I’m Tinu, publisher & editor, mother of 2 living in NYC. I’ve been collecting dolls since the late 90s as a young girl. Now housing over 300 vintage Barbie, Cissy, Blythe, Erte, Integrity Toys, Franklin Mint, etc in storage and only just now slowly starting to bring them out to play with my kids regardless of value.
Watching my 2yr old daughter’s reaction during unboxing is priceless! (You can see videos in the YouTube link on my profile page.) I love taking pics using outdoors, real life. Welcome to my happy place! So buckle up, it’s going to be one fantasy ride of art imitating life here!
The tender scene below shows the Hameed family leaving the hospital with a newborn.
Tinu’s signature as a fashion doll photographer is using real backgrounds, made by placing the dolls in front of the real place!
And as a native New Yorker, she uses the city as a backdrop!
Her doll pictures in the last months include protest art, with photographs of her dolls she took while joining the protests in midtown.
She describes Dollicious Life as “the place where art imitates life”, and says she uses her dolls to teach her kids about the world.
The scenes she creates are warm and inclusive, a hopeful vision of human connection.
I love the family dinners and Pride pictures, which show gatherings of stylish folks.
Tinu is a serious lifelong fashion doll collector (although now she lets her two-year-old open valuable boxed dolls!) and through her I learned about the fantastic doll company Integrity Toys, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Dolls have tremendous intrinsic energy, and using them for education is powerful.
I hope you’ll follow Tinu on Instagram or Youtube and see what stories her dolls have to tell.
You can also read Tinu’s reporting on New York protests here and see her coverage of the NYC Juneteenth events here.
Plus, check out her coverage of last year’s events like Curl Fest, Afropunk and Pride!
Tinu’s beautiful Sisterhood in White video:
Tinu’s Black History Month doll unboxing with her daughter!
I can’t leave our house to join the Black Lives Matter protests.
Both my husband and I are in high-risk COVID categories, and I had knee surgery that did not go well last year, which means both of us have limited walking capacity now.
So there was a protest in front of my School for Gifted Youngsters instead.
It started small, with Monica Rambeau, Misty Knight, Bishop and some gay New Mutants and other allies. (You know Rahneand Dani are CANONICALLY GAY NOW, right????) And Northstar married his boyfriend in the X-Men comics!
Here white allies demonstrate the technique of using white skin to protect black protesters from carceral forces.
I instantly learned that when photographing white protesters using this method, you MUST show the carceral/military/police threat in the picture, or all you have is a picture of white people standing in front of Black people. We all know not to take pictures of protesters where they are identifiable, unless they have given consent or we are documenting police brutality, right???
I’m not a good photographer, and toy photography is actually a specialized skill set, as you’ll see in a minute.
I wanted to show air support in the form of our Queen Ororo arriving but I had to hold her with one hand and hit the button on the ipad with my nose! You can see as the protest grows, Non-disabled ciswhite folx with Black partners are protecting disabled queer folx in the vanguard. And the protest has crossed the street ( old comics Pro in-joke re: Marvel/DC).
Unfortunately, I had trapped X’ian Coy Manh and Professor Xavier in the house by accident before I set up all the figures (which is actually a huge amount of work). There is a historic lack of Asian representation in both Marvel and DC comics; it carries through to the figures.
So Shan, as her friends call her, got a new shoot with some other New Mutants, and the John Boyega Star Wars Black Series figure I bought to make a custom of Moses from Attack the Block.
I did my best as a lousy photographer; now for the real art.
Being an action figure photographer requires three things: terrific photography skills, deep understanding of the characters’ history in comics and an amazing action figure and toy prop collection. I only have the good collection and the character knowledge!
Madd Lion Black Lives Matter action figure art, June 15 2020
This is the work of my very favorite action figure photographer, Madd Lion.
Madd Lion is a tremendous photography artist, and also a Power Blerd and hardcore oldschool comics and X-fan like me.
He has made powerfulimages and posts in the last month, as well as hundreds of beautiful toy photographs over the years.
And this disability-inclusive image of a blind woman who is happy and loved and successful! Click for a beautiful scene with Alicia Masters and Ben Grimm, and click through for wonderful New York subway moments with Black characters living their lives.
There is also a video with Malcolm X’ “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself” speech here, and a beautiful group protest shot here.
These are just some of the toy art that has been created this month. I am so glad to see members of the community making political art. It’s a big risk.
Politics in the toy collecting/toy photography world are complex.
Angel Salvatore by FaceCustoms aka Stewart Walker-Barnett
There are so many incredible collectors like ToMeMyScoobies (awesome Buffy/Xmen mashup joke handle) who are proudly gay and proudly inclusive. There are the incredible photographers above. There are customizers like the fantastic FaceCustoms, whose work features representation and diversity.
And then there are also 1:12 collectors who are obsessed with military imagery, the misconstrued and appropriated alt-right/police notion of the Punisher, and some other very imperialist, colonialist shit. Yet all of us are obsessed with collecting, and with finding the coolest figures and accessories.
So sometimes community members with very different values follow each other to see what’s new.
I had to unfollow a figure prop maker who I had actually bought from, because he posted pro-Drump custom orders.
I don’t care if you’re starving, printing Srump propaganda is equivalent to printing Nazi propaganda. And I live in a place where making propaganda for a genocidal terrorist isn’t protected free speech.
Speaking of freedom, let’s end here with this instantly recognizable image of Luke Cage shattering some chains, by Pete Menocal.
You can sign Miss Opal Lee’s petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday in the US here.
There is an easy-to-use article on how to support protesters in every city here.