A Magical Journey to Toyland–Walter Wick Studio

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If you had asked me early last week to name one person, alive or dead, that I’d like to have lunch with, I would have answered Walt Disney without hesitation. But today my answer might be different. Today my answer might involve a spot that is a cross between Santa’s workshop and Disney’s studio. It might involve people who have jobs that are creative and fun, and that bring a lot of joy to others.

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Walter Wick may not be quite the same household name as Walt Disney, but if you’ve got kids, you’re probably familiar with his work. He’s best known for the I Spy photography and the Can You See What I See? book series. Last week, I was invited by Scholastic to meet with Walter and his staff at his studio. The event was in celebration of Walter’s latest book, Can You See What I See?: Toyland Express, which tells the story of a wooden train set as it is played with, grows old, is discarded, and then is given new life. The story is told, of course, entirely through the pictures that make up the object-find puzzles.

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I have always been intrigued by the details in Walter’s photography. In fact, long before I picked up an I Spy book, I was solving his visual puzzles in the pages of Games Magazine. I like looking through the images and finding strange and interesting objects and I like the way the collections of items come together to create a whole picture or story. When we entered the studio, we were surrounded by sets from the next book in line and had the chance to look closely at the details and elements in person. I was like a kid in a candy shop; all of those miniature items brought me back to the days of playing with my dollhouse!

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We were joined by several people on Walter’s team, including his wife, Linda, who is also his business manager. She has decorated the studio with an amazing art collection. We also learned that she has a fondness for unique wind-up toys. She also has a knack for displaying lots of small objects throughout a space without it feeling cluttered. I could use some tips on that.


I also got some time chat with one of the freelance artists, Randy Gilman, who does much of the custom work for the books, including the actual train in Toyland Express. He shared some wonderful stories about being creative and nimble with their ideas. For example, his garage was falling apart, so he brought in some pieces to use in the attic in Toyland Express. They needed more pieces and more pieces. Finally, Walter asked him if his garage had turned into a carport. Randy comes from an artistic family, apparently, as one brother owns a prominent prop house and the other is an Imagineer (see the Disney connection?). I was simply amazed at the sort of things they just “whip up” on demand in the studio.

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I could go on and on about my experience at the Wick Studio, but I’ll leave you here with a few more pictures. I’ve got a couple more posts on the subject, so I can’t reveal all of my secrets here!

A bedroom fit for a princess:

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Experimenting with 3D printing:

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I don’t know what these are, but they’re made out of tickets and they look cool:

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Glass props:

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A bottle waiting for ship…

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Who doesn’t love a hedgehog?

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Even the bathroom is fun:

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Disclosure: While this is not a compensated post, Scholastic provided travel and meals for the day, and treated me to an absolutely magical experience. We also got to take home a few books which will delight my kids come Christmas day!

2 Responses to A Magical Journey to Toyland–Walter Wick Studio

  1. How absolutely wonderful! Walter Wick is my sons favorite. His Can you see what I see books can keep him occupied for hours. And I love, love the detail that Mr. Wick puts into each and every photograph. His artwork is masterful!

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