my fish tank In my bathroom, I have an asparagus fern which drops leaves on my head when I'm in the bath. It grows prodigiously, I loop it over the shower curtain rail. It looks like water weed from a fish tank. One week I bought tiny glass fish from Honest Stationary (here, he said to me, you like tat like this) and a few months later I set them to swimming among the fronds of the asparagus fern. It's hard to hang glass, it's so slippery, hence all the thread.

aren't they cute when they're young? Some of the dinosaurs are very cute; herbivorous, sweet natured, friendly. On the other hand, little clown Playmobil and little outlaw Playmobil may have bitten off more than they can chew. They're very small dolls, and they have important cheap-ass playing piece committments, and when they're away I don't think the die-cast frog key ring who used to click will make a very responsible baby dinosaur-sitter. I've seen Jurassic Park. I know what happens when you mix frogs and dinosaurs, and the last thing I need is a sulky transexual dimetrodon about the house.

gee, said little Tommy Allen, I like videos, too! Dodgy Tom and Surf-City Midge make friends with little Tommy Allen. Dodgy Tom is a standard cheap male doll -- he's called Tom because he reminds me of Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Little Tommy Allen came from the same market, but is actually older than some of my friends. King of Ken Jef Beck told me his name was actually Sunshine Family Steve, but by then he was already christened. Got a big video collection, haven't they? But if Tom and Midge have 7 Televison Commercials among their videos, they can't be all bad.

and I swear, he was this big Big-mouth dino (I have several, but his is the biggest mouth in proportion to the rest of his body) is bragging again, and embarassed owl, who dates back to when I was fourteen and everyone, but everyone gave me owls, the smaller and cuter, the better, finds it all to be a bit much, particularly as he has fetched up in front of the in-your-face safer sex promotion booklets again. Kinder Surprise motorcyclist isn't particularly interested either. He wishes he was chasing across the kitchen floor, as the great Kinder Egg in the sky intended.

the sad end of the little winged frog Some years ago Selfridges in London produced some briefly famous christmas windows, featuring a wierd hallucinatory world of biology gone mad, distortions of scale, plants and animals mingling and growing over and through each other. I was especially struck by a scene of tiny plastic frogs growing butterfly wings and flying away, and in the New Year, made some of my own. Over the years, the original set have lost wings, been given away to friends, and otherwise fallen victim to the wear and tear of life of my room. After all, they're not really frogs that can fly; they're frogs dreaming that they can fly.

single dad disco cam Action Man I agonised over buying Special Photo Mission Action Man for almost a year, waiting and waiting for it to come down in price. It came down, but never far, and eventually I cracked. He's a camera; pull down his trousers, open up his back, and a reel of 110 film goes inside. The little baby doll dates back to my childhood; I never much liked her as a kid, so she's nameless, though the dress is original. The shades are his, but the lippy and glitter were added by me; I don't like Action Man's bluff butchness. The sling is made from one of those excessive webbing bandages they give you when you give blood. It's clean!

beautiful Hexadecimal Hexadecimal was the first, and I think the finest of the bondage dollies. She's the random/chaotic virus from the Reboot computer animation series, and her fascinating career included turning Mainframe (the world) to stone, repainting Mainframe (with Paint), and becoming the gigantic multicoloured monster Nullzilla. The bitch-queen of Mainframe eventually ended her random, whimsical and occasionally spriticidal life when she sacrificed herself to defeat the supervirus Daemon. She had two changes of image (three, if you count the rather Geiger-ish web creature infected Hex); this is her classic red costume, and I think the only one ever made into a doll. The original character designs for Reboot were by two great 2000AD artists, Brendan McCarthy and Ian Gibson, and are way more Sci-Fi than you normally see on kids' TV.

i love kinder! I want a toy, a surpise and chocolate! And, thanks to the miracles of Science and German thoroughness you can have all three, in one little chocolate egg. Not to mention a technical challenge, an expression of engineering cleverness in shiny plastic groovy pictures and tiny stickers usually too! I own a lot of kinder toys, in varying states of repair. I throw them out or use them for collage when they get sharp or tatty. One rather traumatic visit by a six year old lost me about 30 toys; they're not really aimed at children. They're aimed at me. The little heart goes round and round when you wheel him along on his tiny plastic wheels.

gifts from terry Comics artist Terry Wiley has given me some truly odd gifts over the years, as well as many wonderful drawings. The gold bust is one from him; it came in an enormous box and adds a touch of class, don't you think? The little phrenology portrait of me I'm also very fond of, I love the way my eyebrows look in it. That thing taking up a huge quantity of brain is Blake's 7 which I was rewatching at the time. The strange little blue kitten looking askance at my head is another survivor from my childhood. His name is "Blue kitten" (I was a very literal namer of toys, also owning "Owl" and "Panda" -- but then, I only had one blue kitten and one panda, and only one owl that really mattered). He mews pathetically when you squeeze him.

hanging out over the cock house I won gold alien playing Froggett, the best fairground game ever. You pay a quid for ten rubber frogs, and load them, one by one, onto a metal catapult, which you then hit with a big cartoon rubber mallet, catapulting the frog towards rotating lily-pad buckets over a pond of water and rubber frogs. The first two, you get the hit wrong and the frog leaps pathetically onto the ground. The next few, you hit as hard as you can, menacing the hanging toys, the frog-man, and the people on the opposite side of the stall! The last few you hit right, and get enormous splashes if you lose and dumb toys if you win. It's good!

the lap dog of Darth Maul When Risings of Summertown closed, Summertown wailed and gnashed its teeth. Where now would we buy our crystal tat? Our water pistols and plastic snakes? Our tiny notepads and scented rubbers? Where would we buy our plastic coasters with pictures of comedy irrational colour chickens? On the bright side, they had a closing down sale, and I bought three lap dogs (dog heads on a limbless, comma-shaped body), gave two away and sat the third on top of the Theed Generator Micromachine play set I had been bought for Christmas. Darth Maul's eyes glow if you shine a light above him, but he's not generated any Theeds yet.

it's the fuzzy blue guy! Well, the shiny plastic and exceedingly posable blue guy, anyway. This Nightcrawler's from X-men Evolution, the animated series where they're all cute teenagers with cool clothes and funky teenaged traumas to deal with as well as Magneto and Mystique. It's a welcome change from the usual self-flagellatory grimmness of the X-types, though the lack of 50-word narration panels also probably helps.

puny humans! United by their disgust with the human race, Special Edition Agent Smith (The Matrix) and Mechagodzilla stare down from their perch high on the bookshelf. Wierd translucent matrix-printed Agent Smith I found, vastly reduced, at a comics convention where I'd been repeatedly failing to find any comics to buy in a hot, horrible dealer's hall. I claimed it was probably the perfectest toy for me ever, prompting a comment which inspired half my birthday presents that year: "No, the perfect toy for you would be a gin-dispensing sparkly plastic dinosaur camera."

paparazzi · tragedies of scale · cover · epiphanies · lurid stories · wall of toys · escape

Photographs by Jeremy Dennis unless otherwise stated