I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand all the toys I owned as a kid: a plastic-headed, smushy-bodied baby doll with malfunctioning eyelids, a stuffed polar bear I named Snowy (whom I secretly feared), a Barbie-knockoff named Darci (who had gargantuan feet), an R2-D2 action figure, and a Donkey Kong Game & Watch handheld game. I didn’t feel deprived, though; toys weren’t my thing. I preferred cake.
But as an adult, I discovered a love for miniature toy food and vinyl action figures.
What’s not to like about miniaturized food and kitchen gadgets? In my twenties, I made special trips to little shops in San Francisco’s Japantown to find wee plastic replicas of bento boxes and milk cartons, bamboo steamers and rice cookers. In Tokyo, I spent an entire afternoon visiting the shops on Kappabashi-dori to procure plastic replica food (now proudly displayed in my dining room). I started watching videos like this one. Why? BECAUSE TOY FOOD IS AWESOME.
And whenever I was in cities on either coast, I felt compelled to pop into shops that display and sell designer vinyl action figures. I don’t think I’ve ever left New York City without visiting Kid Robot in SoHo, and when I was pregnant with Big-O, the very first toy I ever bought for him was from the now-shuttered Giant Robot store in San Francisco.
Some would say that these high-quality vinyl figures aren’t kids’ playthings—after all, they’re often created by illustrators (or graffiti artists!), produced in small batches, displayed in sleek stores that resemble art galleries, and marketed to collectors—primarily adults. But come on: who can resist opening up the box and playing with them? Not me.
So last summer, when Henry and I were brainstorming ways to promote our cookbook, it wasn’t altogether surprising that we landed on designing a Nom Nom Paleo vinyl action figure—complete with miniaturized kitchen tools and food.
As with our cookbook, we poured ourselves into the creation of this figure. Mini-Michelle is the product of many months of close collaboration with the crackerjack team at Happy Worker in Toronto that sculpted, prototyped, refined, manufactured, painted, and packaged this limited run of figures.
The team of Happy Workers who helped us bring Mini-Michelle to life was amazingly creative and responsive, making this project one of the most fun and inventive collaborations we’ve ever taken on. We chose to partner up with Happy Worker because: (A) they make insanely high-quality toys (like the official collector’s edition vinyl figures for the Vancouver Winter Olympics), and (B) they’re awesome people. Period.
Did it make financial sense for us to embark on this action-figure-making venture? Of course not. But:
- We’re money-stupid;
- Our approach has always been to just focus on making fun stuff; and
- With a new cookbook launching, we had the perfect excuse to blow our marketing budget on making toys.
And needless so say, I’m in love with the final result. (And not just because every girl secretly dreams of having her own lookalike doll!)
Of course, Mini-Michelle wouldn’t be complete without kitchen tools, right? My vinyl figure comes with a teeny-tiny spatula, a breakfast-filled skillet…
…a miniature version of our new cookbook…
…and, of course, a meat cleaver!
Plus, it’s kid-approved!
Since January, I’ve been giving away these figures to promote my new cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans. I’ve lugged these toys to distant cities to hand out at appearances and signings, and I’ve packed and shipped ’em all over the world. In February, I made them available to my loyal newsletter subscribers for purchase. I’ve absolutely loved seeing these figures make it into the hands of my readers!
So by popular demand, I’m FINALLY releasing a bunch of Mini-Michelles for sale to the public! I’m offering them for $27.50 (+S&H), and you can only get ’em here. So click the button below if you’d like to have Mini-Michelle join you in your kitchen, at work, or on your travels!
Of course, if you buy a Mini-Michelle, you have to promise to bring her with you everywhere, and post lots of photos of her cooking, shopping, traveling, and eating with you. Cross your heart and hope to die, stick a needle in your eye.
[Note: currently, I can ship only to U.S. and Canadian addresses. (Boo!) Although I previously shipped toys internationally to loyal newsletter subscribers who ordered from abroad, I unfortunately can no longer afford to process and ship outside of the U.S. and Canada. But I’m looking into ways to resume international shipping, so stay tuned!]
**HOLY MOLY! As I was finishing this post, I learned that our iPad app was nominated in the Mobile & Apps: Lifestyle category in The Webby Awards. Please take a second to vote for us! Click here to vote, friends!**
Looking for recipes? Head on over to the Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).