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?

 

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 http://cialisviagras.com/female-cialis/. 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. ☺

Too ‘White? Stacey and Kelie Have the Answer

There is a lot of talk in our industry about ‘where the next generation of toy makers is coming from.’ I’d like to rephrase the question: In an America where more than half of the children born are children of color, where is the diversity in toys, reflective of our children, going to come from?

I thought about this as I walked Toy Fair last month. This is not a criticism, it is an observation: Toy Fair looks pretty ‘White.’

Imagine a Black Mama with three daughters aged 3, 5 and 8. She walks  into any of the big box stores hoping to get three different Black dolls for her daughters. A soft and cuddly Black lovie for her three year old, maybe a cute 12 or 13 inch Black baby doll for her five year old – hopefully with ‘natural’ hair that she can style and play with – and for the oldest, an 18 inch African-American girl doll with a nice selection of fashions.

Yeah… right.

If you don’t know these two names, you should: Stacey McBride-Irby and Kelie Charles. What Madame Alexander and Ruth Handler were to dolls in the 20th century, these two doll makers are to the 21st century. Visionairies. Pioneers. Entrepreneurs. These two women are helping to bring American Doll making into the 21st century.

Prettie Girl Doll Lena

Prettie Girl Doll Lena by Stacey McBride-Irby

When you meet and talk to Stacey and Kelie you learn that they share the same story and the same passion. They’ve identified an itch – the lack of dolls of color, and they are doing their best to scratch it. It isn’t easy starting a new company from nothing more than an idea, but fortunately we live in a time and an America where it is possible.

Zaria Double Dutch Doll

Zaria is one of the Double Dutch Dolls by Kelie Charles

In the course of things it doesn’t really matter so much that I am proud of these women, or that I am proud to carry their dolls. I am but a humble doll merchant. But in an America that is changing from white to ‘of color,’ I want to stand and cheer. This is where the ‘next generation’ of doll makers is coming from.

Why I Don’t Like Lamilly Dolls

Lammily Dolls at Toy FairI admire and respect Nikolay Lamm. He’s an entrepreneur and creative who successfully launched his own company making dolls. Good for him.  I just don’t like his dolls.

Lammily Ethnic dolls

Lamilly dolls were designed using the average proportions of a 19 year old American girl.

Why?

Because there are people who believe that somehow the proportions of a doll affects a child’s self image. The example most often used is Barbie – somehow, by playing with a Barbie when she is young, that girl’s self image/body image will be skewed as an adult.

I don’t agree.

Lamilly Acne

But Lammily dolls go even further… Lammilly marks. Stickers that children can put on the dolls to make them even more real. Like acne (pictured above). And moles and stitches and glasses and stretch marks.

In my opinion that goes beyond wrong, and verges on hurtful. Do real 19 year olds have acne and stitches and stretch marks? Yes… but I have never met a single woman in my whole life who hasn’t done her absolute best to hide those marks.

I don’t think playing with a Barbie will make a little girl hate her body when she grows up. But I do think that a little girl who is given a Lammilly doll with an acne sticker is going to hope to God she doesn’t look like her doll when she’s 19.

I don’t think Barbies or Bratz or Monster High dolls can make a child fearful of her future, but I think a Lammilly doll could.

What is a Doll’s Breast Plate??

Doll Breast plate

Take a look at the two cloth bodied dolls above. The one on the left has swivel arms and head, and the cloth body comes right up to the neck.

The doll on the right has a breast plate. 

Does it matter?

Ballerina 18in Doll Portrait

Would this ballerina’s outfit look as good on the doll without the breast plate? And the cute tilt of the head? You can’t do that with the doll whose head simply swivels.

A three year old won’t notice, and a five year probably won’t care. So it’s really not that big a deal. But for your fashionista – she will care.

When you’re buying doll’s clothes, how much of the doll’s breast and shoulders will be exposed, and whether the doll even has a neck, is something you might want to consider.

PS: Breast plates, and dolls constructed with or without them are not something new… it has always been this way. Here is an antique doll (c. 1900) with breast plate construction. This doll had shoulders and a neck. The holes are where her body would have been attached (sewn). Her arms were undoubtedly cloth as well. (And she probably had a glued on wig.)

Antique doll with breast plate

Based on a song: the ‘One Love’ doll

One Love DollFor the past two weeks we’ve been posting on ‘where dolls come from.’
In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up this week I’d like to mention one of my favorite
exceptions: the One Love doll.

 

Most dolls start in a doll manufacturer’s design studio, first as concepts and then drawings and designs.

 

Another common start for a doll’s journey is in the pages of a book… think Winnie the Pooh, Raggedy Ann or Peter Rabbit as examples.

 

But what makes the ‘One Love’ doll so unique, is that as far as I know, she is the only doll whose origins were inspired by the lyrics of a song!

 

The song was ‘One Love’ by Bob Marley. Bob Marley’s daughter then wrote a sweet little children’s book based on her dad’s song, and it was illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.

 

And that’s how this adorable little doll came to be. Song lyrics!

 

As you can see, she has a Valentine’s Day red dress decorated with polka dot hearts and  the words One Love. Want to get a ‘One Love’ doll for someone you love? click here to go to her page on our site.

Where do Dolls Come From? Pt 2

dolls 1

Have you ever wondered where dolls come from? Not geographically — although that can be an interesting story as well — but where a particular doll started and how it came to be?

I’ll be going to Toy Fair in NYC in a few weeks, and for The Pattycake Doll Company this is probably the biggest link in the supply chain for us. I’ll be making a few posts about Toy Fair, but today’s post is more about ‘where dolls come from part 2,’ a follow-up to last week’s post.

Last week we got from the beginning – an idea or a design up through the manufacturing of the doll. Let’s pick up her ‘journey’ from there:

  • Regardless of whether a doll is made in Spain, or the Phillipines or in China, the next step is to place her in her packaging – the box that she will be in when put on the store shelf.
  • Then she’s put into cartons… from as few as 2 to as many as 48 dolls per case, and then those cartons are put into containers (the trailer part of a tractor trailer), and then the containers are stacked on a ship.
  • Dolls are not flown to the states, they are shipped by sea.
  • There are various ports of entry but the majority of the dolls enter via the West coast ports, and then are sent to warehouses. Most companies do not warehouse their own dolls, but rent space in huge warehouses near the docks that they share with all the other renters.
  • From those warehouses, the dolls will be generally be sent to the stores, but they may also be sent to distribution centers like Walmart’s or Amazon.
  • But before the dolls can be ordered and sent to the stores, they must be shown to the various buyers like myself. That’s where Toy Fair comes in.
  • For the Pattycake Doll Company, I’ll go to The Jacob Javitz convention center in NYC, and over the course of a few days – walking up and down the aisles of three floors of toys, dolls, games and books – meet with almost every manufacturer of dolls.
  • I’ll place my orders, (I will generally spend upwards of $30,000 in just two days – and I’m small potatoes compared to most!), and then return home and wait for the dolls to arrive.
  • The dolls I saw at Toy Fair may or may not yet be ready to ship… I have ordered dolls in February that didn’t arrive until December!
  • I photograph and write copy for the dolls, enter them onto the website, and that’s when you, my dear customers place your orders.

And now you know where your dolls ‘come from!’

Where do Dolls Come From? Pt 1

2

Have you ever wondered where dolls come from? Not geographically — although that can be an interesting story as well — but where a particular doll started and how it came to be?

I’ll be going to Toy Fair in NYC in a few weeks, and for The Pattycake Doll Company this is probably the biggest link in the supply chain for us. I’ll be making a few more posts about Toy Fair, but today’s post is more about ‘where dolls come from’ in general than Toy Fair.

So. Let’s start at the beginning and describe the steps of how those beautiful dolls end up in your children’s loving arms.

  • Dolls start as an idea. Whether it’s an entrepreneur who thinks they’ve come up with something new and innovative that the doll market just needs to have, or a long time doll manufacturer like Madame Alexander or Kathe Kruse that wants to freshen up their line or reissue a classic doll for today’s children.
  • Next comes the design. A doll artist or doll sculptor or a doll design team starts making sketches and drawings. What could the new doll look like? What will it wear? What features will it have? How detailed shall it be?
  • Here is an example of a doll proposal: A 13 inch doll with open and close eyes that has a cloth body and soft vinyl head, arms and legs. We want it to be machine washable. We want one of the hands to have a thumb that will fit in the doll’s mouth so that it ‘sucks it’s thumb.’ We want it to be able to sit by itself, so we want a beanbag insert in the butt. We want it to be for a 12 month old or older. It will need to pass The European, Canadian and US safety regulations so that the one design can be sold in all three markets.
  • Once a design is finalized, negotiations begin with the factories. Most dolls are made in China, but quite a few are made in Spain, Eastern Europe, and Pacific Rim countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. Longtime manufacturers will have their regular factories established already, but every year there are new company start-ups who will have to establish their own relationships with the factories. Alibaba is one way for these new doll companies to locate potential manufacturers.
  • Costs are agreed upon, samples are made and either returned for correction or approved. There will be a mold made, and then various different colored vinyls will be used, different eye colors will be inserted, the finished features will be decided – like painted cheeks or what color paint for the hair… things like that.
  • Clothing will also be decided on at this point. A couple of different outfits will be hand sewn to fit the doll. Safety rules will need to be followed here as well. Using our example of a doll safe for 12 months old, there will probably not be any buttons, bows or ribbons that can be pulled off and swallowed.
  • The doll by now will have been named and it’s features settled on, so now the packaging designers will start their part of the process.
  • The new doll is manufactured, dressed and packaged.

Next week we’ll pick up from there… the journey from the factory to your child.