The Real Toy Story


London has exhibitions saluting China and the Olympics all over town. But it's not all perfect as recent political events have shown. Michael Wolf's disturbing installation at Liberty (department store) is a comment on cheap mass-produced plastic toys. ‘The Real Toy Story' is an installation with over 20,000 toys which are attached to the wall, surrounding large sized photos of the workers who make them. The idea came to the photographer after he had collected bags of second hand toys for his child as a surprise and realised that all of them had been made in China. In fact, 75% of all the world's toys are made there. He then toured California and collected every toy he could find that had a face and was made in China.

This investigation prompted him to visit five toy factories in China and photograph the workers in the factory. All of them appear to be young men and women serious in their intent and beautifully observed. As part of the show at Liberty, there is also a group of photographs of Hong Kong, where he lives, with the endless high-rise towers and scenes of everyday life.


This is a close-up of a section of the installation. As can be seen, there is every Barbie doll, troll, and robot ever created included in the piece. The back of each toy is ground down and flattened and a magnet is glued to it. This gives flexibility in arranging the toys.


His website gives a fascinating view of the progression of the creation of the work of art, as well as some beautiful photos of the workers themselves. :: Michael Wolf Via :: Liberty

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