I invented mini men four years ago in the Peak District, while we were on holiday. Their original purpose was to be toys, so that my younger brother Matthew and I could play with my younger brother Ben, who had a model of a man made out of buttons. At first, I was not quite sure how to make them, so I twisted the pipe cleaners slightly strangely, and very differently to how I make them now. Then once I had made the two bodies, I twisted another pipe cleaner round their neck to make a head. But this did not work. The pipe cleaner that I had used for the head kept falling off! So, I thought about the problem, and then took the pipe cleaner head off, and wrapped some masking tape around the red mini man’s head. Then, using my pens and pencils, I drew him a face. Even though I could not have guessed at the time, this was to be the Fire Elder, teacher of many mini men, and my favourite mini man more than once. I had thought that this face had worked out perfectly, and I made one for the other mini man as well. This would be the legendary Water Elder. The next day, I got to work on some villains. I modelled them bigger than the mini men, so these were the first massive men. The brown one was called Cat, and had ears on her pipe cleaner head. The yellow one had no name, though he had the power to control lightning. But a few days later, disaster struck! Cat’s pipe cleaner had fallen off, and the lightning villain’s leg was coming loose! I could not fix Cat, so I turned to the other villain. His damage was beyond repair as well, though I had an idea. I remodelled him into a mini man, the brave Lightning Elder. I gave the Lightning Elder to Ben, and everyone was happy. While we were on holiday I modelled two more mini men, Elder Jungle for Matthew, and Elder Air for myself.
When we went back home we realised that Jungle Elder and Water Elder had been lost! Soon after, Air Elder got put in the washing machine by mistake! We couldn’t find Lightning Elder; button man was lost. Mini men were forgotten, until two seasons later, it was Christmas...
At Christmas four years ago, I remembered mini men, and created new ones. There was Little Red for me, Elder Ice for Matthew, and two silver mini men for Ben. I made myself Elder Earth, and Elder Glue. But then, in the moment of happiness, Ben lost both his silvers, and Matthew’s mini man was destroyed. But there was hope. I found Fire Elder hidden under my bed! And Lightning Elder in my drawings! There was still hope for mini men. Next summer I invented thirteen mini men that have become the symbol of all their kind. These were the Elementals.
Each could control a unique element (in our games), and Fire Elder was their teacher. A year later, Siloxes - beings who gave the Elementals their power - were invented. I made the Indestructibles, mini men who were made of more than one pipe cleaner twisted together. Mini men populated the house. And still now, The Elementals, Little Red, Elders Fire, Gravity, Steam, Hypnosis, Lightning, Glue, Earth, and Lesser Jungle, survive. The mini men have a motto:
We are mini men. We thrive.
And they have lived up to it for all these years.
James C. N. Tomkins