December 08, 2019

The Joys of Toys

I plan to write a "catch-up" post tomorrow regarding this past week, but I wanted to make sure to get this posted as soon as possible.

My friend Jax is doing something amazing for Christmas, and at first, I was just going to write a paragraph or two about it in a regular post; once I started that, though, I realized Jax basically just deserves his own post because there are several cool things to share!

I met Jax and his wife, Lora, at a Purina "Better With Pets" summit that we attended each year (I wish Purina would do another!). When I first attended, I felt sort of like an outsider at the Purina events. I don't consider myself a social media "influencer", because my blog is small potatoes compared to the "real" influencers there.

I was amongst some very popular influencers and it was intimidating! I am talking about people with literally millions of followers on social media. Even animals with their own Instagram accounts that are followed by pretty much everyone on the planet were there.

While I was probably standing alone looking awkward at some point, Jax kindly introduced himself and his wife, Lora. At the time, I didn't know who he was (I mostly followed people relating to health/fitness and his Instagram account contained solely photos of his dog), but I checked out his account later, and the pictures were SO GOOD.

Pet photography wasn't a "job" for him, but I told him he really ought to make it a full-time gig because he was so talented. I think people would pay a lot of money to get these kinds of photos of their pets! He and his wife made me feel much more comfortable about being at the summit, because they were genuine, friendly, all-around good people.

Here are a couple lots of my favorites photos from back then (you can find these and tons more on Instagram @thefugee):

A couple of years later, Jax picked up a new hobby--photographing action figures (yes, toys). When I saw the first few photos, I was completely amazed. Stunned. I had no idea that toy photography was even a "thing", but he was clearly very talented at that as well as the pet photography.

I will admit, I give no thought whatsoever to action figures and I never played with them when I was a kid. I also don't like Star Wars, comic books, or basketball; and Jax includes a lot of photos using these themes. However, it doesn't matter what the subject of his photos are--they are simply STUNNING, and I love seeing them in my Instagram feed. Here are a few several a lot of my favorites:

Occasionally, he will post a "behind the scenes" video showing how he sets the photos up. As you can imagine, it's a big process!

His new toy photography Instagram account (@plasticaction) gained so many followers so quickly (which was no surprise, honestly) but Jax is literally one of the most humble and kind people I've ever met. I want to share a quick story before I finally get to the reason for posting all this.

One of Jax's earlier photos (from 2017) became my very favorite, not only because of the photo itself, but because of the story behind it. If you're into The Walking Dead, then you will like this (if not, you'll still like it, haha). As you may or may not know, the character from TWD who plays Daryl is Norman Reedus.

Jax set up a very cool photograph of an action figure of Daryl riding a motorcycle (I can't find the picture right now) and Norman Reedus actually posted it to his Instagram account to promote his new show! Awesome, right? Except that he didn't credit Jax for the photo, despite numerous comments from Jax's followers that he should credit the photographer.

Jax, being a stand-up guy, replied in a humorous way that I thought was best! If you watch The Walking Dead, then you'll understand this photo. Jax posted it to Instagram with the following caption:

"Last week, @bigbaldhead [Norman Reedus] posted one of my more popular photos to promote his new show but didn't credit me on that photo. Not cool. I'm not bitter or anything, but I've suddenly grown a fondness to Negan. He's my favorite. GO NEGAN!"

Yes, it's gory, but... Lucille.

(As a blogger, I totally understand how posting something without attribution can happen accidentally. I've shared things before where I don't know where it came from, and I do state so; however, if someone was to recognize it and ask for credit or ask me to remove it, I would do so immediately. When I've shared others' photos and I know who it comes from, I ask permission to post it.)

Maybe I should have saved that Walking Dead story for later, because it doesn't exactly tie in with what I'm about to write here (finally getting to the point). But I loved the way Jax responded and just had to share.

Anyway, other than bragging about Jax's photography, here is the purpose of this post. In his words:
"With the holidays coming up, I wanted to put together a campaign that would help some families in need. The money that you donate will go towards purchasing toys for families that are struggling this holiday season. 
With your donations, I will personally be purchasing the toys and delivering them to the Toys for Joy organization in San Diego, California. Since I will be handling ALL the transactions for this campaign, you are going to know exactly where your donations are going. My goal is to spend $2,000 in toys through your donations! 
Please join me on this campaign. Together we can create an abundance of joy for families who are struggling even if it's just for a day. Trust me when I say that your donation could be life changing. I was on the struggling side at one point in my life and those acts of kindness changed me forever."

Jax shared a story that was both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, which was the reason behind starting this campaign:
"My parents are a big inspiration when it comes to giving back. Even though they didn’t have a lot of money, I have memories of my dad writing checks out to the local church, various charities, and extended family in the Philippines. But, it was my mom that inspired me to start this campaign. 
I will never forget the day I went to the department store with her to buy some necessities. As usual, we ended up in the toy isle, where I could only browse, because we typically couldn’t afford to buy anything. But that particular day, she let me choose something to buy. She probably sensed the overwhelming joy that I was feeling as I held and gazed over the huge Transformers box every kid would die for. I remember being the happiest kid in the world as I dragged that big ole box of greatness to the register. 
After Mom handed her credit card for payment, I remember the word “declined” coming out of the cashier’s mouth. She tried at least two other cards, fumbling through her purse in desperation, looking for other means to pay. 
I didn’t get to bring the Transformer home that day, or any other day for that matter. As disappointed as I was, I got over it and moved on pretty quickly. What I could NOT get over is the look on my mom’s face as we walked out the store. She was so ashamed that she couldn’t look at me.  All she wanted to do was make her kid happy. 
I wish I could have told her it was okay, that it wasn’t a big deal. The thought of how she felt that day breaks my heart. And so this campaign is in honor of my mother, Lourdes Navarro."

It's SO fun to think of the kids' faces as they receive the toys. I love that these were purchased personally by Jax with the thought and care of someone who enjoys toys himself! Jax's sister actually manages a Toys for Joy location, so it's nice to know that these toys are in good hands and we can see where the donations are going.

There are two ways you can donate to his campaign (the deadline is Wednesday the 11th, which is why I wanted to post this ASAP).

1) You can directly send money via PayPal, and 100% of it will go toward purchasing the toys (Jax will be personally picking them out--you can see his first trip to the store here on this video spending $1,000--half his goal. It's fun to watch!)

Here is the link to place a monetary donation online.

2) You can buy a print of one of his action figure photos (I bought the Jurassic Park one--my family loves Jurassic Park!). Here is the page where you can select a print to purchase, and 100% of the proceeds will go toward the toy campaign:

Here is the link to check out the prints available to purchase.

While I asked Jax's permission to share about the toy drive and his photos, I'm sure he is going to be humbly embarrassed at the extent I went to on this post! (Sorry, Jax). Haha, but I love what he is doing and I am happy to help however I can. I wanted to share it here in case you are feeling generous and want to donate toward toys for kids in need.

And also because Jax and Lora are two of the nicest people I've ever met ;)  (Remember, the deadline is Wednesday.)

You can read more about Jax on his website. I'm sure you would enjoy following along with Jax's photography, so you can find him on Instagram at:

@thefugee (This account was started with photos of his dog, Fugee, who I shared photos of above. Fugee was a rescue dog and now has a couple of siblings who were rescued, too!)

 @plasticaction  (This account is where Jax shares his super talented photography of action toys!)

You can also check out his website at here at Plastic Action.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post Katie -- I just sent Jax a donation for the Toy Drive and am now following on IG! Best wishes to you and the family for a wonderful Christmas! ~Janet


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