Vinyl 1970 Mod Playhouse by Ideal

It is sunny and feeling like spring, so I decided to take a new mini acquisition outdoors. This vintage vinyl playhouse, made by Ideal in 1970, made its way into my collection for $22, purchased on eBay.

I wasn't looking for this type of house, and I don't imagine I will use it that often, but it is a cool piece of history! In terms of scale, I'd say it is closest to 1:24. My Lundby furniture was too large (except I did leave the patio set), so I used my Paul MacAlister pieces.


The house was advertised in the 1970 Sears catalog as "Modern House with Fireplace" and sold for $5.99. It came with a set of molded plastic furniture (looking very much like Petite Princess), and a family was sold separately.

Courtesy of wishbookweb, p. 575 of Sears 1970 catalog
Ideal made a range of vinyl houses in the 1960s and 70s, such as the traditional "Colonial Mansion," made for the Petite Princess line of furnishings:
Photo by Gina2424
You can see more Petite Princess eye candy in this Flickr group pool. One contributor to the pool even made a 1:144 scale version of the vinyl house!

Photo by Vixie Vaporous
It looks like Ideal made other versions of the Modern house, like this one currently up for sale on Etsy:

I'd say it's more psychedelic than mine! Do share if you know anything more!

Credits: All the furnishings are by Paul MacAlister, with the exception of the TOMY planter and Lundby patio set. Accessories are Re-ment and dollhouse show finds.

The time it took me: 33 minutes

Look Up

Yes, I know, we are often looking "into" or "down" at our miniatures, but I could not resist *finally* using my "Look Up" letterpress print by the very skilled Ampersand Duck.The print was made available as an edition through the Call of the Small exhibit, curated and masterminded by The Shopping Sherpa back in 2010. Perhaps this little shout-out to my buddy will bring her back from blog-silence-land??? Where are you and your minis, Anna-Maria??? Miss you!

I cannot recall ever covering the plexi back wall here in the Villa Sibi, and it was fun indeed. I wanted to mix some grey, black, and creme patterns, so I utilized scrapbook paper from Jo-Ann Fabrics and went at it. The "rug" is cut up along the pattern lines. I just wanted something other than a large square. Didn't really think too hard about how it would turn out. I love the snowy white owl paper -- it's new from the Paper Source, and has lovely flocked texture.

The red ladder was a spontaneous addition, but I think it works. It is from my TOMY Sylvanian house, and it was lying nearby. Sometimes things just work that way!

There are some new Paul MacAlister 1:12 scale pieces in here, recently won on eBay: a dining table, lamp table, and small coffee table. They are as lovely as my other 1:12 pieces, really well-made of fine materials.

The little box is glued on and hand painted!

Hard to see here, but the edges are turned down with an edge

Perhaps it was the dusting of snow we got here today, but this scene just feels wintry to me. Could be those puffy chairs, too. They are ornaments, after all (from Anthropologie)! Hope this winter is a gentle one...I'd take a little more pretty snow, but not too much!

Photo by Pepper of MitchyMoo Miniatures
A final reminder about the Call of the Small/Cubebot Challenge: its ends on this Saturday, December 1, so get your entries in for your chance to win $200 from AREAWARE! There are some really wonderful, creative entries so far in the Flickr photostream, like Pepper's at left. Good luck, all, and thanks for participating!!

Credits:Dining table, lamp table, and coffee table by Paul MacAlister; couch is minimodernistas; hanging lamp is Re-ment; table lamp is vintage German; storage unit is by Dragondee Miniatures; Eames chairs are Reac; ladder is TOMY Sylvanian; puffy chairs are ornaments from Anthropologie; wall hanging is a rug by Fran Made Minis; artwork and couch pillows by Cyd of Mod Pod Miniatures; Look Up letterpress print by Ampersand Duck; outdoor planter is a handmade paper creation by my buddy A.'s talented Mom. Accessories are Re-ment, AG Minis, eBay and dollhouse store finds, Dragondee, Mod Pod Miniatures, and The Shopping Sherpa.

Ben Holiday House: First Peek

This might be my shortest post ever, but it does concern a very diminutive house: the new Ben Holiday House from CB2. Megan of Modern Mini Houses posted about it here, and I was enchanted. It is 1:24 scale, so quite petite. I have been slowly accumulating 1:24 pieces, especially some rare ones by Paul MacAlister (Megan has some great write-ups about MacAlister on her blog), purchased as recently as this month via some new sales on eBay.

I have just started playing around with the house, but wanted to share the first few shots. I did not decorate as fully as I would like (need wallpaper, flooring, more accessories), but it was fun so far. What do you think?


While the design is extremely cool, there are unfortunately some production flaws (lots of glue residue, some splintered window panes, crooked slats). I'm looking into this and will share anything I discover. I imagine folks might overlook these things if the house were intended as a table top accessory, but detail-oriented dollhouse play like this will make the flaws stand out.

More to come...!

Don't forget about the Call of the Small/Cubebot Challenge! The deadline is December 1, so get your entries in soon for your chance to win $200 from AREAWARE! Contest details are here, and you can view all the submissions to date in the challenge Flickr stream.

Credits: All pine, birch, and walnut pieces are by Paul MacAlister; plastic kids room furnishings are Megahouse; rug is a cut piece of felt from Michaels. Accessories are Re-ment, Petite Princess, and dollhouse store and eBay finds.

The time it took me: 55 minutes

14 Minutes

I thought it would be interesting to time how long it took me to do a scene in one of my houses. I often mention in my posts that I do a "quick scene," and I know what that means to me but then I thought it might not mean the same to you. I consider 14 minutes in the realm of "quick." I have spent much longer on other scenes, or I start a scene one day and finish it on another.

My scenes tend to be motivated by color, so if I were to dissect this scene it would go as follows:

* Motivation: My eight-year-old son has been VERY into origami lately, and experiments with all sorts of shapes and papers. The rocket ship is a form that he has perfected, and he amazes us with all the precise folds he has memorized; he can do it with his eyes closed! He made me a super mini one, in a lovely shade of electric blue, and I really wanted to use it.

* Choose house: I chose my VERO, which is still in rehab, mainly out of guilt since I still have not gotten around to wallpapering half the house.

* Choose room: Easy. I chose the lovely sitting room with two walls of windows.

* Choose a few key pieces: My new Paul MacAlister daybed, mostly because it is a new purchase and I wanted to try it out. One of my favorite credenzas, by VERO, and a beloved Barcelona Reac chair.

* The rest falls into place: The blue origami rocket ship emboldens me to use similarly colored pillows (handmade by The Shopping Sherpa for our swap) with the more somber plaid of the daybed, something I would not have thought to do. Add one of my favorite lamps, the three sphere wonder by minimodernistas, a coffee table, side table, and rug. After putting in a plant and a few small accessories, I restrain myself from adding anything further.

* Fidget slightly with placement. Shift a pillow slightly, move the coffee cup, push the vase back on the credenza, adjust the rain boots, turn the minimodernistas lamp.

* Photograph. Take 27 photographs, and use a little over a third for the post. I never Photoshop my photos, but I do use the straightener tool to even things out if I've done the angle wrong. I sometimes crop, but not often.

* Start writing this and plug in the photos.

Check out my son's handiwork!

OK, having done this I am now quite curious how you go about your scenes. Share if you're inspired!

Credits: Daybed is by Paul MacAlister; chair is Reac; credenza is VERO; side table is an artisan piece from Fridas Fancy dollhouse store; coffee table, rug, and lamp by minimodernistas; books and large blue pillows by The Shopping Sherpa; small blue pillows are Re-ment; planter is from Manor House Miniatures. Accessories are Re-ment, beads, made by my awesome kid, ELF Miniatures, and Barbie by Jonathan Adler.

Scaled Smaller

When I started collecting, I was pretty rigid on scale. I thought, "I will only collect 1:12!" That quickly changed once I discovered smaller vintage gems from TOMY, Lundby, Brio, Jean of West Germany, and other manufacturers. Furnishings were first, and houses next, and my collection expanded across scales, from 1:10 down to 1:24.

If you haven't noticed, I like to use my stuff, and I try to alternate where I use them. Of course there is never enough space in my houses to show everything, but it is nice to bring things out of their boxes and give them some "face time."

In addition to welcoming the 1:24 scale Japanese Room-in-Miniature set into my collection, I recently acquired a Paul MacAlister patio set, also 1/2" scale--you can read a round-up of the smaller-scaled MacAlisters on Megan's blog, Modern Mini Houses, here and here--and even some new Playmobil (MUCH more affordable). I gave some new pieces a whirl in my diminutive TOMY Sylvanian; a kid's room most immediately came to mind...

Wondering about that building on the table, made with those teeny tiny LEGO-like blocks? Well, a recent trip to my local toy store, Jazams, resulted in a new find: NanoBlocks. I bought the giraffe set and my eight year old put it together for me, but not without some struggles and block-dropping. I used some of the extra blocks for my mock-architectural creation. Here's the finished giraffe, just under four inches high:

In case you were interested in a closer look at some of the MacAlister patio pieces, here you go:

As with the 1:12 MacAlisters, the quality is pretty great. I was able to acquire a 1:24 chair and also snagged a 1:12 daybed in the last of the MacAlister eBay auctions, and I will try to share them soon.

By the way, thanks for sharing your love with me on Facebook. I launched a Call of the Small page last month, and I appreciate my new "likes!" The page is an easy way to keep connected in between my posts, especially when I see something great and mini and want to share it right away. Thanks for tuning in!

UPDATE, 4/28/11: Beth Lemon asked for a visual aid to help see the smaller scale better, and I am happy to oblige! See the Reac egg chair swallow the room and the MacAlister chair!!

Credits: Table and chairs, side table and low long table are all handcrafted by Paul MacAlister; chair is Barton; stroller and cat are Playmobil; light is a floor lamp by Re-ment, flipped; rug, pillow, and wall art are by The Shopping Sherpa; keyboard is Nodamegakki; record player is a Japanese magnet. Accessories are AG Minis, Re-ment, NanoBlocks, and dollhouse store finds.

Well, Hello, Mr. MacAlister!

A number of lovely, one-of-a-kind, midcentury modern 1:12 scale furniture pieces by acclaimed designer Paul MacAlister--one of the first to bring "how to" interior design to the masses via his landmark Chicago TV show--were on eBay over the past month, along with some 1:24 sets. Bidding was passionate and fierce, and prices were high, with some sets exceeding $250!

While it was disappointing to have so many sets slip through my fingers and out of my reach, it was interesting to see this level of activity on these pieces, and of course it was great to have a look at this amazing treasure trove of modern miniature design history. The intense interest in MacAlister and his work is certainly a testament to the modern side of the hobby, and makes me wonder that there are a fair amount of mini-lovin' folks out there (beyond the ones I know and love!) who dig this aesthetic. Megan of Modern Mini Houses did a few posts on all of the activity, along with a wonderful archive of photos -- check out her blog out for more information and detail. Also, Glenna of BJD maker DollStories managed to get her hands on a number of sets, and just started a new blog to showcase all the loveliness called Lumimini. Have a look!

I was quite fortunate to get my own set, pictured above, as well as one additional piece that has not arrived yet. I mentioned earlier that there were some 1:24 sets as well, put up by another eBay seller, and I did manage to get one of those. The prices did not go as high there, likely due to the smaller scale. I hope to share these other pieces soon!

First, some detail shots of my new furniture set, an orange painted wood sectional couch set and coffee table. While the couch pieces do not have the appearance of wood, they are indeed just that, and skillfully painted with flecks to appear as fabric. I was surprised at the fine spikiness of the legs, very cool and sleek.

The craftsmanship overall is very fine, especially the coffee table, which is made of dark walnut. Truly stunning.

You will see that each of the couches is labeled "A1, A2, A3," I assume for proper configuration.

I wanted to give my new MacAlisters a test drive in my midcentury modern bungalow. While the house is in very good condition, it did not come with one of the walls that separates the kitchen from the bedroom. I had some foam core lying around, and was inspired to use some new wallpaper received in my swap with The Shopping Sherpa. It's a lovely minimal textured stripe, and worked quite well!


If there are others who are also proud owners of any MacAlister sets, PLEASE SHARE THEM!

Credits: Sectional couch and coffee table by Paul MacAlister; rug is a fabric sample; pillows are by Annina; lamp is vintage Lundby; artwork is vintage German; moss pot (I added the moss) and newspapers are from Manor House Miniatures; moss pot stand is an AMAC box; brass pot on table is an eBay find.