Changes at Tonner Doll Company

Today, the Tonner Doll Company sent out an e-mail blast with some surprising news about the future of many of their current doll lines. Also posted on their social media sites, Tonner Doll Company shared a short note from Robert Tonner reminiscing about his favorite moments during the past 25 years. It ended with an announcement that may shock some collectors. Below is an excerpt from the note.

Currently, I’m spending a great deal of time learning (and hopefully mastering) some very new computer sculpting programs that, combined with state-of-the-art production capabilities, provide an entirely new method of creating dolls. I call it the “New Art of Doll Making™” and I’m really excited about what we’ll be doing in 2017 and beyond. It’s also awakened a pioneering spirit in me again and I’ve decided it’s time to completely re-think what we offer to collectors. Therefore, although Tonner will continue to make all of our established licensed products such as DC, Gone with the Wind, Outlander, etc., all of our proprietary lines, as well as those of Effanbee and Wilde Imagination, are being discontinued.

A new company is being launched and it’s called Phyn & Aero. We will be introducing three new lines in 2017 in collaboration with innovative (and incredibly talented) new designers. I really feel it’s time to broaden our perspectives and see what some fascinating (and younger!) designers create for our collectors. I believe the collector market needs a major shake-up and I’m quite sure this will be it!

My impression, based on this note, is that Tonner Doll Company will be concentrating on the licensed doll releases, while this new company, Phyn & Aero (pronounced Finn and Arrow, I’m guessing) will concentrate more on unique proprietary dolls. Unfortunately, as you read in the note, it looks like all of Tonner’s current proprietary lines, like Deja Vu, Agatha Primrose, Dede Denton and all the Wilde Imagination lines will be disappearing.

Naturally, I dashed to the website to see if anything was on sale. Nothing yet, though I did notice they recently did a 24 hour flash sale event. Sadly, unless they get restocks of many of the their current proprietary lines, it looks like the majority of the inventory is already sold out. Either that, or much of what I saw at Toy Fair 2016 never actually hit the website. (Did they ever release articulated versions of the My Imagination 18″ line? This line, too, I’d imagine- pun intended- will be disappearing. Also, didn’t they merge with One World? Did that not work out? They don’t mention that aspect at all in the memo.) Seeing this change in direction, it’s also safe to assume the conventions are done and over with. I never made it to a Tonner convention, even though they were close to me. They were far too expensive for me to attend, seeing I’m not solely a Tonner doll collector.

So, that’s the scoop! I would highly recommend you take a look at the Tonner and Wilde Imagination sites. If you see something you like, you may want to purchase it now. Does this change in direction shock you? What do you think? What lines will you miss? Let me know in the comment area!

December 22, 2016. Uncategorized.


  1. Beatrix replied:

    I also wonder what this change in direction will lead to. I like a few of his dolls now, Miette, Agatha Primrose and one of the older Ellowyne Wilde dolls. I would have liked to get the first version of Perfect Patience and the Alice in Wonderland version also so.I will especially miss the Wilde Imagination line. The early resin Evangelines are still on my grail doll list but their usual price on ebay is just too high for me. I am a fan of a lot of his earlier work so I don’t know if I will be too thrilled by this new direction although I recognize it could be a good thing.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I’ll miss Wilde Imagination. It’s unfortunate that that is going away completely. I’d like to see him do a playline doll, myself. I can usually afford those! 😉

      • SkyrimIsOverrated replied:


        Ashley, you are mega cute!

  2. Judith Rankine replied:

    Robert is basically a doll artist and I think he has decided to get back to the freedom of creating different visions without having to worry about the production methods and running a huge company. I am very excited for him. He kept the doll business going during some rough patches and we thank him for everything that he has accomplished. I am excited to see what he does next.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I hope he dives into more playline dolls. Hopefully, that’s something the new company does!

  3. Julie joynson replied:

    I was very lucky to meet Robert Tonner at the Tonnercon UK, it’s a experience I will never forget, he will always be my favourite doll designer/manufacturer… I’m a large fan of Kitty Collier 18″ dolls which are the first vinyl dolls Robert manufactured and discontinued, I will look forward to see the future doll lines from Tonner and wish them all the luck to the future…..

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I met him at Toy Fair this year and, you’re right, he seems like a nice guy! It’s probably a good thing that they’re changing directions. Tonner currently has a lot of different lines. Less is better sometimes!

  4. Ash replied:

    They released the articulated 18 inch dolls a short while back – I’ve seen them up on the Pixie Faire website. It will be a shame if they go, they seem like an interesting idea and I haven’t seen anywhere else do 18inch(ish) dolls with the extra joints.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Oh, I see the articulated one on Tonner’s site now. I agree, I do like the My Imagination dolls. Who knows, maybe they’ll keep them and just keep outfitting the dolls in costumes themed around their licensed properties. I would still like to see one in a cool Gone with the Wind sort of gown! Plus, they had some adorable Harry Potter themed ones on display at Toy Fair that I was looking forward to seeing.

  5. barbtheevilgenius replied:

    The One World thing didn’t go through, so no, he’s not affiliated with them anymore.

    I was at the Tonner convention this year, and certainly got the impression that Tonner/Effanbee would be working with Mary Englebreit to create more Ann Estelle dolls. I’ll be super disappointed if that doesn’t happen. I also wanted to get a Miette at some point. Unfortunately, Christmas is not the time of year for me to be picking up expensive dolls for myself. I’ll have to resign myself to not getting anything that I still had on my wish list.

    • barbtheevilgenius replied:

      So I’ve been dying to know why my comments are never worth replying to, and since this is the last time I’ll be here, I figured I might as well ask.

      • kewpie83 replied:

        What? Woah, hold on a second. 🙂 It was never my intention to ‘leave you out’, so to speak! I don’t always reply to every comment everyone makes. I don’t really like writing generic ‘thanks for…’ comments, so if something is more of a statement or seems like someone just wanted to voice their opinion (which is my comment style on other blogs), I don’t always feel the need to reply. (Half the people that comment here, never come back to read replies anyway!) I had intended to follow up with you and ask if you had a link that may talk about the fall out of One World and Tonner, but alas with Christmas/work/etc, I just hadn’t gotten around to it. Clearly, there was a misunderstanding somewhere, so I’ll leave you with a thanks for reading! 🙂

        • barbtheevilgenius replied:

          Sorry, I’ve commented here several times and never received a reply, so this is not just a random-driveby snarking. As for the Tonner/One World thing, I know I saw somewhere that the the deal fell through, but there isn’t much out there anymore.

    • Donna replied:

      I prefer the unarticulated Ann Estelle doll of the earlier years. I have many of them and the Sophies. Would love to see some with the original body type with various wig colors and styles be manufactured again.

      • Donna replied:

        Oh, an also some new Patience dolls.

  6. Blackkitty replied:

    What does “proprietary lines” mean? Tyler? Antoinette? Is it all going away? I wanted an Evangeline but couldn’t afford one, so now I guess it’s never going to happen.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Exactly. The lines that Tonner created are going away, like the ones you mentioned. The lines that are safe are the licensed ones, like Gone With the Wind.

  7. RleT E-M replied:

    So does it mean the project of dark skin My Imagination doll is over? feeling sad.
    Thanks for sharing the info with us.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Most likely that was canceled. Currently, we don’t have much info other than the note Tonner posted.

  8. Tali replied:

    Anyone still interested in purchasing Wilde Imagination/Tonner products they are still being sold at very reasonable prices (below retail) over at Cherished Friends.

  9. jackylina replied:

    I hardly ever comment on your blog but I read every post and love them. I heard from someone else that Tonner said directly the My Imagination line will not continue.

  10. Kurt Woods replied:

    Maybe it;s time for younger and more creative doll artists to step to the front of the line? Ive enjoyed many of Tonners doll lines but after a while they all just seemed the same. Competition is the Best Friend” to every consumer because it forces businesses to be more creative with their products as well as keeping their price points lower. I hope other new and old doll companies will step in and fill the void that Tonner leaves behind…..

  11. Lisa Neault replied:

    I blogged about this on my own blog, and frankly, though I understand about Robert’s need to move on to other projects, there could have been a better way to introduce the new company. I myself as a person in the doll and miniature world know timing is everything and frankly, his timing sucked before Christmas. Especially to his loyal customers for over 25 years. Take into consideration some of these people have purchased nearly every convention seat, all of his lines, especially the Tylers, Brenda Stars, etc. With business you have a responsibility to your customers who have been loyal to you and to continue to keep them, and he dropped the ball dramatically here, in my opinion. In this cut throat business you’re only as good as your next product and though it is probably time for new dolls and new lines, there could have been a better way to do it, for instance with a new year newsletter and maybe a sneak peak of what he’s working on. Just my opinion. It would have helped soften the blow to the Ellowyne and Evangeline and Tyler collectors.

  12. Deliveries and New Doll Year – Crazy Doll Lady replied:

    […] learned from Confessions of a Doll Collector’s Daughter that the Tonner company is changing its methods.  Hopefully they know what they’re doing and […]

  13. Sunny replied:

    They very recently released the articulated my imagination and I will be extremely sad if they disappear before I can get the money for one because I’ve been waiting quite a while for her to be released but money is so tight right now. I think they’re so cute and wonderful. This is sad news I’m sorry to hear it.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Thank goodness for eBay and other doll shops that may have purchased these to sell!

  14. ~ Winter Garden ~ American Girl, Felicity’s newest Dress set revealed & MORE… replied:

    […] Changes for the Tonner company […]

  15. Linda osborne replied:

    I am and always have been crazy about Ann Estelle and her friends, including patsy and Betsy.

  16. kathe replied:

    I just read an artist I totally understand this company going in a new and unconventional direction..a wonderful new journey…I for one am ready ….The one thing I miss and I have a few dolls was the original American Model Dolls, the faces were beautiful sculpts and painting perfection.. I did manage to collect the new version and all the incredible outfits..boxed too. Awaiting the Outlander dolls..

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I can understand it, too. I’m just hoping the company doesn’t make the same mistakes they’ve made in the past. Poor licensing choices, bad likenesses (not all, just some) and high pricing for luckluster dolls. I’ve liked a lot of Tonner’s stuff, but have disliked a lot of it, too.

      • kathe replied:

        I concur. What I saw was a mushroom of bad marketing. Personally I would have looked toward some of of these great art colleges ( ie SCAD) and recruited talent , fresh talent to come up with sculpts unlike the Tonner look.. the company overplayed an old a good business decision to take off in a new direction. Happy July 4th

  17. Evelina replied:

    I’ve checked the new company but their dolls just don’t capture my attention as much as some Tonner ones. I would love to see more Tiny Kitty and Agnes Dreary dolls but sadly this will probably never happen now. I have one of each and they are so beautiful and full of character. I was thinking of buying a few more or waiting for new ones to come out, but thanks to your post it’s obvious what to do now, get them now until they completely vanish or turn too expensive on ebay!

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Yep. If there’s something you want, I suggest buying it now.

    • kathe replied:

      I agree. My goal is to find the original American Model dolls that I desired. Same with older Kish dolls

  18. Sandy replied:

    So, I’ve been a little out of the doll collecting world these last 2 years because I had a baby. I recently went to look up when the next Tonner convention was taking place, and that’s how I found out about the changes with Tonner Doll Co. I’m an Ellowyne and Evangeline collector so this was a big blow to me. I found the news about the Wilde Imagination lines especially surprising because I thought these lines brought in big bucks for the company. However, I have a feeling making money is no longer a motivator for Robert. I do feel bad for the Tonner employees, as I imagine many of them probably lost their jobs. While I understand Robert wanting to move on to other creative endeavors, I feel like the way he went about it was a bit of a blow off to us loyal collectors. “Oh, by the way, we won’t be making those dolls anymore”. I mean, I missed one newsletter and had no idea what had happened! Idk, I guess I am a little bitter and feel a bit slighted by the whole thing. I have to say I’ve also looked at some of the Phyn and Aero dolls and don’t find them appealing. I wonder if Robert thinks current Tonner doll collectors will follow him to this new company? Or, if he has just thrown in the towel and had enough of the doll line production/collector “business”? I’m thinking it’s the latter because I don’t really see the Phyn and Aero company in quite the same category as Tonner Doll Co. I don’t believe the target market for these new dolls is anything close to the majority of current Tonner doll collectors. In any case, I’m glad to have been a part of the Tonner doll collector world, as it was very fulfilling for many years and provided some great shared experiences for my mother and I.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Yeah, I totally understand what you’re saying. I don’t think the announcement was handled as well as it could have been…

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