Moore’s Law and Dolls

There is a economic principle called ‘Moore’s Law.’ In very broad terms it says that technology gets better and better, and less and less expensive.

The classic example is the computer, which used to cost thousand of dollars and took up whole rooms, and now cost a hundred or less and fits in your hand.

Believe it or not… Moore’s Law works for Dolls too!
Edison Talking Dolls

Here’s the original technology: Thomas Edison’s talking Doll from the 1880’s.   It was 22″, recited nursery rhymes and was very expensive. In today’s dollars, that advertised price of $10 would be over $220!

Here are three little dolls that say the “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” prayer:

We sell them on our Dolls that Say Prayers page for $14.99

That’s Moore’s Law for you!

The “Early Adopter’s” Dolls

Have you ever heard of people called: “Early Adopters?”

Early Adopters like to be the first ones to buy and try ‘new.’ They’re the ones who line up to get the newest iphone, try the latest app, wear the trendiest clothes, go to the newly opened restaurants, move into the newest up-and-coming gentrification neighborhoods.

I wish there was such a thing as Doll Early Adopters. In my fantasy, there are hundreds of them out there… constantly checking the internet for the newest dolls, searching ‘twitter’ and Instagram, checking Etsy and Pinterest… wanting to be the firstest and the fastest to find a new doll. Sigh…

Because if such a customer did exist, I could show them my two new (exclusive to The Pattycake Doll Company) Black Dolls from Precious Moments.

When I ran into Linda ‘The Doll Maker’ Rick at The American International Toy Fair (she’s the one who makes all the precious moments dolls) we had a nice discussion about how nice it had been several years ago when we carried Black Precious Moments dolls.

And then she surprised me with a very generous offer. If I would pick a few styles that I liked, she would make a few small batch runs for me to carry at www.pattycakedoll.com.

So she did, and we did and they’re available now on our site. (You can click on either

Thousands of people come to our store every week. Some looking for Black Dolls, some looking for Boy’s dolls, some looking for Learn to dress dolls etc.

Unfortunately, very few of them are early adopters… our visitors are usually buying gifts for kids, not because they are early adopters looking for the newest dolls.

Oh well. Maybe some of you readers are early adopters?

One can always hope, right?

 

Do Dolls Need Wheelchairs?

We all know there are children who use wheelchairs.

And of course there are children who play with dolls.

But the question for today is:
Is there a need for ‘doll’s wheelchairs?’ Or doll’s glasses? Or ‘doll’s’ guide dogs / doll ‘guide dogs’ – (which are really just stuffed plush dogs anyway)?

A wheel chair for dolls

A wheelchair and crutches set for 18 inch dolls.

We sell two different doll’s wheelchairs at The Pattycake Doll Company store, the more realistic one above, which is for the American Girl type of dolls, and the one below, which is more simplistic and for Rag Dolls and Teddy Bears.

A Doll's Wheelchair for rag dolls and teddy bears

A Doll’s Wheelchair for rag dolls and teddy bears

Here are just a few of the reasons why we carry these and other special needs dolls and accessories:

  • As a teaching toy. We all know that ‘the child who is different’ can become the child who is laughed at or picked on. Introducing a doll’s wheelchair into the class room can ease the introduction of the wheelchair student into the classroom. The strange can become the familiar very easily.
  • Nurturing and caring: One of the primary reasons dolls have been a ‘classic’ children’s toy for centuries is the fact that children love to nurture. They love to nurture kittens and puppies, they love to nurture their little brothers and sisters. Sometimes it’s better to let young children learn to nurture and take care of a doll in a wheelchair, and let Mommy and Daddy nurture the real child in the wheelchair.
  • Inclusivity: For the same reason it’s important for Black children to have Black dolls to play with – This doll is Black – this doll is beautiful – I’m beautiful too, is the same reason we believe that children should have the option of playing with or nurturing dolls in wheelchairs.

So that’s why we think there should be doll’s wheelchairs and other special needs dolls and accessories.

Just so you know, there are a lot of people who disagree with us… people who think we are cruelly and unnecessarily  ‘singling out’ special needs children. They’re entitled to their opinions too.

Defining Biracial Dolls

Biracial Black-White doll

Opal – One of the Mixis dolls. Opal is Black Ghanian and White British

Growing up, our family self-identified as mutts. It was the standard answer that my family < Father (Russian – Polish with a bit of Irish) and Mother (Lithuanian – Austrian)>  gave when asked “where are you from?” Back in the ’50’s, this was a common question in the racially and culturally diverse neighborhood of New York City where I grew up.

Fast forward fifty years, and I’m scratching my head in this very ‘politically correct’ society we live in now, and I’ was trying to figure out how to best describe our dolls that were neither Black nor White, but in between. No one had ever asked us for an ‘in-between’ doll.

President Obama (Black and White)  – in a conversation about the first family’s search for a dog – had just declared to the whole world that he was a ‘Mutt.’

I didn’t think I wanted to use Mutt.

“Mutt Dolls for Sale!”
“Get your Mutt Dolls at The Pattycake Doll Company!”

At work there were two White women with Black husbands who had young girls. I asked them both: “If you were looking for dolls for your children on the internet, what would you type into the search window?”

Both said “mixed kids!”  100% agreement, right? Perfect!

I liked that a lot better than Mutt, except…. when I researched the search engine algorithms it was a ‘no-go.’ Google, Yahoo and Bing all agreed – practically nobody actually searched for ‘mixed kids dolls.’

No, what Google, Yahoo, Bing and the other search engines seemed to agree upon was that the words ‘Biracial Dolls’ was the way to go.

We’ve since added the words ‘multicultural,’ ‘multiracial’ and yes ‘mixed kids’ to our descriptions as well. The only thing we’ve never done is describe our dolls as mutts.

Kokeshi Dolls – Creative & Traditional

It didn’t take me long to discover that there are two kinds of Kokeshi: Creative and Traditional.

But it took a while and a bit of a learning curve to discover that Traditional was itself divided into many different styles.

This post isn’t to give you a long PhD dissertation on Kokeshi, ☺ but to give you a quick overview with a few examples so that you can at least tell the difference between the two major styles.

Take a look at the two traditional examples here

Traditional kokeshi doll

Traditional Kokeshi

The most noticeable differences between the two are the shape of the shoulders, the shape of the eyes (the one on the left has a single top eyelid, the one on the right has both  top and bottom eyelids), and the comparative size of the head to the body. Another difference is the oval shape of the body on the right compared to the concave body shape on the left.

Why they are different, is because of geography. In different areas of the country, the craftsmen follow the same ‘styles’ generation after generation, often in the same family even. To the best of my knowledge, and I’m no expert, there are about a dozen different ‘traditional’ designs within the traditional style. And the different markers I have mentioned (and a few more like hairstyles and decorative flower design) are how you can identify which area the traditional Kokeshi doll came from.

Here are a some Creative Kokeshi:

Kokeshi dolls

Creative Kokeshi dolls

Here the craftsmen (perhaps even the same ones who have made the traditional Kokeshi above) have departed from the traditional patterns. There is alot more freedom in colors – they are not locked into the red, green and black and the artisans have gotten a lot more creative with the kimono designs.

But what all Kokeshi have in common, is that they are wood, turned on a lathe, and in my eyes, very beautiful dolls!

Why Waldorf Dolls are Like Crayons☺

Giving your child a Waldorf doll is like giving your child a box of crayons and a blank piece of paper, instead of crayons and a coloring book.

Your child is still going to color, but instead of just coloring inside the publisher’s lines, your child is going to use their own imagination and originality to create their own art.

And that’s what we as parents want to do: stimulate our children’s imagination and creativity.

In the doll world, Waldorf Dolls are those ‘blank pieces of paper.’ They have sweet and simple faces. Dots for eyes, a small stitched smile.

A Waldorf Style Doll

A Waldorf Style Doll

In theory, a few days after receiving their new Waldorf Style doll, your child will have unleashed his or her imagination and will have created a whole personality and ‘story’ for that doll.

And that’s the beauty of Waldorf style dolls.

Who is this Doll? Doll’s Names

What was your favorite doll’s name?

Who named it?

Some American Girl™ dolls have names, but some are just a brand… there are 11 different skin tone/hair/eye combinations in the Bitty Baby line, but they are all named Bitty Baby. Then there are the 40 American Girl™ Truly Me™ dolls. 40 different hair, skin tone and eye color combinations that can be ordered to make the doll resemble your daughter – all forty dolls are named (and trademarked!) Truly Me.

But once you give your daughter a Truly Me™ doll, do you think she’ll call it Truly Me for the next five years?

Classic Raggedy Ann And Raggedy Andy Dolls

Classic Raggedy Ann And Raggedy Andy Dolls

Barbie’s name is Barbie™. Ken’s name is Ken™! And little girls know their names. But when they are playing with their ‘Barbies,’ every 11 inch doll is a Barbie even if it has a different name on the box. The child doesn’t say: ” Come on Grandma, let’s play with my Barbies and Midges and Stacies and Theresas etc. She says: “lets play with my Barbies.”

Raggedy Ann’s name is Raggedy Ann. But most other rag dolls are just called Dolly.

Teddy Bears are called Teddy.

At the Pattycake Doll Company every doll we sell is named, either by the manufacturer or by us.

Feel free to change it. ☺

Blogging, E-tail & Mobilegeddon

If you read my blog, you know that my wife and I sell dolls on the internet at www.pattycakedoll.com.

And dolls being our passion, we love to share that passion with others. Of course ‘dolls’ is a really huge subject. There is doll collecting, doll history, dolls as an art form. There is doll anatomy, dolls and nurture, dolls and gender. One topic I like to write about is the doll business… where do dolls come from, how do they get into the stores, and how to run an e-tail store on the internet.

E-tailing is a really strange business to begin with, but recently it got a lot stranger. And it’s your fault!  You, the consumer! You who have gone mobile.

Because Google, (who still accounts for more than half of all the searches on the internet, and uses their own special way to figure out if our web store should be shown as the answer to their search), has decided that if someone is searching from their mobile device, then Google only wants to show them sites that Google thinks are “mobile friendly.”

And if your etail store (or blog) is not mobile friendly in Googles estimation, then they won’t show your site – especially if they can serve up your competitors who are mobile friendly.

April 21st was the day the new rules – called algorithims – went into effect. And for those of us who depend on you to come visit our stores and blogs via Google search, that day has been nicknamed Mobilgeddon.

Fortunately, Google has a way to find out if a site is mobile friendly or not, and both our store and this blog are mobile friendly.

Thank goodness, right?

Mixed Kid’s Dolls & E-tail

An Asian, Black and Native American mixed race doll

An Asian, Black and Native American mixed race doll

E-tail is a really interesting word. It means having a store on the internet. And it represents two completely different knowledge bases; the first having to do with everything from Search Engine Optimization to Pay-Per-Click advertising to Google Algorithms. Phrases like title tags, alt image and html 5.

The second knowledge base has a lot in common with normal brick and mortar stores, things like inventory management, product turns and marketing budget; although there are some new concepts like long tail and shopping cart abandonment to know about also.

What both etail and retail have in common though, is customers. How to find them and let them know you carry the products that they are looking for. Although to be honest with you, with etail it’s more like how to let them find you.

One of the main tools etailers have to do that with is called ‘keywords.’ Those are the words that you type into the search box on your computer, tablet or phone screen.

For The Pattycake Doll Company, most of the time that is pretty easy. If you’re an African American mom looking for a doll for your three year old, you would probably type in something like ‘black baby doll.’

If you just came home from the hospital with a newborn baby boy, you might look for a ‘boy doll’ for his older sister to play with.

But what do Black/White parents search for. Or Asian/Black. Or Hispanic/Asian?

I have two friends who are White women married to Black men and with girl children, so I just went and asked them. Surprisingly they both answered the same thing: “We’d look for dolls for ‘mixed kids.’ Okay!

But when I went to my online research tool for keywords, Google and Yahoo didn’t agree; the search volume for that phrase was almost non-existent. Some look for Biracial, some look for Mixed kids, some look for diversity dolls. But not as many as one might think considering that more than half of America’s children are ‘non-white!

It makes my life interesting.

No Naked Dolls!

Nobody sells a naked doll.

Seems obvious right? But have you ever given doll clothes a lot of thought?

I’m going to post some thoughts on this subject for the next few weeks… I hope you’ll find it interesting.

This week: The 12″ Baby Dolls.

The bane of just about every young mother’s existence is the naked baby doll. Most children’s first dolls are either one piece cloth dolls or 12 inch baby dolls. If the doll is a one piece of course the child can’t take the clothes off.

But with baby dolls the clothes do come off. Hence the naked baby doll. Because children from 12 months to about 2 years have no trouble taking things apart… in this case taking off the clothes.

Putting them back on is the problem!

(On the other hand, smart Mommies are always looking for ways to interact with their children in play time, and putting the clothes back on the doll for their child is a great way to get that… even if it is ten times a day! ☺)

Here’s another thought: Who designs the doll clothes that come on the baby dolls? (I myself don’t know, but I may research that in the future.) Is it a good paying job? Is it done in-house or hired out to a designer on contract? How much does it cost to have a doll’s outfit designed.

One thing I do know, is that many companies sell the same baby doll for years, but change the outfit each year. We used to sell a Black Baby Doll by Lee Middleton that went from being ‘Little Bailey’ to ‘Little Hailey’ to ‘Little Chloe!’ Same doll, different outfits, different year, different name.

Little Princess Brn LittleHaileyAA LittleBailey

One of the banes of my existence, especially as a doll company, is getting our customers (the adults) to realize that they really need to consider buying extra clothes to go along with their baby doll purchase.

You see, their daughters, if they are old enough to be playing – and nurturing – their baby dolls, they are not themselves still babies… they are toddlers. And they are not wearing baby clothes, they are wearing toddler clothes… and pretty soon they are going to ask for some clothes for their baby.

But the best reason ever to get pretty baby dresses for their baby dolls?

To encourage your toddler to want to dress like their doll. In pretty dresses. I’m saying that as a father of course. I loved to see my little girl in dresses. Sigh…

Candy Flowers by  Corolle

Candy Flowers 12 inch doll’s dress by Corolle