In Illuminate\Database\Eloquent\Collection, there is a Collection::make() method that did exactly what I needed.
Collection::make() won't give you a collection of eloquent models, though. You could just use the hydrate or hydrateRaw method on your Item model. That'll give you a collection of models.
yeah, hydrateRaw actually looks like it could be a shortcut to the way I did it. thanks for pointing that out.
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