Tag Archives: miniature models

Doll Houses Revisited

Several years ago, I wrote about my love for all things small—specifically miniature models. In that 3-part series, I delved into all the different types of models I had built over the years both growing up and as an adult. One of the items I included was the two doll houses that I built for my daughter.


The idea to build a doll house for my daughter was spawned from two thoughts.

First, I had run across some really cool doll houses at the local hobby store and thought that it would be fun to build one some day.

Second, while playing cars and blocks with my son came easy to me—something I had done growing up, it was more difficult for me to play dolls with my daughter since I had no experience.

But then I put the two thoughts together and suggested to my wife that we give our daughter a dollhouse kit for Christmas, one that my daughter and I could build together. Not wanting to repeat the same mistake I had made with my son by trying to build a train layout before he could even walk…


…I waited until my daughter was at least old enough to participate before suggesting it to my wife.

It was a Christmas present for her one year.


She picked the paint, wallpaper, and floor covering and we worked together to assemble it. I probably did more of the cutting and gluing since she was too young at the time but it was still a project we could share together.


We even picked out some miniature furniture to fill the house and make it into a miniature home complete with a nursery.



Completing this dollhouse only whet my appetite so a few years later again at my urging we gave our daughter an even larger dollhouse for Christmas.


This dollhouse was a blast to assemble! I only wish I had taken some interim progress photos during the construction process.


The brick foundation was made by painting the wood grey for the mortar and then spreading on a red sand paste using a brick pattern template.


The windows were made from multiple pieces of wood and actually open and close.


Even the floor was assembled almost like the full-scale version, gluing down individual wood planks, sanding them smooth, and then varnishing and sealing them.


At this point, I sensed my daughter losing interest in the assembly part of the model so I put this one together mostly by myself. While working on it, I also realized that she was probably going to be too old to play with it by the time it was complete.   But surely it would be an heirloom she could pass down to her own daughter one day…


…as you can see, it was never furnished so it is “move-in ready” for another day.


After our daughter grew up and moved out, these houses stayed behind. But recently, one of our granddaughters who lives in-town has discovered them and has begun to explore them.


She has even found an entertaining one at the Children’s Museum, a place that she and I frequent.


Seeing her play with them has rekindled a desire for me to build again. The two houses I built will pass to my daughter whenever she is ready for them. But with each of our sons having a daughter, I now have two granddaughters to build for. They are both too young to really play with dollhouses like these that tend to be a bit too fragile. But if I get started now, hopefully I can have them finished for when they are just the right age to play.


I have already begun to explore what is available now. Since it has been over 20 years since we bought the blue doll house for our daughter, there may even be some technological changes, maybe miniature Wi-Fi.

After I retire later this year, I will also have a lot more time available for the construction phase. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. Not only will this be a gift of love to my kids, but hopefully it will be a fun toy for my granddaughters as well. And just maybe they will become an heirloom for them to pass down to their kids as well.

Miniature Car Moving Day

Not long ago, the day came that I needed to transport my 1/18-scale model cars home from my office. This was in preparation for my final office move before our site closure and my retirement. Last year I posted that this would be a necessary step before I retire. While my eventual idea of a miniature garage for them in the back yard was not well received by wife, I needless to say needed to bring the cars home.

The first step was getting down their original boxes from the attic. As you can see, they were quite dusty with some having been in the attic for almost 20 years. Donning a respirator mask to keep the dust out of my lungs, I climbed into the attic and began to search for all of them. Before I brought them into the house, I wiped them off as best I could with a damp rag. Some of the boxes were a bit damaged from the time when squirrels got into our attic (who would have know squirrels like to eat plastic).   Others were covered by blown insulation, which actually protected them quite nicely from the dust and the squirrels.

It was a bit of a treasure hunt to find them all and in the end, I found 27 of the 28 boxes I knew I should have. The one missing may turn up whenever we get other things out of the attic.

With the boxes cleaned fairly well, I loaded them up into the trunk of my car for the drive to work.

The next day, once I got to work, I loaded them onto one of our stability sample carts and wheeled them into my office.

Next began the process of removing the Styrofoam base from each box. Because the clear plastic had come loose in many of the boxes, this proved a tedious task for some. In a few with the loose plastic, some of the blown insulation had gotten into the boxes and so I had to clean this out as well. One of the more damaged boxes might have been a temporary home for a squirrel as when I dumped out the insulation; an acorn and something else I won’t mention fell out (For your benefit, I chose not to photograph that).

Each car is attached to this Styrofoam base with a bracket and two screws (I actually managed to find all but three screws). Some of the boxes still had the small catalog inside the box, this one being almost 25 years old.

A few of the boxes still had the price tags on them. This one I could see that I had purchased at de Bijenkorf, the large department store in Amsterdam that Anne Frank shopped at.

Prior to putting the car inside, I gave each box got another good wipe down to get rid of the residual dust and then I stacked the car filled boxes on the cart.

After I got half way through, I realized I had been putting the cars in backwards. I confirmed this by going to the BBurago website and seeing all of the cars facing left with the front angled forward. I had screwed them all in with the back angled forward. Obviously I had to redo those.

For some of the cars, it was bitter sweet to box them up. This Mini sat on my desk for over 10 years…

…a daily reminder of one of the most fun cars I ever owned.

And this is probably the nicest car I collected, complete with soft rubber seats and even carpet on the floor. I fondly remembered finding it on a trip to Lugano, Switzerland in 1998 with my wife and youngest son.

Throughout the afternoon, it was interesting to see the look on coworker’s faces when they stopped by seeing what I was up to. Even my boss had an odd look on her face when she walked in, no doubt wondering what I was spending work time doing. But none of them understood what an emotional task I was undertaking.

After I had screwed the last car into its box frame, I was left with this one car for which I could not find its box. So I decided it would just have to be on display somewhere at home until I did further searching in the attic.

Rather than taking them home, I decided to keep my two Miatas on my desk to the very last day. I knew it was going to be traumatic enough to walk in and not see my collection so I would at least retain these two…

…miniature reminders of the two fun Miatas I owned.

With my task complete, I placed all of the filled boxes on my cart and wheeled them down to my car.

As I carefully stowed them in the trunk of my car, I was glad to realize that I finally owned a car that they would all fit in to. Over the years, I brought the cars into work one at a time. Until I bought this WRX, none of the small cars I had would even hold them all.

Knowing that for now, I did not have a space to display all these cars at home, I stored many of them in this large box I found in the closet and the rest I put on top of this shelf in the same closet.

I was determined I was not going to put them back in the attic knowing the damage the boxes had incurred from their years’ storage there.

And I was encouraged by my wife’s comments when I told her I had brought them home. She said maybe we could find a glass enclosed cabinet to display them in, not so much to keep the dust off of the cars, but to keep them safe from small grandchildren hands which would no doubt be fascinated by all these miniature cars.

So hopefully one day, my cars will be on display again so that I can enjoy seeing them and recall to the times when I purchased them. Until then, I’ll just have to be satisfied with the memory of them in my office for so many years.

Miniature Chairs

Anyone who does a search on my website for posts about scale models will find a number to read. Covering all kinds of models from cars, to planes, to trains, to furniture. One series provides the details for how I shrunk down full-scale plans for a DIY Adirondack Chair just to the right size that allows a smart phone to lounge in it.


It goes without saying that I love all small-scale models and am naturally drawn to them whenever I see them. Other than toy furniture, probably my first exposure to scale-model chairs was a display collection my sister had at her house. I don’t know what kind they were but as expected, they intrigued me the first time that I saw them.

Then, one of the first times that my wife and I visited the Stedelijk Modern Art Museum in Amsterdam, they had a small collection of Vitra Design Museum Miniature Chairs for sale in their gift shop. These obviously caught my immediate attention. However, the price was on what I would consider the expensive side selling in the hundreds of dollars each. One in particular caught my eye though, in spite of its price.


In 1999, after we bought our current home, we went to a modern furniture store to find furnishings for our great room. There we found a Barcelona chair. If you are not familiar with this chair, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich designed it for the German pavilion at the International Exposition of 1929 in Barcelona, Spain. And, if you pick up any modern architectural magazine, you are likely to see one or more of these chairs pictured in modern home or office spaces.

Other than a style name for a chair such as a wingback, we had never owned a chair with a formal name. So I thought it would be really interesting to have a scale model of this famous chair in our great room that could be seen while sitting in the actual chair. But I just couldn’t get over the price. And so I didn’t buy it. But that didn’t mean I stopped thinking about it.

Then one year, I was flying to Philadelphia for a conference. When I got off the plane and was walking through the terminal, I ran across a display of what appeared to be every single miniature chair Vitra made. It was a “child-like” moment of delight for me to see all of these and it convinced me no matter what the cost, that I had to have one of these.

Not long after my first discovery of that miniature Barcelona chair at the Stedelijk Museum, the museum closed for several years for renovations and so I couldn’t go and ponder over its purchase. But then one year, I found that the furniture department in the Bijenkorf department store in Amsterdam had a small number of the Vitra chairs for sale. So each year on my trip there, I would go to that store to see if they had the Barcelona chair.

One year they did but unfortunately by this time the Euro was so strong against the US Dollar that it would have cost me about 30% more to buy it there. I had to let it pass again. But as before, I didn’t forget about it.

Fast forward a number years and I discover that the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York also sold the chairs. I then decided that I would give it to myself for my birthday. It’s price was somewhat out of line with what my wife and I would usually spend for each other on birthday presents so I just asked her to give me a contribution towards it. With this seed money, it was easier for me to rationalize the cost since her gift covered almost half the price.


I proudly displayed it in a cabinet in our great room, within easy sight of the real chair.

I don’t recall how soon it was after getting that first chair that I started thinking about buying a second chair. And I immediately knew which one it would be.


When we visited the library at Oberlin College for my daughter’s graduation, we discovered that that they had these ball chairs for library patrons to lounge in while reading. They were quite comfortable and cocooned the occupant from sound while seated.  I later learned that these famous chairs were designed by Eero Aarnio, a Finnish furniture designer, in 1963.

Once the Stedelijk reopened, I discovered that they had a Ball Chair for sale.


But with the exchange rate at the time, it would have been over $300 US dollars. I gave it some long hard thought, but in the end, I didn’t make the purchase.


The next year I was in Amsterdam, you already know where I went. I made up my mind I was going to buy it and proceeded to get the help of a sales person. Turns, out the display was the only one they had and when they got it down from the locked cabinet, I could tell that the red fabric was quite faded from facing the sun for at least two years. When the salesperson said she couldn’t even find the wooden crate it came in, I said no thanks.

On this trip, my wife was with me and I mentioned how close I had come to purchasing it but when I told her the details, she agreed that I had made the right choice. But she recognized I really wanted it and so for my birthday the very next year, the one in which I turned 60, she gave it to me as a complete surprise gift.


Rather than joining its companion in our great room, this chair I decided to display at our condo on the vintage end table next to our vintage ashtray.


And thanks to a quick suggestion from my son-in-law (no doubt based on my Adirondack phone chairs), it can even serve as a lounge for my wife’s cell phone whenever she is at the condo.


So is there a third Vitra chair in my future? Well if there is, I have already picked it out. On a trip to Washington, DC not long ago, I found that my hotel room had an Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman in it.


It was my first chance to sit in this type of chair for an extended period of time. I got to read sitting in it each night and found it was most comfortable. When I searched online to explore purchasing one, I discovered that an authentic one cost almost $5,000. I thought well maybe not the real one but possibly a miniature version. However, I discovered that even the miniature one sold for $795, more than the cost of my first two Vitra chairs combined.

Well as I did with my first two chairs, maybe I will just ponder this one for several years before making a purchase decision. In the mean time, it will be the one I search for whenever I am at a modern art museum so that I can at least see what the miniature version looks like in real life, rather than just viewing a photo online.

Miniature Garage?


One of the challenges I will have once I retire is finding a new home for my office car collection. I cannot even recall how long I have had these 1/18-scale car models in my office at work. I know I have moved them at least once and maybe even twice from one office to another.

Over the years, I have had to put up with a number of jokes from my coworkers about how I must get them down and play with them during teleconferences. But whenever their kids or grandkids came by my office, the cars were always a huge hit as their small eyes filled with wonder at all the colorful little models.

So how did I end up with so many model cars in my office? And how did I pick which cars would be displayed? But an even more basic question might be how did I end up with a model car collection in my office in the first place? All good questions to be answered in due time.

Staring with the last question first, how did an adult, obviously a car lover who does not work in the automotive industry end up with a collection of model cars in his office? The answer to that question dates back over 20 years ago to when I realized as an adult that it was OK to have toys—not just the big adult toys we men acquire—but actual toys a child or adolescent might have. With that green light, I began to collect them.

I first started buying cars that I could only dream of owning—mostly exotics which the full-scale versions would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I figured this was the only way I was ever going to be able to afford these ultra expensive cars. Whenever I traveled, I sought out toy or hobby stores to find ones that I might not be able to find locally or online.


As my collection grew, it was obvious that I was not going to be able to display them all at home. Growing up, my mom had allowed me to clear a built-in bookcase in the hall to display all of the car models that I had built. Since I didn’t think my wife would be agreeable to that approach, I came upon the idea of taking them to work.

I figured since I spent so much time at work anyway, this would give me a chance to see them on a daily basis. I cannot recall how many cars I had when I first took them to my office but I know it was so many that I had to get a wheeled cart to transport them all from my car in the parking lot to my office.

Now that they were safely parked in my office, I had enough room to expand my miniature stable of cars.


And once I acquired two and then three real sports cars, I came upon the idea of getting models of those for special display on my desk.


Then the tops of my bookcases became the dream car collection, the ones I would never own and my desktop, the ones I actually owned. And over the years, my dream car collection continued to grow.

But in the last four years however, the collection has been fairly static having only added one new car in that time—the Fiat 500 on my desk—a sportier version of the real one sitting in my driveway. Maybe it was the anticipation of knowing I was going to have to haul all of these cars home one day that dampened my desire to add new ones. Or maybe now that I own several sport cars that are fun to drive, there are fewer cars that I would even dream of owning.


But there is one car however, that I still dream of owning, a Ferrari 360 Modeno (built from 1999 to 2005). One that I probably couldn’t even afford the gas-guzzler tax on.


Maybe not in yellow (red is actually my favorite sports car color), but having a large “picture-window” like dome over the high performance engine to me sets this particular model above so many others.


I’ve saved each box my models came in to have a protective manner to move them home one day and also I figured if they were ever going to be worth anything one day, that having the original box would make them even more valuable. I ran across these boxes on a recent excursion into the attic looking for a doll of my daughter’s. While understandably dusty, the boxes seemed to have weathered the temperature extremes in the attic fairly well. Hopefully just a little cleaning will return them to a like-new appearance.

But boxing them up and moving them home one day will only be the first step in relocating them from my office to their new home. I’ll have to find an appropriate place to display these years-old treasures. What if I built a 1/18-scale garage in my back yard?


I could get help from my oldest son, an architect, who has helped us design other features in our back yard. I know he could come up with a creative design for my cars. Would my wife go along with that idea—a small scale garage over in one corner of the yard? Well I can always dream.

Mini Model – II


In no time, I had the completed engine compartment but when I went to attach the shock absorbers, I again went with red over the suggested color since I thought that would stand out nicely in the black wheel wells.


Next up was the underside with wheels and exhaust system.


The interior of the car also required a lot of painting.


When it came to painting the seats, I decided to leave off the red piping on the seats shown on the box as I knew my hands were not steady enough to paint a thin red line on the seats. It was hard enough just to get a straight line between the black and grey parts of the seats.


With the interior finished, it was time to return to painting the body. The paint can instructions said it was best to apply multiple thin coats so I took that approach.


However, even using that technique, the paint surface bubbled.


To remedy this, I had to carefully sand the entire front of the car and repaint it. Fortunately, this came out much better.


With the body painted, I was then able to attach the other exterior parts.


The next assembly step was to marry the body to the chassis. This is always a fun step in building a car model because from this point forward, it really takes on the appearance of a real car and a more finished look.


At this point, I had detached all of the pieces from the plastic “trees” that they are attached to during the plastic molding process.


However, I had this one piece left. I did not recognize what it was so I went all back through the instructions to see where I had I missed it. It was nowhere in the directions. Either it was left off the instructions or it was a left over from a different model that accidently got into this model.


At almost the last step of the assembly process, I next had to glue in the headlights, fog lights and taillights. Here I made the rookie mistake of applying too much glue, which seriously fogs clear plastic parts. One small drip of glue on your finger and when you touch a clear plastic part like a windshield, it is unforgiving. I had already made a few of these novice “boo-boos” in attaching the windows. It would have really been nice if the headlight lenses had been engineered to simply snap fit into the chrome reflectors without glue. But no, this model was going to have frosted headlights.


Only two steps remained, applying decals and gluing on the roof. But a single piece as simple as the roof gave me trouble as well. This was the one part of the car that was actually molded in the correct color plastic—white—which meant that it theoretically didn’t have to be painted. Unfortunately, during the molding process, cold flow of the plastic occurred which left a long jagged line across the roof surface, almost like a facial scar from a long ago knife slash. As a result, it had to be painted white to hide this mold defect.


But as can be seen, I had trouble with the paint bubbling again.


It had to be sanded again and this time I decided to buy different paint from the hardware store thinking my problem was the paint itself, certainly not my technique. After several coats, it seemed successful but then late in the day, I notice it had cracked. More sanding and more painting…


…and finally a finished roof. While this was going on, I finished applying all of the decals including this one on the top of the engine that was actually suppose to be applied before the engine was installed.


While I was finishing up the roof, I began to reflect on how the experience had been for me.



I began to look at the two models that I had previously built, the ones that I remembered having tremendous fun building. These were the models that I recalled where the parts came in all the correct colors and had such detail that I even had to assemble the shock absorbers using real metal springs. One of them even had tiny lug nuts that actually held the wheels onto the car. I knew a Mini was a very small car but these models seemed to just dwarf the Mini. These models were by a brand named Pocher. I looked them up on line and found out these were not 1/12 scale models as I originally thought, they were 1/8 scale—a 50% bigger scale. Well that certainly explained it.


Having finally finished the model, I think it has actually cured me of ever wanting to build a plastic car model again. Using plastic glue that is unforgiving and alkyd paint that must be cleaned up with organic thinner places constrictions on building a model and demands expert technique. Having built numerous miniature chairs from bass wood and painting them with latex paints was a much more fun and forgiving process. So I think I will give up building plastic models. However, when I was researching the models that I had built to find out their scale, I ran across the current Pocher website where they had new models shown. And wow were they ever sleek! Having had a wonderful experience building the two previous Pocher models, I certainly would be willing to build one of these beauties, no painting, no gluing, just sheer fun. Only problem is it comes with a hefty price tag–$750. Well maybe I will stick with building miniature chairs instead.

Mini Model – I

The last time I wrote about building models (Miniature Models – Part 3), I was still searching for that elusive model that would rekindle the desire in me to build again. Last fall, I was sitting in a particularly boring teleconference and decided to do a little multi-tasking on line. I began searching for a large-scale car model that I might like to build. This thought had come to me because one of the daily auto new stories I receive had an article that day about an interesting scale model that they had found. I began searching for my own and soon ran across a 1/12 scale Mini Cooper; the original car built by Rover (British Motor Company) before BMW bought the brand and reintroduced it in the new millennium.

Credit: Vancouverminiclub.ca

Credit: Vancouverminiclub.ca

What even better luck was that it was available through an Amazon reseller? However, when I read the small print it said: “[IMPORTANT NOTICE] A Japanese retail item. Packaging, manuals, and instructions are in Japanese only.” I thought what a bummer, this would have been a lot of fun to build particularly since I had a 2006 Mini Cooper S, and it was a model that held significance for me.


Over the next several days I pondered whether or not I was willing to gamble the $75 price tag of the model and chance it. I wondered if the kit might actually include those “Ikea-like” instructions that only provide numbers and pictures, which are often difficult to assemble. I don’t recall what eventually tipped the scale for me to buy it but I did and then anxiously awaited its arrival from Japan.


In about two weeks the package arrived indeed from Japan.


When I removed the mail wrapping, I was greeted with…more packaging. The shipper had simply wrapped it with a small amount of bubble wrap and then added some flimsy cardboard for stiffening.   When I removed the secondary packaging, I was pleased to see that the box was only slightly bent but certainly not crushed.


However, the most encouraging sign was that in addition to the Japanese words printed on the package, there was English as well. However, the real test would be the instructions.


I opened the package and discovered my first disappointment—the model was not molded in colored plastic. The large-scale models I had built in the past were molded in all the needed colors so that no painting was required. I could quickly see that this model was going to require a lot of painting.


I was relieved to see that the instructions were actually written in four different languages, fortunately one of which was English. But since I knew this was not going to be a quick build, I decided to set it aside and let it be a summer project in 2014.

This year, after I got most of my outdoor spring time jobs done, I pulled the model back out thinking I could work on it on steamy summer days when it was too hot to go outside.


When I read through some of the details of the instructions, it was this table that was the most surprising as it called for 19 different color paints. As I read through the list, I thought did I really need gloss black, semi-gloss black, and flat black? Especially when you consider that some of the parts were already molded in black plastic. Armed with the instructions, I headed off to one of my favorite hobby stores for paint and glue.


I narrowed my list of must have colors down to just 11 but still with brushes and glue spent about $35. When I was a kid building models, these little bottles of paint cost 15 cents each. Of course that was over 45 years ago. But with paint and glue, I was now ready to begin the model.


Consistent with all of the other car models I had assembled before, the engine build was the first step. And in this case, it required a good bit of painting.


With an assembled engine, the next step was to attach it to the front suspension system.


Here is where I used a little “artist’s license.” The brake calipers were supposed to be painted gold color but since that was not one of the colors I deemed essential, I painted them red. I actually thought that would look better anyway.


With a finished engine, I was ready to tackle the firewall. It was all one piece but required painting of seven individual components all different colors. I could see that my skills for painting small parts had deteriorated over the years. I headed downstairs for a few toothpicks to help in this step.


All the while, I thought I should get started painting the body. This step was typically the nemesis of my modeling in years past as I rarely achieved a high quality paint job even with spray paint.


I gave it a quick coat to see how many coats it would require and then went on to other assembly steps. To be continued…

Phone Chair – Party Line


Phone Chair – Party Line


If this is your first visit to this blog, you might want to read my previous posts on how I planned and made my first miniature phone chair, and the latest update.

Never was I so motivated to finish income taxes. Not necessarily because I wanted to know how much we might owe or if we might get a refund, but because the idea that I came up with as I finished my seventh chair was to return to the inspiration that started me down this path, my sister’s quilt.


Because as it turns out, I needed two more chairs at home.

While I had made one chair for my wife’s phone to relax in, when I came home with my two phones, there was competition for which phone would get the phone chair first.


And obviously all three couldn’t fit.

So to recreate the beach scene from my sister’s quilt, I decided to make a green chair and an orange chair for myself to go with the purple chair I had given my wife. Off to the hobby shop I went with a photo of my sister’s quilt on my phone so I could match the colors as best I could with pre-mixed paint (I use those so I won’t have to try to mix and match the same color each time I need more fresh paint).

Making two more chairs also would allow me to refine my improvements to bring me closer to that perfect chair that I had been trying to make.

The first refinement was to add a piece of wood to my leg subassembly jig that would improve the alignment when gluing the front leg to the back leg.


The added green piece is exactly the width of two pieces of wood, in this case to match the width of the back leg being glued and the back leg template of the jig. So that when I glued the front leg to the back leg, the front leg would be properly aligned to ensure the glued legs would sit flat on a flat surface.


The second refinement was to make a second spacer to go with the spacer I had made previously. The two spacers could then be used when gluing the arm subassembly together.


This would ensure that the space between the two arms was the same in the front and the back of the chair.


While working on these additional chairs, I also came up with a slightly modified layout that left a pretty sizable piece of unused wood leftover for re-cutting those pieces if the knife slipped and I messed up a piece. This extra bit of real estate may come in handy on your first chair.


I cranked out the green chair first…


…and then I started on the orange chair. As I was making these two, I decided to time myself while performing the different activities required. Although I have been known to hole up for hours working on a project, I’ve never actually timed myself. But I thought this would be useful information if I ever wanted to turn this into a commercial operation in retirement.

Building one entire chair from start to finish took a little over 2.5 hours broken down into:

20 min. – Sanding and painting the board (2 coats)

55 min. – Cutting and sanding the edges of 22 chair pieces

50 min. – Painting the edges of the 22 chair pieces

30 min. – Gluing the pieces together to assemble the chair (not counting drying time between gluing each piece)


With both chairs finished, there won’t be any more fighting over a chair to relax in…


…and when all three phones want to go to the beach together…


…they can line up by the water…


… just like in the original quilt that spawned their creation…


…for a real pool “party line.”