Looking Back at Barbie’s 50th Anniversary- NYC Style

In February 2009, I was summoned to New York City, not for Toy Fair, but to take the Directors Guild Assistant Training Program test in an attempt to get into the exclusive program which trains Production Assistants. It wasn’t meant to be. The test was ridiculous and silly and I honestly still have no idea how taking an IQ test tells anyone how good of a production assistant one would be. However, since I was in New York City, I, of course, made time to wander about. This trip, however short, ended up being very doll filled!

I thought I’d go back in time today to show you how Barbie was being celebrated at Bloomingdale’s in 2009 in their New York City location. Because Barbie was turning the big 5-0, Bloomies went all out with their Barbie Loves Bloomingdale’s NYC exhibit. It featured a month-long Barbie celebration including traffic-stopping store windows along Third Avenue, an unprecedented in-store display of 120 historic Barbie dolls, and a 242-square-foot, in-store Barbie boutique featuring Barbie-branded apparel, accessories and dolls.

Here’s some photos of the dolls on display.

I spent a couple bucks at the Barbie Boutique, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to you! I bought an adorable clutch purse (Barbie Luxe by Patricia Field, shown below)!

The next two photos were actually taken at NYC’s Sephora for the All Doll’d Up with “Barbie™ Loves Stila” Cosmetic Collection.

Now, back to Bloomies… On display in store were also some fantastically dressed Barbie mannequins. From the 2009 press release, “To celebrate Barbie doll’s place in fashion, Rootstein, and Mattel, have collaborated to produce a limited edition collection of mannequins with Barbie as the muse – a literal homage to the fantastic, fashion favorite whose many looks have provided a common point of reference for generations of women across the globe. Re-modeled into a stunningly six-foot-two-inches-tall figure, dozens of mannequins have been created to resemble the 11 ½ inch-tall iconic doll. The mannequins will retain Barbie doll’s hourglass figure, youthful skin and stunning style to emphasize the fact that at 50, Barbie, is a truly modern woman.”

I was so fortunate to be in New York City when this month-long celebration of Barbie was going on at Bloomingdale’s and around New York City. If only I had a better camera to capture it all. Stay tuned for a few more photos from my 2009 trip that feature the gone, but not forgotten Madame Alexander Museum. Were you lucky enough to see these Barbie windows and mannequins in person?  Do you have a favorite window or mannequin? Let us know in the comment area!

January 14, 2019. Tags: . Uncategorized. 13 comments.

Madame Alexander Makes Grand Return in 2019

For most of 2018, Madame Alexander Doll Company was dark. Their social media accounts were left untouched. They were no-shows at one of the biggest toy events of the year, New York Toy Fair. And besides stock that ended up at discount stores like Tuesday Morning, the releases were few and far between. For most of the year, there was speculation that the company was sold to a new buyer, but online searches revealed nothing. I was worried that we were going to lose this iconic doll maker, but thankfully, it looks like that isn’t the case.

Madame Alexander Bride

Back in October of 2018, after months of nothing on their various outlets, the Madame Alexander Doll Company re-emerged and has been posting regularly on social media ever since. The website also got a bit of an update, as well. According to an article posted to ToyBook, the company is now, in fact, under new management. The new owners and their partners are looking to “improve marketing, customer service, production, and fulfillment capacity while expanding its 2019 product catalog.”

Madame Alexander Victoria

They’ve hired a pr/branding company to help move the company forward as their 100th anniversary (2023) is quickly approaching, with a “new digital campaign focused on activating the next generation of moms through social media, digital influencers, content marketing, and PR programs.”

Madame Alexander Travel Friends

According to VP Tom Neville, 2019 will bring us “Newborn Nursery dolls in more ethnicities, meaningful updates to the classic Huggums line, some great collectibles, new play dolls, and much more!” He goes on to say that there will be a “much wider variety of multicultural dolls to the line in 2019… to allow kids to have dolls that reflect themselves and the world around them.”

Neville also mentions that they haven’t forgotten about the classics and will be “offering the classic Wendy and Huggums dolls and reintroducing a number of other classic dolls. We love and value the collector community!” Neville says the new owners aim to “get back to the values of the family-led business and Madame Alexander’s original vision.” Reading statements like this make me think this change may be a positive one for the company, as the previous owners never really ‘got’ the brand and it’s ideals, in my opinion. I can’t wait to see what the new owners have up their sleeves!

For instant updates on the company, make sure to follow them on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)!

What do you think of the (slightly cryptic?) sale of Madame Alexander Doll Company? What would you like to see the new owners change? What staples do you want them to keep? Let us know in the comment area!

January 4, 2019. Tags: . Uncategorized. 16 comments.

Tonner Doll Company No More

As of December 31st, 2018, the Tonner Doll Company shuttered it’s doors. Here’s what we know, in Robert Tonner’s own words, from an e-mail to those on the mailing list for the doll company.

“I was lucky enough to start Tonner Doll at a point when it seemed that everyone was collecting, making, buying or selling dolls. At the same time, the Far East was willing and eager to produce whatever we wanted at a price that couldn’t be beat. High demand and inexpensive, quality production led to the golden age of collectible dolls and great success for Tonner Doll.

It’s often said that the only thing you can count on is change; I whole heartedly agree with that statement. I could go on and on about the changes in the collectible doll industry, but in short, the business model that I used to build Tonner Doll is no longer viable or sustainable. Therefore, Tonner Doll Company (including the Tonner Doll web site, doll hospital, phones and emails) was closed as of December 31, 2018.”

He goes on to say that Phyn and Aero, his current brainchild, isn’t going anywhere and that he will still be very active in the doll world.

“Through Phyn and Aero, I’ll be working directly with our favorite retailers to create unique and exclusive dolls (look for the first Ellowyne out this Spring). I will continue to design for and attend events throughout the year (Dollology, Shaker Doll Club, Doll Circle and UFDC to name a few). At Phyn and Aero I will also continue to develop new product; we’ll be doing small batch, design driven products. Rayne, a new character with unique (and I mean unique) accessories will debut around Toy Fair. In addition, I am working on design projects with other companies (I just did a huge amount of work for FAO; that was both a challenge and a delight). I think it’s going to be a very busy, very exciting 2019!”

Now, I would be lying to say that I was shocked by this news. For the past year, there’s been a lot of question marks surrounding the Tonner Doll Company and production was noticeably lighter than in their heyday. I’m not a Tonner collector and never really have been, though I own a few of them. The prices were always too high for me to warrant buying most of them and ‘high fashion’ dolls aren’t my thing.

Reading his statement, I feel like the changes in manufacturing aren’t what’s really to blame for the closing of his company of 28 years. (I’d rather the people making my dolls be paid fair wages than have my dolls be made in places that don’t pay fairly, so if that’s why prices went up for production, seems like something that shouldn’t be used as an excuse, in my opinion.) Of course, that’s just my opinion and an assumption, having no knowledge of the inner-workings of the company.

Looking at the company from a collectors perspective, I think the real downfall of Tonner Doll Company is that they didn’t change with the times and trends in the doll world quick enough and when they did, the dolls were too expensive for the majority of us collectors. While I’m excited Tonner mentioned (briefly) in his memo that Ellowyne will be re-emerging in the spring from Phyn and Aero, I’m fairly convinced she’ll be out of my price range. But, maybe this means one day we can get some friends for my favorite Tonner doll Maudlynne Macabre?

Will you miss Tonner Doll Company? Is this announcement a surprise to you? Share your thoughts in the comment area.

January 3, 2019. Tags: . Uncategorized. 30 comments.

Doll Shows 101: Preparation/General Tips

Last week, I wrote a post about the etiquette that should be followed while attending a doll show. For this post, I thought I would touch on some ways you may want to prepare for attending a doll show!

1: Save, Save, Save!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t attend a show expecting solely to window shop. Doll shows are the best places to shop, so it’s super important for you to save some cash before your doll show! A month or two prior to your doll show, begin saving a few bucks here and there in case you see your next favorite doll. Maybe pass on that Iced Chai Latte you pick up once a week and put that money towards your doll fund. Did you just have a birthday and receive some cash? Move that directly into your doll fund. It’s tempting to think that having actual money saved for a show isn’t super important if you have access to a credit card or two and you’re good at keeping your credit card debt low and/or paid off. But, there’s a huge caveat to that…

Kane County Doll Show Highlights

2: Remember, Not Everyone Accepts Debit/Credit Cards

There’s nothing worse than spotting a grail item of yours at a show just to find out the dealer doesn’t accept debit or credit cards. This is why saving your money and hitting up the nearest ATM is very, very important when preparing to attend a doll show. I’ve been in a few situations where I fell in love with a doll, just to have to leave it at the show because the dealer could only accept cash. It’s an unfortunate situation for both buyers and sellers!

More and more dealers are signing up for services that will allow them to take card, but if you’re dealing with someone who is, say, a ‘retired’ collector who’s working their first show table, you can’t assume they’ll accept anything other than cash. I’ve also run into situations where the on-site ATM was broken or out of money to dispense, which is another reason to remember to bring cold, hard cash to your next doll show. That being said…

kane County dol show highlights

3: Budget, You Should

Knowing how much you can or should spend at a show in advance is an important thing to keep in mind. Overspending at a doll show can be very, very easy. (I know, I’ve done it many times before.) Buyers remorse is a thing that is real and, rest assured, like many of you, I’ve felt it, too!)

How does one budget for a show when they don’t know what will be on display, you ask? I find it helpful to make a mental list of what I would like to pick up at the show to add to my collection. That way, I have a clear idea of what I’m looking for and how much of my money I am willing to part with to cross the new acquisition off my list.

For example, if I haven’t added a new Skipper to my collection in a while, I’ll make that my ‘goal’ at the show and will be careful about dropping too much money on other dolls. I did that a few doll shows ago when I realized I had very few of Skipper’s friend Skooter in my collection, so at the show, I made an effort to keep an eye out for one. (I ended up finding one that day!) This helps with budgeting, because then you can figure out how much money you want to dedicate (theoretically) to what you’re looking for. Knowing what you are looking for and if it fits in your budget is a great way to not overspend.

kane County dol show highlights

4: Ask For a Card

Sometimes, it’s not possible to take home a doll that you fall in love with, because you just don’t have the cash at the moment to afford it. If that happens, have no fear– just ask for a card with contact info so you can reach out when you do. Also, it may be wise to inquire about if the vendor is open to something like layaway! They want the sale just as much as you want the chance to add a doll to your collection. It never hurts to ask what other options there are to successfully not go broke, while still getting the doll you’re looking for!

Kane County Doll Show Highlights

5: If You’re Selling, Remember To Put On A Show

This is a tip for future doll vendors/dealers that was mentioned in a comment on my last post. I thought it was worth shining a little more spotlight on it, because the dealer made a good point. If you see yourself moving into the world of doll dealing at doll shows, you have to put on a show. That includes advertising that you’ll be somewhere via social media sites, stocking your booth with dolls that are fairly priced, greeting your shoppers with a smile and making an impact on your potential customers by learning about them.

If I were going to move into doll dealing, I would definitely look at the show itself as a jumping off point. Shoppers don’t look for dolls just during the yearly doll show, they look year round, so it’s an asset to know what they’re looking for and to make good, solid connections with your customers. Who’s to say they don’t love one of your dolls, but just can’t afford it? Hand them your card and tell them to reach out when they can, assuming the doll is still available. The doll show itself is just one part of what will help you sell your products.

That being said, I am not a doll dealer and never plan on being one. My collection will eventually just be handed down to people who want the dolls, with no monetary gain for myself. (Nothing is wrong with selling your dolls, but I’d rather just give them to people who like them, personally.) These tips for point number five come from a comment from a reader, my five years working customer service at Barnes and Noble and being a born showman when I need to be!

So, there you have it– Five tips on how to best prepare for your first, tenth, or 100th doll show! Do you have a tip you’d like to pass along to other readers on how to prepare for a doll show? Is there a question you’ve had about doll shows that you’re curious about? Share it in the comment area!

 

October 27, 2018. Tags: . Uncategorized. 4 comments.

Doll Shows 101: Etiquette

For a doll collector, attending a doll show can be as exciting as stepping through the gates of Walt Disney World. Even the most narrowed minded collector is sure to find something they find appealing when they’re faced with tables filled with dolls of all shapes, sizes and ages. Doll shows are great places to shop for your next favorite doll, mingle with other collectors and learn about doll lines you may not have seen before.

At the most recent show my mom attended she started a conversation with a vendor who shared some less than flattering interactions with customers shopping the showroom floor. It prompted me to write this post. Why? Because we, as collectors, should be better than what this man and his wife experienced.

So, let’s talk doll show etiquette. Just like you’re expected to follow unspoken rules in schools, churches or life in general, there are some unspoken rules that you should follow when attending a doll show.

Rule #1: Ask Before Snapping a Photo

I’ve definitely broken this rule before. Since my doll show videos are some of my most popular YouTube videos, taking photos at the shows I attend is pretty important. Since most of us have access to a camera all the time via our smart phones, it’s pretty much second nature to whip it out and snap a photo whenever we want to. However, at a doll show, we (myself included) really should ask permission before snapping a picture of a doll we’re admiring. There are a few different reasons for this. Some sellers are leery about photos, because they’re worried about con artists using that doll photo on eBay and scamming people. Other sellers find it insulting or just plain sad when all it seems the potential buyers want to do is take a photo of the dolls on display and aren’t looking to really shop.

This was what the dealer my mom spoke with said. He mentioned how disheartening it was that people didn’t seem to care at all about buying anything in the booth, but they would happily snap a photo. It made him and his wife sad to see people not taking an interest in the booth for the reasons they were there (to sell). In this case, he and his wife were lifelong collectors selling a collection that no one in their family wanted. So, seeing people pass by these dolls that were taken care of and loved by a collector (and not a doll dealer) or just snapping a photo made them a bit irritated.

To be honest, this rule is also a generational thing. Most older collectors aren’t chained to their cell phones. They don’t ‘do’ apps or sometimes don’t have or understand social media and the importance of sharing information visually on those platforms. So, it’s important to ask before snapping a photo, just in case you are dealing with a dealer who isn’t as wired to post or share on the internet as many of us younger collectors are.

Rule #2: Don’t Just Walk By, Open Your Mind

Not every sellers merchandise will be to your liking. That’s just how it goes. But, next time you go to a show, consider stopping in and looking at everything the show has to offer by going into every booth. It’s sad when you are walking around a show just to overhear sellers saying, “no one’s even stopping to look at what we have.” You may know that you won’t be leaving with something from a particular sellers table, but throw them a bone and give it a walk through. It may make your stay at the doll show a little longer, but is that really all that bad? Not to mention, you may make someone’s day by just showing a passing interesting in what they brought to the show, especially if it’s a collector selling their collection of beloved dolls.

Rule #3: Strike Up a Conversation

Small talk is not something everyone is comfortable with and I completely understand why. It can be hard sometimes! To be fair, some sellers at doll shows don’t give off an approachable vibe. They’re looking at their phones, chatting with other sellers or they’re just… staring. Were I working a table, I would make an effort to greet people or acknowledge them, as a way to get them into my space. Not all sellers do this, at some shows very few do this– so this is not just a rule for buyers, it’s for everyone. Sellers, acknowledge people as they browse or pass your booth. Buyers, engage with sellers as you enter their booth. A smile and a simple hello will suffice.

In some cases, striking up a conversation with a vendor might help you find just what you’re looking for. If you’re shopping for something specific and a seller has something in the same vein, it never hurts to ask if they have what you are looking for. You never know, they may have it, but didn’t bring it. It also is completely allowed to ask questions about a doll that you’ve never seen before. A good seller knows what they have and on a slow day, they may welcome the chance to talk about the history of the doll you’re looking at.

Rule #4: Just Because It’s In a Cardboard Box Doesn’t Mean It’s Trash

Lots of sellers will bring dolls in plastic bins or cardboard boxes. Sometimes, for the ease of packing them up after the show, they’ll keep the dolls in those bins and let potential buyers sort through them. Not every plastic bin or cardboard box is a ‘bargain’ bin, so they shouldn’t be treated as such.

The gentleman my mom spoke with at the last show she attended recounted to her a story about an attendee haphazardly tossing around the fragile dolls that were in a box, resulting in her breaking three of them. That’s not right. Don’t assume because something is in a box or bin that what you’re sorting through isn’t worth something to the seller, whether it’s money or memories.

Rule #5: It’s Not Hard To Clean Your Dolls (Sellers, I’m Talking To You!)

This rule is completely in the hands of the sellers. You don’t know how many sellers I’ve seen stock their tables with dirty, dusty dolls and slap them with a huge price tag. Newsflash– if it ain’t clean and priced as a ‘fixer-upper’, then it isn’t going home with me or probably anyone else. Sellers, please take heed of this and before your next show, make your dolls presentable.

If they are the kind where you can comb their hair, why not try? If they’re composition or hard plastic, pick up some special cleaner to make them look fresh. (We use Dream Clean Doll Cleaner for our dolls and it works great!) Spruce them up a little to show buyers that you care about your merchandise, because that is what will sell your doll and allow you to lighten your load a little.

For those who missed it, here was our latest Doll Show Haul video:

These are just five points of etiquette I thought I would point out. Feel free to add your own in the comment area!  What tips do you have for those who are attending their first doll show? Share them in the comments!

 

October 16, 2018. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 7 comments.

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