Small Talk Tag: Inspiration

Risking it All

Game of Risk

How many board games let you “travel the world” without leaving your dining room table? Well, there are a few… but not many of them let you conquer it! Originally called La Conquête du Monde (The Conquest of the World) by inventor and French film director Albert Lamorisse in 1957, the board game was brought to American audiences in 1959 as Risk!. The game of Risk’s iconic design consists of a rainbow of army game pieces and a board with fictitious territories (fun fact: real-life Afghanistan is not actually within the boundaries of the game board Afghanistan!).

Although it’s been through many modifications, the general game play has remained the same over the last 57 years. Players take turns rolling dice in order to defeat other players’ armies and effectively take over each territory on the board. Attackers in the game get three dice rolls, while defenders get only two. For very serious game players (we don’t recommend taking board games too seriously), the ability to strategize based on statistical analysis can provide a leg up, similar to playing chess.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A Trip to the Moon

Moon Marble

In honor of Marble Day today we thought we’d roll with one of our good friends and favorite local toy businesses, Moon Marble Company (as well as fit in as many marble puns as possible). Named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce, Moon Marble is the only store in the country where you can buy toy marbles and handmade, art marbles, and watch them being made! No, we haven’t lost our marbles. At Moon Marble, you can marble at artisan and owner Bruce Breslow turning molten glass into a ball of fun while he shares his knowledge in glass working and marble history. Talk about multi-tasking!

Since 1997, Breslow has knuckled down making approximately a thousand marbles a year. And don’t take his works of art from granite; his handmade marbles sell for $20 to $250. We’re not fudging! But if you’re in the mood to play for keepsies, Moon Marble also offers machine-made version for as little as ten cents.
Photo: Moon Marble Company.

Visit Beautiful Elgin Park

Elgin Park

Part of the allure of miniatures is that they give us the opportunity to create entire worlds in a small amount of space. For Michael Paul Smith, that corner of the world is Elgin Park, a fictional city based on mid-twentieth-century small-town America. Inspired by painful childhood experiences, Elgin Park is a utopian place that allows Smith’s creativity to flourish. At first glance, Elgin Park may seem a bit like Mayberry, but a closer look will reveal some of its mysterious secrets.

Using skills he learned by being an architectural model maker (and other numerous jobs), Smith constructs 1:24 scale buildings, houses, and streetscapes that appear realistically worn and weathered. These miniature scenes are outfitted with appropriately scaled die cast vintage cars. In order to achieve the realistic background in the photos of Elgin Park, the miniature scenes are photographed outside against the (full-scale) horizon, a technique called forced perspective photography. Over the last few years, Smith unexpectedly gained international attention after his Flickr page began receiving millions of hits, which eventually prompted him to publish a book of his photography.
Photo: Studio Back Lot, Michael Paul Smith.

Toys with Disabilities

Toy Like Me

Toys aren’t just fun, they’re also important teaching tools that help children make sense of the world around them. One of the oldest categories of toys, dolls, have helped kids learn important skills ranging from parenting to fashion. What else can dolls teach? A new movement is calling for more toys that promote self-esteem and inclusion.

For kids with physical disabilities, finding dolls and toys that look like them can be a challenge. Enter Toy Like Me, an organization that calls on big toy companies to produce toys that reflect children with disabilities. In just a year, Toy Like Me’s social media prowess has gained the attention of Makies, Playmobil, and LEGO who now make toys representing children who have physical disabilities, use wheelchairs, hearing aids, service animals, and more.
Photo: Toy Like Me.

A Gilded Palace Comes to America

Catherine Palace

It’s hard not to be amazed by Russia’s eighteenth century Catherine Palace. With its sky blue and gold gilded façade, the building is three stories of “whipped cream” Rococo architecture. The interior is equally stunning: grand halls with marquetry floors, ornately-painted ceilings, and, of course, wall-to-wall flowery molding dripping with gold leaf.

Private collector Carole Kaye commissioned Robert Dawson of The Modelroom to miniaturize the fairy tale magic of the Catherine Palace. Nearly a decade later, the finished product has been gifted to the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection at the Kentucky Gateway Museum (on view through April 30, 2016). One of the most stunning rooms in the miniature palace is a 1:12 scale interpretation of the Amber Room, in which Dawson hand painted and engraved hundreds of pieces of veneer to emulate amber. The full-scale Amber Room was once considered the “eighth wonder of the world.” Maybe the miniature Catherine Palace could be considered for the ninth!
Photo: KSB Miniatures Collection.

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