Just so you know! . . . May 2, 2018


By David Spears 


 . . . The Dept. 56 2018 Midyears are shown on the Dept. 56 website.  A note on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page reminds us to "Click on Villages, then the village name and go down and click on April 2018 under intro date. Note: Under 'Village Accessories' I spotted 'Lit Palm Trees.'” I'm pretty sure I could find a use for them in Margaritaville (if we had such a village/display).


. . . Thanks to friends who assisted in disassembly of our village displays. Carol has helped for several years, Barb a couple years. Arlene was with us for the first time. We spent part of five days cleaning, packaging and putting away the buildings and accessories/people. Over 95% are back in storage in our basement. It’s great to have friends!


. . . I was wandering around on the Internet and found elves ‘Taking a Break’ (from Lemax). 2.6 X 5.3 X 1.6 inches, $6.99. It’s maybe new for 2018? I thought it was cute. Note: Linda says I always think polar bears are cute.



. . . “Today, be civil, but don’t go out of your way to be over friendly.” Fortune cookie 


. . . Olympic Gold Medal, USA Men’s Curling team - their home rink, Duluth Curling Club • The NCAA men’s hockey 2018 Division 1 Champion, University of Minnesota-Duluth. It may be a bit chilly here, but can I say we use the ice to win? Congrats to both groups. 


. . . Richard Puckett, the new Village D’Lights editor, announced the planned mail dates for the magazine for the rest of the year. The Spring Issue of Village D-Lights will be mailed in Mid-May, July 30 for Summer, October 15 for Fall, and December 31 for Winter. 


. . . 2018 Chicago Gathering: Bill Sheldon will be doing two different seminars. One is ‘Hidden Lighting Techniques’ and the other ‘Building with Shaper Sheets.’ I look forward to hearing more about them. Thanks to Bernice for the info. should soon begin showing what’s happening at the event. 


. . . Hidden in plain view - that’s where Woodstock and Snoopy are placed in our display each year. This time one was visiting Santa in the ‘City.’ The other is going fishing with the kids on the New England waterfront. Note: A very small Woodstock is on the snowboard with Snoopy. 



. . . ‘Summer Americana’ - have you seen the new series from Lemax? It features a 4th of July theme. We saw it our local Michael's. We bought three accessories: ’Lounging Around,’ ‘Hot Dog Stand,’ and ‘Watermelon Feast.’ Not as well done as some of the recent releases from Lemax, but we liked what they are doing. I think their ‘names’ tell you what that is. 


. . . NCC Collector of the Year - the request is out for nominations. See a National Council of 56 Club for details (or the NCC web site). 


. . . The Winter Issue - Village D’Lights arrived on April 5th


. . . Ken Shirley, Peggy Culler-Hair, and Billy Edwards have been selected to research the complete 25 year history of the National Council of 56 Clubs. When finished it will be available for all to read on the NCC website (and Facebook Page). info from NCC President Sue Chretien’s words in the recent Village D-lights.


. . . “Use it in your parade!” That was the suggestion of our friend Roberta for our new ‘Neighborhood Dogsled Team.The Lemax accessory was an ‘end of season’ purchase from our local Mill’s Fleet Farm. We’d not noticed the 2013 introduction before this year. Duluth is the host for the annual ‘John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon,’ qualifier for the Iditarod in Alaska. We think the dogsled is a natural fit for our village. Note: Yes we know the animals featured are not the ‘usual’ dogs chosen for the long distance events.



. . . Linda reminded me there are two completely separate locations to find display miniatures at Michael’s. Right front and left center in our local store. The only item I spotted this time around was a surfboard. It looks like Margaritaville to me. We didn’t buy one – yet! OK, now I did. 


. . . It was a two-door hardtop! The bright yellow car, with all the correct markings, was a ’57 Chevrolet 2 door hardtop ‘Taxi.’ I don’t remember ever seeing a cab with less than four doors. I asked four strangers in the store, and they all agreed with me – emphatically. I was interested in the car because it’s the year and make of the car I used for the road test for my first driver’s license. I passed – just so you know! 


. . . “If you don’t think, then you shouldn’t talk” Unknown 


. . . Fireworks: red, white and blue! No green or yellow in the Lemax Summer Americana display at Michael’s. I didn’t realize it ‘til I looked at the brochure when we got home. Might need one for the 4th of July – just in case we do one. 


. . . Bob Obenland has provided some details of the Dept. 56 Gathering/ Train Collectors Association Event in 2020. It will be held June 25-28 in Jacksonville, Fl. Bob is a member of the North Florida Collectors Club. They are putting on the event in collaboration with the Train Collectors Association. Train collectors usually run their events from Sunday to Sunday. The village event will probably run from Thursday evening to the Sunday morning farewell breakfast. It’s being held at the Hyatt Hotel. Bob is looking for comments, suggestions and event volunteers. Note: For those that don’t remember, Bob Obenland was president of the National Council of 56 Clubs, 2004 – 2007. 


. . . They call the house ‘Christmas In The City.’ I get the feeling Lemax is having some fun with Dept. 56. It has a different look, not sure I like it. Size: 8.66 x 8.55 x 4.48, 2018 release.




. . . In my last column I mentioned all the green (grass) and flowers around the new Lemax Caddington ‘The Garden Ballroom.’ For some reason, I was expecting snow on the structure. I didn’t realize the Caddington Village is ‘in’ England. SuzyQ explained the lack of snow. Please read what she had to say: “Despite how much snow D56 has on (Dickens’ Village) pieces, in most of Britain there is little snow. One year we visited between Boxing Day (December 26) and January 5. Saw no snow at all in England (London, Stonehenge and Bath) or Cardiiff (Wales). Took photos of flowers blooming in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Spent Hogmanay (late New Year's Eve thru January 2 mornings) in mid-Scotland and saw snow only on "mountain" tops.” – My thanks SuzyQ, now I know. 


. . . Our thanks to Kathy Balfanz, Dept. 56, Regional Account Executive | Village, for her presentation at our most recent Village North Collectors Club meeting. She shared pictures, and comments, on the Village Midyears as well as the first of the year 2018 introductions. It was fun and informative. A special thanks to Dept. 56 for the prizes they provided. Linda won the drawing for the ‘Christmas Church, Lit Canvas.’ I won the ‘Cobblestone Shops, Lit Canvas’ drawing. 


. . . Additional Dept. 56 2018 Midyears to be introduced in June. 


. . . Cincinnati Gathering, ‘Christmas In The Queen City.’ June 20 - 23, 2019. Cincinnati Airport Marrriott. Not much info there yet, but stay tuned. 


. . . 2 ½ inches tall, Lemax Village Collection ‘Valley Vineyard Merlot Grapes.’ Our friend Carol has a vignette with five different wineries. For some reason, she thinks she needs several sets of these grapes. The only place we found them was on Amazon. We only have two. The Dept. 56 Snow Village ‘Vineland Estates Winery, and the Lemax ‘Oak Grove Winery.’ 



. . . Dept. 56 North Pole, ‘Merry Lane Cottages 7 and 8 Box Set’ are new Platinum Key pieces for 2018. Linda likes the size, I think they’re cute. That means I have to learn a bit more about them: So far I now know they go with the cottages from last year - “5” is Minty’s and “6” is Glitzy’s. That set includes an elf filling neat birdfeeders. This year “7” is Flakey and “8” is Starz. Oh yes, they each have a hanging charm that goes with their name. Also blue, a new color for North Pole, is featured. They call the roofs elf caps. No cottages 1 -4 (yet?).






. . . ‘Esmeralda’s Shoe Shop’ 2018 Midyear intro Snow Village Halloween, Witch Hallow. I liked the foot sticking out from under the ‘shoe.’ Apparently it wasn’t named after our friend Esme. 





 Just so you know! . . . March 2, 2018 


By David Spears 


. . . Don't know who saw the story on Jimmy Buffett and his Broadway musical 'Escape to Margaritaville.' It was on the CBS Sunday Morning program. I'm betting the musical is going to help the sales of Dept. 56 Margaritaville. How could it not? Note: I understand sales of the 'village' are already doing well.

 . . . On the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook Page: Sue Chretien, NCC President, announced there will be a 2020 gathering in Jacksonville, Fl. Preliminary plans say in conjunction with a model railroad conference.


. . . Kathy Balfanz, Dept. 56 Regional Account Executive|Village, will be at our Village North Collectors Club meeting April 18. That’s in Superior, WI. 


. . . Brett Lapcinski and Kian Lide, pictured below, came by to see our village displays. Before they got started, we showed them pictures of Woodstock and Snoopy. I suggested they be on the lookout for them in our display. Kian had already spotted Woodstock, a minute later Brett pointed out Snoopy. We’ve had many adults look for an hour - without success. While they were with us they noticed everything, asked questions and had fun. Linda and I enjoyed their time here as much they did. Our thanks to their chauffeur Mary Lapcinski, who also provided the picture. 



. . . Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 11. 


. . . Checked my old calendars as result of a discussion at our most recent Village North Collectors Club meeting. I found the first club meeting Linda and I attended was November 20, 1996 (memory says it was at the Mariner Mall, Superior, WI). I was informed it was the second meeting to organize a local club. Our first gathering was Bachman’s, August 29, 1998 (Twin Cities); 1st Club display at an event, Bachman’s, August 27-29, 1999.


 . . . ‘The Garden Ballroom’ - Four couples, spinning, and turning, mirror background, crystal chandelier, many sided, mostly glass walls. The sign says “Welcome The Garden Ballroom Annual Winter Ball.” Winter Ball? I wonder about the green grass outside, flowers around the building. I do like the steps, glass doors and sound. Approx. size (H x W x D) 8.98 x 11.22 x 10.16 inches. Note: Anything with dancing has special interest to Linda and I – we met at a dance class


The ballroom is a 2018 introduction from Lemax Caddington Village. See the rest of the intros at 


. . . I’ve been told the back of ‘Argh, I’m Your Pirate,’ is funny. It shows the full person sticking his head through the opening in s fence. So for I’ve only seen the front soooo. . . . ‘Argh’ is a 2018 Dept. 56 Margaritaville accessory – girl taking picture of her boyfriend (thru a hole in the fence, i.e., ‘face-in-a-hole’).” 


. . . ‘Zombie Garden Gnomes’ (set of three) - Linda actually called them “scary.” New for 2018. 


. . . Palm trees, only three to three and ¾ inches tall – very nicely done. From Woodland Scenics. For O Scale model railroads – 5 trees. $14.99 at Hobby Lobby (and model railroad shops). 



. . . Just add elves and snow! The colorful, small shack (below) would look good in a North Pole display. Found at Gordy’s Gift and Garden, a former Dept. 56 dealer, Hermantown, MN. It was in their fairy garden area.




. . . Linda’s use of the calendar page background was much commented on in our Amish display. Note the road starts at the front of the shelf and disappears into the distance. 



. . . It was a bit harder to find, but it was there. Next to the all the kids playing in our Christmas in the City display. Our ‘Santa’s Reindeer Petting Stable’ was a gift from the members of our Village North Collectors Club in 2012. We display it every year. 



. . . is the web site for current building facades available from Lemax. I’ve always felt they are great background pieces for displays. Really liked the apparent depth of the ‘English Lane’ façade. The one below was another nice vignette of Mike and Lani Kolanczyk. 



. . . One more Brett Lapcinski and Kian Lide story – I pointed out the Homies throwing dice at the ballpark (left). They showed me the other Homies with dice: in our ‘50’s display (center) and southwest display. I told you they were paying attention. Even Linda hadn’t noticed I put them in three places. 



. . . Shamrocks on tooth picks – good little additions fora holiday display. They are used seasonally in/with food and drink. Shamrocks only during March (and February). We got ours with a Rueben sandwich at Lucky’s 13 Pub, Duluth, MN. We try to remember this source during each holiday season. April Fools and Easter Bunnies next.


. . . We are keeping notes on ‘to do’s’ for the next display season. Now if I can find them when the time comes. There needs to be a few more ‘reference’ pictures taken as well. Note: We usually take down our displays in March. Because of Linda’s shoulder surgery, it will be April this year. Her rehab is doing great. 


. . . No updates seen on the Chicago or Cincinnati gatherings. 


. . . The new for 2018 Dept. 56 North Pole, Merry Lane Cottages 7 and 8. Linda likes the size, I think they’re cute. That means I have to learn a bit more about them – just in case.



. . . Your comments, opinions, and ideas are always welcome – just so you know! 











Just so you know! . . . February 17, 2018 


By David Spears 


. . . We don’t ‘do’ holiday vignettes (expect for our clubs display contests). Just consider this a reminder that many folks do enjoy building non-Christmas displays. In the St. Patrick’s Day display (below), the building and some people are Dept. 56; a few folks are Lemax. The background is a wallpaper border; and the rocks Linda brought back from Ireland. This display was in our China cabinet. Note: In Village North contests, Linda and I can only remember winning twice (since the late - nineties). The competition has been tough.



. . . Resin ‘Tall Tree,’ 5.25 inches tall; crooked, brown trunk; green leaves; character of a Bonsai tree. They looked like naturals for our Oriental displays. $9.99, $2.47 clearance. The Bloom Room Littles are found at Joann. We bought two – they fit right in.


. . . Made of wood, the Bloom Room Littles ‘Wooden Bench’ looks good - small but good. The ends are black metal. I tried one with our Dept. 56 elves. It was a nice fit (for one or two of the little folks). $6.99, $1.97 on clearance at Joann. Dimensions: 2 x 3.5 x 1.25 inches (L x W x H). 


. . . A young couple crossing a bridge to ‘A New Beginning.’ Nice idea, good words. In my mind, I’m trying to find a place to use the new Dept. 56 accessory in a New England display. Nothing popped out. But, as the company suggests, it could be “great for wedding or anniversary” (vignette). Porcelain; 3 inches H x 3 in W x 4.75 in L.



. . . From my notes for 'Spirit of 56 on the Bay' Gathering, July 2006: “. . . we met the/my boss from Village D-Lights, (editor) Linda Krueger. Although we have spoken on the phone a few times, and communicated via E-mail many, many, many times, this was our first time to shake hands. I actually thought she was taller. We also met VDL advertising manager Ronda Jans.” The event was sponsored by Wishigan Collectors Club and held at the Notre Dame Academy, Green Bay, WI. Note: Linda (my wife) and I conducted a couple seminars at the event.


. . . The words and images for ‘Just so you know!’ March 13 to July 17, 2017 are still available on 


. . . ‘Christmas Carol Cemetery,’ Dept. 56 Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (new for 2018). I know this piece isn’t Halloween, but it still looks like it to me. What I really like is the story it tells. The glowing ‘Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come’ shows Scrooge what is to come in life. It changes his life for the better. I also like the way it looks. Porcelain, AC adapter, Polyresin, plastic; 3.75 inches H x 9.25 in W x 5.5 in L; LED lights. 



. . . Linda and I like detail in our displays. An angel, Gnome, and white gazing ball on a post make up the new Dept. 56 ‘Village Holiday Yard Décor.They look interesting to us. Probably could use two out the three with our Dept. 56 CIC ‘Architectural Antiques’ house. The house comes with 17 pieces; we display ours with thirty plus little ‘things’ for sale. Maybe the Gnome would be OK too. He would add nice color. 



. . . I was doing a Google search and up pops - ”OOPS! This page exists to tell you that this page doesn’t exist.” – really? 



. . . I like the fact that Dept. 56 has included two people in the new ‘Taking The Girls For A Walk.I call that taking advantage of all the apparent interest in dogs for displays. Just look at the many dogs offered as accessories by Dept. 56, and Lemax, the past several years. We have dogs in costumes, hunting dogs, walking the dogs, peeing on fire hydrant dogs and even three sled dog teams. Maybe we could use a couple more just walking the streets in Christmas In The City. 



. . . Things that I haven’t seen before always interest me. Especially simple things. For some reason, the new Dept. 56 ‘Classic Christmas Kiosk’ caught my attention. Not sure what I’ll do with the small green structure, but that’s what I like about it. The sign says it’s for ‘Sleigh Rides.’ I’ll bet I can change it say whatever I want. Warming shack, ski rental, wreaths, flowers, ticket booth, etc. 4.5 inches H x 3.75 in W x 3.75 in L. I really like the color. 



. . . I may have come up for another use for one of the new Margaritaville accessories from Dept. 56. How about using ‘Argh, I’m Your Pirate’ in our carnival. A girl taking her boyfriend’s photo behind a picture board would fit right in on the midway. After looking around a bit, I’m thinking this sort of thing is called a face-in-a-hole” or “stand-ins.”



. . . They are called ‘Fairy Garden Figurines.’ Linda found them at a Dollar Store. Not for winter use, but we could use the watering can, birdbath and small wheelbarrow in a summer vignette (or Linda’s fairy garden). You never know what you are going to find where.


. . . We were out for dinner and I found a, new to me, source for a village display background - menu cover art. I really liked the look and it helps us do something else – make our displays local. Did I mention the menu is from a Duluth Canal Park restaurant (and I now have my own copy)? I can hardly wait to see what I come up with as a display to go with it. 



. . . ‘Mustang Sally’s Restoration’ – Designed to be used in an O Gauge model railroad display. After seeing pictures in a magazine, I went to see it at Menard’s really liked it in person. The five 1:43 scale cars work well for me. However the people doing the restoration work are too small to even be dolls - in a Snow Village display. I’ve been thinking it would have to be used as a stand-alone vignette. But maybe, with some slightly bigger people, who knows. With an open front door, all windows on both sides, and a glass roof, there is lots of vision to the inside. 13 inch D x 12-1/4 in W x 4- 5/8 in H. I’ll bet I can use my own cars instead of the Mustangs and a Cobra. 



. . . Daylight Savings Time begins March 11th. Can summer be far behind? Before you answer, remember we live in northern Minnesota. 



. . . Linda and I are still trying to come up with a name for our village. We have North Pole, Alpine, Dickens’, New England, Christmas In the City, and more – you get the idea. But all we seem to say is to come over to see our village, or our displays. How exciting is that? We need a name! 



. . . ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ In the January- February-March 2018 NCC Club Connection the gathering committee made several announce-ments. Among those are a store visit or two on Thursday evening before the September event - if they get everything together. Might even include food and some demo ideas. The planned home tours will be after the gatherings farewell breakfast on Sunday. 


. . . Village North Collectors Club dinner meeting, February 21, 5:30 p.m., Vintage Italian Pizza (VIP), 1201 Tower Ave, Superior, WI. Members and guests welcome! 



. . . Department 56 Gathering in 2019. The Gathering is to be held at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott on June 20 - 23, 2019. 



. . . Our intent was to make the mandatory stop at Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland - Frankenmuth, MI. It was 2007 and we were on our way to Niagara Falls. Wally Bronner, the store owner, was there - as usual. Linda asked to have her picture taken with him – he invited me to join them. While in town we also stopped at the Frankenmuth Gallery. Emmett Kelly Jr. II was in the shop. I like clowns, to I purchased one of village size and had it autographed. Unfortunately the clown pictured is not the one. In double checking dates, stores, destination etc., I found I had taken a picture of the wrong clown. This one came from a model Scale Model Supplies in the Twin Cities. I still like him



. . . Below, additional images of some of the musicians in our displays this year. These are in response to several requests for more pictures our music makers. 









. . . I’ve just discovered that several folks did not receive my past couple columns. Please let me know if you don’t receive this one. OK, OK, the missed ones were January 21 and February 6. 


. . . The Village Collector webmaster has not yet returned to his computer. I will let you all know when I hear from him. 


. . . For those of use that are members of NCC clubs, the Club Connection has been sent to your NCC Club rep. I’m guessing it is also available on the NCC web site. 


. . . Thanks to each of you who have responded to this column. Remember the info, questions and comments coming in help me to know what to say. Did I say that good? 









 Just so you know! . . . February 6, 2018 


By David Spears 


. . . Do we have Display Mania?? Yes, it should be right over there on the shelf with Village Display Tips, Village Display Tips II (both by Leigh Gieringer), Village D-Tails 1, 2, 3 and the large 4th Edition. I had to check when I saw folks ‘talking’ about Mania on Internet groups/Facebook. 



. . . Richard Puckett went from NCC to VDL!! On January 24 Richard Puckett resigned as President of the National Council of 56 Clubs. He has taken the position as Editor of Village D-Lights magazine. Not sure if we should say ‘Goodbye!’ or ‘Hello!’ Note: Sue Chretien has been appointed President of the NCC; Brandon Taylor, Vice President; Ken Shirley the new Region 8 Representative, and Judy Severance will serve as Editor of the NCC Club Connection. 


. . . My lovely wife Linda takes some of the pictures I use in this column. Thought I’d better mention that again. 


. . . Seven email comments/responses on the same subject is a lot. All said they purchased the Lemax fireworks I mentioned in my last column. Some bought before I wrote, some after. All made the purchase at a discounted price. Note: We all have the multi-colored version available in stores. I’ve seen a variety of single colored fireworks online. Thanks for reading (and writing to me). 


. . . Three castles, no, I just double checked, we have five Dept. 56 structures with ‘castle’ in their name. Castle Wolfstein/Alpine; Heathmoor Castle/DV; Hofburg Castle/Alpine; Hop Castle Folly/DV; Santa Claus Castle/ NP; and Windsor Castle/DV. So why am I looking at the Alpine ‘Neuschwanstein Castle?’ Because I visited the ‘real thing’ in Bavaria. And, we already have the coordinating accessory, ‘Plein Air Painter.’ Note: I agree with some of the reviews I’ve read about the Dept. 56 version. It may not look just like the original, but it has the right name. Note: Hohenschwangau Castle is ‘next door.’ Its centuries older than Neuschwanstein. I liked it better. 



. . . has backgrounds that may be useful. Thomas Murphy makes wood facades (with an overlay of details) for model railroad layouts. They might be good for villages as well. They would add depth to displays without taking up much space – only ½ inch to 3 inches deep. 


Classic Toy Trains said “Windows and doors are painted in a theatrical fashion. This means (Tom) supplies the realistic shadows often lacking in train displays . . . . Pediments, platforms, and vents add texture, depth, and visual interest.” Costs from $25 up to $85 for a large factory façade. He can be contacted at (860) 887-5799 or Note: I can tell you he promptly answer emails. 




. . . is another source for backgrounds, including ground surfaces. They have streets, buildings, grass, skies, water, etc. They are made of paper. That makes them easy to work with, inexpensive, with lots of choices. 


. . . 1:48 scale ‘Plug and Play’ cars and trucks at Menard’s. They have head and taillights wired to a power supply. I certainly couldn’t use them everywhere in a display. But, five or six on the main street of a Dept. 56 Christmas in The City display might look good. The vehicles are a bit smaller than the 1:43 scale I prefer. It seems size difference is less important in displays than it used to be. At least to me. 


. . . We always like to personalize our displays. One of the little things we did this year was to have an ‘us’ corner. My wife likes to read, her name is Linda, and her mother’s was Adele. The snowman with his back to the camera is (of course) ‘David.’ 



. . . Valentine’s Day is February 14 – just so you know! 



. . . I’ve been told that Lottie, Minithings, is busy making minis for Margaritaville. Doesn’t she know that we (Linda and I) aren’t going to ‘collect’ that village? Well maybe one house and some of the accessories. OK, we’ll check out her new stuff at ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ in September. 


. . . We used a couple high school yearbooks in our ‘50’s display. As luck would have it, one has a forty-five record and musical notes on the cover. It really says the 50’s to me. Plus, it happens to be one of my Duluth Central High School Zenith yearbooks. 


. . . Village North Collectors Club dinner meeting, February 21, 5:30 p.m., Vintage Italian Pizza (VIP), 1201 Tower Ave, Superior, WI. Members and guests welcome! 


. . . Department 56 Gathering in 2019 - Cincinnati Airport Marriott on June 20 - 23, 2019. Waiting for more info from the QCV Gathering Team. 


. . . I am often asked who those ‘little people’ are they see in our displays. In this case the Homies are in front of ‘Javier’s Mexican Cantina’ (Lemax). They may be small, and not fancy, but I really like the musicians. Most of our Homies were purchased from ‘bubble gum’ machines (fifty cents each). 




. . . When I mentioned Jean Lawnsdale (last column) I didn’t include her last name. Now I did. I first communicated with her when she lived in Oregon. She was a member of the Village Idiots. Her sister, Lottie Clindedinst, was already contributing miniatures for shows and mail order. After her husband Carl's death, Jean moved to Pennsylvania and the sisters opened Mini Things together. They joined D56 Villagers of PA with plans to participate in every gathering (and some miniature shows). After Jean remarried, she retired again, this time from Mini Things and does more of the things she loves - like traveling. 


. . . Bonsai tree from a rummage sale; girl in a rickshaw at a thrift store; ‘Christmas Around The World – China,’ found for us by SuzyQ; and Lanterns & Fireworks For Sale’ from a no



longer Dept. 56 dealer. You never know where you will find items that go together in a display. 


. . . Menard’s has more and more buildings that are sort of the ‘right size’ for villages. They are intended for model railroad layouts. I keep thinking maybe we could use one for a vignette (not in our displays). Reason? They are plastic and don’t really go with our Dept. 56 buildings. A couple come to mind; ‘Sally’s Restoration Shop,’ and ‘Red Owl.’ Sally’s because I like to have a few cars in our displays – that’s what Sally is restoring. And because Red Owl was the chain grocery stores we had locally (after National Tea left). Sally’s is 12 inches X 13 inches and Red Owl is 9 X 7. 



. . . I wanted to feature some of the many musicians we have collected over the years. I decided to use small fenced in areas in our 50’s display as their platform (see below). Folks noticed and commented - it must have been a reasonable idea. The sitting girl (with pop) is from ‘Celebrate It’ at Michael’s. $5.99. 



. . . Remember you can register for the Septem-ber gathering at There is also a link for reservations at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare (the host hotel). If you have a reservation problem, the gathering committee will give you a hand. The event also has a Facebook page available for updates. Linda and I have our registration and reservations confirmed. Hope to see you in Chicago.



. . . No word on when my new words will appear on ‘The Village Collector’ web site. Bill is still away from his computer. 


. . . I found the sound for the ‘Lemax Fireworks Sound Box’ online. Crowd noises are included with the sound of fireworks. To me, it’s unnecessary noise. I much prefer the Dept. 56 fireworks sound. 


. . . Linda recently had total shoulder replacement surgery. Her recovery is going even better than expected. 





 Just so you know! . . . January 7, 2018 


By David Spears 


 . . . ‘Ed, The NCC Snowman’ – We have several of those ‘guys’ in our displays. There is special meaning this year due to the recent death of his namesake Ed Bazinet - the founder of Dept. 56. The piece was developed by the company in 2005, exclusively for members of National Council of 56 Clubs. His partner is ‘Snowflake,’ the NCC Snowgirl. 



. . . Do you remember the small fairy garden tower we found? It will not be used in our village displays. Too large in size, and scale - disappointing. 


. . . Dogsled races?? We live in Duluth, MN, home of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. We now own three dog sled teams. One is Dept. 56 and the other two Lemax. Our new Lemax ‘Neighborhood Dogsled Team’ is pretty cute, and well done. It features five different kind/sized dogs and a teddy bear. The bear is riding. - I’ve ridden in a dog sled, never driven one. Years ago I worked communications for the race. Amateur radio operator WBØZAH. Note: I also really like the North Pole team. 



. . . As I’m writing this, the thermometer on the wall says “minus twenty-four degrees!” That’s outside, I’m inside – just so you know! 


. . . Thanks to John Rapacz, we now have Glenn Burke in our display. I was amazed when I opened our mail and there he was. Glenn was a surveyor, and mapmaker, who loved to sail. Our small version is looking over the large chart of Lake Superior in his hands. What a nice gift! What a wonderful surprise! The actual Glenn Burke was Linda’s father. You should have seen the look on her face when she saw this him. He died in 2001. 



. . . This is part of the note that came with our new Glenn Burke: “I hope that you can find a spot for this guy in your display. I have been thinking of this for some time and I finally found a Lemax figure that seems to work – although I have modified him by cutting off arms, repositioning, using J&B Weld for seams, repainting, etc.” – Our thanks again to friend John Rapacz (for converting ‘The Conductor’ to Glenn). 


. . . Lemax ‘Snow Queen Tree’ looks like it was designed for Dept. 56 North Pole. 74293, large, $16.99. $6.79 end of the season at Michael’s. We now have three in our display.


. . . Background - calendar; Animation - Dept. 56 (hockey) and Lemax (snow angel); Bridge - John Thompson; Accessories and children - Lemax/Dept. 56. Linda wanted a scene showing children playing, this is it. She didn’t recognize this picture as our display, at least for a minute or two. 




. . . Under "Breaking News," Village D-Lights (Fall Issue) featured a short story on the 'New Silver Series Classification.' It shows Dickens' Village and North Pole stone resin pieces created for the series. Each has a church and two houses (plus an accessory, snow and trees). They are a lower priced product, designed to get new customers into the collecting hobby. Yes, the article does include pictures. Note: buildings are $64.00 each. I’m looking at the North Pole St. Nicholas Chapel (with the singing elves). NP also has ‘The Fir Farm,’ and ‘Nutmeg Nook.’ Dickens’ Village Silver has: Isle of Wight Church, Tily’s Boiled Sweets, and Brookshire Cottage. They will all be released with the 2018 introductions, available in June.



. . . Dept. 56, has new for 2018, city gates for all series – North Pole, New England Village, Dickens’ Village, Alpine Village, Christmas In The City and Snow Village. We’ve always appreciated what gates add to our displays (when we use them correctly). They add a natural point/center of interest. 



. . . Larry Treadwell’s caption for the image below reads: “Standing on the rocky point in front of the lighthouse is a young mother with her daughter and nearly one year old baby. She has come down to the lighthouse to watch for and hope her husband's ship comes home in time for Christmas. This was a sad fact of life for many English wives and mothers who saw their husbands sail off to sea, sometimes for years at a time. The Sun may never have set on the British Empire in the 19th century but I'm certain that many wives and mothers often wished that it might. This is all a sad reminder that many people will not be at home with loved ones this holiday season.” Larry is quite a storyteller. See all of Larry’s 2017 visit to ‘Brighton’ at: 



. . . Can’t have too many trees! I’ve said that myself a time or six. We have completed all of our displays – over half our trees remain in storage. Looking around, I’m pretty sure we used a whole lot of trees soooo – we gotta a lot of trees! Not yet ready to say ‘too many.’ 


. . . Not much new for 2018 Dept. 56 New England Village. A city gate, lighthouse, church, small boat and a bridge. No ‘freestanding’ people. All 2018 Dept. 56 releases are available on: 


. . . Just received my small Lemax order from Martin and Carol Schiel’s Villages of Fun. The business was formerly known as Lemax Village Collectibles, a division of Schiel's Deals. Nice to do business with them again. 


. . . We’ve added a few small signs to areas in our displays. Some are there to ID who made a ‘homemade’ items in our displays. Others to help explain a special vignette. Also to ID an area such as New England, CIC, Dickens’, Alpine etc. Most folks that come to our open house(s) aren’t collectors. We hope they find things more interesting if they know what they are looking at. 


. . . New for 2018, Dept. 56 Christmas In The City ‘City Streets, Frozen Treats’ - three kids eating Dairy Queen cones. It was part of growing up with a Dairy Queen a block from home. I think these children just may find a place inside our glass terrarium. They aren’t dressed to be outside in the winter. 


. . . It was helpful reading our notes/reminders from what we did last ‘season.’ We wrote things down to remind us what to consider this time around. Ideas we hoped would make display building easier and make use of what we have available. Ideas/items on the list included small animation, fences, streetlights and pieces we haven’t used for a while (or ever). 


. . . The village open house at our home will be Saturday, January 13. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by and say ‘Hi!’ 





 Just so you know! . . . December 25, 2017 


By David Spears 


 . . . Small lighted villages inside homes – I heard from a reliable source that is what will be featured on the ‘The Great Christmas Light Show’ next season. Sure sounds like it will be of interest to us. The show has been appeared on ABC television since 2013. Previous years have shown outside Christmas lighting on homes and neighborhoods (nothing inside). 


. . . 2018 Dept. 56 introductions? The Fall issue of Village D-Lights shows a couple of pages of images of new Dept. 56 intros. They are all partial pictures of very small part of new pieces. In some cases they are images of artist’s drawings of new pieces. Again, partial pictures of very small parts. Can’t really say I found anything real interesting – so far. 


. . . I agree with the many folks that have said good things about Larry Treadwell's 'A Dickens' Christmas 2017.' I have been enjoying his creations for several years. Larry begins this visit saying “The Christmas Season is once again upon us and folks everywhere are making travel plans for the upcoming holidays.” . . . “once again I will be hosting a Christmas trip to the town that time forgot, the imaginary town of Brighton. I have made accommodations for myself and you, my fellow travelers, for this year's visit. . . . “His current displays can be found at: 


. . . Our new issue of Village D-Lights says "Fall 2017" on the front cover. It says "Winter 2018" on the address label. I’ve been informed the date on the label is when my subscription expires. Question – does it expire next issue or next winter at the end of the year? 


. . . Per Richard Puckett on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page, there is a plan for 2018 ‘inserts’ for Village D-Tails. His words on the release date: “Probably February or early March at latest. Initial 2018 items shared with us have already been added to content documents along with 2017.” The 2017 Dept. 56 retirements will also be included. No word yet on the cost. Note: We haven’t completed posting our 4th Edition Village D-Tails. 


. . . Grandmother, mother, aunt, granddaughter, our first display visitors this season. They all liked the ‘hunting scenes’ in our displays. They did say I must have put them in for the guys. We like it when this ‘family’ shows up – they look at everything, ask questions and have opinions. One is local, one from the Twin Cities and two from California. Note: There is an image of one of the hunting scenes in my last column. 


. . . A statement on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page says Larry Treadwell (A Dickens’ Christmas 2017) lives in the UK. The way he speaks about the activities of his friends in 'Brighton,' I could easily believe he lives in England. However, the Larry Treadwell that we know (who created the display) lives in southern Florida. Note: When I told him about this, his rely was “Blimey!” and “augh.” 


. . . The new Lemax fireworks fit in well in our displays. We really like the look and it adds a point of interest (using color and movement). We’ll be using three of them this season. The cost is between $10 and $25 depending where you buy them (they do require an adapter or batteries). Note: We haven’t purchased the separate sound accessory. Not sure we need more noise. 



. . . “Things are only impossible until they are not.” Fortune cookie 


. . . First Christmas cards received at our house this year? – December 8th. A couple days later we received a card with no signature (or return address). I can tell you the postmark was Phoenix, AZ. Oh yes; it was a very nice, handmade card. 



. . . Don Johnson was our friend. Each year we have a vignette in his memory. It always includes his gift to us, ‘Chesterton Manor.’ Don was a true Charles Dickens’ fan. He visited many locations in England with connections to Dickens’ stories and/or Dept. 56 pieces. Linda and I still think of Don often. 




. . . Below: Little Vance and Charlie going fishing in the bay. Diane and Billy are just sitting on the fence. Not sure who the couple is under the mistletoe. - I have always liked the many children offered in Dept. 56 New England Village. Maybe I can sneak in a few more pictures if I talk about them. 




. . . Merry Christmas from our village to yours! 




 Just so you know! . . . December 8, 2017 


By David Spears 


 . . . ‘John Pierce Boat Works’ – Dept. 56 New England Village. Why is it listed as Pierce Boat Works in Village D-Tails? No ‘John!’ Made it tough to find in the book.



. . . Black Friday - Linda was up and out by 6:30 a.m. Four hours later she returned home. The car was half full of ‘stuff.’ She was all excited- she had purchased a big bag of used black jeans at Savers. Other purchases were made, but her excitement was all about the ‘black jeans pockets.’ She needs them for her jean quilts – really!


. . . "It is with profound sadness that Department 56 announces the passing of its founder, Ed Bazinet. Ed will be fondly remembered by his family, his many friends, the people who worked with him here at Department 56 and the people who have enjoyed the products he designed. As one of our employees commented, “The clock stopped at 5 to 6.” We will all miss you, Ed." . . . The above announcement is from the Dept. 56 Facebook Page.


. . . Event registration for Chicago 2018 is available on their web site Linda and I sent in our registration forms the first day we could. See you there? 


. . . We have a hunting area in our display this year. All of the ‘New Ray- Wild Hunting’ parts came from Fleet Farm. There are Mallards, Pheasants, wild turkeys, geese and a big moose. Each is in its own scene.




. . . Now she, Linda, goes on a ladies ‘day trip’ to the Mall of America. They took a charter bus from Duluth to Bloomington (and back). She felt I needed something from the trip. I received the characters from ‘Disney Tangled The Series:Rapunzel with Pascal, Eugene, Cassandra, Maximus, Fidella and Varian. I’ve now know Rapunzel is a girl (I thought it was a boy’s name). And, Maximus and Fidella are horses. They will all be somewhere in our display this season. 


. . . ‘Holiday Village Set,’ $99.00, Bed Bath & Beyond 30 piece, 3 buildings, 23 people, 12 trees, large tree rotates and plays eight songs. Nothing special, but nice to see ‘village’ available at an unusual store. 


. . . There is a Lemax Dickens’ horse draw sleigh transporting a nicely dressed couple. I just noticed the lady is at the reins. Don’t know why, I found that interesting. 


. . . A couple of residents at one of the facilities where we have a village display have decided to ‘help’ us. The staff is continually finding ‘small people’ on the dressers in their rooms. We are very happy they are interested. And, nothing broke. 


. . . Note to folks that think Linda “has a keen eye” and finds unusual things we use in village displays. Of course she does, but I find even more (only because I spend more time looking). Remember I’m an idea person and Linda is the artistic one. She even had to teach me how to paint Styrofoam rocks – rocks! While on this subject: ‘city planning’ is done together; Linda does our display wiring and backgrounds; I do the detail stuff, placing of accessories, people, etc. We both seem to place the many trees we use. 


. . . Saw a package with an orange tag. It was the only one that color. I picked it up. The tag read “Managers Markdown - $1.99.” I purchased the two remaining members of the Lemax ‘Ugly Sweater Contest’ accessory (it comes with four). Now we can add more guys to our contest. Or maybe just a couple of additional beer drinkers – the price was right! I was at Mill’s Fleet Farm in Hermantown, MN. 


. . . Linda returned home with a ‘bag of people’ - for me. How many husbands can say that? Come to think of it, how many would want to? She was doing some shopping at Goodwill, saw six (unknown brand) houses and these people. Most are Lemax kids playing in the snow. She also purchased three cups, three bowls and a blouse. None were for me – just so you know! 




. . . Pier 1 Imports – They have some shiny, for Christmas, ‘putz’ houses. Sort of a formal, sophisticated look (if that’s possible – they’re made of cardboard). In German-American vernacular, putz means “putter around.” Years ago, a German family would put up little villages around the Christmas tree. Once everything was out, someone would ‘putz’ around until they were ‘just right.’ 


. . . Linda found a small tower intended for use in a fairy garden. It’s been sitting in our bay window for a month. Two of my gnomes have set up residence. Not sure is it will be in our Christmas displays, but my garden gnomes may have found a home for next summer. Gnomes and elves look alike, don’t you think?



. . . We would still like to find ‘us’ in our display. So far we haven’t found a source that makes 3D, village size, people. Anyone? Note: We have had some success with a photo of Linda that works OK, but we’d like to do better. 


. . . “Luville is no longer shipping to the U.S.” I heard that from a couple sources. I didn’t get an answer to my inquiries of the European company. We have several of their ‘village people’ – we really like them. Very well done and different from those available from other sources. If anyone has success ordering this year, please let me know – thanks!


. . . “What is not started will never get finished.” A recent fortune cookie. 



. . . January 13, 2018 is the date for our village open house. The hours are 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Some people, mostly guys, come for the nice selection of Linda’s baked goodies. If you’re in the area, stop by. We live in Duluth, MN. 


. . . Dept. 56 ‘Selfie #Happy Gnome’ - Posing by the famous statue at the Gnome Pub, this happy elf if ready to post his latest profile image. I think he’s cute and I don’t own a cell phone. Does that even make sense? 



. . . Santa arrives in our display. We live in northern Minnesota so the trip didn’t take long.



. . . This column appears on the web site of the ‘The Village Collector.’ Bill, the webmaster, had a medical problem and is currently in rehab. If you would like to make him happy, visit his site. If you want to make him really happy, leave him a quick ‘Hi!’ 






 Just so you know! . . . November 10, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . On November 3rd Dept. 56 announced three hundred and fifteen Village Retirements. I noticed fifty-nine were just introduced in 2017. Doesn’t that seem like a large percentage of the new items retiring? 


. . . Reviewing the new Dept. 56 Retirement List, I found several accessories I don’t remember seeing before. For some reason I’ve always liked musicians and dancers. This time I missed the ‘Ladies Auxiliary Brass Band,’ “A trio of horn players spread cheer on streets of London with carols in front of the department store.” It was a 2017 Dickens Village intro. The other from Dickens’ A Christmas Story, ‘A Dance with Belle.’ Described as “The perfect accompaniment for "The Fezziwig's Holiday Dance," the young Ebenezer and Belle dance the night away.” Introduced in 2016. Note: I play no instrument and have been asked not to sing (even with a group). I can dance! 



. . . ‘Serving Irish Ale,’ introduced in 2002. This Christmas In The City accessory is the ‘oldest’ 2017 Dept. 56 retirement. Note: I just looked, for some reason we have three of them. And remember, neither of us even likes beer/ale. 


. . . The Dept. 56 Retirement List is available on the Dept. 56 web site Someone wrote to me “I miss throwing my winter coat over my nightgown to go to the (gas station) to get my copy of USA Today!! It was always very early with almost no one in the store to see me without makeup or my hair combed.” 


. . . Looking forward to your comments/opinions about what is retired. I will be posting my comments on 


. . . From the Dept. 56 2017 web site Retirement Announcement: “The end of each year means the retirement of some of our most beloved products which are retired from production. Once that decision has been made, the mold is broken.” I’m pretty sure I knew that. 


. . . I don’t remember ever seeing Lemax Santa's Wonderland – ‘Santa Carousel.’ This year it’s on the shelf at a local Menard’s. It is very impressive - bright, colorful, with ten ’people’ riding (including Santa Claus). In my head, that’s a problem. We don’t use our carousel in a Christmas display. And Santa in our summer carnival just wouldn’t look right. The piece was released in 2014. 


. . . Dept. 56 Village Artist Tom Bates signed each of the 3,500 special edition "Cathedral of St. Nicholas" pieces. They were set aside by the company to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of "Christmas in the City." Now available through select retailers at the original 2005 price of $120.00. 


. . . I like the ‘Spanish Mission Church’ and the ‘El Mariachi Loco’ band. Do you think they ‘go together?’ I mean they are both Dept. 56 Snow Village.  Note: I recently saw the church at the McGraw’s (John and Gerry) – the band last year at Bloomington Drug (Bloomington, MN). We don’t do ‘shiny,’ but sometimes . . . . 



. . . Linda is handwriting  “Merry Christmas”  on each of our homemade cards. She wonders who is going to do it in the future - today’s youngsters aren’t taught cursive (writing). 


. . . Veteran’s Day November 11th - thank you for your service. 


. . . Model Train Software - haven’t seen their ads before. They show lots of LEDs. They don’t use the normal Dept. 56/Lemax power supplies we have in our displays. However the power supplies aren’t expensive (or large). The LEDs are very nice ‘cause they’re always cool, come in colors, flashers and many sizes. Worth a look if you are looking for something different. Maybe for a vignette as opposed to a large display.


. . . This season Bachmann is offering two new trains and a streetcar. ‘Norman Rockwell’s Main Street Christmas Streetcar’ is battery operated, with auto reverse. It’s a nice, seasonal, red and white. One of the trains is ‘Norman Rockwell’s American Christmas’ and the other ‘White Pass & Yukon.’ Both have a different look than the On30 Bachmann train sold by Dept. 56. They all use the same track and power supply.


. . . November 23rd is Thanksgiving – just so you know!


. . . Dept. 56 M&M’s ‘Flying Witch’s Castle.’ It’s a Lighted House and Candy Dish (candy not included). It says “Explore a New World” on the box. I’ve always eaten M & M’s, how can it be a new world? I won it in a prize drawing at our Village North Collectors Club Halloween Party (pictured below). 




. . . ‘Sal's Pizza & Pasta,’ Christmas in The City. It says on the Dept. 56 Facebook Page “Ask anyone, pizza is one on our favorite foods. Did you know that October is National Pizza Month? What's your favorite pizza combination?” - I didn’t know that about October- pizza month! I can tell you my friends, and my former cardiologist, know that pizza is my favorite food group. But do I really need another pizza shop in my life?



. . . My friend Frances said . . . “From there I ventured over to Fred Meyer. I found a lot of little animals, several of which followed me home.” That never happens to us  


. . . When Linda is making chocolate chip cookies, there is always an extra spoon in the cookie dough. It doesn’t exactly have my name on it but . . . there is a rule about double-dipping. 


. . . We have our hotel reservations for the ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ Gathering, September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare. I will remind you again, but please look for us there. Linda and I both like to see old, and new, friends. 



. . . Legacy Toys has reopened as an expanded store in Duluth, MN. The kids, and their parents, have already noticed the doors open next to Sears in the Miller Hill Mall. It features a small meeting room, a fancy rock facade, friendly staff (and management), and more small stuff to look at and play with. For village people it is a wonderful source for animals, wild, domestic, and prehistoric. We’ve purchased some for zoo, farm and scary! Building website at: 


. . . Thanks to Valerie McFadden for bringing this building to my attention. Can’t believe the Lemax ‘Christmas Home Tour’ has been around since 2014 (and I didn’t notice). Valerie said “Lemax makes this and would love something like this in Dept. 56, especially for those of us that have open houses.” It might not be what village clubs call an ‘open house,’ or



‘house hop,’ but I think we could make it work. I like it. The sign says “Admission $5,” “Kids are free.” Not really necessary for our use. I read Valerie’s words on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page. 


. . . Lemax Christmas Village façades at Menard’s – ‘A Taste of Italy,’ ‘English Lane,’ and ‘Seaside Christmas.’ 10 to 12 inches tall, near the same width. The different dimension is the depth. The thickest of the three is six inches. I really like the look of them for background structures. The oldest one I see is dated 2007. Note: we visited them at Menard’s again today. We are wondering why we haven’t bought one in the past. 


. . . I noticed a sign in a village display. It said they were selling “Xmas Trees” – that just doesn’t seem right to me. 


. . . ”At Home with the Polar Express” - a nice picture story in the December 2017 O Gauge Railroading (page 38). Words tell a bit about the movie and construction of the layout. Not fancy, but very nicely done by the Skip Natoli. He also wrote the article and took the photos. One of the trains featured is the Lionel Polar Express. He loves Christmas, Lionel Trains and is a fan of Christmas movies. Takes care of all three loves in one display. As for Christmas, he says you just have to ‘Believe!’ 


. . . The box delivered by the mailman was addressed to “David Spears or current resident.” Contained inside were the return address labels we’d ordered on line. Note: The labels inside were ‘correct.’ 


. . . Please tell your friends that ‘Just so you know!’ is on The Village Collector web site, Remember I need your comments, questions and opinions to keep my mind busy. 

















 Just so you know! . . . October 24, 2017


By David Spears


. . . Hot Wire Foam Factory: We own at least one each of the following: Sculpting Tool, Hot Knife, Engravers Tool, Crafters Deluxe Kit, Freehand Router and Variable Heat Pro Power. We like them all and use them on a regular basis. Just received an ad for one we won’t be purchasing. It’s called ‘Sign Maker Hot Wire CNC Machine – CNC 052.’ The cost $6,300.00. I do like what it does.


. . . Dept. 56 Disney Parks Village Series ‘Silversmith’ house. Three readers reminded me the Silversmith is one of the nicest ‘corner angle buildings’ – the kind I wrote about last column (those from Lemax). Thanks to the readers. Note: Our zoo display has been the location for our Silversmith. Reason, the building looks very much like those at the Duluth Zoo.


. . . They were taking a three person ‘selfie’ with Lake Superior in the background. I offered assistance. Lifting their phone high in the air, I quickly took two pictures – of myself! At least they were all smiling when I finally did take pictures of them. Have I mentioned that I don’t own a cell phone?


. . . We both liked the pretty white tree at Mills Fleet Farm in Hermantown, MN. It’s the Lemax Village Collection ‘Black Walnut Tree.’ Black-white, I don’t understand it either. 9-1/4 inches tall, $12.99. The bright, very white tree will look great in a North Pole display. I like the packaging for storage. Linda thinks the container takes up too much room.



. . . ‘Sweet Home Chicago,’ a Dept. 56 gathering. It will be held September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, Rosemont, IL. For further info: Hotel reservations not yet possible.


. . . ‘Just so you know!’ appears on It is not in Village D-Lights as stated in the VDL subscription renewal I just received. I can say this with certainty - I wrote the words when they appeared on the Minnesota 56 Clubs web site, then in Village D-Lights and now The Village Collector. Linda and I thank all the folks that have followed during the moves. Please remind your friends we are here.


. . . I saw a Lemax Village Collection ‘Multi-Color Fireworks’ in a display video. Always liked the Dept. 56 Fireworks – we have three! Don’t think the Lemax version will look as good ‘in the sky.’ Its 11.02" x 4.92" x 1.18, sort of like a (very) large cell phone (color black). However, I saw in the video it had a very nice presence as the background for a building or two. 80mA current at 4.5V DC (adaptor or batteries). Note: we now own one. Eleven inches is taller than I thought. Linda says “It really looks nice” in the shadows. Cost, $27.99 at Michael’s, $14.99 at Menard’s and Mills Fleet Farm. I’ve been informed it’s too large to be called ‘cell phone size.’


. . . Lemax Christmas Village ‘Fireworks Soundbox.’ It makes fireworks sounds - obviously. I haven’t ‘heard’ it, but it might be a nice idea (if I need more noise).


. . . 2017 Dept. 56 Retirement Day is scheduled for Friday, November 3rd. I remember when you had to find a USA Today for the list of retiring village items. So did the members of our Village North club when I brought it up at a recent club meeting – it was a sad moment. Now you sign up for emails at and the list comes to you.


. . . A Department 56 Gathering is to be held at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott on June 20 - 23, 2019.


. . . The Duluth MN/Superior WI Village North Collectors Club meeting will be held November 15, 2017. Always looking for new members. Village North is a member of the National Council of 56 Clubs.


. . . Need ‘stuff’ from Dept. 56? You know, things you’ve lost or broken. Begin looking now – before everyone is building displays. Call Customer Service: 1(800) LIT TOWN (548-8696), any weekday between 8 AM and 6 PM Central Time. This is a friendly reminder! 


. . . It might be for a limited market - Dept. 56 just released the ‘Greek Chapter House.’ The ad says. . . “use as a wonderful addition to your holiday Village display, recalling fun-filled college days. The Greek Chapter House makes the perfect gift for any Fraternity or Sorority member.” “Personalize with 3 or 4 Greek letters to represent any Greek Society and we will expertly finish the house for your favorite organization.” The Snow Village House is 10” Long, 7.75” Wide, and 7.75” high. The one in the image is “Delta Phi Sigma.”



. . . Making our Christmas cards – Linda let me help – honest! Note: this will not be the finished version.



. . . Halloween is October 31st Just so you know! 










 Just so you know! . . . October 13, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . ‘Deer Stand Hunting,’ purchased at Menard’s in Hermantown, MN. Linda feels it’s a nice addition to our planned outdoor/woods scene. We have hunters, fisherman, woodsmen, animals and now a deer stand. Yes, some of the people are women. Deer stands are usually at least ten feet above the ground. This one is ‘wood’ on a metal stand with a ladder. Note: Neither of us is a hunter.


. . . Now we have to make up our minds. ‘Songs By The Fire’ or ‘Campfire Music.’ We really like Lemax ‘lighted’ fires and these are two of them. Which one do we pick?



. . . Do I want to continue to submit ‘Just so you know!’ when I have something to say? Or, should I do it on a schedule, i.e., the same dates two or three times each month? They would contain the same info, simply a different schedule. I’d appreciate opinions.


. . . We were talking about people for our Dept. 56 castles. Someone said the knight was wearing Chain Mail. I had to look it up. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica say: Chain mail, also called Mail, form of body armour worn by European knights and other military men throughout most of the medieval period. An early form of mail, made by sewing iron rings to fabric or leather, was worn in late Roman times and may have originated in Asia, where such mail continued to be worn for many centuries. – Who knew!


. . . ‘Christmas in Alma’ – Nov 11-Dec 25, 2017, Main Street, Alma, WI – House Walk, Shopping Events & Community Tree Lighting, On Alma’s Main Street. Found in the Buffalo County Travel Guide.


. . . RC Gifts, Spooner, WI – the only real Dept. 56 dealer we visited (of three) + a Harley Davidson dealer. Misty was the very personable salesperson. The store has their houses ‘out of the box’ and side by side on shelves (a lot of shelves). No actual displays. They have few ‘people’ out of the packaging, but are right there to help you with that. We bought ‘Wilkommen To Octoberfest,’ ‘A Little House People,’ ‘Octoberfest Musicians’ - all Alpine. Seeing products ‘in person’ makes it easier to spend money. To be fair, Country Treasurers, Chippewa Falls, WI, had three nice China cabinets containing Dept. 56, a very limited amount. Pretty sure nothing even close to current. One of the other stores had a few Snow Babies, Evenson’s in Eau Claire, WI. Oh yes, RC Gifts also sells ‘Village D-Tails.’, they do ship. 



. . . Who said they were going to paint the Yoga soldiers? I pictured them in ‘Just so you know! . . . September 10, 2017.’ A reader wrote, had made a purchase, planned to paint them to look like people. They come in a single color. I would love to have images of the finished product. Note: my computer and/or I have lost the email I received.


. . . A ‘Toys for Tots’ building has been added to Holiday Time at Walmart. That means they also have the teddy bear, in a Marine Corps dress uniform, pulling a sleigh of gifts. As I said in past years, I like the bear. I believe the building is new. 



. . . ‘Rocking Away in Margaritiaville’ – new from Dept. 56 for 2017. I want one. Nearest dealer that sells them – Racine, WI – 422 miles away.


. . . Linda found a cow feeding a calf (village size). She thinks it’s right for a farm scene - pretty nicely done. From White Christmas, Rural Route. We also bought an old guy reading a Christmas book to a young boy, ooops, girl, nicely done. It’s Lemax 2017, ‘Christmas Stories.’ Found at Mills Fleet Farm, Winona, MN.


. . . Wouldn’t you know, we bought the Lemax ‘Snowman Friend,’ and ‘Giant Snowball,’ $3.96 each (of Holiday Time) at Walmart, Rice Lake, WI. Linda thinks the boy hugging his friend, the snowman, would be appreciated in our display at Viewcrest Health Care Facility (Duluth, MN). I think the big snowball, with kids all over it, will be right at home in the large park in our home display. Now answer me this, why did we drive over two hours to make the purchase – one way?


. . . International Owl Center, Houston, MN – We bought a Great Horned Owl for our village. While there we were introduced to live versions ‘Uhu,’ a Eurasian Eagle Owl; ‘Ruby’ a Great Horned Owl (her brother Rupert stayed home, he is molting and didn’t come to work ); and ‘Piper’ a Barn Owl. The small Barn Owl stayed in the back of a protective area, sleeping.


. . . Can’t figure this out. As we go around looking for Christmas village items I see a change. Locally we, of course, don’t have anywhere to buy new Dept. 56. That hasn’t changed. And some places, like Michael’s, have less Lemax than prior years (but more small accessories from other companies). Mill’s Fleet Farm has a pretty good selection of Christmas Lemax (more than past years?). Walmart has more of their ‘Holiday Time’ this time around. Still waiting for Christmas Lemax at Menard’s and Kmart.


. . . For people who think you can’t have too many – how about ‘Ice Fishing Shanty’ and ‘Camping Trailer’ from St. Nicholas Square at Kohl’s. Those would be for those who think you can’t have too many fishing shacks or camping trailers.


. . . City Planning on the road - going and coming on our recent trip to visit Linda’s son. Tried to decide what displays were going in the bay window, or on top of the barrister cabinet, or living room shelfs – you get the idea. It went pretty well. We remember what we have but got into trouble with sizes and didn’t always agree on what was where last time (or the time before). Next time maybe we’ll remember to bring pictures. Note: it looks like our ‘50’s display is going in our living room bay window.


. . . Lefton ‘Colonial Village’ - I was reminded of this/these. We saw the very large selection at Red Cross Pharmacy in Spooner, WI. They have soft colors and lots of detail. Some coordinating people too. Could be used with Dept. 56, probably New England.


. . . There have been ‘corner angle buildings’ before. It seems this year Lemax is trying to corner the market. They have more than a few new buildings with that footprint. Example -, ‘Shutterbug Photo’ below. We’ve previously used a couple on opposite corners of an intersection. It opened things up just a bit and gave us more space to use.



. . . Jack Daniel’s Truck tree ornament – black barrels in the back. Not fancy, but would make a nice background piece (in the Jack Daniel’s Dept. 56 Village). Found it at Blain’s Fleet Farm, Rice Lake, WI.


. . . Linda thinks these trees will work well in our Dept. 56 North Pole display. I think they might be a bit too ‘bright.’ Holiday Time at Walmart.



. . . Sure is a whole lot of Halloween in our local stores. Glad there isn’t more ‘village.’ Then for sure we’d have to have some sort of spooky town.


. . . Lemax has a new ‘Building a Snow Castle’ for 2017. Three kids making a pretty fancy structure taller than they are. No doubt it’s a castle. The more I look at it, the better I like it. 








 Just so you know! . . . September 29, 2017


By David Spears


. . . The ad on my computer monitor said Walmart, Dept. 56 Margaritaville 2017, ‘Mararitaville Village Set/6 Jimmy Buffet’ - Sold & shipped by Sweetheart Collectibles, $405.95 (one left). I don’t understand Walmart and Sweetheart Collectibles – anyone??


. . . We bought the ‘Sidewalk Chalk Artist,’ 50% off, at Michael’s. I very much like the concept but Santa is painted too well. Actually, it’s a decal. I’m going to check and see if Linda’s interested. If so, I’ll remove the decal and she can paint Santa on the sidewalk. It’s nice to have an artist in the house.


. . . They say “Cubic Zirconia” and look like ‘fancy’ little containers for very inexpensive rings. Linda found four of them in a box in the basement. For some reason we both think we can find a use for them in our North Pole display. Maybe place some small presents inside, or how about snow and multi-colored glittery stuff. Or an elf on top, or standing inside. We’ll have to see what works.


. . . I showed picture(s) of the new Dept. 56 Village Friends ‘Cocoa Cart’ at our club meeting. A club member said it would go with her ‘Village Tree’ from last year. I really enjoy these carts - nicely done and they take up less display room. $60.00. Choice of Snow Village or Heritage Village (the set I choose here).



Dept. 56 Village Friends Benefits - Members mailed a copy of 2018 Brochure – Early retirement information & exclusive content shared – Coupon to save at Village retailers and online at


. . . The roof is green, not black, on ‘Popcorn Treats.’ So I’ve been told (and they used my own picture to confirm it). In case you don’t remember, Treats is a 2017 Lemax Spooky Town piece (that we bought). 


. . . People have written me how much they like the ‘painting’ of recent Lemax structures. I paid particular attention when I saw the 2017 Christmas releases at our local Michael’s. I agree, most of the buildings they sell now are better than several years ago. Really don’t feel I can say that about the people. Linda picked the best of the bunch – we bought the new ‘Home For The Holidays’ anyway. It’s mom, dad (and dog) welcoming son back from college. Small and it shows emotion – a nice touch.


. . . It really bothered me after a short period of time. The clerk ‘suggested’ I not turn it off. The music from the Lemax ‘Elf Made Toy Factory’ drove me crazy. It plays over, and over, and over again – pretty sure it’s not a Christmas song.


. . . I wrote 3,791 words in August – Just so you know! That’s more than I ever wrote for a single issue of Village D-lights. 1,889 words in July.


. . . Eight figurines/accessories that include dogs in Michael’s, Lemax Christmas 2017 flyer. Six more feature other animals. That’s fourteen of twenty accessories. They also have a ‘Table Accent,’ ‘Christmas Catastrophe,’ cats assisting in decorating a tree – note the name.


. . . ‘Boot Scotin’ Boogie,’ ‘Tush Push,’ ‘Watermelon Crawl’ – some of the line dances we taught (as country dance instructors). Mostly we taught couples dances such as the two-step, waltz and polka. Someone asked - we met at a dance class. Linda was attending, I was assisting. Seven years later we were married. 


. . . is a European Lemax web site. Taking a look around I found figures I haven’t seen before. One is titled ‘Snowboard’ and the other ‘Ski Standing.’ Why are two people not wearing skis – or why are there more skateboards than people in the other picture? They look nicer, and different, than the ones we have. I’m looking for a U.S. dealer that sells them. Why? We live in Northern Minnesota and have a rather large ski hill (in our display) - it’s only natural. 



. . . Gift cards make very nice signs for displays. I’m thinking a Christmas In The City display using signs for ‘Caribou Coffee,’ ‘Subway,’ ‘Target,’ or ‘Dillard’s.’ The cards could be placed on the roof, or tacky waxed to the side of buildings. Maybe several cards in a row recessed into a brick (Styrofoam) wall. It’s a thought in progress.


. . . St. Nicholas Square is available at Kohl’s (at least locally). My eye was drawn to the ‘Skating Plaza (with lights and motion).’ The brochure says it’s retiring. It features two small animated skating rinks. It sparkles a lot, but with the lights shining, it didn’t seem to bother me. They only had one, with no box. Cost - no one knew. Comparing to other items ‘on sale’ I’d guess $90. I did not buy it. They show ‘Bumper Cars’ available only online. They do have a new ‘Christmas Carousel’ on the shelf (not going around). 


. . . I voted for my three favorite display videos! If you are on this web site, you know where to vote. It was very simple but I’m pretty sure Bill can’t call it a voting machine - can he? 












 Just so you know! . . . September 18, 2017 

By David Spears 


. . . “Bud’s Garden,” was a tribute to Bud Arntzen, 1937-2015, charter member of Village Addicts Anonymous. The images are from the California Gold Gathering, September 2015. The display features a roller background. It automatically changed to show four different times of the day. Please note the sky between the mountains. 




. . . Michael’s in Duluth, MN has already placed Christmas ‘Tiny Treasures by Celebrate It’ on display. Probably an eight foot wide area so far. They have several items I really liked. One is a village-size white rocking horse. Very pretty, nicely done - $4.99. Not sure why I didn’t make the purchase. They also have some small snowmen, Santa’s, tree’s, wreath’s – you get the idea. Another item was/were four nicely decorated doors. Doorways actually. They look like we should be able to make a nice vignette with one or more of them. Maybe use as background pieces. The Halloween from the same company includes costumed people and accessories. They have a horse drawn red carriage. Both the driver and the horse are skeletons (Linda was wondering why they had used a zebra - she figured it out). She liked the combo.


. . . ‘Patty’s Pumpkin Patch’ is back and nice as ever. Lemax has included the cutest puppies with the pumpkins for sale. Even the black witch hats they wear can’t make them scary. The set includes the six puppies, two kids, pumpkins and fences for $6.95. Mill’s Fleet Farm, Hermantown (MN). - Parents ‘Dead’ and ‘Mummie,’ and the two kids, trick or treating. They are all Mummies walking hand in hand. There was also a Zombie family. Lemax is less expensive at Fleet Farm than other chain stores (but they seldom have ‘big’ sales on the items).


. . . I’m finding fairy garden and aquarium things that will work nicely in a spooky display. Among the items are various buildings and ships. There are also walls, trees, backgrounds and even a few people. Unfortunately we don’t do a Halloween display. Well, except for the one at Viewcrest Health Care Center. Residents get upset when they think it should be there and it isn’t. 


. . . The Dept. 56 ‘Ryman Auditorium, Home of the Grand Ole Opry 1943-1974,’ always attracted me. Probably because Linda and I taught country dancing (using country music). We visited the Ryman when we were in Nashville for a dance convention. Few Snow Village pieces at our house, but we have made exceptions.


. . . When I saw some distant/small images of ‘Seashell Cove,’ it looked like something for a ‘southern ocean island’ display. I was wrong - the pieces would fit in with Dept. 56 New England Village. Seashell is actually part of the Lemax Plymouth Corners Village. 


. . . I’ve seen the Lemax ‘Round Up’ in pictures of displays, and in ads. Thought it was OK, but between Dept. 56 and Lemax, we have seventeen animated carnival pieces - figured it was enough. Now I’ve seen the 2017 Spooky Town ‘Ghost Around.’ Same piece as the Round Up, but with Halloween decorations. In person, for some reason I like the look of the round, spinning cage. It keeps the riders pressed against the outside wall as it rises up. 



. . . A reminder to the members of our Village North Collectors Club. Our next club meeting will be held on Wednesday, 5:30 P.M., September 20. VIP in Superior, WI. 


. . . Lemax Spooky Town ‘Popcorn Treats’ - love the orange shoes on the vendor – he’s dressed so I can use him in any carnival – most likely without the little girl in a Halloween costume. The popcorn wagon is nice enough, small, and orange and black. 



. . . OK, OK – Michael’s offered more coupons and we went back. I bought the little white rocking horse (mentioned earlier) and a small bicyclist (wearing a helmet). Both were 20% off. I’m thinking about a daycare center display this year. Either inside a glass structure or a ‘summer look’ vignette. 



Above right – Margaritaville is apparently still in/on my mind. 70% off, so we purchased a VW minibus (surfboard on the roof), a green guitar, and a sign, “At the BEACH every hour is HAPPY HOUR.” All are from ‘Tiny Treasures Celebrate It.’ The last three from their Shoreline collection. 


. . . Question?? What color base do we use for ‘The Little Town of Bethlehem’ display? I’m thinking sand, or maybe grass and brown, but not snow. We won ‘The Inn at Bethlehem’ at our last Village North meeting, courtesy of Dept. 56. We just purchased two more pieces at an estate sale. Now we need a display. Suggestions, ideas, please. 



. . . It’s time to begin viewing the candidates for the ‘Hall of Fame.’ By the time voting begins on September 29, there will be twenty-four village videos to review. I’ve looked at, and even took some notes, of each of the candidates currently posted. You know I must be an informed voter. Go to  (and then Hall of Fame) to see some nice displays. 



. . . The Dept. 56, Christmas In The City ‘Cathedral of St. Nicholas’ will be shipped on October 1. In 2006 it was a limited edition for the 30th Anniversary of Department 56. They kept 3,500 behind for the 30th anniversary of ‘Christmas In The City.’ Each will be signed and numbered by artist Tom Bates. It remains at the 2006 price of $120. Note: The Snow Village ‘Grapevine Winery’ will also be shipped on October 1. 



. . . Is that the ‘Blues Brothers’ doing promos on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page? Something about the 2018 Dept. 56 ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ gathering. We keep checking to see when we can make reservations at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, Rosemont, IL. - September 27-30, 2018. 


. . . My thanks to clubs that are sending members to It makes webmaster Bill happy. He actually says he’s ‘jocose!’ I know he works hard, and is enjoying the website, but jocose? I had to look it up. The definition: adjective, 1. given to or characterized by joking; jesting; humorous; playful. His wife Kathy is going to have to confirm those words for me. Note: Linda wants me to pronounce ‘jocose.’ 











 Just so you know! . . . September 10, 2017 

By David Spears

. . .  I like the interior scene in ‘Pinnacle Pete’s Pool Hall’ (Lemax). Billiards? – did that in another life. Actually I played eight-ball and snooker, not billiards. Note: The gal inside, as well as the other people, are Homies - small people we purchased from bubblegum machines. 

. . . Halloween at Joann Fabric and Craft Store, Duluth, MN – The first things I really looked at were some Autumn trees, 2 sizes, $20 and $13, battery powered. They look like cheap versions of Dept. 56 Autumn Maple trees (but apparently they lite up). 




There was also a lit, scary tree stump (to me, a nice look). Not able to lite either of the items in the store. They also have a variety of display size people, mostly witches (some are cute). A pumpkin, 10 or 12 inches tall, with an open front. Could be used to place small vignette inside. Linda likes it, a lot ($40, expensive). Items are from ‘Maker’s Halloween Littles.’ 


. . . Found this while looking for something else. It said, ‘Purchases - The Seasons of Michigan 2010 - David and Linda Spears:From Tracy’s Collectibles: Clown on hand unicycle; Sitting witch with red and white stockings; Running Chinese man with red lantern on pole; Witch in tan dress black cats on skirt, with broom; Sitting Oriental girl, lavender outfit, pink vest, pigtails; Moonshine still (2). From Minithings: Curling brooms (2); Two reindeer playing Twister – Hasbro; Fruit press; Charlie Brown throwing baseball; Golfer, bending over; Babies lying on stomach wearing diapers (3); Howling baby wolves, brown/gray – (6); Lemax weeping willow trees, three sizes, one each. From the Gathering: Event pin and ‘Village Collectors of Michigan’ pin. The list of gifts and prizes was twice as long. With our seminar material, and display contest entry, we really filled our Subaru Outback on the way home. 


. . . ‘Yarmouth’s Bay Discovery’ – Melinda Seegers said “. . . It features a pair of youngsters investigating the shore and a tide pool (with realistic water) on the beach. . ."  It was designed as an accessory for the Dickens’ Village, ‘Great Yarmouth Light,’ an exclusive for  ‘Platinum Retailers.’  The non-exclusive Village accessory was drawn by artist Lynn Maderich. I read about this in Village D-Lights. I can see ‘Discovery’ with our first lighthouse, the Dept. 56, New England Village, ‘Pigeonhead Lighthouse.’ 





. . . Purchased the October/November O Gauge Model Railroading. They mentioned a Christmas village or two coming in the December issue. They almost always show some Dept. 56, or Lemax, village houses and accessories in that issue. 


. . . From an old sign: “A nickel drink, worth a dime! - Pepsi-Cola” 


. . . 2006 Whitby Modial (Mercedes Sprinter) Ice Cream Van, “Coronatois Ice Cream.” Brightly colored, large glass windowed, 1:43 scale vehicle in the ‘food truck’ style. I believe the sign says “Italian Style.” $22.95 Our other food trucks are the bit larger, Lemax variety. 


. . . ‘Jack Daniel's Barrels & Rye,’ 1.18 inches tall – set of three, actually six barrels with a bag of rye and a cat(?) - new for 2017, part of ‘Jack Daniel’s Village, Dept. 56.'  Actually I like the ‘Jack Daniel's Distillery Sign’ and ‘Jack Daniel's Delivery Truck’ too. No plans for any of the buildings, but . . . . ?? 


. . . I was asked about the pirates we purchased at the Naval Pier in San Diego. There was a nice, colorful selection. We bought three, they weren’t expensive. We’ve used them with the Dept. 56 ‘The Emily Louise,’ a couple Lemax boats and even the Dept. 56 ‘Dudley Docker.’ I’ve also seen them on a sand beach and our Lemax wooden docks. 



. . . Stopped at Gordy’s Gift and Garden, Hermantown, MN. They are a flower buying stop for us. And, a large former Dept. 56 dealer. We check each fall to see what they’ve found in the backroom, Dept. 56-wise. Not much this time around. A few older Dickens’ house’s, and a very small group of North Pole and Snow Village accessories. They also continue to show a lot of ‘fairy garden’ items that are display usable. Some at a reasonable cost. The one item I should mention is the seven or eight rural mailboxes on a wooden log and posts. Very colorful, and with a bit of imagination, village size. Most of the stuff I liked is from ‘The Fiddlehead Fairy Garden’ by Story Books. 


. . . Gordy’s also still has the Dept. 56 Dickens’ Village ‘The Old Globe Theatre.’ I’ve always liked the way it looks; round, nicely decorated, with an open interior. But I just know we’d put too many people on the inside stage. And, probably in the audience as well. I did see a ‘mock-up’ of the building divided in half. Good for making use of space, and ease of decorating. To me, it sort of looked broke. I also remember reading about the Globe in Shakespeare classes many years ago. 


. . . I use a camera to take notes (pictures) when we are out and about. Usually Linda’s camera ‘cause I left mine at home. The ‘notes’ are necessary when I need to remember what I see (and write about it later). Linda has a track phone (never used the camera). I‘ve never had a cellphone – just so you know! 


. . . Do you like to add unusual things to your village displays? How about nine classic plastic army men doing yoga poses. You’d have to paint them; they only come in solid/single colors. $25 per set. We saw them in our friend Lisa M’s apartment. Village sized figures from Yoga Joes.



. . . 4th Edition Village D-Tails - I’m still looking for opinions on how it compares with the former versions. We did confirm one thing that we already knew – the new, two book version, is cumbersome to use ‘on the fly.’ Taking it along to a busy home Estate Sale is far from convenient. Most sales don’t allow you to bring in something like a backpack to carry it. A flat surface is also needed to make an entry in the book. At home we do like the 4th Edition for keeping track of our collection. Much easier to use and it doesn’t require both hands keep it open/flat. Note: Remember if you have suggestions to make it better, contact Richard Puckett, 


. . . Linda had a bunch of coupons. You know what that means - we stopped at Michael’s. The label on the bottom says I purchased a couple of “CHRISTMAS MINI EMBELLISHMENTS.” Or, “NOËL, MINI DĖCORATIONS” if you prefer. I think they’re a four person choral group. The adults are three inches tall, kids are smaller. Not well detailed, but colorful with decent proportions. From a couple of feet away they look just fine. Tiny Treasures from Celebrate It. I think they were eight dollars apiece, but remember, we had coupons! Linda purchased some yarn. 


. . . Memories of times past? This week the former co-owner of Pam’s Hallmark stopped by our house; there is an estate sale at the home of the past proprietors of Mainstreet Gifts; and Gordy’s Gifts and Gardens has just put out what‘s left of their village stock. The only other local store we dealt with on a regular basic was CJ’s in Cloquet, MN. All were Dept. 56 dealers and each supported our Village North Collectors Club. Linda and I conducted classes at some of the locations and all held events for the club. Displays by members also appeared in their store windows. We were good for each other (I say with fond memories). 










Just so you know! . . . September 3, 2017


By David Spears


. . . The Summer Issue Village D-Lights arrived at our home on September 1st. The magazine has made many changes beginning with the current issue. First, Editor Erich Gaukel is no longer with the magazine. No mention why or where. . . Village D-Lights is now with Tandem Publishing Group. Polly Clark remains the Publisher. . . Richard Puckett is still mentioned as Contributing Editor. . . Melinda Seegers (Ms. Lit Town), Stephen Pepin, J. Michael Sanders, Richard Puckett, Leigh Gieringer (Guest Contributor), Polly Clark, Matt Gaffney (Puzzle) and Michael Griffith (President of Dept. 56 Village Brands) all have contributions in this issue. . . . The Dept. 56, Christmas In The City, Cathedral of St. Nichols is on the cover. I like that building very much – just so you know!


. . . Christmas cards - it’s time to start planning. Linda designs and makes the cards we give. She likes to use photos we’ve taken. Our 2014 Christmas card picture was from the previous year’s display. It featured the Dept. 56 Simple Traditions, ‘Roasting Marshmallows.’ Purchased in 2002 at Kohl’s. Note: She lets me help. 



. . . I’ve been asked about the Dept. 56 ‘Family Friends’ program. While reading about it on the company website, I noticed the ‘Heritage Village Town Tree Membership Kit.’ It reads “This porcelain matte finish tree will complement Dickens', North Pole, New England, and Alpine Village.” I ask, why not Christmas in the City??


. . . “Ever stop to think. . . and forget to start again?” – Anonymous


. . . Their big sign says “Michael’s – The Arts & Crafts Store” – Didn’t they formally have a different tag line?


. . . Our West Duluth Kmart has no Halloween. Not just villages, no Halloween – at all!! 

A big box store not stocking for a major holiday. The web really shows nothing. Am I missing something? Did KMart cancel Halloween?


. . . Dept. 56 Christmas tree ornaments can make great additions to a display. Four we frequently use are the bicycles with riders. If anyone knows their name, please let me know.



. . . “My favorite son–in-law,” my mother-in-law wrote (talking about me). My wife had four brothers, no sisters. She died in 2012 – we still miss her.


. . . ‘City Express Bus,’ KMart. The two part vehicle bends in the middle. Probably too long/big, but I like the look for a ‘newer’ Christmas in the City display. It’s only $11.00. Toy department - take a look. 


. . .        “I know nothing!!” - Colonel Klink 


. . . How about four NCC Pin Shops ‘acting’ as different businesses? The buildings were ‘The Nutcracker,’ ‘Merry Makers,’ ‘NCC Traders Pin Shop,’ and ‘Bridgeman’s.’ Signs, accessories, and interior light colors were all changed. Does that mean we did a rehab? Heard about rehabs after the Tempe gathering. Note: Immediate background is a wallpaper border.













Just so you know! . . . August 28, 2017


By David Spears 


. . . Received an email from a friend. It began “Just got your latest missive . . . “ I had to be sure what she was saying to me. Looked it up. Missive is defined as: communique, epistle, dispatch, note, message – now I know – this is a missive!


. . . Our displays always look better with people in front of them. Note the 'sign-in book' on the table. Now we know who to invite next year.



. . . For my north of the border friends - I just noticed something from Lemax: ‘Hockey Tryouts.It features four players wearing ‘Canadian uniforms,’ a coach and a dog. They are on a small skating rink. Not animated. Could fit in our Canadian neighborhood – when we build it.


. . . Thanks to Francis for providing me the ID of Harley Quinn. She is a frequent accomplice, and lover, of the Joker. Harley, not Francis. In comic books and animation since 1992. The Suicide Squad in 2016 was ‘her’ live-action cinematic debut. Well, I did ask who she was. 


. . . There are many village accessories with lit fires. Some are better than others. I’m reminded each time I put one in direct sunlight, or under a lamp, that it’s not a good idea. Many look very good, but you have to be able to see the fire. A glow ‘works’ better in the shadows. Lemax has many ‘fires’ currently available. There is a link to their catalog at: 



. . . More than several of our village visitors noticed ‘David taking pictures!’ I’m at the bottom of the bunny hill. I usually wear a hat/cap – just so you know! 



. . . Linda added the paint to make the pagoda stand out. Color makes a wonderful difference. The pagoda came from a hospital gift shop. We bought the pirates on the Navy Pier in San Diego. Not sure why they are in the picture. Note: I remembered why. We brought them all to a Village North Collectors Club meeting for ‘show and tell.’ 



. . . I enjoy looking at the ‘VillageWorld – Minidorp’ website. Mostly I look for ‘people’ from Luville we might use. This time two facades got my attention - ‘Santa’s Workshop’ and ‘The Milk Factory.’ Animated facades - not expecting that. . . . Two Luville skiers are also worth mentioning. We have many people on skis but these are different – look like they are in ‘skiing’ trouble. I like that. It’s called ‘Ski Jumper.’ The Lemax ‘Sidewalk Chalk Artist’ also has my attention. He’s drawing Santa Claus and it’s pretty darn good. Delivery time is a bit delayed (right slygranny?). Luville is a business in the Netherlands. Website available at














 Just so you know! . . . August 24, 2017


By David Spears


. . . The National Council of 56 Clubs presented a check for $32,699.01 to Crops of Luv. That was the official amount donated by attendees at the Tempe, AZ Dept. 56 gathering. Sue Chretien, Vice President of the NCC, thanked all who participated. Info from the NCC Facebook page. 


. . . Halloween is out at our Hermantown, MN Menard’s. They have the small Lemax selection they’ve had the past several years. Not the same items, but the same size selection, well you get it. I like the new house, ‘Creepy Crawler Pet Sitting.’ The animals they call ‘creepy’ are well done and all over the place. A sign “Not responsible for lost limbs” gave me a chuckle. . . . I’m thinking the ‘Haunted Castle’ from Pumpkin Hollow would make a nice background piece for a Dickens’ display. It might be a bit small, but it looks good. The cost is $34.99 (too expensive). Comes with some spooky accessories. 



. . . Stopped at Hobby Lobby. They have a whole lot of Christmas stuff, almost nothing that says ‘village’ to me. I’m disappointed; generally we’ll find something of interest. Not so this time. At least so far. This is August, right? 


. . . Tuggle Family display. ‘Building the North Pole’ on YouTube. I saw the video on The Village Collector web site. 50 hours, 127 houses, 131 trees, 320 elves - three hundred and twenty elves


. . . The black lights in this display make the glass beads glow. A very nice look. Drew a lot of attention. This scene was ‘The Nog Pub’ in our display. I’m trying to confirm the light source is still active. This is from our display in 2013-2014. Elves from Dept. 56, tables from Minithings, glass beads from Michael’s



. . . “You will be surrounded by those who love you.” Good thing I was there. Linda’s fortune cookie at the China Star, Hermantown, MN. Mongolian Chicken was her menu choice for one of her August birthday celebration dinners. 


. . . Rodeo riders from Mills Fleet Farm. It doesn’t seem fair that we have to buy a four or five piece set just to add a rodeo clown to our collection. We haven’t made the purchase – yet! 


. . . It’s new for Dept. 56 Snow Village Halloween. I thought it was interesting, but couldn’t figure out the name – ‘Witch Watch.’ Then I read their description. “Tilly, the Tower Witch uses a centuries old, specially built telescope to look for her sisters in flight. - ” Got it, witch watch! It must have been the eclipse that piqued my interest (I noticed the telescope). She really looks good in the right display. 



. . . I’m thinking ‘The 56 Street Brewery’ should have a real market in a city like Duluth. I’m not sure how many craft and micro-breweries we have, but there are many. I’m thinking each one should have this new Dept. 56 offering on the bar. It comes as a box set that includes a lit house, a three person accessory, a tree and snow. It’s from Snow Village. I don’t drink beer – just so you know! 



. . . Embossing folders from The Paper Studio. They are used to emboss paper when making fancy greeting cards – one of Linda’s hobbies. The folder she showed me was 5 ¼ X 4 inches. With it you could emboss ten rows of 1 X 3/8 inch bricks on a piece of thick paper. Paint it and you have a brick wall. You find these things at craft stores. 


. . . Alpenhorn Serenade. You may remember that because of a thrift store purchase, our Alpine collection is much larger. It might even be Linda’s favorite village. For some reason these Dept. 56 guys keep showing up. In displays, for sale, Dept. 56 web site -we see them everywhere. I like the St. Bernard



. . . This is new to me. I just received an email from Dept. 56. It said: “We noticed that you visited our site recently but didn’t actually make a purchase. Below is a list of your recently viewed items, just in case you wish to return and find them online later.” I didn’t realize that Dept. 56 was doing monitoring. But then everyone is, soooo. 













 Just so you know! . . . . August 17, 2017 


By David Spears


. . . We thought we were going out for pizza and ice cream, er, custard. Came home with display ‘add-ons.’ A stop at ‘Thirsty Pagan Brewing,’ Superior, WI and we found an advertising beverage coaster. It was for the bar/pizza shop – maybe a sign for our displays. At Culver’s Linda spotted a blue plastic knife and fork. She’s thinking of using them with a Dept. 56 North Pole restaurant. The color almost matches the roof of ‘Tillie's Tiny Cup Café.’


. . . Do you remember when Collector Editions was supposed to replace the Village Chronicle? It was with the Winter 2004 issue. Peter and Jeanne George had decided to stop publication of their magazine. Instead Pioneer Communications elected to do an entire magazine devoted to Dept. 56 - Village D-Lights. Linda Kruger was the editor. I had a column – ‘Just so you know!’ 


. . . We use Dept. 56 ‘Fresh Fallen Snow’ for our displays (the winter ones). It doesn’t like to leave your hand as you ‘snow’ your village (it sticks to you). Try putting it in a paper bag and spraying it with ‘Static Guard.’ That solves the ‘electricity’ problem. Hint: don’t use baking soda, salt or sugar as snow in your display. All are corrosive and attract unwanted visitors.


. . . The following information is new from the National Council of 56 Clubs web site: “NCC Fellow Villagers, We are pleased to announce that we have signed a contract to hold our Department 56 Gathering in 2019. The Gathering is to be held at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott on June 20 - 23, 2019. More information will follow in the near future. A special thanks goes out to Joe Meyers for all his hard work throughout the contract negotiations. . . . Sincerely, The QCV Gathering Team 


. . . “Know who gets the longest vacation every year? Santa Claus.” From The Family Circus by Bill Keane. 


. . . We’re driving down a county road. All of a sudden it’s “stop!” - Linda has spotted a future village tree. Down in the ditch she goes and picks a whole bunch of weed/flowers. She trims them, gets rid of the rough edges. Next the stems of the weed are taped to a length of floral wire. She then wraps it all with brown floral tape. Spray painting the flower end different colors finishes the ‘trees.’ We use many colors for variety; depict seasons or maybe to separate areas of a display. 



. . . Checked with a local Menard’s store. They do have Lemax Halloween on their ‘shelf plan.’ Should be out before the end of August. 


. . . Looking for houses to use outside for a Halloween display? I spotted two cookie jars and a candle holder at Saver’s. All looked like houses decorated for the season. The jars were ‘village size’ and brightly colored. The holder was pretty small, but I’ll bet we could find a use for it. Of course, we do very little Halloween.


. . . I was going to share John and Gerry Facebook greetings from Saskatoon. But I can’t spell Saskatchewan. Looked like it was fun. They were on a mystery bus trip. 


. . . “56 on the Square, Woodstock, Illinois” – that’s what it says on a blue and silver pen I just found. It was in my ‘2008 NCC Comes Home to D56’ goodie bag. I’m confused, I use the bag all the time, why is it I find an Illinois pen now? 


. . . A Tuk-Tuk is essentially a rickshaw with a small engine fitted in. They have been used in Thailand for ‘taxi-type’ transportation. We use a couple of them in an Oriental display, or maybe even Christmas in the City. Matchbox Toys has a new version for 2017. Now that I’ve see them up close, I’ll not be buying! Too small (I knew that) and really not very well done. So why did I mention it? 



. . . You were born on August 17, but you knew that. Happy Birthday Linda!! 


. . . Can you have too many Santa Claus in your collection? If you would like one a bit different, how about this. It’s from Luville, ‘Reindeer Teasing Santa.’ I call it a tug of war. Not sure what a reindeer wants with a bag of Christmas gifts. 



. . . Summer issue of Village D-Lights?? Anyone received their copy? Don’t think my subscription has expired. I will check.



. . . Labor Day – The United States Department of Labor web site says (in part) . . . . “It is appropriate . . . that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.” I know the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. In my growing up years, all I remember is a downtown parade and several large picnics with lots of food. What do you do for a display/vignette? I mean besides a parade and picnic. 











 Just so you know! . . . . August 11, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . Ms. Lit Town - No phone contact with Melinda Seeger ‘til September 5. 1-800 (LIT TOWN) 548-8696. Dept. 56 is making system changes/improvements. You may still email her, after August 14, when she returns from vacation. All the customer service contacts are operating normally on 


. . . Linda’s family heirloom China cabinet has a background mirror. We used it to double the size of our golf course. Note: there are only two golf greens in the display.




. . . Have you ever heard a CD player rattle when you shake it? It was a first for my ‘computer person’ brother. Our desktop computer ate a CD – it came out in too many pieces to count. A new one is on order. 




. . . This was a surprise. He looked the part: dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans; tall, husky, maybe a tatoo or two, pleasant smile. The gentleman biker purchased the ‘Reaper Motorcycle Company.’ It’s a, new for 2017, Spooky Town offering from Lemax. Note: While I was still there, he came back to see if it was on sale. He didn’t want to waste his Michael’s coupon. 



. . . From a 1993 Disney movie, Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Black Light Village. See at I saw a picture on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page. If we did a Halloween display, I’d take a look. I like the buildings, the ‘people’ are a bit much for me. 


. . . ‘A Closer Look’ is about doing the little things that make a difference, make them better, more fun, more interesting. We’re talking about displays and that is part of what I do. Should I be jealous, or maybe Bill (The Village Collector person in charge) is making sure I don’t work too hard. Oh, in case you hadn’t noticed, ‘A Closer Look’ is planned feature for this web site 


. . . Our Michael’s has Halloween on the shelves. That includes the 2017 Spooky Town from Lemax. They show ten new buildings, not all are actually houses. Two are carnival rides and one is the ‘Creepy Camper.’ Of the fifteen new accessories, Linda likes the ‘Black Cat Millinery’ and I like the kids ‘Ready, Set-Treats.’ Both are pictured below. to see everything offered at Michael’s.




. . . Remember, past words from ‘Just so you know!’ are available on this ‘The Village Collectors’ web site. There will be an even larger history of the columns in the near future. My writings will not be on any schedule. When I have a new thought, learn something, receive a comment, suggestion, or question, I’ll write. Any and all input is much appreciated. 


. . . 1996 PA5-6000, Lancaster PA. That’s the Dept. 56 gathering Billy Edwards recently found some fun stuff from. He continues to share his memories on the NCC Facebook page. You have to remember that that he attended those events. 


. . . Welcome to Larry Treadwell. He will be sharing the 2017 story of Hauntsville with all of us. If you don’t know Larry, he’s a story teller with words to accompany the images of his Halloween display. If we’re lucky, he’ll honor us with his Christmas display/story as well.



. . . Today (August 11) is the 25th Anniversary of the Mall of America, Bloomington, MN. Minnesota, home of Dept. 56, and not a Dept. 56 dealer inside the walls. I found that fact amazing when I researched the information on the company web site. For personal background, I visited the company store in the MOA maybe six or eight times. All but one of the times, that store was the reason we were there. Not many visits, but in those days there were many dealers in the one hundred- fifty plus miles between here and there. I just find it sad. 







Just so you know! . . . . August 6, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . I’m thinking the Dept. 56 Margaritaville accessories/people would go very well with some items we already have. Our ‘beach house’ and bus were purchased in the Dominican Republic. We were there for a wedding (not ours) in 2009. Flowers from Minithings;   Mariachi Band - Our Town from Pretty Petals; sand from sawdust. I think the new ‘Parrot Head King’ would fit right into the scene. That’s him, twice, just below. Of course it could be ‘A Couple of Cheeseburgers in Paradise,’ or my favorite, ‘Rocking Away in Margaritiaville’ – a couple eating or a guitar player. 



. . . ‘Paws & Refresh,’ from Dept. 56, was introduced in 2007 (and is still current). In my last column I mistakenly said the dog and fire hydrant were new. Thanks to Kathy for reading and correcting. 


. . . ‘Windsor Castle’ was on the cover of the Premier Issue of Village D-Lights, February/ March 2005. The façade is part of the Dept. 56 Historical Landmark Series. ‘Just so you know!’ was on page 32. It featured a picture of ‘Angel’s Wings’ from Lemax. Below is the same accessory, different picture. A favorite in our displays each year. 



. . . I’d forgotten how effective the Dept. 56 ‘Village Sounds’ are. Listening on The Village Collectors web site reminded me. I made a note to remind us to use our tape in the village display sound system this season. 


. . . Linda brought home another plastic container. A salad was the original content. We use many of them to store village accessories (that don’t have boxes). I took her to Wendy’s for lunch. I know - what a guy. 


. . . 4th Edition Village D-Tails - Noticed that the index in each volume is for that volume only. It confused me for a minute or two, well five. I’m sure it says that somewhere, but I might not remember something like that (‘cause it makes sense). 



. . . There are no ‘official’ U.S. holidays in August. Linda reminds me we can/do celebrate her birthday – all month! 








 Just so you know! . . . . August 3, 2017 


By David Spears


. . . Western Snow Plows – TV advertisement on July 31st - July 31st !! Don’t they know we don’t have snow on the ground - yet! Note: same ad as last year.


. . . Found some useable display items in PetSmart (Duluth, MN). How about a colorful surfboard set to use with the new Dept. 56 Margaritaville. Four inches tall - the colors sure look good. There was also a beach sign and a seagull on a pier/piling available. An Oriental gate is worth looking at (not for Margaritiaville). $9.99, Top Fin Surfboards. All items are intended for aquarium use. 


. . . Summer issue of Village D-Lights?? Folks used to ask me when to expect it. Now I ask others. Anyone received their copy? 


. . . Homies Clowns Series sets 1 and 2 – I just realized we need Series 2. I believe we have thirty plus total clowns available for use in our village displays - mostly in our carnival. These are a bit small to be ‘village size,’ but no one seems to complain. Note: looking at the picture, most of our other clowns are more ‘normal.’ 



. . . August 1, 2017, Christmas trees on display at Hobby Lobby (Duluth, MN). Maybe before that date, but we just saw them. 




. . . Have you seen the new Dept. 56 ‘Paws & Refresh?’ We’ve had several dogs peeing for ten years (did I say that right?). They came from Concord Miniatures and Walmart Holiday Times. For some reason people noticed them and smiled. Of course we keep breaking their leg(s) – the one in the air. The Dept. 56 dog and fire hydrant combo is porcelain, 1.5 inches tall, and costs $12.50. 


. . . My writings on The Village Collector will not be on any schedule. When I have a new thought, learn something, receive a comment, suggestion, or question, I’ll write. Any and all input is much appreciated. 


. . . Folks have asked who the little people are they saw scattered around the rides in the picture including the Dept. 56 ‘Twirling Tea Cups.’ It appeared in the June 29th ‘Just so you know.’ They are Homies! We mostly found them in ‘bubble gum’ machines. Even more at Spencer Gifts, Miller Hill Mall, Duluth, MN. Images can be seen at:


. . . Dept. 56 Christmas In The City ‘Majestic Theater’ 25th Anniversary edition. It was released in 2000. We saw one on the shelf at G & L Country Barn Christmas Shop, Windham, CT. Why didn’t we buy it? Don’t make that mistake! We were there after the Northeast Harvest Gathering in 2013. They were planning on closing the store in 2014 (according to my notes). . . . . We also thought the airplane show below was an interesting addition to their New England Village display. We didn’t purchase that one either. I remember saying something about taking extra stuff home on the plane. Yes, I’m familiar with USPS, FedEx, UPS – just so you know! 




. . . 4th Edition Village D-Tails - I’m still looking for opinions on how it compares with the former versions. One I received was the ability to modify/change the books to fit your needs. Example: If you don’t collect all villages, put the ones you do collect together in the same book. Suggestions to make it even better should go to Richard Puckett,



. . . Saw a recent on-line image of a ski jump. It was in a North Pole display on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook Page. Bright red! It looked like lots of fun. I thought I’d share our John Rapacz ski jump. Attractive, very well done and attracts attention. John could maybe tell us how long we’ve had it (well over ten years). The ‘jumper’ is from Joann Fabrics, all but one of the other skiers are Lemax. Linda trained me to make rocky backgrounds. 












 Just so you know! . . . . July 29, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . I noticed a box of Keebler Graham Crackers on the kitchen table. It had the cutest elf in the corner (well, ‘he’s’ a picture). I’m looking to see if he’s available, village size, and in 3D. I think he would look great in our North Pole. And, very few others would have one! 


. . . Club Fundraiser – Her name is Beth and she donated a bunch of Dept. 56 North Pole pieces. They were from a family member who longer had room, nor an interest in keeping them. Our Village North Collectors Club is hosting an annual garage sale fundraiser for the Essentia Health NICU in Duluth, MN. They will receive all proceeds. 


. . . The University of Minnesota/ Duluth announced they are replacing the chemistry building on campus. They said the current building was open in the first half of the last century. Hey, wait a minute – I went to UMD in the first half of the last century. It’s OK, I didn’t take chemistry. 


. . . Have not yet received the summer issue of Village D-Lights - Just so you know! 


. . . If you are looking for replacement parts/pieces for Dept. 56 houses/ accessories, now is the time to contact Ms. Lit Town. Call 1-800-548-8696. You get faster service and it makes it a whole lot easier for those in Eden Prairie. Don’t forget to call between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday thru Friday. They try their best all the time, but the closer to Christmas, the busier they get. Please say ‘Hi!’ to Melinda Seegers for me.


. . . Always looking for comments, suggestions, questions, etc. Any and all input is much appreciated.


. . . Remember, no more Minnesota 56 Clubs web site as of August 1, 2017. I’m going to miss ‘working’ with Dave Erickson. He has been putting up with me for many years and has certainly taught me a bunch of things. Thanks Dave! He is retiring – again! 


. . . A couple visiting our garden party brought gifts. Among them an Alco, Brougham, and Victoria. I didn’t know any automobiles with those names. There was also a Buick, Pierce Arrow and Ford Model T. They are two and one half inch little cars. Two small for our village people but I’ll bet they’ll work in a kids playground or maybe a carnival. Thanks to Dan and Karen. 

. . . ‘Cocoa Cups,’ interesting carnival ride from Lemax new for 2017. It features passengers in eight ‘cups.’ I prefer the Dept. 56 ‘Twirling Tea Cups.’ Ours came with three cups, it now has six. If you look close, you will notice three are dressed for winter, three for summer. Note: it stopped operating the day before our 2017 village open house. Thus the sign, “Closed for repairs.” 


. . . 2018 Dept. 56 gathering ‘Sweet Home Chicago.’ It will be held September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, Rosemont, IL. For further info: The committee is beginning to add info, keep the web site handy. 


. . . Has anyone begun using the new 4th Edition Village D-Tails? I’m looking for opinions on how it compares with the former versions. 


. . . Lemax has new, animated ‘Skateboard Mushers,’ and ‘Clearing The Ice’ accessories. I think they are worth looking at. Remember, we live in northern Minnesota (snow and ice are part of life). ‘The Bike Ride’ was interesting as well. It has three young girls with training wheels on their bicycles. Detail is not good, but it’s a cute idea.   All are new for 2017. 





 Just so you know! . . . . July 16, 2017 

By David Spears 


. . . The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research is the announced charity for the 2018 gathering ‘Sweet Home Chicago.It will be held September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, Rosemont, IL. For further info: 


. . . 4th Edition Village D-Tails. Linda and I spent an hour plus beginning to post our new Village D-Tails. Entering what we own is what I mean by ‘post.’ So far we managed to ‘do’ Snow Village (very limited numbers) and Dickens’. We can tell you it is easy to find items and post them. We used an orange ‘highlighter.’ The flat, open pages, makes writing so much easier. So far most everything is where we expected it to be. We also posted the ‘Handbook’ as we went along. Both being in date order makes it the smart thing to do. Will say more as our experience grows (or I receive more input from others). 


. . . 46.50 N Lat, 92.10 W Long, Elev. 1250 feet. That’s where we live. My QSL card says so. Note: That’s actually on top of the hill in Duluth, MN. Amateur radio operators confirm on-air contacts with QSL cards. My call sign is WBØZAH – just so you know! 


. . . A Christmas tree ornament from Millie's in Tempe, AZ. I’m guessing John and Gerry McGraw are using it in ‘Margaritaville’ – their new collection. Yes, I like it too! 



. . .‘Round Up’ a 2012 Lemax Carnival piece – I would like opinions from folks who have one, or have at least have seen one in person. I sort of like the idea of the way it looks, not sure about the motion. We already have a carnival with seventeen animated rides. Gotta be careful/thoughtful before we make another purchase. How does it look in a carnival display? Wouldn’t mind opinions on ‘The Cosmic Swing’and/or the ‘The Snowflake Drop’ as well. Thanks! 


. . . Miles Wood and Tom Taylor sent us a ‘Hi!’ from the gathering in Tempe, AZ. It came via Village North Collectors Club members, Gerry and John McGraw. I believe the 2013 NE Harvest Gathering in Connecticut was the last time we visited with Miles and Tom. Very nice to hear from them again. 



. . . Nano Metalfigs, Walmart, $1.00. They offer a choice of twenty-three different action figures. I purchased Harley Quinn (from Suicide Squad), Jada Toys, Inc.1 ¾ inches tall (looks smaller), 100% die-cast metal. I don’t recognize Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, Katana, Commissioner Gordon, Cyborg and or course, Harley Quinn. Harley looks like a clown, in a red and black costume. She is leaning against a very large, black gavel. All of the ‘people’ are too skinny, and short, to be used has normal folks in any village. But they could certainly be used in a carnival, or on a parade float, etc. 


. . . Really been enjoying reading the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page. Especially Mr. Billy Edwards (and Sharon) and their recent travels. Now they are in the ‘NCC history mode.’ It’s worth a look. 


. . . Thomas Kincade ‘Snow-Kissed Holiday Memories’ – Masterpiece Snow Globe Tree – I think it’s my first Christmas ad. Came in today’s newspaper. Sure doesn’t look like anything we’d purchase.


. . . Remember Linda and I will host our annual ‘Garden Party’ on Tuesday, July 25, 10 to 4. The flowers are looking good. 


. . . Remember, no more Minnesota 56 Clubs web site as of August 1, 2017. Until I find a place, it will soon be email only for ‘Just so you know!’ Still looking for a place – suggestions welcome. 





 Just so you know! . . . . July 7, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . I didn't realize these people (elves and Mr. and Mrs. Claus) were so darned cute. The Dept. 56 North Pole 'Peppermint Skating Party' was available at recent estate sale - we bought it! I un-wrapped it and discovered how smart we were with the purchase (‘cause of the cute elves). Not sure we have room for more skating elves but I’ll bet we'll find a way (Linda is pretty clever). 



. . . We now have our NCC 25th Anniversary pieces (umbrella couple and clock). Thanks to John and Gerry McGraw for their personal pickup (in Tempe, AZ) and delivery (in Duluth, MN). I understand the McGraw’s found the maximum capacity of their car. Another purchase and one of them would have had to stay in Arizona. Thanks to Diane Welch, gathering Registration Chair, for making it all possible. Also, enjoyed their Margaritaville story. The McGraw’s have begun a new collection. 


. . . Anything new?? . . . ‘Sweet Home Chicago,’ September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, 5440 N River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018. $119.00 + tax (reservations mid-October 2017). Parking: $14.00 per night with in and out privileges. 


. . . Very few words seen/heard on the 4th Edition Village D-Tails. Is that good or bad? We haven’t posted ours yet (with the Dept. 56 items we possess). 

. . . The NCC Facebook page has a recent post by Red Misha. It features an old bakery he rehabed into an 'Ugly Sweater Shop.' It looks great! We have something, from Lemax, that looks like they were made to go together. Linda 'rehabed' the Lemax Ugly Sweater accessory. All four of the guys are now wearing ugly sweaters.



. . . I listened to several minutes of fireworks on the radio. How do I know? They told me, "you are listening to fireworks on the radio." Below is a Facebook link to the 2017 fireworks in Duluth, MN. In the distance you can see the fireworks across the Bay in Superior, WI 


. . . The neighbor had several items sitting by the curb. Two signs indicated they were free. A car pulled up, the driver got out, picked up the two signs, put them in his trunk and drove away. ‘Free’ signs . . . . . ??? 


. . . I didn't know I had a Village D-Lights T-shirt. "Miniature Enthusiasts Unite" on the front and "Village D-Lights" on the back. "I don't remember ever seeing it before. It must be mine, it was in my dresser. - NP Sue (on Yahoo) said “I remember them selling the T-shirts at some gathering years ago. Don't remember which one.” - It is a color I like. Maybe I made a purchase at a gathering. 


. . . No more Minnesota 56 Clubs web site (as of August 2017). Thanks to Dave Erickson for all his work on behalf of the clubs (and for putting up with me). He probably won’t mention it, but I’m sometimes tough to train. 


. . . Linda said “My sandwich is so good I’m coming back here without a coupon!” We were having lunch at Casa Latte in Hermantown, MN. My turkey, apple, spinach, cheese sandwich was also more than worth repeating – we will go back. 







 Just so you know! . . . . June 25, 2017 


By David Spears 


 . . . No one has given me an idea for a village vignette in our gardens. The picture below is of some pots I filled. That’s to show you we do have flowers in northern Minnesota. I still need help! 



. . . Melinda Seegers, Dept. 56, made a quilt for the Tempe gathering. Silver, black and white. I saw many images, very nice looking. Bet it looked great ‘in person.’ 


. . . Looking to see when we attended our first gathering, I discovered some interesting things. One, members of our Village North Collectors Club had ten sessions of display construction in 1999. It was our clubs entry for the display contest at Bachman’s Gathering in August of that year. When completed, it barely, just barely, fit in the back of a pickup truck (with topper). We won no awards at the gathering but our display received lots of attention. A picture was even posted on-line. That was unusual in 1999 (and a first for our club). The display was the Lake Superior shoreline from the Aerial Bridge to Glensheen Mansionin Duluth.


. . . ‘Sweet Home Chicago,’ September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, 5440 N River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018. $119.00 + tax (reservations mid-October 2017). Parking: $14.00 per night with in and out privileges. 


. . . The ad for the estate sale said “tremendous amount of Dept. 56.” We were there the afternoon of the fourth day and we still spent $74.25. We left much more than we bought – just so you know! The horse cookie cutter will not be used in our displays. 



. . . Congratulations to Collector of the Year Debbie Shelgren. Named so by the National Council of 56 Clubs at the recent Tempe, AZ gathering. 


. . . Melinda Seegers – Dept. 56, and Harry and June McGowan – Dept. 56 Retirees, were the first to be awarded the NCC Presidents Award. – It is a milestone award that will be presented annually, beginning with the organization’s 25th Anniversary. The award shall have a broad reach in an effort to recognize an individual, individuals or entity who through their selfless actions have left a permanent and positive imprint on the National Council of 56 Clubs, its Member Clubs and Department 56 collecting. Recipients may include Department 56 employees, NCC officers, Clubs, individual collector(s), Associate Members, retailers and the like. The award(s) shall be presented, publicly, at the gathering of the sitting President's choice. 


. . . I really enjoyed all the images posted from the Silver Rush 25th Anniversary Gathering. Saw pictures of a bunch of friends. Thanks to Pete N Trudi Baer for all their work. 


. . . We were at the Park Point Art Fair in Duluth, MN. Linda saw a ‘tower’ she liked for our gardens. I think it looks like a rocket. The artist built it from heavy metal. Its maybe eighteen inches tall, made to be placed on top of a piece of re-rod. Just don’t think it will work in a village display. 









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May 11, 2018






David Spears

105 East Toledo Street

Duluth, MN 55811

(218) 724-6148