What an interesting year for dolls, indeed. Whereas we were missing the pomp and circumstance of big anniversary passages in 2014, 2015 still delivered all the goodies. Mattel, on more than one occasion, left us scratching our heads with new promotions, Integrity unleashed its usual round of 4.5 trillion dolls, Superdoll continued to amaze and delight, virtually nothing happened with Madame Alexander, and Tonner merged with a toy company of which no one even knew existed. Cheerleaders cheered, haters hated, and all in the midst, Lammily got her first period (we think). So pull up a chair, open up that bottle of champers you didn’t polish off last night, and let’s take a look at 2015 – The Year That Was in Dolls…and not to worry, you won’t hear one shred of Donald Trump in this at all…
And for the record…these may not be ALL of what happened in dolls…but it certainly was what we MOST TALKED ABOUT…that’s all…
Mattel got the year kicked-off nicely after 2014’s puzzling, yet oddly beautiful Italian Wedding for the BFMC Silkstone Collectors. 2015 saw a return to the Atelier, and a collection of beautiful classic silhouettes. It didn’t really matter that the collection lacked cohesion – doll collections aren’t always like a fashion collection. But the turmoil of Bouclé Beauty’s bad face-painting actually drew a response from Mattel to its buyer audience, which left many of us gobsmacked, earning them the No, This Wasn’t a Stunt – We Really Did Screw This Up Award…an award that would return to them later in the year for completely different reasons…
With IDEX now only a memory, and ToyFair being dominated by actual toys – dolls really don’t get much of a New Year premiere anymore. We are starved for the days where collections were unveiled and we could plan out dolly dollars across the seasons based on images of prototype dolls that were likely to change. Nevertheless as the approach of months beckoned, we did get treated by previews from various makers and new directions, earning ALL the doll makers with the Doesn’t Anyone Launch a Proper Collection Anymore? Award.
The ever-present talent of the Magia2000 guys didn’t disappoint in 2015. As they traveled to Japan with their Oriental Obsession artisan edition, and continued to bring it through the year with their beautiful celebrity doll couture, they rightfully earn the We Don’t Just Make Madonna Dolls Award. Elegance in Bloom was particularly wonderful in their support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in conjunction with Haute Doll Magazine.
Doll Observers and the Fashion Doll Awards of 2015 nodded toward Tommydoll’s way, nominating myself and others into various categories of fashion doll accomplishments. I didn’t win, but there was only so many hours in the day to click up multiple votes for myself, and those I admire (yes, you could vote many, many times – which kinda skews the actual results). Be that as it may, it was a great representation of doll world greats, and if nothing else, it brings attention to our world – earning them the Keep on Clicking, It’s a Popularity Contest Award. No dear…it doesn’t mean you’re better, it just means you could click more than the rest of us…
Cinderella was 2015’s ‘Maleficent’, and the manufactured/artist showings for the movie’s timeless characters abounded. Mattel and Disney offered similar products, but vastly different in terms of quality and presentation (not the best exit from a lucrative license there, Mattel). And while it was lovely to have little diminutive versions of Lily James, Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham-Carter, we all were just a little dismayed that no one got Prince Charming’s ‘bump’ quite right – so we can’t really award the Billy Doll Humpy Bumpy Gay-Themed Choice Award to any of them. Still, I am certain Noel Cruz must have been ecstatic to have yet more examples of likeness sculpts he can claim as his own work.
In the artist arena we saw notable entries drawing inspiration from the true Queen of the fairytale realm. Cinderella shined through the hands of Berdine Creedy, Enchanted Doll’s glorious Cinderella 2, Bo Bergemann’s Cinder and Ella, and Angell Studio. It’s a classic tale, and the doll world brought it with its timeless theme of romance and fantasy.
In our miniature world, one will always marvel at the details rendered by doll artists. Rogier Corbeau of Dutch Barbie World is a master of creating sumptuous miniature sets for our little worlds – examples of his work at Barbie Convention (with stunning couture from Hilda Westervelt), and via his own website bring charm and wonder to the tiny, earning him the Lilliputian Décor Award for 2015.
The Fashion Industry continued its nod toward the doll world, making many of us wonder if they are finally realizing the value of doll art, or if it’s just another ploy to attract children to a an adult-themed market much in the same way the Tobacco Industry uses cartoon characters to sell cigarettes. Nevertheless, campaigns are making a statement about dolls, such as those seen in Boudoir, 77th Clutches, Japanese Vogue, ODDA Paris Hilton. Laforet, and Shiseido 100th Anniversary with Nigel Chia DéMuse Doll – you can see a wonderful video of Nigel’s work here – earning the Fashion Industry with the Adults Don’t Really Play With Dolls, Do They? Award.
2015 was the year for the Male Doll. Despite a sad lacking for hot Prince Charming dolls, the doll artists more than made up for it, introducing new offerings of Men to titillate our desire for the masculine. Haute Doll Magazine’s richly naughty treatment of the Male Doll delivered more than just an accessory to your girls. Sharon Wright’s risky vision showed us male doll artistry that clearly stands on its own. Of the more controversial collections, Chan Park’s Plastic Guy/Cartoon Guy taught us there is beauty in hyper-sexual caricatures of masculinity that may speak more closely to the gay male collector, but his vision is the most refreshing take on erotic male art since Tom of Finland defined the genre decades ago, earning him with the All the Good Ones are Gay Award. And speaking of gay, Joey Versaw’s First Love Hart Drifter HauteDoll Exclusive was actually gay, and collectors still snapped up this colorfully unique fashion doll in a heartbeat.
Asher of New England, Emperis and DollChic showed new men, and the jaw-dropping artistry of Granado’s male BJDs would put some spark in your britches any day – however, it was Kinsman Doll’s introduction of Booth and Garrick that redefined our passion for doll art through the offering of beautifully realized and painted men (of which there are still so many owners of these new guys that are putting the swim trunks on wrong). However you play with your boys, there is no denying Kinsman’s entry into the warrior doll arena, and for that, they clearly earn the Prince Charming, Who? Award. You can see more of what it’s like to sew for the Kinsman in one of Tommydoll’s most read blog posts of 2015 – here.
No 2015 round-up would be complete without a stroll through Superdoll’s savage garden. Clearly still leading where others can only follow, the dynamic release of their new Venus d’Royce Vinyl Gen X dolls created some of the most dramatic manufactured doll art of the year (see my shots of Solitaire and Precious here and here – the Solitaire posting was Tommydoll’s highest viewed entry for 2015). Partner this with their Salon couture offerings, and event dolls from their Paris, U.S. and Halloween London events, and you have a shelf-load of eye candy arresting your emotions with each and every stolen glance you make. Guillotine and The News take special honors in this palette, and adding that fabulous Midnite late year release, earns them the Best Dolls With Weapons AND Couture Award.
Nothing really happened (again) with child dolls – and since only fashion dolls matter, we’ll reserve judgment for the child doll bloggers (are there any?). I will give a shout-out to Boneka sharing Rosemary Ionker’s thirty years in the doll world with Jones Publishing’s 30th Anniversary by releasing an exclusive set of Tuesday’s Child (by Dianna Effner for Boneka) along with a seasonal wardrobe, jointly earn them the See? Child Dolls Do Still Sell Award.
Several blogs covered the release of the intriguing Séverine doll by Julian Kalinowski – a nostalgic nod to Barbie, but with an identity all her own. Dolldom covered the photos here, and Dutch Barbie World covered the debut here. Kalinowski’s art doll harks to what made Barbie a fascination, but Séverine takes on an adult sophistication and wistful facial expression that varies from each hand-painted version to the next. There was discussion of a Miss Sévinyl from the creator at the Je Suis Séverine blog (which also host lovely imagery and iconic views of Sèverine’s world – see it here), but that has yet to develop.
In fact, many artists had strong showings with their talent and skills this year – Joey Versaw continues to thrill his niche market with his newest Galactic Mary – Clara Fornari takes the elongated porcelain BJD to new levels with extraordinary couture stylings – Modsdoll by Yian introduced us to sublime beauty through Goddess-inspirations (Eileen is the one I’m waiting for!) – however, it was DollChic that grabbed the spotlight with its Estate and After Sunset collections showing that extreme visions of fashion and exaggeration are what make them who they are, earning DollChic the From Russia With Love Award.
Re-casting has become more widely known, and 2015 brought us horrific stories of enlightenment and tragedy surrounding this criminal practice. In my 2014 posting of the best doll blogs, one entry came under fire because it discusses re-casting as an accepted practice, edifying its readers and identifying itself as ‘Re-cast friendly’. I now believe there is no such term in civilized doll collecting communities, and I’ve removed Resin Muse from the Honorable Mentions list. The author goes on to say, “Harassment and Bullying or Cyber Stalking are crimes. Don’t allow someone to harass you over your dolls.”
Yeah, well…so is stealing someone else’s work. I guess it all comes down to which crime you feel is more serious. Whether you agree with the author’s point-of-view or not, it is a good blog to read when it comes to recast recognition if you can get past the ‘acceptance’ of such ideas.
One of the most serious of re-casting stories involved the copying of Popovy Sis into the form of Modoll (please do NOT confuse that name with themodsdoll.com – a legitimate and talented artist of resin fashion dolls). 3-D printing is making it easier for lazy companies to create rip-offs of other artist’s work – and we need to be vigilant in knowing who we buy from, and not supporting cheap imitations, thereby undermining the art doll industry as we know it. I know it can seem attractive for collectors to obtain something that ‘looks’ like a fine BJD for a fraction of the price, but doll collecting is a luxury, and supporting these criminals so you can have the selfish joy to enjoy a cheap copy of true art makes my ass want to suck a lemon…
You’re the reason deep discounting flourished in the late 90s and decimated the doll store as we know it – I hope you are proud of yourself. It amazes me how some people deign to be human in any respect of the word…earning them the Can’t Understand Normal Thinking Award for 2015 (you can figure out the acronym on your own).
With one downer subject mentioned and out of the way, let’s take a look at the other fashion doll artists that brought it in 2015, shall we Puddings?
Paul Pham’s Numina showed Sung in a variety of stylings, each as electrifying as the next – his OOAK doll made for MetroDolls’ St. Jude Charity Auction (Coralline) was truly inspired. Paul knows how to pair his artistry with others such as Ilaria Mazzoni, Hugo Pineda and Asher of New England to achieve remarkable examples of diminutive couture models, earning him the Honey, I Shrunk the Paris Couture Shows Award.
Kingdom Doll not only hit several home-runs in 2015, but adding their ‘brother’ company, Kinsman Doll, firmly established them as a go-to Goddess in 2015. Their debut at the Paris Fashion Doll Festival was a hit, as was their first US-based event, pairing with the MetroDolls happening in New Jersey last fall. ‘Aquitaine’ has to be the most joyously inspired and received OOAK of the year, earning it the I Do House Chores in Mink and Jimmy Choos Award. Their late year offerings of Victoria’s Secret-inspired Angels sent waves of want crashing on collectors everywhere – I was lucky enough to nab a Holly, and you can see images of that treasure here.
Speaking of Jimmy Choo, his brother, Danny, has created SmartDoll for those who love mingling technology and anime – the non-robotic version is fairly affordable for collectors at ¥60,000 (about USD $500).
The clothing and idea are charming, but not too different from Volks and others of the genre (and since she has become the mascot for Culture Japan, I suppose that’s fitting – if not a bit stereotypical). Still, Choo has embarked on a journey that should realize amazing strides in technological advances, earning him the I, Robot Award.
Fans of Joshua McKenney’s Pidgin Doll got an amazing turn of events this year as the artist transformed his diva into a miniature 12-inch beauty. Also working to make 3-D digitally printed accessories and clothing, which would be reproduced in limited quantities, McKenney continues to forward his message of Pidgin’s style, earning him the real honor of appearing in OUT Magazine (wearing Tommydoll, I was thrilled to learn!), earning him the supplementary honor of We’re Going to Make It After All-Mary Tyler Moore-Dude Who ‘Gets’ It Award.
JAMIEshow captured the true essence of celebration in 2015 with its Gene Marshall 20th Anniversary Event using its JAMIEshow resin Goddesses as compliments to a grand Hollywood theme. Via IFDC, JAMIEshow introduced new sculpts Audry and The Little Black Dress Collection, they continue the trend of classic actress-inspired sculpts (Lauren) to bring depth to their collections.
JAMIEshow also still remains as one of the most prolific companies in offering clothing and accessories to collectors when most everyone else has given up on these ancillaries (expensive to produce with a tiny profit margin, if any), earning JAMIEshow the You’ve Begged for Doll Outfits and Accessories, Now BUY Them, Dammit Award.
Tonner sent up a year of fashion doll offerings by relaunching Marley Wentworth as an adult, and re-visiting DeeAnna Denton’s modern relative DeDe Denton, along with a forgettable Superhero series that was anything but Bombshell. Its big opening for the year based on the virtually unseen Jupiter Ascending film did provide lush versions of the film’s costuming, but falling flat in a year-long wait for a Channing Tatum doll that was disappointing at best. We won’t be seeing too many Magic Mike Repaints coming from that one…
And despite Tonner’s ability to be inspired from Integrity Toys’ themes, logos, concepts, etc – they did excel in realizing fashion for Marley, its Alice in Wonderland redux, and Déjà Vu collections. On their ‘Wilde’ side, we still have a vast amount of dolls that look exactly the same, though Evangeline Ghastly fans swear to the contrary (and that is their prerogative) – it was nice to see Evangeline sporting much more technicolor in her ghastly wardrobe. Why even that bitch, Ellowyne Wilde, passed with high marks on a beautifully haunting, and well-realized East India inspiration.
It’s a shame this wasn’t offered as a dressed doll, because she looks fresh and stylish:
It’s all up in the air what will happen with Tonner’s One World merger – methinks they are still trying to get into toy stores, in lieu of the shitload of money and wasted time getting Tonner Toys off the ground (which it never really did). Bitchy? Maybe…but accurate? Definitely. As a new year’s resolution, I’ve decided to let up on Tonner in 2016 – they’re doing plenty of harm to themselves, so suffice it to say they don’t need me to help.
But speaking of the Tonner One World merger, let’s hope this marriage of Tonner’s ability to realize that black dolls can sell and One World’s diversified company image will bring us more lovely fashion dolls of color in 2016 and beyond. We all know the myth, that black dolls don’t sell – and notwithstanding some truth to that, we can only be reproached by our lack of noticing the beauty in black dolls. Integrity Toys’ Convention Nadja was one of the best of the year, but it was JAMIEshow’s Black Pearl Natalie that earns the Fashion Is More Than Skinny Little White Bitches Award.
Other diverse offerings of note came from the BJD world, namely those artists such as Kaye Wiggs that the ever-imaginative Jpopdolls offers, and Granado’s Mars. The year’s biggest disappointment touches on the ‘black dolls don’t sell’ theory, but with an ironic twist: Star Wars – The Force Awakens continues to draw record crowds with its re-launch of the galaxy far, far away – but we were arguably disturbed that more effort was put into the creation and distribution of Finn (who is a black man) and other male characters as opposed to Rey (who is a white woman and the central character of the story), earning all makers of Star Wars dolls (yes, they are dolls) the Female Action Figures Don’t Sell Award. Really…it’s not like it was Queen Amidala or anything…
I won’t go into 2015 events so very much, because much of the Barbie-related events held the notoriety for the year. Precious few others stood out as notable. Integrity Toys still holds one of the most fluid and exciting events across the boards, but they really need work on that expanding product line-up – I think some people left with some extra limit on their cards and a few coins in their pockets – really, there must be a way to make sure everyone is broke when they leave. The BJD Convention in Austin, TX is gathering more steam as more and more BJD artists show their work (which is reminiscent of the Paris Fashion Doll Festival Sunday Sales Room).
BJDC Austin is a virtual who’s who in doll artistry of which everyone needs to pay more attention. Same for Modern Doll Collectors Convention, who seems to be moving away from child dolls and into the BJD realm, and the gorgeous setting North Carolina brings in its International Doll & Teddy Bear Show in Asheville. Even Superdoll came back across the pond to offer spectacular goodies to its fans in Los Angeles (see images here, here and here). But it was JAMIEshow’s Anniversary Celebration for Gene Marshall that stood out as the event to attend in 2015 – featuring an array of products and memories in one setting just screams fun, and JAMIEshow brought it – earning it with a Best Party for a Hollywood Icon Award.
Doll artistry comes in all forms, and my third highest read blog post involved knowing more about repainters and their work. I admit, I give Noel Cruz a hard time because of his improperly crediting the face sculptor as a contributing factor to the likenesses seen in his work (if credit is even given at all) – that is plain wrong, in my opinion. The head sculpt is more than just a canvas, and his painting enhances another’s ability to capture the facial structure in three dimensions. He may add extraordinary depth to the facial painting, but the likeness is not his alone to claim credit. But that’s his business, I suppose…
It’s stunning work as are most other doll repainters, and three that stood out for me in 2015 were Jon Snow by My Immortals/ Repaints by Susan, Sam Danson’s Ketsu (see above), and the collaboration of talent in bringing the Dead Dolls Walking project to fruition. The dolls may be their canvas, but the skills and talent seen in elevating a doll’s existing beauty to that worthy of The Louvre is paramount, earning the repainters with the Doll Artists You Should Be Worshipping Award.
As I mentioned before, Mattel dominated the doll world news with stories ranging from the innovative, to the disturbed. Innovation comes in all forms, but when they launched their ad for the Moschino Barbie, featuring a stylish little boy exclaiming, ‘So Fierce’ – well, it’s easy to see why the video went viral, earning it the Budding Gay Mafioso Award (will that little actor ever live it down, though?). Yes, yes…one should simply enjoy the innocence of a child playing with a beloved toy, but one can’t escape the fact that such representations infect a world with stereotypes. But hey, if Ted Cruz can use his own children to forward his message, then why not Mattel? Mattel did hit it nicely for little girls in its other Barbie-related video promoting images of play.
The Barbie Powerhouse also struck a nerve with its tokidoki releases that left everyone in a frazzle because the ‘Treasure Hunt’ on a new website was maddening at best. I guess there’s no other innovative ideas left in Mattel’s marketing team to be able to shut down their entire site with a doll that wasn’t that great anyway, but the resulting hype it created was a PR dream, earning it the follow-up Yes, This Was a Stunt – There’s No Such Thing as Bad Press Award. I’m sure they would have liked Andy Warhol Barbie to foster as much enthusiasm with the famous screen-printer’s ‘paintbrushes’, but who cares, I’m sure Andy has used one or two in his lifetime, earning the Most Pointless Accessory in an Over-Hyped Doll Award.
Still more fun with Mattel in late 2015 and the announcement of re-styled Monster High dolls bringing waves of dissent from the masses, including one exclamation on Facebook stating that ‘no re-launch has ever been successful‘, or ‘why aren’t they listening to their adult collectors‘? I’ll tell you why: Monster High is a multi-billion dollar brand mostly being purchased as a toy for children by their parents who don’t really care what the doll looks like, as long as it’s not too ‘sexy’ (Ahem…isn’t that what made Barbie popular?). As long as they can put one in their screaming child’s hand to shut him/her up – they will still sell until that target market outgrows ‘monster-themed’ doll toys. Indeed, Mattel has garnered another successful publicity campaign to get people talking about an already popular doll brand, and buying them plenty of free publicity, earning it the Kardashian-Suck-It-Up Award. And more importantly – you fell for it.
It was reported that Reese Witherspoon is being targeted for the ‘Barbie and Ruth’ movie project – but we don’t have much to say on this until we actually see a trailer, and we’re convinced it’s not as crappy as Jem and The Holograms (a wise choice for Integrity Toys to steer clear from) – and we have yet to see how much product tie-in there will be. Don’t be surprised when you see nods toward the vintage, making the Willows, WI Collection more significant to collectors who barely noticed it, or worse yet – the relaunch of nostalgic Dream Date Barbie. In an effort to remain loyal to the doll world clearance sales efforts, it would be generous to award Mattel with the We Still Have Plenty of Shit to Sell Award, but that honor is shared with Tonner Doll, too – as is the Most Impossible New Website to Baffle Our Customers with Bullshit Award.
Despite such questionable triumphs as the tokidoki abortion, defective face-painting, and little boys who want to be girls, perhaps Mattel’s biggest Ben Carson moment after losing the Disney license to Hasbro has to be the handling of its world-wide Barbie Convention exclusive dolls. In a departure from having independent artists design its souvenir doll, or something more lucrative from it’s top-of-the-line BFMC series, Mattel decided it would do one convention doll design, vary it’s race sculpt/skin tone/hair color, and release to the world as Spotlight on Broadway Barbie through varying conventions held in Japan, Paris, Milan, and the mother of them all, Barbie National Convention – which was in Washington, DC in 2015.
There are two sides to every story, and this was a lovely doll with a puzzling inspiration that seemed more ‘Rockettes’ than Broadway – but the truly criminal act was in pre-releasing images of all of the dolls before the first event in Japan had commenced. Who does that – releases the image of a souvenir doll – prior to an event? Where’s the wonder and element of surprise? Oh sure, we have the internet and we can see what previous events get, making us wonder what ours will be like. But really…to show them all? All that does is raise expectations that you might get the one you want. Who could possibly ever think this was a good idea? Still…the rush to get all of the variants on the secondary market still made it cheaper than buying the 35+ exclusive products at Integrity’s convention – even if you attended the IT event. Still…they are businesses, and we must remember that – but it creates such a deeply wounding suspicious element within an adult collector’s mind that they just aren’t important to the big machine, earning Mattel the Most Ignored Customers Award.
Not enough of us pay attention to the BJD world: it’s diverse, often-confusing in terminology and purchasing methods – and some of us Westerners just can’t get past the company names and product lore that fall short of successful translating, leaving us whispering, ‘huh?’ under our breath in the hopes no BJD collector hears us and stitches our mouths shut with a rusty needle (now, now – they’re not all like that). Still, fans of the ever-popular and updated daily BJDCollectasy Blog watch in awe each day as dozens of makers’ new work are revealed…this is one of my favorite BJD resources, and I usually start there to learn anything new in that world of wonder and art, earning it the Best Blog You’re Not Reading Award.
Deep inside their world, you will see some of 2015’s most extraordinary work from makers such as RingDoll, LoongSoul, Cristy Stone, Iplehouse, WithDoll, Granado, LUTS, SoulDoll, Bo Bergemann, Pipos, SecretDoll, RacoonDoll, Dollmore, Charles’ Creature Cabinet, and so many, many more*. They have all contributed for the better good of fine dolls, but without a question in my mind, the most accomplished and depth of concept collection comes from iplehouse and its Carved Heritage Series. It’s the perfect marriage of sculpt and costuming that is widely varied, unique and dramatic, and it with great honor I bestow them with them the 2015 Best Doll Series Award, and the Aren’t You Sad They’re All Sold Out? Award.
*When I say more – these are the ones I’m referring to, thanks to BJDCollectasy: Dragonfly Works (http://bjdcollectasy.com/2015/05/10/lucy-and-lisa/), Kaye Wiggs (http://bjdcollectasy.com/2015/05/14/pre-order-of-kaye-wiggs-dolls/), DollZone (http://bjdcollectasy.com/2015/09/22/sawariedatrieda-and-frieda/), Aileen Doll (http://bjdcollectasy.com/2015/10/03/cyclops-camellia/), Light Limner(http://bjdcollectasy.com/2015/10/25/halloween-limited-kiera-and-ciera), MaskCat (http://bjdcollectasy.com/2015/11/15/maskcatdoll-event/), Be With You (http://bjdcollectasy.com/2015/12/14/amond/), and Doll Chateau (http://bjdcollectasy.com/2015/12/15/fergus/).
You may now take a pee break as we usher you into the 2015 Moment You’ve Been Waiting For – The Doll of the Year.
My 2014 Doll of the Year Award went to doll that wasn’t particularly good, but invoked the most discussion of doll collectors and non-doll people alike – that doll is Lammily, and despite your being able to mark her up with acne and stretch mark stickers, this fad is pretty much done, as we all knew it would be. The doll just doesn’t have much to stand on – and you can learn why here.
I had a some difficulty in evaluating 2015’s doll news due to my move – so I decided I’d bring in the big guns for advice. These authors run the best and most informative of the doll collecting blog universe – and their opinions matter, because they know their shit, and research what they don’t know.
My Guests for this most auspicious occasion, are three of the best bloggers out there, who truly have a penchant for real doll-world reporting, photography, fashion sense, and relevant opinion – they are the ones I go to for news (and you should be, too), and their dedication to researched doll information is surpassed by none – they are: Stratos Bacalis (The Fashion Doll Chronicles), Rogier Corbeau (Dutch Barbie World), and Rebecca Berry (Inside The Fashion Doll Studio).
Each were tasked with reviewing 2015 in terms of doll releases, stories and happenings – Here you have The Good, Bad & Ugly for 2015:
Tommydoll: Welcome Bloggers! Thank you for being a part of my annual throw-down – you each bring such a valued perspective to doll blogging, and I very much appreciate your taking time from your own work to share thoughts with my readers, too.
Rebecca Berry: I am honored to be included in the write-up for this year. 2015 has been a full year for collectors. We have definitely had some very high points and some definitive speed bumps. Here are my picks and pans for 2015. Let me first qualify that I only collect 1/6 scale so I will only be giving my picks and pans within this category of doll collecting.
Tommydoll: No worries, Rebecca – the 1/6 doll defines much of what our industry is, and you can’t avoid their place of importance in our world.
Rogier Corbeau: Writing this with some Ennio Morricone music on the background.
Tommydoll: Excellent choice, I am only hoping there’s wine involved, too. Let’s Start with Stratos Bacalis, and his Fashion Doll Chronicles, which covers both 1/6 scale and 1/4 scale dolls, reviewing collections in a research-worthy archive format…what would you place in The Good, Stratos?
Stratos Bacalis: One of the best things this year was the abundance of high quality fashion dolls for every kind of collector. Almost every doll maker, big and small, presented collectors with an incredible variety of beautiful dolls, making the task of choosing among them a difficult one.
Tommydoll: I hear you – it’s like choosing your favorite note in a musical composition. Rebecca, your Inside the Fashion Doll Studio covers the 1/6 scale, but you also feature much of your own stunning, original photography – what are your choices for The Good?
Rebecca Berry: First up I would have to give snaps to Mattel and Robert Best for his design and execution of the Silkstone Barbie “Blush Beauty” and “Fabulously Floral”. Blush Beauty was elegant, sophisticated and added a surprise of glimmer under the caped coat. Her makeup was classic and elegant and the pale pink hue of the dress and coat appealed to all the girlyness in my psyche. Yum!! Fabulously Floral gave you elegance and a couture hat for the inexpensive price of $50.00. You simply can’t get better than that. Integrity Toys hit some high notes this year as well with a newly revamped Nu.Face line. Notable pullouts in my opinion would be Electric Enthusiasm Dominique Makeda and Energetic Presence Giselle. FR2 enjoyed an exciting year as well with high notes of Fine Print Elyse Jolie and Aristocratic Agnes. One last high note from Integrity would have to be the introduction of the first AA Poppy Parker, Midas Touch.
Tommydoll: Agree…and I also love Integrity’s Nadja from convention – exceptional diversity in fashion ethnicities. Rogier Corbeau, you cover both 1/4 and 1/6 scale dolls, along with happenings in the fashion world – what say you about The Good?
Rogier Corbeau: For me the best thing of collecting dolls is the doll community. In the 4 years that I collect dolls I met so many amazing people and I have made so many new friends. I love connecting with them online and seeing them at conventions. This year I went to my first US convention – The National Barbie Convention. Such an amazing experience and one of my doll highlights of the year.
Tommydoll: It was great to see you and Rebecca there, even though I wasn’t ‘officially’ attending. How do the year’s dolls fair for you?
Rogier Corbeau: I have to start with the 2015 BFMC. Silkies are my first love, they started my doll collection and they will always be there. I love that they went back to classic atelier storyline this year. And they know at Mattel how to present these dolls. I love the pictures and video’s they do for the BFMC.
It was a very exciting year for Superdoll London. I just love the Sybarites. They made the change from resin to vinyl. And wow there where so many highlights this year. They had the best convention dolls in Paris, LA and London. And of course the Couture. I loved that they offered many Salon outfits online during the year. My favorite was Blush Allure and I am still so over the moon that I was able to get this outfit. We all know how quick these sell out. The prom dresses they released on Black Friday were also one of my favorites. And I’m waiting for Haute Doll to send out their new issue by mail. I heard they will show us some pictures of the OOAK collection called Sanctum that was on display at the London convention. And I just know these Ladies will be one of my favorite dolls of the year even without seeing them (wink emoticon).
Tommydoll: I loved that spread, too (Note: the issue has since been released – you can see excerpts from it here). For me The Good encompasses the artistry coming from Superdoll, DollChic, and Kingdom Doll for Fashion dolls, and Iplehouse, Raccoon Doll and Dollmore for BJDs. I’ve also fallen for new releases from Ficon and Modsdoll. My favorite clothing release was Superdoll’s The News (though I was unable to get one), and JAMIEshow’s Black Pearl Natalia. So what was Bad in 2015?
Stratos Bacalis: In contrast with the quantity of quality releases is always the way doll makers make their high-end dolls available to their customers. Lotteries, waiting rooms and first-com-first-served options for extremely limited editions that are usually taken advantage of by scalpers, putting items for sale online on hours that favour one part of the earth only, limited shipping options (I’m looking at you Mattel, it’s 2015, if you cannot handle international shipping just close the shop already). In an age where information and access to all things is available any time, all the time, this whole process needs serious re-organisation.
Tommydoll: Agree…I’ve tried to think of better ways they can do this, but it is challenging to offer fairness to all buyers world-wide. Superdoll’s releases come to you via email letter, but you don’t always know the time, which levels the playing field. I like how they offered a final Holiday doll (Forest) in a timeframe that was more sympathetic to their European buyers.
Rebecca Berry: If we are looking for bad this year, look no further than the IT (Integrity Toys) convention doll. The dress may or may not have been inspired by Alaïa. What inspired the hairnet/facemask has yet to be unveiled (pun intended people). Does someone have a fencing fetish at Integrity? If you took the facemask off, it was a very passable facsimile of an Amish cap for the rigid bun she was sporting. While all of us might have enjoyed the movie “Witness”, we did not necessarily want a doll to commemorate that enjoyment (although I suppose it would have fit with the cinematic theme…but I digress). To me, this doll came across as matronly with a jaw so square you had to ask the question…is this Karolin or Karl?
Bad #2 also belongs to Integrity Toys: There was an excessive preponderance of blondes in black dresses from Integrity this year. One or two is great but four right in a row was excessive. It left this collector wishing the color box had been utilized more. Come on Vaughn…we know you love bright colors…where was that love this year? Bad #3 belongs to Mattel: They offered up a number of platinum issues this year but they offered them up in such a way as to royally piss of some of the most loyal fans of Barbie…The Barbie Fan Club. It left many, many members asking the question “Why exactly are we paying a fee to be part of the club?”. I am honestly perplexed by the marketing department at Mattel and their strategy for selling their product. Their intentions may have been good but the reality is…they invited a large group of their loyal customers to a party and gave the group a bag of airline pretzels and a single can of flat diet coke, and then proceeded to wish the group bon appétit. Ummmm…so not cool.
Tommydoll: I’ve tried to understand the rationale of this, and I fail to see any merit with a positive outcome that doesn’t involve murder.
Rogier Corbeau: As I said in the Good, I love to go to conventions. And one of the fun parts of convention is the convention doll. It’s a gift and sometimes you love the doll and sometimes you don’t. But when you have different conventions around the world during the year and you decide to give them all the same doll I think it’s a bad, bad, very Bad idea. I’m talking about the Spotlight on Broadway Barbie. I ended up with 4 of these dolls this year….. And to make it even worse you have IT doing a convention doll that is also inspired by this Marlene Dietrich look (Feminine Perspective), and that doll looked so much better. I was very happy that most of the European conventions redressed her or did an extra convention doll by themselves this year. Another bad thing is that I missed Victoire Roux this year. 2014 had so many gorgeous VR dolls and this year she disappeared. But I’m a junkie and I needed my VR shot. So some gorgeous OOAK VRs found their way to my home (BAD for the doll funds).
Tommydoll: I loved Chris’ OOAK Victoires, but I was puzzled as to why Integrity would allow that – it’s seems like a conflict of interest. But if they don’t mind, then I’m glad he was able to delight many collectors who got a chance to own one. This was an issue at Tonner in the early 2000’s with the previous design director, and it was finally agreed to not allow it – but it seems Integrity doesn’t have the same issues.
Now, you all know I don’t like the term ‘ugly’ when it comes to dolls – it may be accurate to say, but it just seems wrong when someone else may love that doll. And even though I am fairly critical of certain dolls, I do respect that others may love them. With that being said, what was your 2015 Ugly moments?
Rebecca Berry: The Ugly for 2015 is an easy one for me. Without a doubt, the worst part of collecting for me this year was the abysmal and continued failure of the Barbie Collector website. I spent numerous blog posts addressing the fractured and poorly programmed functionality of this commercial website. I saw things on this website that I have not seen since the “what not to do” coursework of my programming days in college. Maybe business school has changed since I went to college, but I thought the point of having a commercial website was to sell things. If I can’t even get to the purchase page because the home page keeps recycling in an infinite loop of, the programmers have no clue what they are doing here, I lose my interest in purchasing said product. How is this a good thing Mattel? I honestly looked at this website at times and just threw up my hands in disgust. For some, they could not even log in to see the infinite looping …consider yourself winners…seriously…you were the lucky ones. This meant that you did not even have to enter the Bermuda triangle that is this website. If you have not guessed by now, I think the Barbie Collection website SUCKS. That wraps up the year from Inside The Fashion Doll Studio. Wishing everyone in the collecting community a happy and healthy holiday and an even happier and healthier new year.
Tommydoll: Thank you, Rebecca…and to you as well! Stratos?
Stratos Bacalis: This award has to go equally to a) the whole she-bang of the Tokidoki platinum release Barbie, and b) to the “scandal” that was the similarity of the Modoll doll to the Popovy Sisters releases. I honestly cannot decide which one was ugliest: the scathing comments on both reached epic proportions in any media outlet they were mentioned, from articles and blog posts to Instagram and Facebook.
Tommydoll: Both topped my lists, too…Rogier?
Rogier Corbeau: The Good and the Bad was easy. Now the Ugly. For me the Ugly wasn’t a doll this year. the Ugly is never a doll. The Ugly is also in the Good. It’s the doll community itself. I love it but it also has a very ugly part. And especially this year. For me collecting dolls is a hobby, and a hobby has to be fun. There is so much negativity online. I just don’t understand it. Why would you write post after post on a forum or a blog about dolls that you don’t like. Why would you post nasty comments on Facebook about your fellow collectors. Why would you trash a doll because it’s made of a different material before you have seen the doll in real life. Why are you so angry when you missed out on a platinum edition? Why don’t you stop collecting dolls. It’s just a tiny part of the doll community. But they are so damn LOUD.
Tommydoll: That was at the top of my list, as well…not so much because of some online personalities that blow hot air and try to be relevant or important, no…at least most of those keep to themselves, or in small packs, or in private forums (where they ban you before you’ve even joined). No…for me, the ugliest part of 2015 was a personal attack that came to me via my blog through the comments section. At first, months ago – I let these comments stay, but then I realized it was ugly, and should be removed. It’s my blog, and I’ll censor it if I want. But when a recent attack came through (which was unapproved), I noted that it was the same style of writing from a fake name and fake web address – continuing to dig deeply and personally:
Of course, this coward doesn’t know me well enough to hurt my feelings – but that some person trying to call themselves a human being could write something like this to anyone through anonymity shows a damaged mind on any level worthy of institutionalization. I’m pretty sure I know who it is (and I also know who it is not – which gives me faith that even she has boundaries) – This is an attack from the internet shadows, using words that merely insult, with no understanding the person of whom they are insulting. It’s beneath school children and most mean girls.
The 2015 Doll of Year is being awarded differently this time: The Ugly Doll Award goes to the miscreants I refer to as the Dolly Taliban Terrorists – the haters that spread discord and misinformation across the cyber void in attempt to feel more important or relevant in our world. It’s one thing to write in satire, using research stories and a wealth of experience, only to have it reduced to being a ‘bitchy queen’. It’s quite another to have nothing of constructive merit to say, using plagiarized stories and inspirations from other people, and at best producing multiple exposures of the exact same shot – that’s not always metaphorically speaking. Some people try to best avoid controversy, but I feel it’s an important subject to discuss – for in each of our passions and joys, there comes a price that must be paid for this magic. You, Dolly Taliban Terrorists…you are the truly ugly in doll collecting, and for that distinctive reason, I award you with 2015’s Ugly Doll of the Year. Your words don’t hurt me – but it does sicken me. There, you made me vomit…hope you’re happy…kiss, kiss…babe.
The 2015 Doll of the Year award is presented to Superdoll of London and its Generation X Vinyl Sybarite – for investing in a new medium that expands your reach to new collectors, and shows you care enough to take on expensive development methods to create a doll that maintains your standards, but gives the collectors more flexibility in dressing and re-dressing their beloved playthings without threat of damage. The value of play is inextricably associated with doll collecting, and in the spirit of doll-making pioneers that urged us to play with our dolls, Superdoll has crossed that bridge into an eagerly outstretched embrace of new fans. Bravo!
And now…for the Science and Technical Awards– a separate ceremony held way, way off the studio lot…please welcome Chanel #1 to present…
The 2015 Karma is a Bitch Award: Wilde Imagination
Best Use of Dolls to Convey Media Stories of Which We’re Sick of Hearing: A Doll World After All
Best Cover Doll – Joshua McKenney’s Pidgin (HauteDoll July/August 2015)
Most Intentionally Sarcastic Use of Misspelling in its Products: Superdoll of London
The ‘Nikon Hottness Serving Fashion Doll Realness’ Award: FDQ and Kingdom Doll’s Orbit on the Cover
Best Inspiration for a Group Project to Benefit Charity: Carlyle Nuera’s Madrid Fashion Doll Auction for Mattel
Best Holiday Release in Non-Holiday Attire: Mel Odom’s Zita Charles by JAMIEshow
The ‘Nightmare Before Christmas Honorary Award for Holiday Nightmares’: ‘The Axe, The Hat and The Candlestick’ by Superdoll of London (what fairytales stories do you guys read?)
Best Use of Dolls to Promote a Second Career: Free Fantasy Dolls – Nickis Fabbrocile
Best Non-Gown Doll of 2015: Eileen – The Modsdoll by Yian
Best Use of Chanel Inspiration in a Fashion Doll: DaniDolls
Most Interesting Story that Really Told Us Nothing: Tonner and One World Merger
Most Interesting New Talent Influx in a Doll Company’s Design Team: Stacey McBride-Irby
The Miranda Priestly ‘Your Days are Numbered’ Award: We’re Still Watching This One, but methinks Tonner has the most riding on this, but thinking Janette Lamont might be watching closely, too.
Best Interpretation of a Dress Color Without Attending a Convention ‘Officially’ – Ann Swindell and Tommydoll
Most Ironic ‘Being Green’ Message Sent to Collectors: Omitting the convention registration bag in lieu of a paper card that says they are ‘being green’ while giving souvenirs in a cardboard box – Integrity Toys.
The ‘No, Wait – There’s Just One More Doll’ Award: Integrity Toys’ Cinematic Convention
Best Scene-stealing Doll Accessory: Amadiz Studio
The ‘Someone Has A lot of Time on Their Hands’ Award for Best Miniature Couture: Viva! Soda
Best Non-Release of 2015: Integrity Toys’ AHS: Coven
Best New Artist Discovery: Jpopdolls – Sumire by Rebeca
Most Sublime Translation of an English-language Doll Blog Into French: Miss Vinyl
Best Use of Dolly Camel-Toe in a Leading Swimsuit Performance: Tonner Rockabilly – really, what doll stands like that?
Best Recycled Use of Dolls That Aren’t Selling: Transformed Tonner’s/NIADA
The ‘Let It Go, Orange is the New Black’ Award for 2015: Hasbro’s Disney Descendants Dolls
Best Oops, We Did It Again Award (Previously Known as ‘Hasbro is Killing Us’ Award): Monster High Re-Vamp
Most Disturbing Use of a Disturbing Halloween Theme: RingDoll – Darkside Norman
Best New Play Doll That Makes Ellowyne Wilde Look Positively Giddy: Soom Emporium Lila Doll
Best New Art Doll of Which We’d Like to See More: Doll Essence by Tatiana Tofaneto
Doll Trend We’ll Not See Ending Soon – Big Eyes
“…So soon my days will be over and done;
Though it seems so often they’ve only begun…”
–Time (At The Finish Line) by Don MIller