Novelty, Toy Cameras: A Guilty Pleasure

On a video shoot about film photography that I was invited to, the director asked me (as well as the other participants) to bring some of our cameras—any kind, as long as they're fully functional. Along with the Lomo LC-A+ and some of my compacts, I brought my KFC camera, which was a gift from a friend who found it in a thrift shop. I thought it would make an interesting conversation piece. However, upon seeing it among the flat lay of other more expensive point-and-shooters, the director scoffed and said, "I wouldn't include THAT one." Feeling a bit embarrassed, I snatched it back quickly and slipped it in my pocket. With its red and green motif and a cartoonish Colonel Sanders detail, indeed, it is a camera not meant to be taken seriously, but it still does the job of taking quick pictures.

Yes, it works!

Novelty cameras were popularly (and cheaply) made for marketing purposes and corporate giveaways. Its campy aesthetic and lack of settings delegate it to 'toy' status. There is really nothing else that you can do but to point and shoot. They are fun to look at though, making them great collectibles.

As for the photos, results vary—some deliver surprisingly decent photos, while others produce light leaks.

Lomographer mephisto19 once wrote a review about the Bratz camera that he had to buy with the doll. "The camera is a cheap, little, crappy plastic thing but it works. Something I had not expected, but it seriously gave me some of the most awesome snaps under the sun!"

Credits: mephisto19

Another lomographer, ethermoon, shared his experience with this cute Juice Box Camera, featuring a "straw" that functions as the shutter button. There were also these 110 cameras promoting the Barbie doll and Kraft Velveeta Shells and Cheese, reviewed by iaki and abdukted1456, respectively.

Community member fotoflix posted some of his unique finds on his LomoHome, and here are a few picks.

Pop-Tarts Camera

It took him three boxes of Pop-Tarts to get this camera. @fotoflix sent the UPC codes and around 6 to 8 weeks later, this camera arrived, pre-loaded with 12 exposures of unknown film. "Definitely designed for kids, it's very basic: just point, shoot, wind the film. Now the fun part is that the clear, plastic outside cover can be removed and the printed piece of paper can be removed. Use it as a pattern and design your own artwork."

Credits: fotoflix

Coca-Cola Camera

There's a wide variety of cameras that Coca-Cola used for promotion, and here are two of those. "The one on the left is a very basic point & shoot with no adjustable exposure or focus settings. The one on the right has a built-in flash and motorized film advance, but again no adjustable settings. The polar bear slides over the lens to keep the dust out. Both cameras came pre-loaded with mystery film and I have never used them. They look really cool beside my Pepsi can camera."

Credits: fotoflix

Nickelodeon Photo-Blaster

"This is such a cool toy-type camera! It shoots 4 separate photos on a single frame of 35mm film, but compared to the Lomography Actionsampler, it shoots each photo one at a time. That's 144 photos on a roll of 36. There's really not a lot of specs for this camera. Two 27mm f9.5, 2 element lenses, fixed focus, one shutter speed, manual flash, and a sliding lens cover. They were made in China in the 1990s and imported to the United States by Long Hall Technologies in New York. By 1999 they were discontinued."

Credits: fotoflix

Pepsi Can Camera

Can cameras were trendy in the '90s, and fotoflix got lucky with this Pepsi Can variant. A little bit of trivia: "Ginfax is a Chinese company that produced these wonderful 35mm and 110 "can" cameras back in 1990s. They were available in lots of different designs including Pepsi, Coke, Heineken, Budweiser, Duracell battery, and even a roll of Fuji film. Some had built-in flash and others didn't. They actually take a pretty decent photo for a toy-type camera and the built-in flash is great for fill flash on a sunny day. Check thrift stores and yard sales for one of these fun collector's items."

Credits: fotoflix

Have you ever owned or used any of these cameras? Yard sales, thrift shops, and eBay have a bunch of these, and while they're cool in a kitschy way, I'm fine with owning just one novelty cam. But if you're a collector, they're nice to have.

written by shhquiet on 2021-04-12 #novelty-cameras

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