The Doll Glossary – Doll Eyes

Today we started to rearrange our warehouse for the holidays. We like to move this year’s best selling dolls closer to our pack & ship area. That saves the warehouse staff lots of steps when the Holiday rush comes. I had just filled a shelving unit with dozens of dolls, and when I stepped back to look at it I realized that they were all ‘looking at me.” That led me to the thought: “Maybe I should do a post on doll’s eyes!” So here’s a brief glossary of terms associated with Doll’s Eyes:

Doll glossary - flirty eyes

A Doll with ‘flirty eyes’

Flirty Eyes describes eyes that are looking to one side or another. This is a very popular style that has been used on dolls from both Eastern and Western countries. It was more popular a hundred years ago, fewer dolls today have flirty eyes.

A doll with 'sleeping eyes'

A doll with Sleeping Eyes

A doll whose eyes ‘close’ when it is laid down and ‘open’ when it is picked up is described as having ‘sleeping eyes.’ The eyes are free moving and weighted so that they open and close. There are three weaknesses to this design:

  1. Children poke at the eyes… breaking the delicate mechanism that allows the eyes to open and close.
  2. Many manufacturers seem to have difficulty matching the paint color of the eyelids with the colored vinyl materials used to mold the face.
  3. And for those eyes that have eyelashes, children often pick at or pull off the eyelashes… it seems to hold a fascination for them. it is one of the items that we have to specifically list as ‘not covered’ in our store’s warranty!
A doll with safe-set eyes

A doll with safe-set eyes

Safe set eyes is a term that describes a method of attaching the eyes to the doll so that they are almost impossible for a small child to pull out and swallow. Credit is generally given to the GUND company (now a part of Enesco) for being the first to manufacture their dolls using this technique. Today all dolls and plush toys must meet the CPSIA safety standards for ‘pull strength.’ Usually the eyes are sewn into a little cloth sack, and then the sack is sewn into the head, making removing the eyes very difficult to do.

A doll with 'Fixed' eyes

A doll with ‘Fixed’ eyes

Fixed eyes are usually acrylic eyes that are glued or ‘fixed’ into place inside the hollow head of the doll during manufacturing. When the manufacturer does this right it can really enhance the beauty of the doll, when they use a poor quality eye, make the eye too small, or use a weird color it can make a pretty doll look strange – almost like an alien! One of the weaknesses of the process is that the eyes sometimes get glued in at a poor angle, making for a cross-eyed, googly-eyed or wall-eyed doll.

A doll with beautiful eyes

A beautiful doll with lifelike eyes

Start a Doll Business? 5 Things to Know

Notice: If you have no interest in how to start, how to run, or what goes into owning a doll store, you can skip this post!Thank you for Support

About once a week, someone sends us an email asking how they can start a business like ours. But the answer is not so easy to put in an email, so I’ve decided to start peppering this blog with that information, so that in the future, I can just say, read the blog – it’s mostly there!

Here are 5 things you need to know to start a Doll Store (in no particular order):

  1. You need money. The number one reason small businesses fail, is because they were under-capitalized. They ran out of money before they could become successful. You need money to buy inventory. You need money for your store (whether online or brick and mortar), you need money for advertising. (To let people know who you are what you carry and how to find you.)
  2. The formula for success is simple: Traffic x Conversion = Sales. Traffic is people in your shop or people on your site. Conversion means ‘they bought something.” Your success will depend on that. The more traffic, and the more sales you have from that traffic, the more money you make… it really is that simple.
  3. You need Dolls. The best way to do this is to attend The American International Toy Fair in New York City in February every year. Bring your credit card and business references. 99% of the doll makers will be there, that’s where you buy your inventory.
  4. You need to understand that you are in the gift business, not the doll business. Three year old children do not have credit cards. That means they are not buying their own dolls. And that means you are selling dolls to adults to give as gifts.
  5. Your health is the business’s health. If you get sick and can’t go to work, your business is closed until you can.

Boy Dolls vs. Dolls for Boys

A Boy's Doll

Here is a non-gendered ‘Boy Doll,’ with short hair and dressed in a baseball uniform.

We get this asked a lot: “Why does The Pattycake Doll Company differentiate between Boy Dolls and Dolls for Boys?”

Like… “What’s the difference?”

The practical answer is: ” There is none.”

To clarify: there are definitely ‘Boy Dolls.’ There are non-gendered dolls that are dressed as boys, (non-gendered meaning that the body is basically a cloth bag with stuffing or smooth plastic) and there are anatomically correct dolls formed like boys.

But there is no such thing as ‘dolls for boys.’ All dolls can be ‘dolls for boys.’ Boys will nurture a non-gendered doll, a Teddy Bear, or a baby girl doll just as readily as they will nurture a ‘boy doll.’

So why do we do it?

Because it’s a ‘search term.’ It is the words that people have in their minds when they go looking on the internet for a doll for a boy.

Here’s an example: Little Johnny is three years old, and his mother and father have just brought home a new baby. Johnny is fascinated by that baby… he wants to help feed it and bathe it and touch it and watch it sleep. He loves his new baby with all of his heart. But Mommy and Daddy are not quite ready for his ‘help!’ So someone gets the idea to give Johnny his own baby to take care of. So they go to Google or Amazon or and they type in the words: “Dolls for Boys.”

As an e-commerce store, we need to help potential customers find our store’s selection, so we use that search term too.

Looking for ‘Boy Dolls?’ We have that. Looking for ‘Dolls for Boys?’ We have those too!

Kokeshi Dolls & Their Kimonos

Kokeshi dolls

Compare the picture of the young woman wearing her kimono below to the painted kimonos on the Kokeshi dolls. On the doll 2nd from the left the doll is holding up her ‘sleeves,’ on three of the dolls the layered effect at the neck is represented as well.

From the first time I saw a Kokeshi doll on Ebay, I have been madly in love with them. As I own a doll store, you would think I would fall in love with the dolls I sell right? But somehow it didn’t turn out that way. I fell in love with Kokeshi dolls instead. Go figure.

There are a lot of reasons I like collecting Kokeshi… they’re pretty readily available, there are several different styles to choose from, they have a well defined history, and they are reasonably priced for a collectible doll, with most selling around $30. And unlike some collectibles which are too delicate to be handled, Kokeshi can be handled, there is a heft to the wood, the smoothness of the paint and lacquer, the textures of the carvings.

A  Japanese woman wearing her Coming of Age Day kimono

A Japanese women’s Coming of Age Day kimono

But mostly I like the kimonos. What makes Kokeshi dolls different, one from the other, is their kimonos. The Japanese kimonos that women wear for certain special days like weddings or Coming of Age Day are works of art. And the craftsmen who paint and carve the kimonos onto Kokeshi dolls are trying to reproduce that sense of “Kimono as Art” onto their dolls.

For me, that’s what makes them special.