You’ll remember Doll Angel from my last post spotlighting the amazing Abnegation custom she did for me. Learn more about her in the video linked below!
I highly recommend giving it a watch, even if you’re more of a blog reader than a YouTube watcher. In the video, Doll Angel (aka Nicole) talks about her Pullip customizing journey, her favorite things about the hobby and gives a few tips for those who are looking to start customizing their own doll!
Since Doll Angel was awesome enough to shoot and edit this spotlight for the channel, I encourage you to leave her some kudo’s in the comment area here, on YouTube or via her sites, Flickr, Etsy or Dolly Market.
If you want to be in a Collector Spotlight post, let me know and I can give you details! Thanks for checking out Doll Angel’s story and don’t forget to send some kudo’s her way!
Have you heard of Tiny Frock shop? It’s probably one of the coolest online doll stores on the web! This Spotlight post is a Q and A with Pamela Thompson, the force behind the cool doll clothing and accessory shop! Read below to learn a little more about who they are, what they offer and the passion behind this online business!
Question: Tell us a bit about your background and how it had a hand in opening up Tiny Frock shop.
Answer: Before starting Tiny Frock shop, I was a fashion designer in NYC for 20+ years, working as head designer for Betsey Johnson, Heatherette and designer at Anna Sui. After I had my daughter, I decided to leave NY and thus left my full-time fashion career with it. I have always had my career as a creative outlet and found I needed to reinvent myself in order to have a new outlet for my creativity.
I have been a huge fan of Barbie since I was a kid and when my Mom brought me my old 1970’s Barbie case and clothes she saved from my childhood, I fell in love all over again. I realized that no one had created a Vogue worthy online department store for Barbie’s world and with so many amazing designs made for her from Mattel, clone companies and handmade, the options to style her and offer a new way of looking at Barbie is infinite. I decided to take my real world fashion experience and create an online shop for Barbie that encompasses not just all product areas related to her world, but also make the shop a microcosm showing how the real fashion world works. I use behind the scenes photos, interviews with the doll models and commentary from the doll staff to show a tongue in cheek version of the real fashion world.
Question: Tiny Frock shop is a unique sort of online store in that it’s a resale shop that also sells its own unique clothing pieces and accessories. Can you tell us a little about your concept and how it differs from other online clothing shops?
Answer: Most of the standalone online Barbie shops out there are small and focused in one area such as OOAK clothing or furniture. Since I incorporate resale, I am able to offer a wider range of products and product categories, that makes Tiny Frock shop a one stop shop for all things Barbie and Ken! Offering resale allows me to “rehab” some of the amazing clothes that come my way and give them new life, as well as offering a less expensive range of clothing. The artisan collection I produce called TINY FROCK, is more expensive, very fashion forward, one of a kind and uses high-end fabrics and trims, therefore making it a bit more costly. Having tiered pricing in the shop allows collectors and Mom’s/kids the ability to shop all in one place.
I am a big advocate of recycling and love that I am able to revive old clothing, accessories and dolls and give them a new chance at being loved.
Question: What kind of dolls does Tiny Frock Shop sell clothing for? (Size? Type?) What era’s of clothing can be found in Tiny Frock Shop?
Answer: Generally, our clothes fit on all Barbie types from vintage to new, as well as Integrity dolls and any other 12” doll. There are notes put in each item description if it runs small or large. I have also just opened a department for the new “curvy” and “petite” Barbie’s just released by Mattel and plan to also offer a “tall” section soon. Since there is not a lot of clothing out there for the new Barbie types, I wanted to help add a little variety to those new dolls offerings by making it easy for people to find clothes to fit the new body shapes.
The clothing the shop features goes all the way back to the first 1959 doll to current. I also have a lot of handmade and vintage clone clothing from Hong Kong.
Question: Tell us a bit about TINY FROCK, a line you created for Tiny Frock shop.
Answer: The line is called TINY FROCK and Monotone was the inspiration for the first collection in conjunction with the January Monotone issue of Fashion Doll Quarterly, where the line is featured. I was playing on the starkness of black and white contrasts and the mixture of different print, texture and finishes. The line is made of European fabrics and each has its own TINY FROCK woven label and hangtag.
Our newest collections called Retro Candy, will launch with a spread in the Spring issue of Fashion Doll Quarterly and feature a surprise collaboration!
Question: I love that your shop is so much more than just pre-made outfits. Can you tell us a bit about your team and the unique pieces they make for the shop? I’m a huge fan of Tiffany’s wall art. I noticed you also have some miniature wall art from Sharon Wright on your site, as well.
Answer: I LOVE collaboration and am always looking for new designers to work with and feature. It is something I learned is necessary for creativity to really blossom and it is extremely invigorating. I was inspired by the Target Go International shopping model started in 2005, where they take amazing designers like Anna Sui, Jean Paul Gaultier, McQ, Alexander McQueen, etc and have them design a diffusion line. I wanted to create a platform for known and unknown doll artists in all categories (furniture, clothing, art) to have their work seen and also able to be purchased within the Tiny Frock shop store.
I call our version of this the Tiny Frock Shop Designer Collective. It has included amazing designers like Andy Sorensen for Haute Poppet, Cat Hammond and currently is featuring Littlest Sweet Shop, Haute Doll Editor in Chief Sharon Marie Wright’s photography and Chicago artist Tiffany Gholar. This Spring I will be featuring Maryann Roy’s Acryluxe furniture, Mari Krasney’s art on canvas and more are in the works.
Question: Props are necessary for any dolly photo shoot, what kind of props do you sell in Tiny Frock shop? I noticed some awesome Re-Ment that I may need to sweep up! And the musical instruments are pretty neat, too!
Answer: I have been getting deeply into props or what I like to call “home décor”. Many of the items I sell are vintage so there can sometimes only be one of each. I try to curate the products for you and offer lots of options in the shop so you can pick and choose what you want to decorate your space. In most cases what you buy will be something only you have and make your space that much more unique! 🙂
I have just jumped headfirst into the Re-Ment game and am super excited about it. I am in love with the tiny details of Re-Ment, but I get frustrated by buying blind boxes. There is some fun in it, but when I really have my eye on one particular set and don’t get it, I get so weepy. So in the shop I am buying full Re-Ment sets and have launched an unboxing channel on YouTube where Lily, my 7 yr old CEO daughter and I, along with my 70-year-old Mom unbox each blind box and show how they look and work together. We like to call it “multigenerational unboxing” ;). That way you can see exactly what you are getting in detail and then you can go on our site and buy what you see! The Thompson girls are all kids at heart no matter our age.
I get in a lot of other really cool items daily and try to do unboxing videos of all that are worthy. It’s like Christmas every day at the Tiny Frock shop!
Question: Do you sell dolls, as well? Are those found through second-hand means or are you a direct dealer for doll lines like Kurhn?
Answer: I do sell dolls in a variety of categories and price points. I have a section for what I call “pre-loved” Barbie’s, which are used Barbie’s that get a spa treatment (hair wash, style and new clothing) and then are put up for sale in order to give them an opportunity for a new life. I also sell new in box Barbie’s (vintage and new), as well as Integrity Dolls. I am a direct dealer for Kurhn (the Barbie of China) and also sell Licca Chan from Japan.
Question: Do you collect dolls? If so, what kinds?
Answer: Yes. ALL kinds! Since my staff is made up mainly of dolls/action figures, I have many in my collection, all with different jobs. They have their own bio in my “the team” section of the site where you can read about their jobs. Probably the most famous employee is Ms. Bunny, our resident stylist, who is a mid century Japanese poseable bunny doll. I also have a love for 60’s big eye dolls and any type of kitty figurine!
As for Barbie’s I collect, generally most of them become models with the exception of a few elite girls that have not and will not probably make it out of their boxes. The most prized?? My Karl Lagerfeld Barbie which I feel so fortunate to have gotten.
Question: What has been the most fun aspect of running Tiny Frock shop so far?
Answer: The best thing about running the Tiny Frock shop is being able to marry all aspects of running a real fashion world brand in 1:6 scale. I am able to take all of my experience, apply it to this tiny world and share it with everyone. It also grants me the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the business like photography, e-commerce, design, buying and more. When I was in the regular fashion industry, I worked at small companies and wore many hats. This business allows me to wear even more.
I also love being able to include my daughter, Lily and Mom, Jean in the process. Lily and my Mom both help styling the home décor sets and with unboxing.
Question: If someone has extra dolly clothing lying around, do you accept donations? If so, what are the requirements?
Answer: Absolutely! I pride myself on taking clothing of almost all condition levels and doing my best to bring them back to life. There is no requirement. We accept all eras and conditions of clothing as donations. There is a link in the homepage footer with information on donating.
Question: Where can people find your site?
Answer: You can find us:
YouTube Channel: http://tinyurl.com/tinyfrockshop
TINY FROCK: http://tinyfrock.tumblr.com/
I’d like to thank Pamela for answering my questions! It was great learning a little more about Tiny Frock shop. Clearly, this is a dolly shop that you need to visit. I love that the whole family is included in the Tiny Frock shop. It reminds me of how Barbee0913 and I celebrate doll collecting together. I’m very temped to pick up some of the Re-Ment set and love the idea of being able to style my dolls without going broke! Next time I’m outfitting a Make It Own Pullip, this will be my first stop.
Have you ordered from Tiny Frock shop? What do you think of this neat online store? What’s on your Tiny Frock shop wish list? Share your thoughts in the comment area! (And if you know of a store, person or site I should spotlight next, let me know that, too!)
Earlier this year, I purchased a 1930’s Dionne Quintuplet on eBay. (My second of the year– see the first here.) Made from 1935-1939, the Dionne Quintuplet dolls were big business for Madame Alexander and other doll brands of the time. For me, I’ve always loved their adorable hand painted faces. This particular auction listing tugged at my heartstrings. The seller said that this beloved Dionne Quintuplet was a prized possession of her elderly friend. Because she had no one to pass this Quint on to, she had decided to sell it to help with medical bills and the like. The Quint had clearly been loved by this lady and I’m a sucker for a good story, especially when they throw in that they have no one to pass such a treasured item on to within the family.
I didn’t ask many questions about the quality of this quint, because the price was low enough that I could get her restored. On arrival, I noticed that she was definitely in need of a few more repairs than I thought. She was completely unstrung and needed some of her composition repaired around her hip and on her foot. She needed to have some work done around her eyes, too, because some of her paint had rubbed off. (That, of course, I knew from photos.) Here’s a shot of her taken after she arrived to my house. Notice she’s missing eye brows and eye lashes.
So, in search of a doll doctor I went. Dr. Noreen had been on my radar because of the work she’d done in the past restoring dolls under the Tonner umbrella. She recently left Tonner’s doll hospital and is now working out of her own storefront. (See her in action during her Tonner days in the video below!)
Dr. Noreen was amazing. She restored my Quint in record time and kept me in the loop on the restoration through e-mail and facebook updates. Not only that, her price for the work was much better than I anticipated. At no time during the process did I ever feel worried about my doll, which says a lot! More on where you can find Dr. Noreen below. But first, are you ready to see the newly restored Dionne Quintuplet? Here she is!
She was restored beautifully! Look at this darling little face. Both Dionne’s in this post are composition. Prior to collecting hard plastic dolls, I had assumed composition dolls were super fragile. After handling a few, though, I’m amazed at how solid they are! Think about it– these two dolls have survived 80 years with only minimal damage. Think of everything that’s happened between now and 1930. This doll has literally seen it all. That’s one of the reasons I love this kind of doll. They carry so much history with them. (If only they could tell us all about it!)
Here she is with her sister, a Dionne with real hair. (And when I say real, I mean it. This doll is usually listed as having a human hair wig!) While the doll with painted hair is meant to sit, the real hair version has legs that welcome standing. Adding these two dolls to my collection means I have successfully acquired another item on my grail list!
Because I was so impressed with her passion and professionalism, I asked Dr. Noreen if she’d do a spotlight here on the blog and she agreed. Below is a quick Q and A I did with her over email. If you’re looking for a doll restoration artist in the US with talent and experience, visit her website! She did an amazing job on my Quint and is highly recommended!
Question: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you become interested in doll restoration.
Answer: I owned my own doll shop and doll hospital years ago and found that all my enjoyment came from the repair and restoration side of the business. Since I was very young, I always loved to rescue dolls (dogs and cats, too)!
Question: How long have you been restoring dolls?
Answer: I have been restoring dolls for about 30 years.
Question: What kinds of dolls do you restore?
Answer: Antique bisque to vintage and modern. I do not work on Barbies or the smaller fashion dolls at all. Sadly, I also do not sew–so cloth dolls are not something I am comfortable with restoring. My favorite are probably the 50’s hard plastics.
Question: What is your favorite part of the process?
Answer: The before and after shots–I love! But the part I find rewarding is the look on the customers face when they see their beloved doll back the way they remember it!
Question: If someone sends a doll to your hospital, what should they expect?
Answer: When a doll arrives, I spend about 20 minutes checking her completely and take many photos of exactly how she arrived. Then, I usually start within a week or two, depending on how many [dolls] are waiting for the dolly O.R. Generally, they are finished within a few weeks. I show the dolls restoration process by photographing and posting [on facebook].
Question: Do you collect dolls? If so, what kinds?
Answer: Yes! I do have a bit of an eclectic collection ranging from late 1800 China Heads to modern ball jointed dolls. Of course, after working for 14 years as the doll doc for Tonner Doll, I have quite a few of those, too.
I encourage you to check out Dr. Noreen’s site and facebook page for more information on her services. She did an excellent job on this 1930’s Quint and has become my go-to doll doctor for whatever dolls come my way in the future that are in need of a little TLC.
Have you picked up a grail item recently? Do you own a Dionne Quintuplet? Have you ever worked with Dr. Noreen? Share your thoughts in the comment area!
UPDATE 10/2016: The Makies brand seems to be dead right now. The site never re-opened and social media hasn’t been updated. As of this update, I am considering Makies out of business. Brands have been known to surprise us before and come out of oblivion, so you never know what will happen. But, for the time being, I would try to find a Makie second hand if you’re looking to add one to your collection. This interview was done a few months before the beginning of the end. Clearly, they had plans, some which were very exciting by the sounds of it, but alas, most of them never saw the light of day.
Makies are very popular jointed 3D printed dolls. I’ve been a fan ever since I stumbled upon a facebook advertisement. Currently, I own two Makies and love them both! Because of this, I thought they’d be the perfect company to spotlight with a Q and A post! Christina Hsu, CMO of Makielab, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the line and the changes they have recently rolled out.
Question: Makies have been on the cutting edge of the doll world creatively since they made their debut. Can you talk a little about the inspiration for this unique line?
Answer: Absolutely! Our CEO and Co-Founder, Alice Taylor, came up with the idea for Makies while attending an industry toy fair. At the time she was a corporate executive working in the digital and games space. As an avid gamer herself, she thought — how cool would it be to bring digital/virtual goods to life in physical form. And, since she had a toddler at home, she set out to create a toy that her own child would love. It was important for the new toy to be stereotype-breaking, forward thinking, technology related and overall AWESOME. What happened next? Makies were introduced!
Since we started the company, we set out to make the best toys that we can imagine, which turns out is the best toy that all of you can imagine. Makies are the world’s first 3d printed toys, certified toy-safe for children 3+. We love that kids of all ages, from age 5 to 95, can enjoy our products and the experiences of making them.
Question: How have fans taken to the line? How does that make you, as a company, feel?
Answer: Our fans have been so supportive and enthusiastic since day one. Our first iteration of the dolls were prototypes to test our Makie Maker engine, and to see if there was demand for 3D printed characters. And it worked! Ever since we have been optimizing and improving our product. It doesn’t stop here. We’re driven by product development. We’re happy to say anyone who has experienced creating and making a Makie has given us incredibly helpful and positive feedback.
How does it make us feel? We love it! We love hearing feedback and seeing our customers’ excitement. We physically make the Makies, but you are truly creating the Makies universe with us and we couldn’t be happier! The creativity we see on social media with everything all of our fans have done with their Makies is incredibly inspiring. It keeps us moving forward on a daily basis. So we want to send a big thanks to our community!
Question: One thing that draws Makies apart from other doll lines is that the company isn’t afraid to take risks. Cutting right to the chase, what can you tell us about the changes that were recently made to the Makies dolls?
Answer: As you know, Makies are premium, modern, creative dolls. We love that we can give creators, like yourself, a chance to make their own dolls. Since we launched, we’ve been listening to our customers and hearing your feedback. In fact, we plan to launch more feedback and surveys, so it would mean the world to hear from you when we do.
We’ve learned that for people who love Makies but don’t buy, it’s overwhelmingly because the price is too high. 3D printing is expensive technology, and over the past few years we’ve optimized our processes and models to bring our costs down and pass the savings on to Makies fans. Unfortunately, materials costs haven’t come down as fast as we’d hoped, and we realized that the only way we could continue to keep our custom dolls on the market and offer them at an affordable price was to introduce injection molded bodies. We thought hard and explored a lot of options before arriving at this decision. We’re a very small company, and we need growth in order to survive and thrive in the competitive toy space.
At this time, we have Girl Makies available for purchase. Our Boy Makies will be taking a “vacation” for the rest of 2015 and will return with new and improved bodies in early 2016. Most of the creativity happens with the custom face and accessories which continue to be fully 3d printed. With the introduction of the new bodies, we’ve been able to drop the price of a Makie doll from $115 / £69 to $74.99/£49.99. Best of all they are still made locally in Kent, England.
Question: How will these changes affect the line? What are the positives and/or negatives?
Answer: What these changes mean specifically: the customizable elements of the doll remain EXACTLY as they were before: fully-custom sculptural facial features, choices of skin tone, choices of outfit, choices of hair and eyes and accessories. The new body is smoother, so it’s much easier to dress compared to the former 3D printed surface, and it’s also shinier. Most joints have been re-designed: the new neck joint is much more robust, and the wrist and ankle joints have been adjusted so they’re easier to play with than ever. A side effect of this is that hands and pop-on shoes designed for the former 3D printed bodies won’t fit the new bodies and vice-versa: we’ve heard from many Makie owners that they’d still like the option of buying goodies for their fully 3D printed Makies, so we’re looking at ways to make that happen.
A big plus is that the combination of the new plastics and the slightly tweaked joints gives Makies a wider range of motion and freer joint movement. New Makies can pose in ways that weren’t possible before – they can even do the splits! The hands and feet are more detailed, and Makies continue to be toy-safe and practically indestructible. Best of all, you can now bring a Makie home for far less money (35% lower than before). The dolls are still one-of-a-kind, custom and unique to you only.
We’re already looking into how to improve these new bodies, too. This includes minimizing seams and injection marks (which are very common in plastic toys), making better color matches, and updating our shop offerings for new Makies, including hands and shoes.
Question: Does the changing of the body type limit the skin tone options? How do the new colors compare to the colors used prior to the new bodies?
Answer: Ice Frosting (plain white) has been retired for now, but we still offer three delicious choices: Strawberry Milk (pink flesh tone), Cool Caramel (tan flesh tone) and Cocoa Bean (rich brown tone). We’re looking into additional tones too, and would love to expand the range in 2016 – we’ll see!
Right now, we’re working with our suppliers to minimize the slight variation between the tone and finish of Makie faces and the new bodies, which is most apparent with Cocoa Bean. When Makies are dressed the differences are barely noticeable, but of course we’d like to get the match perfect!
Question: Are the ‘old’ style 3DP bodies gone or is there hope that that kind of body might stick around for die-hard 3DP Makies fans?
Answer: For the time being, fully 3D printed Makies aren’t available, but we’ve heard from many Makie fans who would still like to buy them, so we’re looking into how we can offer them. It’s not as straightforward as it may seem … but watch this space. 🙂
Question: Do you have any final remarks for my readers? Where can we find/follow Makies online?
Answer: At MakieLab, we are constantly looking at ways to optimize and improve our Makies and the Makies experience. We recently participated in a program with The Walt Disney Company and announced some exciting news which you can see here. We can’t say more than that for now, but definitely follow us (@officialmakies) on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. We’ll share more information as it becomes publicly available in a few weeks or so.
One final note, thanks to all our Makies friends for your support, feedback and enthusiasm for our product. We love Makies and what makes every day even better for us, is developing Makies that you love too. We love to see what you make and how you play with Makies – please share your creations on social media with us!
Huge thank you to Christina for answering my questions! I love how Makies continue to change and grow. Some companies become popular and then are too afraid to adapt or improve upon their concept– MakieLab does not fall into that category. The changes they’re implementing now may seem like a lot to some, but I have faith that they’ll make the line even better than before.
The news announced at the 2015 Disney Accelerator Demo Day regarding Makies (and other start ups) is very exciting. From the article, “MakieLab lets kids bring toys to life by building their own customizable 3D-printed toys through creative games and apps. MakieLab will be introducing Disney-, Disney•Pixar- and Marvel-branded accessories for Makie dolls, as well as helping kids create their own versions of a Star Darling—inspired by Disney’s brand-new franchise for girls—in Fall 2016.” Funny enough, I was just thinking how neat it would be if MakieLab worked with Disney–they can make so many cool things with their 3D printers. Sign me up for two Makie sized Mickey Mouse ear hats!
I encourage you to say hello to the MakieLab team via the social media sites linked in the interview. What do you think of the changes currently being made to the Makie line? Do you own a Makie? Are you excited about MakieLab’s creating Disney themed accessories for Makie dolls? (Clearly, with my newest Disney toy endeavour, I am!) Share your thoughts below.
It’s about time to post a new edition of the Skipper Highlight Reel, isn’t it? This blog post is all about the 1964 soft vinyl Skipper Wallet. It features Skipper, all decked out in her Masquerade outfit. Barbie and Ken can be seen in the top left. This particular wallet is blue, but I have seen a yellow wallet with this same design floating around the internet.
Originally, it came with a comb, nail file and mirror. I’ve rarely seen it with those pieces on the secondary market. It is common to find this with two Hollywood portraits inside the picture slots, however. The two celebrities pictured are Troy Donahue and Tuesday Weld. I’m not very familiar with these celebrities, but they must have been popular to be in this mass produced vinyl product.
My favorite aspect of this wallet has to be the graphics. Skipper made her debut in 1964, probably around the time this wallet came out. The outfit she wears is also part of the first wave of outfits released with Barbie’s little sister.
If you find something like this on eBay or at a doll show, be sure to double check that the vinyl isn’t ripped and that the snap isn’t rusted. Also, make sure the graphics are up to par. The graphics are what makes pieces like this so fun to showcase, so you want to double check that they are up to your standards.
Do you have a wallet from this Barbie and Friends era? What does it look like? What do you think of the Skipper wallet featured in this post? Share your thoughts below.