postcard shots. I need to change them over to digital photos, and I'm still deciding the best way to present them. In the slides I also got a bunch of different vintage Oregon locations, parades and such....perhaps a CD with vintage Oregon attractions will show up in the near future. I don't want to be too protective, because I know there are folks who love Pixieland, but I also don't want a group of photos that I own to become plastered on every "Oregon of the Past" website or article. Stay tuned, Oregon's Brigadoon might be showing up here again realllll soon.

   On a side note, another love of mine is the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, and I just purchased two different groups of personal snap shots from it, fabulous Kodachrome. Those will be next.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rome wasn't built...

...in a day. That doesn't mean they weren't working on it diligently. That is also the story of my Toy Museum Process (see the date of my last post). I'm ready to move into the next phase, the one beyond the sittin and thinkin, the one that involves doin. It has been more of a clandestine operation so far, buying, planning, observing others, things like that. The next part will be recruitment. I can't do it alone, and have always known that. That means I need to start talking to people, bouncing ideas off them, getting them onboard. I always figured this would be the hard part, taking something that is special to me, and presenting to others...hoping it is special to them too. I need to figure to some, it won't be. I'm ready for that, but really hope to be the first handshake in a long chain. I want you if...
You love vintage toys, pop culture, collecting, hunting, researching, and everything related. Think there should be a place where the masses can see play things from their past, the things that mean something to them, the things that make them say "I remember that". A place where they can also see the things their parents and grandparents played with, the rare, the things that never get seen. I want you if you believe that material things kept hidden away in boxes, away from joy...might as well not even exist. I want you to help me make it happen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Portland Toy Museum

Good Golly! It has been a long long long time....long...time. I can see my last post is like around Halloween 2010. I need to spend more time with my little blog, it's like that muscle you never use...shriveled and weak (you decide which one that is on you...ahem). Nobody cares about what I've been doing, and why, and why it has prevented me from writing on my blog, nor do they really care about anything other than the stuff they like...cool stuff. My life does not qualify, but since I am a curator of all things neat-o, I can show them the things they DO care about and want to see. I really can...

Which leads me to my next project, just a small little thing I like to call....THE PORTLAND TOY MUSEUM. That should have sounded loud in your head. I'll cut to the chase, I'm going to set about creating a non-profit museum which showcases Vintage Playthings, Popular Culture, & Retro Entertainment. I'm talking a world class museum, not a room with some stuffed toys on a shelf and modern action figures tacked to a wall.

With a small amount of searching, you can see that most Toy Museums in this country really seem to be lacking. They are either out of touch with what people really want to see, or they use the aforementioned "shelf and tack" method, and really just come off cheesy. The cheesy part is obvious, but what do I mean by out of touch? I'm talking Grandma's old corn stuffed dolls, and Grandpa's miniature cast iron hay thresher collection. Don't get me wrong, those items are very cool, and fitting in a museum of antique toys, but let just be honest...they don't speak to the masses. I'd much rather have a place full of items where kids are dragging their parents to get in, rather than one where the parents are dragging them. Actually, I take that back...I want all of them running to get in the front door. I don't know that corn stuffed dolls are a real thing...but you get the idea.

I say world class because some of the best toy museums are overseas, England, Japan, and really all over Europe and Asia. They seem to have a better understanding of mixing modern with old, in settings and displays that seem crowded to the eye but are fully in control. They appreciate and understand the importance of  the characters they have grown up with, and the iconic things that give them national identity. We deserve that here, we deserve it in Portland, and it can happen.

I'm just the guy getting the ball rolling, but need help. I have been amassing a collection for the very purpose of making a museum. I have been networking with others in the collectible world for over 2 decades, and have the main thing that it takes to make it happen...the will. I have not limited myself to a single type of toy, but have gathered items from across the board, of both genders, and from a span of many production years. It comes down to one simple concept, I want everyone to enjoy what I enjoy. A collection of items in storage boxes, or even displayed in the confines of your home is just the makings of a tomb. I don't want that for myself. I've seen the reaction on people's faces when they see a great piece, the memories, the happiness it brings. I want my things to bring that joy to everyone, and hope to find others that want the same thing.

This is the first I've written about the subject, one I've been literally planning for 15 years. I figured it was time, as I'm young enough to get it done, and old enough to have gathered all I need to start. I just can't do it alone, and need others to jump on board. This will be a non-profit, fully self sufficient, fully secure, and public museum. Do I know all the details yet? Nope, but this blog posting is the start. I am also going to print up a brochure, a sort of informative recruitment thing. I'm going to launch a KickStarter funding program, and do the most important thing, talk to the right people.

Portland Toy Museum, it already exists, it just hasn't been built yet.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grin 'n' Barris

I'm celebrating my return with a Halloween appropriate entry that involves my last weekend's finds, an original unbuilt in box AMT Munster Koach & a Drag-u-la built-up with box. These are both mid-sixties originals, and the original design was by George Barris. George is of course the father of television & pop culture cars (King of Kustomizers), with so many iconic designs that this whole blog and every post before and after could be about him, but I don't have time for that...so here are the two biggies, the Batmobile & the Munster Koach, and the Batmobile can wait for another time.

I was going through Craiglist last week and noticed a simple ad that read somebody was going to be having a model kit garage sale. I sometimes like to take the road less traveled, so on Saturday I made my way to it. It turns out the gentleman having the sale had worked for Revell for many years as a builder, and built many of the kits you see on the box covers. He built cars, trucks, planes, even sci-fi (like Robotech), mainly stuff throughout the '80s. He also had a few vintage kits at his sale, and these two Munster's classics caught my eye. He told me back in his Revell days, there was a sale at the Barris estate. It sounded like maybe not so much an estate sale, but a thinning of the thousands of items George had stored away, so he bought some stuff there. So to make all that a short story, these two original kits came from George Barris himself...and to quote Caddyshack "So I got that goin' for me, which is nice."

I don't have to tell you how awesome the Munster Koach is, and this one is pristine, complete with instructions and decals. The art on both boxes is killer,
and from what I understand the Drag-u-la is a tough kit to find (original Koaches aren't exactly easy either). At first I was sorta bummed he had built the Drag-u-la but he is a master builder...and it shows. It is completely unlike most 60's built-ups, no crappy gloss paint, no smeared glue, really nice. I'm not complaining about it now, it looks fantastic.

To celebrate Halloween, The Munsters, Hot Rods, and all things Ghoulish...here's Rob Zombie with Dragula...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Vari-Vue & Kohner

I found these cool little Kohner "Color T.V." flicker toys over the weekend. One is Yogi Bear, the other Huckleberry Hound. Kohner Brothers made some great stuff in the '60s, although they started much earlier with wooden toys. I like the later plastics because they did a lot of Hanna Barbera (which is what these are), and also Disney and other famous licenses. Kohner's push-puppets are the most common find, and some of them are highly sought after. I really dig these little TVs and didn't have either one of them yet. They use the Vari-View technology, which basically makes a 2D image move (most people call it "flicker"). If you like Hanna-Barbera stuff, Kohner is a great place to start if you want to collect. Fun, bright, movement, and great characters...what more could you ask?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa Catcher, Naughty or Nice?

When I was young, Santa was held in awe. A respected, slightly feared, mysterious man that knew all, saw all, and rewarded the good while reminding the bad that there were consequences for their actions. Would I have ever considered trapping him? I don't think so.

That's why this vintage "Santa Claus Catcher" and last week's Cul De Sac Sunday comic strip are a bit surprising to me. They both involve catching (trapping) Santa with some sort of device. It must be some sideline Christmas thing that a fringe element of children want to do. It's downright crazy...or is it? I mean, getting his current bag of toys is obvious, but are there other unknown benefits? Does trapping Santa give you ultimate power over him? Do you get anything you'd ever want, all year long? Does Santa have to do your bidding, like a Genie, or to a lesser degree, a Zombie? Perhaps there is more to this "Catching Santa" thing than I care to admit. It is intriguing, but walks the naughty line dangerously close. Santa might not take to kindly to an attempt to trap him, or the greed it implies

This trap (most likely from the '60s) is great, it's like a toothed bear style, you set it, and then place it in hopes to catch big red. I guess Santa doesn't feel any pain, or you better hope he doesn't. You'd need to open your own Coal store if he does. But lets be honest, the odds of it working...zip. This is Santa we're talking about, you don't even see him, let alone trap him. There are also a couple of sheets of paper on North Pole stationary, they basically say "...better luck next time." and then a secret parent's envelope with a small piece of red cloth they're supposed to put in the trap. Kind of a "Shucks! Just missed him!" thing.

I just don't want to know if Santa ever has to chew his own leg off because of one of these traps. Ahhh heck, what am I saying, nobody will ever catch him...I hope. I guess I still hold him in awe.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cool Finds: Santa Claus Funnies

Last weekend I ran across a stack of old comics at a show, lots of great Dell, Gold Key, and some '60s Marvel. This one is perfect for this week's cool finds, a 1957 Santa Claus Funnies. Santa is no different than any other hero, maybe better. He has "seeing" powers, only is needed one night a year, and he gives you stuff instead of just saving you...well that last one's a toss-up. Anyway, it makes sense that he gets his own comic. I can't wait until there's a Ghost Rider, Santa Claus crossover.

The cover art is pretty impressive...fun stuff.

Happy Holidays!!