Tips on Starting Your Doll Collection

On a whim you pick up a doll, because you think it’s pretty.  Then, later, you pick up another of that kind, and after a few months pass, another, until you have a shelf full of dolls and possibly a few in boxes next to the shelf.  You, my friend, have just started a collection. For doll collectors, these kinds of things sneak up on us!  We’ll start by collecting one kind of doll (ie: Barbie), then we jet off on another tangent (ie: Japanese fashion dolls), and then another (ie: BJD’s), until we have more subsections in our doll collection than a library has in their non-fiction aisles.

My own doll collection includes:
-vintage (restored) Barbie’s
-Skippers (entire line)
-Asian/Anime dolls
-Madame Alexanders (and within that it seems Bride MA’s)
-Ball Jointed Dolls of both ABS and resin
-American Girl
-Big Eyed Dolls (ie: La Dee Da, Little Miss No Name)
-My own re-roots
-Jem and the Holograms (vintage)
-Barbie and her Bands (Rockers, Beat, Sensations, etc)
-Monster High
-Gene and various Tonner dolls

On top of my other collections (My Little Pony, Doctor Who, C3P0, cool artwork), it’s hard to keep everything straight, not to mention tidy!  I’m a lost cause and am, metaphorically, drowning in my various collections.  (Don’t get the wrong idea, I don’t mind drowning in dolls.  However, if I can save another collector from the same fate, it is my duty to help!)

We were all ‘entry level’ collectors sometime in our lives, right?  For me, it wasn’t until I was in my mid teens that I truly decided what I wanted to collect.  This post is for those who have just started collecting.  For you, I’ve put together a few tips on nurturing your doll collection.

Starting and Nurturing Your Doll Collection

Don’t Feel Like You Need Everything:  With doll collecting, new collectors can easily become overwhelmed by the sheer number of options!  Think about it, just walking down the Barbie aisle at TRU would make a new, hungry Barbie collector feel the need to buy.  In some cases, if you really love the doll, that’s totally fine.  Sometimes, however, it’s fueled by feeling that you need to ‘catch up’ to those who have collected longer.  That is not fine.  That is a very easy way to waste money that you should be spending on a doll you love!  Three pieces you love always trump 100 pieces you ‘kind of like’.

Know What You Have:  Look at your collection.  I don’t mean quick glances occasionally.  I mean really *look* at it.

This will help you in two ways:
1:  Knowing what pieces you have means you won’t accidentally buy the same doll or type of doll over and over and over again.
2:  Having an inventory (in your head or on paper) will also, most importantly, help you find a focus!

Find Your Focus: I decided in my teens that my collecting focus was Skipper dolls (and Barbie’s bands to a lesser extent).  The majority of my doll collection to that point *was* Skipper.  (See how really looking at your collection works?)  But the real reason I decided upon Skipper was that she’d always been my favorite doll.  I loved her look, the variety of outfits, and her size.  The fact that I owned plenty of her already was a plus!

Having a focus helped me so much forever after because I knew what I was looking for.  I wasn’t looking for everything.  I had goal pieces (even if they were as simple as ‘any Skipper doll’)!  To others, having a focus made my collection look far more streamline.  Instead of saying ‘I collect dolls’, and have them think of a bed with dolls all around the rim, I could specify it more.  ‘I collect Skipper dolls’ makes them pause a little before jumping to conclusions and might even make them curious enough to ask more questions.

Something to think about, too, as you find the focus of your collection is to think about not just the dolls, but everything that goes with them.  For example, not only do I collect Skipper dolls, but I decided that I wanted to collect outfits and other items with the Skipper logo/image (ie: cases, wallets,  puzzles, anything really!). Think about the superlatives that go with your collection and decide (you can always change your mind later) if you want to collect those, in addition to your dolls.

Display With Care:  I’m guilty of not doing this.  My 100 plus Skippers are shoulder to shoulder, stand over stand in one skinny glass Ikea case when they should be spread out into two or three cases!  Even worse, the poor dolls in the back are on the same level as the dolls in the front, so you can’t always see them well.  (We’re not even going to go into the Monster High shelves!) My cases are a very poor example of display with care!

While we can’t all pull a Steve Sansweet, who houses his collectables like a museum, we can still make our collection look great by choosing to not shove 20 dolls on a shelf designed for 15.  Another great way to make your collection look great is to use risers so your dolls will stand at different heights and be seen by all. By properly displaying them, those that see your collection will see the beauty that you see in your dolls.  Or at the very least they’ll understand that it’s important to you, so they shouldn’t complain.

Doll collecting is a hobby that takes time to cultivate and grow.  Don’t feel you need to rush into a collection.  (My Madame Alexander collection is up to four and I’ve been collecting for at least 3 years.  However small it is, I can honestly say I love all my pieces in it!)

Doll collecting is also a hobby that links together so many different people and tradition.  No matter how different two collectors lives are, they can easily find common ground discussing their passion for dolls and that is what I really love about the hobby!

Did I miss something?  Have a question?  Share it below with a comment!  And as always, thanks for stopping by!

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February 10, 2013. Tags: . Uncategorized.

10 Comments

  1. Viper replied:

    Interesting post – I often wondered how many dolls you must have after reading/watching all of the different reviews of yours, encompassing so many different lines.

    Myself, I’ve only been collecting for a few years now, but I can def. agree regarding getting over your head initially. I have in my collection- Barbies (mostly Basics & Fashionistas), Moxie Teenz, Moxie Girls, BFC Ink, Tonner’s incl. Ellowyne Wilde(my faves) and Evangiline Ghastly, & Monster High.

    For me, the worst was Monster High, as I was on a quest for a while there to get absolutely every one of them- big mistake. I’ve since learned to pick & choose just those that really appeal to me.

    In fact, I’ve just put a large portion of my MH collection away in boxes, as they became overwhelming to display. I felt the walls were closing in on me & they were taking over. Whether I could ever part with those I put away, well, that’s another thing. I seem to have become a bit emotionally attached to them all.

    But now, having just my favorites displayed, I do feel more in control of my collection. From here on out, I think I’ll be OK. As long as I don’t head up to the Tonner Factory sale again – man, was that an expensive day, LOL!

  2. tagidoll replied:

    I love reading blog posts/articles about this subject, its always an interesting read for novice collectors and those who have been in the hobby a few years or a lifetime.

    I myself collect mainly:
    – Asian Ball Joint dolls
    – Pullip and her friends
    – Monster High
    – Catwalk Kitties
    with a sprinkling of Living Dead Dolls

    The overall focus being a more dark edgy theme with a secondary focus on Anthro dolls. It is with focus that you know what upcoming releases will flow well with your collection and not stick out like a sore thumb.

    Novi Stars have already proven themselves as great additions, and the upcoming Pinkie Cooper will work well with the CWK. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t forget on purpose my focus as the mini Lala’s prove 😉

    As for display, yup, my Monster High are shoulder to shoulder but there are so many of them. If they insist on multiplying then that’s what they get >_>

  3. Sindy Doll Fan replied:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and really enjoy it.

    Just wanted to say thank you so much for writing “Don’t Feel Like You Need Everything”.

    Thanks to ebay, I’ve been doing battle with an obsessive urge to be completist, which really isn’t the right decision for my collection (or bank balance!). Having pondered your blog post for a while, I’m now fine with the idea of just relaxing and enjoying the dolls I have and not trying to tick items off lists.

    Thank you for such great advice.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Thanks for sharing, Sindy Doll Fan! I’m glad my article made an impact!

  4. Tracey replied:

    Hi there, I was so interested to read your info. I am an avid Skipper lover myself and thought your idea about risers was brilliant. I’m just about to purchase a pile of stands in bulk from the USA (I’m in NZ) and wondered whether you would recommend the Kaiser 20SM or the 2301 for all my vintage Skippers.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I use 2301. I’ll take a picture of one of my Skippers toight in the stands so you can see. 🙂 I don’t think I’ve seen these 20SM in person before, so I can’t really comment on those.

  5. DiannaPhantom27 replied:

    Hi, I just started collecting seriously and your right, it’s terrifying. I am completely over whelmed. There are so many brands and types of dolls, I didn’t know where to start. After reading this article, I sat down and looked at my collection and decided what I wanted to do. I decided to collect the Monster High dolls, American Girls, and Disney Animators, because I love the ones I have so much that I often take them down to look at individually. Your article helped so much, thank you!
    Also, I was wondering if you have any more suggestions for displaying, my Monster High dolls are a mess, much like your skipper dolls. Thank you again.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Displaying dolls is the bane of my existence most of the time! I would suggest trying to find something that could be used as a riser for your dolls. That is easier said then done, I know. But it helps when it comes to displaying dolls. 🙂 Also, I’m glad my article helped you decide what to concentrate on, collection wise! Sounds like some great picks!

  6. kaybird69 replied:

    How do you know which dolls will increase in value over time? Do you think the Hello Barbie will become a collector’s item one day?

    • kewpie83 replied:

      The only Barbie’s currently holding their value are vintage ones and super limited ones (like the Tokidoki Barbies). I don’t see Hello Barbie being worth anything down the line. It’s impossible to really tell what will keep its value. Think about to the 80’s when everyone thought that decorative plates were *the* thing to collect, or in the doll world, porcelain dolls. Now, they line the shelves of Savers around the US. It’s a huge reason why I say it’s best to collect what you like not what you think will be a good investment for the future. So many times, what looks like it will be a great investment turns out to be a dud.

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