Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What I Did on My Summer Vacation: England Day 5: London Day 1, Part 2, Pollock's Toys, The Disney Store, and Covent Garden

  Well we're up to the London part of our trip, and there was so much involved in day one I decided to do it in two parts. Here's part two. (You can read part 1 HERE.) I should mention at this point that my friend Cheryl had persevered, and shown up despite a debilitating cold. She had loaded herself up with cold medicine and was making the best of things. She wasn't feeling great, but she wasn't letting it get the best of her. 
  After we gave up waiting for Robert-the-No-Show we had to decide where to go first. Ken was very upset, but determined to still try to get some enjoyment out of his trip. Since we were in Trafalgar Square at this point I suggested places within walking distance: all the way down to the Houses of Parliament, which were visable from where we stood, Covent Garden, which was a short walk, or Oxford Street, also a short walk. Emma and Ivy wanted to shop while they were in London, and Oxford Street is a big shopping street. I kept trying to give Emma opportunities to go to Oxford Street because I knew they really wanted to buy some clothes in London, and she kept turning me down. I think she was confused as to why I was suggesting it at the time, but I got blamed later for them not getting much time to shop there. To be fair, it was mostly Ivy doing the griping. It's hard to please everybody in a group anyway.When we originally found out we were going to London we tried to get the girls to tell us which places there they were interested in visiting. They didn't have many ideas, especially Ivy, whose answer to 'What do you want to see?' was, "Stuff." I made some suggestions, and they actually turned down Covent Garden at the time. I was a bit disappointed, because I had heard so much about Pollock's toy shop. I'm not sure I had gone when I had been in Covent Garden years ago. (I was in my early 20's. I was still trying to be a grown up. This is where Emma would ask me, "How's that working out for you?") So I wanted to go, but as I think I said before, I deferred to the girls and Ken because I lived in London for three months and I figured, that was fair.I had had plenty of chances to see what I wanted to see then, so if I never got around to it in that amount of time,that was my tough luck.
  But when given the options, the choice was Covent Garden. The girls seemed to agree on that.Emma was very enthusiastic about it.So I got to go to Pollock's after all.

Emma, Cheryl, Ivy, and me, outside Pollock's Covent Garden shop.
There are two Pollock's, fairly close to each other. One is the larger shop, which shares the building with Pollock's Toy Museum. The other, which we visited, is the smaller shop actually in Covent Garden.(For those of you who haven't heard of it, Pollock's started in the 1800's, selling miniature paper theatres. They still sell paper theatres of various sizes, along with modern and vintage style toys.) I was most interested in seeing the very tiny paper theatres. The super tiny ones weren't very detailed though. The next biggest size was detailed, but very expensive.
The paper theatres at the top were a couple of inches tall, and, as you can see, cost 40 pounds! That's a over $60! In the front you can see tiny paper dolls,boxed games, and other 1/12 scale items.

There was a mix of vintage and new toys in the glass case as you entered.

There were some beautiful painted pewter figures.

They have wire jointed arms and legs, and are about 1 and 1/2 inches tall.

My favourite was the little girl in the red dress, right behind the pink teddy bear. I didn't manage to get a picture with her in focus! She was more than I wanted to pay. The small teddy bears were (in pounds), 9.99 to 11.99, and she was much higher.

They had an Alice and the caterpillar that  liked, but it was way out of my range.

There was a Mad Tea Party set and some other great Alice goodies in the case downstairs by the entrance to the staircase which takes you up to the shop.

I very nearly bought a miniature Alice tea pot and tea cup set. They were about 1/6 scale. Somehow I managed to talk myself out of it. The cup was a bit plain, and it was still so early in the trip.There was a long way to go, and I might find a lot more stuff I would want more. You know how it is. I was tempted by some of the 1/12 scale miniatures, but as I always do, I managed to talk myself out of things by thinking, "I could make that."
   I had promised myself I would let Dad treat me to one big splurge while I was in England though. Dad passed away last year, and there was a very tiny insurance payment I split with my sister. (Dad didn't understand how the insurance policy he always thought was going to pay out about $10,000 would shrink over the 40 plus years since he took it out.)  So I've been holding it back. I planned to use a few hundred of it to fix the house up a bit, and put some of it on Dad's head stone. But I thought it would be nice to have one thing that I wouldn't buy for myself, that would sort of be a gift from Dad. Before I left I researched the A Girl for All Time dolls. I knew they were English dolls, so I thought they might be cheaper there. I have always kind of liked Clementine, but I wasn't sure about her.

The idea behind the A Girl for All Time line is that the dolls are all members of one family, throughout history. Clementine is the 1940's girl.
In some of the pictures I'd seen of the Girl for All Time dolls there seemed to be something just a little off about their faces that made them look a little strangely shaped. I really wanted to see these dolls in person. At Pollock's I found Matilda. I got so excited I forgot to photograph her!

This is a stock photo of Matilda, the Tudor era girl. The dolls are 16" tall, and all vinyl. They have jointed elbows and knees, as well as the usual joints.
In person she was actually beautiful, but pretty pricey. She was more expensive than she would have been if I had ordered her at home and had her shipped. So I left her behind. Besides, Clementine was the one I  wanted to see most. If I was going to buy a doll from that line I definitely wanted to see Clementine first.But now that I had seen one of the A Girls for All Time dolls in person, I could see why some people love them so much, The clothes were wonderfully made and the doll was beautiful.
  I spotted some cute hand made art dolls on a stall, and took a few quick pictures to share with you. The pictures came out great and the detail in the furniture that came with the dolls was wonderful. But in looking at my pictures I noticed a sign down in the corner of the picture that I hadn't seen when I took the pictures. (I was moving pretty fast at this point, trying to find a bathroom!)

So I can't show you the dolls, even though that would be free advertising for the people who make them. I can only give you this link to their web page: Hobo Designs.  I wish I could show you the old lady sitting in that great chair, but I can't, and she doesn't seem to be on the site. She was called 'Gran', and she was 275 pounds.
   I also saw these sweet dolls at a different stall.
Very cute, but I don't think they are meant for play That's a shame, as the look would appeal to kids. I could see these done as soft dolls, couldn't you? Or even jointed vinyl dolls, or small PVC dolls with a dollhouse. Hey! I should work for these people!
They're called Dumpling dolls, and their bag says The Dumpling Doll Company. I Googled The Dumpling Doll Company and it took me to their site, which is actually Mrs. Dumpling's Dream Company. If I could give them a word of advice it would be to settle on one name for easy identification and location. The dolls are cute though. Apparently they were originally made from dough, but are now made of a more permanent material. (Haven't we all made figures or Christmas ornaments out of that dough stuff you make at home, only to have them start to crumble after a few years,or be eaten by bugs while packed away in the attic?) The site is a nice one. The company has a sweet idea behind it:

"The aim for our project is to create a fresh wholesome little brand producing and presenting items that are designed to appeal to the child within us all.
The ethos for the brand is to be, that no matter what age we are, we all deserve to be allowed and encouraged to hang on as long as possible to the belief that anything and everything  is achievable and that dreams and aspirations should  always be encouraged, nurtured and never let go of.
Mrs Dumpling’s world is universally attainable to everyone, no matter what age, creed, colour or persuasion the only entry qualification being an unfailing belief in the magic that lives within us all!"

  The site has a couple of  games for kids. (I tried the Snow Ride game and although kids will find it pretty easy to do, I'm afraid I did plow through a few snow men and trees trying to get my mugs of cocoa and hot pies!) They seem to be trying to get their own tv show using the doll characters.I wish them luck.
 I didn't think there was that much in Covent Garden to keep the girls so long, and I kept trying to move them along to Oxford Street. I wanted them to have time to shop there.They got all interested in a shop selling tea and tea items, and really wanted to stay in Covent Garden for quite a long time. Ken and Cheryl and I killed some time looking at all the cool stuff on the stalls, and looking for a bathroom and a place to convert dollars to pounds.

We bought Fuzz a deerstalker hat. (Like Sherlock Holmes. I told you he loves costumes. Maybe he could get that Sherlock Holmes job after all...) I had to get advice from Cheryl, since I'm not very familiar with the show, to get Fuzzy the least Benedict Cumberbatchy one available. I also bought some key rings with miniature do dads on them.

They're pretty good 1/6 scale. The Big Ben could be 1/12 scale for sitting on a mantel or something.
  Cheryl bought a bag for me to take with me, so I could load up all the goodies I had brought over for her. At some point we needed to get them to her hotel. Cheryl got hooked on root beer when she was over visiting us all those years ago,and it's apparently hard to get over there. I brought her just about every root beer flavoured thing imaginable, including hard candy,(in England they would call it 'boiled sweets'), 'magic shell' for ice cream, root beer Chips Ahoy cookies,syrup to make ice pops and snow cones, and a lot of syrup to make your own pop. Oddly enough, when we got to Gloria's on day one we found out she had gotten in some root beer for us. I don't know why. I also discovered that English root beer tastes awful. It's not like American root beer at all. Cheryl said she couldn't get root beer, and if that's what she had access to, she was right. 
We finally got the girls to leave Covent Garden. We were all hungry by then and Ken went on ahead a few streets to scout out an Indian restaurant. The one he found had a guy outside trying to encourage people to come in. Emma said it reminded her of Babu Batt on Seinfeld, and she hoped that wasn't a bad sign for the restaurant!

Cheryl was starting to feel the effects of her cold. We were unfortunately seated right under a vent. I loaned her my sweater, but we were worried it was going to be bad considering her cold. As we were discussing whether or not we should ask to be moved to another table for Cheryl's sake another employee came over and told us he had turned off the air conditioning for her. Now that's service!
  The food was good too.

After the meal the girls checked out a Top Shop. At this point it was starting to get late and Cheryl was feeling pretty tired and worn down from her cold. So she headed back to her hotel, after setting us on the right course for Oxford Street.We arranged to text each other in the morning once we had gotten ourselves moving, to sort out where to meet.  
  It was then my job to get Emma to the HMV music store on Oxford Street before they closed. Since it was getting close to closing time for most of the shops I was panicking and starting to move very quickly. I went from bringing up the rear to leaving everybody behind. Unfortunately, what used to be my every day run down Shaftsbury Avenue headed to Oxford Street was blurry after all these years and the changes to London. I wasn't sure of my route.We found a large music store first, where she did buy some things.

And I asked directions to Oxford Street. As it turns out, I was right, and we were almost there. I found HMV and The Disney Store on Oxford Street. Emma's friend Felicia is a huge lover of Disney. She was assisting Fuzzy in taking our dog Piper out while we were gone, so I wanted to bring something back for her. The Oxford Street Disney Store is the largest Disney Store in Europe.Emma did a cruise through and picked something out for her.

This blurry picture is one I didn't know Ken took, of me, fleeing into the Disney Store before they closed. That's me on the right.
It has three floors. The entrance to the lower floor is a huge castle.
With Rapunzel on the ramparts. Notice the floor has sparkles and looks like a night sky.

Ivy on the left.

There's a Frozen department...
Yes, that's a boat hanging from the ceiling.
...and a Star Wars department...

This guy is life sized.

I think Yoda was bigger than life sized.

This is that mean looking young Yoda from the recent movies.I don't like him.And hey, if Yoda was 900 years old in the original movies, and Luke was in his early 20's or late teens even, how come Yoda was so much younger and fitter in the recent movies, when Luke is just born at the end of the third one? Are you going to tell me that Yoda was in that good condition, but once he hit 875 it was all down hill from there? Guess that's when Jedis start getting those 'Over the Hill' cards...
...and there was a Toy Story section.
Waaay bigger than life size.
Ken asking the help a question.They were more than happy for us to take as many pictures as we wanted.

I saw the new Aladdin Animator's doll.

Had you told me they were making another boy in the line I would have been excited, but I don't like him! His face looks scrunched and his open mouth---even though it has teeth, and you know I love that!----just isn't quite right. He also looks like he;s wearing pink glossy lipstick.
  And do The Avengers belong to Disney too?
Stan no! Not you too! (My pet peeve is Disney owning other people's stuff, like The Muppets and Star Wars.)

There's a huge Cinderella's carriage.
 There are seats inside for people to pose for a picture. Ivy wouldn't do it.
The back of it is a pumpkin.

   After HMV and the Disney store everything was pretty much closed. (In fact, I ran over to HMV when I was done at The Disney Store, and Emma pretty much closed HMV down. They had to tell us they were closing.
  From there we caught a bus to the tube station and saw some of London by night from the upstairs of the bus.

Then we took the tube back to the hotel and collapsed for the night. The hotel room had two floors, so the girls could be in the same room and I'd feel safer for them. It was pretty cool anyway. They were upstairs above us, like a balcony.
  Next time: London Day 2!


  1. My daughter would definitely have posed in that carriage, but Cinderella was her favorite princess when she was a toddler. She's 16 now, but still loves princesses.

    Sorry to tell you, but Disney does own Marvel. I think it is a bit ridiculous that they own so many things, myself. I get that they want to expand their business opportunities, but I think maybe they are weakening the Disney brand by piling so much else on with it.

    I like those jointed wooden dolls very much. I've been looking at some similar dolls, trying to get ideas for making a doll for my AG Caroline.

    People who forbid picture taking are generally trying to avoid people copying their work and selling similar dolls. If they sell their work online, though, that seems pretty pointless. Being my evil self, I have to wonder if they have a legal right to sell dolls that are obviously Laurel and Hardy, and Charlie Chaplin.

    1. Ivy isn't very cooperative. Emma might have posed in it, even at 24, but she was already at HMV when I spotted it. I knew Disney must own Marvel to have had it in their store. You may have read me raging against this before, but it really steams me that Disney isn't satisfied with their own accomplishments. Now they have to ride on other people's coat tails too. The things they pwn, The Muppets, Star Wars, marvel, are all so associated with one individual, (Jim, Henson, George Lucas, and Stan Lee), that it hardly seems right for someone else to own them. I understand Henson's point about wanting his creations to live on after him,(but George Lucas seemed to just want the money. Which makes no sense, because Star Wars was still earning him a lot of money, and would have for a LONG time.),but it's kind of like selling your children. If I could make money off the things I make without selling them, I would keep them! As for Disney, I think Walt would have wanted to keep it to their own creations, but it's all about the money these days.
      I love those wooden dolls too, and have considered trying to carve some. in fact, I did try, but I was working so tiny, with a dull knife, and my wood kind of crumbled away!
      I totally agree about the photo taking. I understand about copyright, but if your dolls are online anybody can access the pictures. And yes: Laurel and Hardy and Chaplin. I suppose they think they're avoiding the copyright thing by only using the first names, but really. It's pretty obvious who they are, and their images are still under copyright. The 'Charlie' character seems to be one of their regular sellers too, because not only is he on their website, they had one on their stall too.

    2. The way you feel about the Muppets, etc., is kind of the way I feel about Pleasant Rowland selling Pleasant Company to Mattel. I don't begrudge Mattel being a toy company which exists to make money, but Mattel will never care about all the little historical details that Rowland did. Then again, I don't think the current economy could support dolls with all those amazing accessories that Pleasant Company produced.

    3. I can see that. (Although, didn't she actually buy the molds of the dolls themselves from Gotz?). I'm sure you're right about the pubic not supporting the historical stuff, I don't think enough people are interested. It's a shame.

  2. Great post! I agree about Yoda, first of all I think he looks much better old, and the time line isn't right at all! Oh, I would have posed in that carriage myself, even now at 47 :-). When I see your pictures, I want to go to London again, especially for the toy stores. The Pollock's items are very expensive, they were expensive when we visited too all those years ago, very cute things they sell though!

  3. Those toys all look great, but I especially like the Alice with the caterpillar. It's a pitty that it was so expensive. I have always the "luck" to like the most expensive things :D.
    The Disney store is amazing - I think I would have lost my boyfriend in the Star Wars section, although he's not very pleased that it was taken over by Disney


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