Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 11, 2014
Archie McPhee is a well known novelty/toy/curio company now located in Seattle, Washington. When I first became acquainted with AMcP, in the mid-1980s, they were more the traditional whoopie cushion/dribble glass/rubber chicken/x-ray specs kind of outlet, with a strong penchant for the idiosyncratic and exotic. They’ve continued to stock up with zany, wacky products from pugilistic nuns and bacon bandaids to Bigfoot action figures and two groom/bride cake toppers. But the passing years have taken a toll on what AMcP is allowed to sell.
During the 90s, I’d purchase their super awesome surprise boxes/bags chock full of goofy toys and trinkets, whereupon I would sort through my treasure, divide the loot into smaller piles for reshipment to friends in NYC, and further cull favorite items for my personal use. AMcP at one time offered a line of anatomically correct miniature skeletal parts–hip bone, clavicle, femur, or what have you–all made of hard white plastic in exquisite detail with a metal ring inset to make the toys into keychains. One of those items in question was a replica human skull, pictured below.
As I was heavy into punk rock at the time, I collected the skulls from the treasure boxes/bags and slowly doled them out as favors to special friends. But then, AMcP stopped stocking the anatomically correct tiny plastic toys, and I couldn’t order them from their catalog anymore. When I called to ask about getting more, the AMcP rep informed me that they had been discontinued because the toys were hard, plastic, and little enough to be potential swallowing hazards for small kids. Such were the consequences of protecting the children from the harm of these trinkets. I kept one skull as a personal keychain (note the grit and grime from decades of handling) and reserved one in case I lost the original. Now I worry about losing my one-of-a-kind AMcP skull keychain, having already lost my source for replacement plastic keychain skulls. Everything changes, and eventually we lose everything, including our lives. But I still resist these inevitable losses.
A NYC friend, Pickles of the North, talks about “The Rapture of the Tiny” on her website. I certainly enjoy the extraordinary detail to these no-longer-available plastic keychain skulls. But my anxiety over losing these ultimately inconsequential objects in my life is not yet capable of overcoming any rapture of the tiny inspired by them.