Tiny objects are surprisingly expensive. Inch-for-inch, I’d spend far more furnishing a 1/6th scale room then I’d ever spend on a full size one. One way I’ve found to trim the costs is to purchase from AliExpress.
The economics of AliExpress are bewildering to me. For less than I’d spend for a few stamps, I can get an envelope from China full of tiny objects. How they manage it, I really cannot figure out. I’m guessing there are maybe tiny elves who fill empty envelopes with elf dust, but it could be some other equally mysterious method.
I was a little wary about purchasing straight from China – I’m working outside of the normal US consumer protections. But so far all of my transactions have been trouble free. I had two items with problems – one where an item was damaged, and another where an item was missing from the envelope – but AliExpress quickly put everything right.
There’s an odd honesty to the shops – maybe based on the idea that everyone knows that they’re cheap because they’re a bit shoddy. Because of that, shop owners are very upfront about the quality of the products. But that also means that you agree to a general state of imperfection. I had one piece with a broken part that the shop owner readily refunded the money on. But I’ve seen lots of feedback where puzzled purchases of scuffed flocked dogs, or wonky-eyed ball jointed dolls discover that a certain level of imperfection is baked into the price.
But, once you understand that you’re not being guaranteed top quality, the transactions go fine – you send in your $1.50 and a month or so later an envelope full of tiny objects appears in your mailbox.