Balboa Park’s fantastic Toy Train Gallery!

One of my favorite attractions in Balboa Park is the absolutely huge, incredible San Diego Model Railroad Museum. And my favorite room in the museum is the fantastic Toy Train Gallery!

Check out these quick photos of the gallery’s super fun toy train layout operated by the San Diego 3-Railers Club!

The colorful layout features O-Scale Lionel-type trains running through a world full of sound and movement. Signs and billboards light up. Cars pull in and out of driveways. People move back and forth. Ghostbusters contend with a rampaging Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

A Choo-Choo Cam lets visitors experience an engineer’s perspective as one model train passes through tunnels, over bridges, and past nostalgic, often humorous scenery. The view is sure to delight children . . . and the child that hopefully remains within each of us!

If you or your family would like to visit the very cool San Diego Model Railroad Museum and their fantastic Toy Train Gallery, you can learn more here.

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Conan reappears on Spreckels Theatre marquee!

This morning I noticed Conan O’Brien’s name has reappeared on the marquee of San Diego’s Spreckels Theatre. That means Comic-Con can’t be too far away!

Conan O’Brien late-night talk show on TBS is returning to San Diego for 2019, and audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy his wry humor from July 17 to July 20.

With less than two months to go until San Diego Comic-Con, I also noticed a couple of shops in the Gaslamp Quarter seem to be getting ready!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Give a Christmas toy to less fortunate children.

Numerous elves show up at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado.
Happy elves magically appear at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for Christmas on the Prado.

If you would like to give a special Christmas gift to less fortunate children in San Diego, here’s a wonderful idea!

This coming Saturday and Sunday afternoon–December 1 and 2, 2018–toys will be collected by Toys for Tots during the 5th Annual Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.

Bring a new unwrapped toy . . . or two . . . or three!

Here’s an even more wonderful idea! Host a toy drive at your work, church or special event and bring lots of toys!

If you happen to swing by Balboa Park on Saturday, you’ll be able to watch the lighting of the community Christmas tree in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion at 6:30 pm, then Sing Along with Santa!

Click here to learn more!

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Fun stage dioramas at Paper Theatre Festival!

An example of a elaborate paper toy theater, a source of family entertainment in the 19th century.
An example of an elaborate paper toy theater, a source of family entertainment in the 19th century.

Today, just for fun, I headed up to the Paper Theatre Festival, which is held every year at UC San Diego.

Upon entering the Seuss Room at the Geisel Library, I couldn’t help smiling. Scattered about the room was a large collection of Victorian stage dioramas, character cut-outs, books and ephemera from the 19th century when paper toy theatre was a popular family entertainment.

All of the colorful artwork exhibited at the festival is part of an immense paper theatre collection assembled over the course of eighteen years by Scott Paulson. I listened to him talk to visitors young and old about his collection, and tried to absorb a bit of this unique art form’s history. I learned how in that bygone age, families would construct these paper theaters from kits, then act out plays with the included scripts and paper doll actors. The entertaining hobby encouraged people to learn about the operation of a real theater, including set design and stage lighting effects.

Walking about the Seuss Room, I bent over to peer into many highly ornate 3-dimensional dioramas. Slots at intervals on the stages allow different paper backdrops–scenery sheets–to be inserted, as you can see from my photos. Paper characters, which are often mounted at the ends of sticks, can be moved about on a stage as a dramatic performance demands.

The festival is geared toward kids, who are encouraged to handle these fun paper playhouses, learn about their history and create their own small dramas. The event continues Sunday and Monday. Click here to learn more!

Paper Theater - It's the smallest show on Earth! Historical amusements are on display at the Paper Theatre Festival at the UC San Diego Library.
Paper Theater – It’s the smallest show on Earth! Historical amusements are on display at the Paper Theatre Festival at the UC San Diego Library.
Objects on display include books, posters and materials to craft paper theaters.
Objects on display include books, posters and materials to create paper theaters.
A mirthful dance of magical characters!
A mirthful dance of magical characters!
A variety of paper toy theaters and related items are on display at the festival.
A variety of paper toy theaters and related items are on display at the annual festival.
A scenery sheet depicting a London street to be used in a play of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.
A scenery sheet depicting a London street to be used in a play of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
Detail from one highly ornate paper stage.
Detail from one ornate paper stage.
These cut-out paper actors include dragons, knights and other fantastic characters.
These cut-out paper actors include dragons, knights and other fantastic characters.
Mr. Jackson's Elizabethan Theatre includes the characters and text for Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Mr. Jackson’s Elizabethan Theatre includes the characters and text for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
An example of a French paper theatre kit.
An example of a French paper theatre kit.
The exhibition includes a crazy MOV-I-GRAFF card. The outline of the face is a fine chain. The face's shape can be altered with a jiggle.
The exhibition includes a crazy MOV-I-GRAFF card. The outline of the face is a fine chain. The face’s shape can be altered with a jiggle.
This stage features a troupe of ballet dancers!
This stage features a troupe of dancers!
Edward Gorey's Dracula, a toy theatre!
Edward Gorey’s Dracula. Classic horror and toy theatre!
Teatro de Mexico. A folk art toy theater.
Teatro de Mexico. A folk art toy theater.
Benjamin Pollock's Toyshop. Hansel and Gretel. A model to cut out and make.
Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop. Hansel and Gretel. A model to cut out and make.
A fun Hansel and Gretel scene made of paper!
A fun, very colorful Hansel and Gretel scene made of paper!

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A new Conan O’Brien trolley wrap for 2017 SDCC!

Conan O'Brien is returning to San Diego Comic-Con in 2017. Trolleys are wrapped with images of Conan as four different Funko Pop! toys.
Conan O’Brien is returning to San Diego Comic-Con in 2017. Some trolleys are wrapped with images of Conan as four different Funko Pop! toys.

Here are some photos of the new Conan O’Brien trolley wrap for 2017 San Diego Comic-Con! I spied two trolley cars with this wrap on my way home from work aboard the Green Line.

This is the third year in a row Conan will be hosting his funny TBS talk show at the Spreckels Theatre during Comic-Con. And, as before, the trolley wraps feature him transformed into four different Funko Pop! characters.

This year Conan appears as Justice League member the Flash, as a Game of Thrones White Walker, as Marvel’s ever-popular superhero Spiderman, and finally as a Star Wars Jedi holding a lightsaber.

Enjoy these photos! I’ll keep watching for new SDCC trolley wraps in the days ahead!

For the third year in a row, TBS television talk show host Conan O'Brien is transformed by Funko into famous pop culture characters.
For the third year in a row, TBS television talk show host Conan O’Brien has been transformed by Funko into four famous pop culture characters.
Conan O'Brien has become the fastest man alive--The Flash!
Conan O’Brien has become the fastest man alive–The Flash!
This trolley wrap image has Conan turned into a White Walker from Game of Thrones.
This trolley wrap image has Conan turned into a White Walker from Game of Thrones.
Conan is hanging upside down from the roof of the trolley. He is your friendly neighborhood Spiderman!
Conan is hanging upside down from the roof of the trolley. He is your friendly neighborhood Spiderman!
Or perhaps Conan is actually a Star Wars Jedi!
Or perhaps Conan is actually a Star Wars Jedi. Is he a Gray Jedi?
San Diego Comic-Con is on the way, and lots of trolleys are appearing with a variety of cool wraps!
San Diego Comic-Con is on the way, and lots of trolleys are appearing with a variety of cool wraps!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Cool LEGO creations displayed in Balboa Park!

Fun LEGO creations on display during the House of Denmark lawn program in Balboa Park.
Fun LEGO creations on display during the House of Denmark lawn program in Balboa Park.

Wow! Check these out! Here are some super cool LEGO creations that I saw today in Balboa Park!

I was walking among the International Cottages when I spied tables with all sorts of fun and amazing stuff made of LEGO bricks. The builders were more than happy to show off their creations!

When I was told the House of Denmark was having their lawn program today, it all made sense. The LEGO company is based in Denmark, of course.

I also enjoyed looking at some cool Viking weapons and crafts displayed on the lawn nearby. If you want to check that out, visit my Beautiful Balboa Park blog by clicking here!

This tent was a magnet for the young and young-at-heart. Talented LEGO builders were showing off some cool creations!
This tent was a magnet for the young and young-at-heart. Talented LEGO builders were showing off some amazing creations!
I learned this castle was built from a kit. Everything else on display, however, was an original creation.
I learned this castle was built from a kit. Everything else on display, however, was an original creation.
Here we go! I see a fun train, a Viking ship and what looks like cars from an amusement park ride.
Here we go! I see a fun train, a Viking ship and what looks like cars from an amusement park ride.
Look at all the LEGO characters! I see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel comic book characters and many others!
Look at all the LEGO characters! I see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marvel comic book superheroes and supervillains and many others!
This first batch of LEGO creations was put together by Matt Armstrong, who runs MonsterBrick Creations!
This first batch of LEGO creations was put together by Matt Armstrong, who runs MonsterBrick Creations!
Now let's check out some cool Star Wars characters made of LEGO bricks. These were created by Miro Dudas of Humble Bricks.
Now let’s check out some cool Star Wars characters made of LEGO bricks. These were created by Miro Dudas of Humble Bricks.
His detailed Viking ship was awesome!
His detailed Viking ship was awesome!
An up-close look at the LEGO ship and its Viking warriors!
An up-close look at the LEGO ship and its Viking warriors!
This American flag created by another skilled builder was inspired by the Carlsbad Flower Fields! It took a long time and much patience to assemble!
This American flag created by another skilled LEGO builder was inspired by the Carlsbad Flower Fields! It took a long time and much patience to assemble!
There are three levels of colored flowers. The first level had to be installed first, then the second, then the third. The end result is amazing.
There are three levels of colored flowers. The first level had to be installed first, then the second, then the third. The end result is amazing.
OMG! One of my favorite movie scenes! It's a LEGO version of the Chocolate Room from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!
OMG! One of my favorite movie scenes! It’s a LEGO version of the Chocolate Room from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!
Pure imagination! A meadow full of candy made of LEGO bricks! I think Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, would have been delighted by this.
Pure imagination! A meadow full of candy made of LEGO bricks! I think Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, would have been delighted by this.
I was told that's Augustus Gloop near the bottom reaching for a chocolate flower. Don't fall into the river! Watch out for the pipes!
I was told that is Augustus Gloop near the bottom reaching for a chocolate flower. Don’t fall into the river! Watch out for the pipes!
Here comes an Oompa Loompa sailing down the chocolate river! The Chocolate Room was built by LEGO master John Cooper!
Here comes an Oompa Loompa sailing down the chocolate river! The Chocolate Room was built by LEGO master John Cooper!
A young man had made a number of super cool LEGO characters using his imagination.
A young man had made a number of super cool LEGO characters using his imagination.
Awesome!
Awesome!
The young man demonstrates how to make an adjustment to one LEGO creation.
The young man demonstrates how to make an adjustment to one LEGO creation.
This table on the International Cottages lawn contained all sorts of creations made by visitors to the House of Denmark event.
This table on the International Cottages lawn contained all sorts of unique LEGO creations made by visitors to the House of Denmark event.
I'm not sure what these guys are making. It could be literally anything!
I’m not sure what these guys are making. It could be literally anything!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Japanese video game characters in fun street art!

Blanka of Capcom's Street Fighter video games. Fun street art in National City.
Blanka of Capcom’s Street Fighter video games. Fun street art in National City.

A bunch of fun, colorful Japanese video game characters have been painted on several utility boxes near the center of National City. I spotted them while walking near the intersection of National City Boulevard and East 8th Street.

A whole universe of video game characters created over the years in Japan have contributed in a very big way to our popular culture. From Sonic the Hedgehog to Mario to the magical creatures of Pokémon, they populate video games, television shows, movies, comic books, toys . . and, as you can see, even some really fun street art!

Painted utility boxes near the corner of National CIty Boulevard and East 8th Street feature a variety of colorful Japanese video game characters.
Painted utility and transformer boxes near the corner of National CIty Boulevard and East 8th Street feature a variety of colorful Japanese video game characters.
Sonic the Hedgehog of Sega Games has been painted on a utility box in National City.
Sonic the Hedgehog of Sega Games has been painted on a utility box in National City.
Bub and Bob originally from the 1980s Taito video game Bubble Bobble.
Bub and Bob originally from the 1980s Taito video game Bubble Bobble.
Street art depicts Link of The Legend of Zelda video game series.
Street art depicts Link of The Legend of Zelda video game series.
A cute street art rendition of Princess Peach from the Mario video games.
A cute street art rendition of Princess Peach from the Mario video games.
Pikachu sits atop a Pokémon Poké Ball. Fun street art in National City.
Pikachu sits atop a Pokémon Poké Ball. Fun street art in National City.
Okay, the character beneath the Poké Ball looks somehow familiar, but I can't figure this one out. If you know who that is, please leave a comment!
The character beneath the Poké Ball looks somehow familiar, but I can’t figure this one out… Okay, a coworker identified him!  It’s Finn the Human from the animated television show Adventure Time.  Not of Japanese origin, apparently, but he has appeared in video games!
Chocobo from the Final Fantasy video games. Happy street art painted on a utility box.
Chocobo from the Final Fantasy video games. Happy street art painted on a utility box.
Luna from the popular Japanese manga series Sailor Moon. I'm not sure if Luna appeared in any video games.
Luna from the popular Japanese manga series Sailor Moon. I’m not sure if Luna appeared in any video games.
Nintendo's pop culture icon Mario fights Gooper Blooper in this fun, nostalgic street art.
Nintendo’s pop culture icon Mario fights Gooper Blooper in this fun, nostalgic street art.
A green Super Mario Koopa Paratroopa flies over a castle while our leaping hero steps on a Goomba!
A green Super Mario Koopa Paratroopa flies over a castle while our leaping hero steps on a Goomba!
A villainous Rocky Wrench pops out of a hole to attack Mario in this video game street art!
A villainous Rocky Wrench pops out of a hole to attack Mario in this video game street art!
I believe these are various images of enemies from the Mario video game franchise on top of the transformer.
I believe these are various images of enemies from the Mario video game franchise on top of the transformer.
Super Mario Galaxy has our hero capturing Power Stars in Outer Space! More street art in National City!
Super Mario Galaxy has our hero capturing Power Stars in Outer Space! More street art in National City!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!