Shopping Guide: a Sandtray Network Featured Article

As most of you know, my sandplay room has been extensively outfitted for the last 18-20 years.  Consequently I have had plenty of time to collect multi-ethnic figurines for my students and clients.  I was appalled at the dearth of multi-ethnic images available to the general public in the Bay Area's toy stores.  If the objects did not have animal or monster faces, or were of non-human color, more often than not they were Caucasian.  With careful shopping, I found some African-American families.  I thought I would pass my sources on to you.

Mr Mopp's at 1405 Martin Luther King Way, Berkeley, CA 94709 has the following items available:

1. Fisher-Price Dream House, African-American Family Set, Item # 4640. $13.95. It includes jointed, hard plastic Mother, Father, Toddler and Baby. Fisher-Price Phone: 1-800-432-5437.

2. Town Square Miniatures, My Family, African-American Modern Dollhouse Family.  Item #00030.  $14.50. Includes pliable, posable, dressed (clothes removable) Mother, Father, latency aged girl and baby. PH: (01745) 816141 United Kingdom.

3. Fanny's Play House, Inc., Pose and Play Family. No item #. $26.50. Includes four, two male and two female flexible, hand washable, dressed (clothes removable) dolls, which could be used as siblings, peers or family. Easy to make ethnically correct clothes for these dolls.

4. Caco Puppenstuben Biegepueppchen. No item #. Boy ($18), Girl ($18), Father ($28), Mother ($28). Bendable, beautifully dressed (clothes not removable), wonderful hair, with African facial features.  No phone. Fritz Canzler Gmbh, D-8632 Neustadt, Germany.

5. African-American Babies/Toddlers: soft plastic; boy, undressed, seated and girl, undressed, standing. $1.50.

Lakeshore Learning Materials, located at 1144 Montague Ave, San Leandro, CA 94577 had some excellent images. They have many outlets, provide catalog shopping and may be reached at 800-421-5354.

1. A five family multi-ethnic, three generation play set made of high quality vinyl.  Each person is unique. Forty figures per set. $79.50. LA690x. I purchased the black family separately for $19.95. LA697.

2.  Four multi-ethnic soft and flexible families, mother, father, boy, girl, baby each, with clothes sewn directly onto the bodies and surface washable are $77.50. LA290x. I bought the  five member black family. LA293. for $19.95.

Vision Quest Images, located at 1946 Clemens Rd, Oakland, CA 94604 provided some figures:

1. African ethnically dressed: Mother holding child, Mother carrying baskets and child, Woman carrying water jugs, Man playing drum and Man playing trumpet. $10 each.

2. Grandfather holding child, Grandmother reading to child, Woman spanking child. $14 each.

3. Eight different figures of doctors and nurses. $20 for a set of four.

Warfare/Violence Miniatures: aside from the soldier packs available at Toy-R-Us, Mr. Mopps offers the excellent, durable and expensive fighting toys from Britains. I have had my knights in use for twenty years. None have been broken. All have warred extensively.

1. Britains, Taskforce Special Unit, Box A, #7613 offers five male, posable, plastic action figures on a die-cast metal base with masks, weapons and paraphanelia.$14.95. Bitains Petite LTD, New Basford, Nottingham, England.

2. Britains, Camouflaged Jeep, Gun Crew and Action Figures, #7610 offers four male, posable action figures, with metal jeep and weapons.  $21.50. For manufacturer location see above.

3. Britain's Knights of the Sword, Catalog # 7909, features two fierce and durable die-cast metal Storm Knights and two Silver Knights in battle. $9.98.

4. Britain's  Knights of the Sword, Storm Knights, Box 7741, features seven dark Saracen knights in various attacking/defending position. $15.98. Accessories are available.

For a currently gruesome series of characters that can be used both as perpetrators and victims of crime, look for Universal Studios Mummy Series now available at most toy stores.  Choose from the decapitated or the impaled or the severed mummy, the cursed Princess and Imhotep. All bear testimonial to the ravages of violence, cruelty and death. They are under $10 each.

It is more difficult to find figures which show and bemoan the pain and suffering of war and violence: consider the weeping Buddha and feeling figures available from Vision Quest, $12-14 and many import and religious/new age stores.

You may wish to consider making simple feeling figures using 'Femo' or similar plasticine-clay. Face molds and the plasticine are available at Michaels  craft-hobby stores. 

Remember we want in our collection the full range of experiential realities so that our clients are able to depict the complete cycle of war and peace, conflict and harmony, suffering and joy, sickness and health, birth and death, and all-powerful and impotent states of being without having to improvise.


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