The Klimt Barbie

Do me a favor, please. Without a lot of deep thought, finish this sentence:

“Barbie is ………”

Possible answers:

  • A fashion doll
  • A doll for little girls to play with
  • A politically correct doll – as in the hundreds of inspirational roles she plays, Lawyer Barbie, Scientist Barbie, Teacher Barbie, Doctor Barbie, Fire-fighter Barbie etc.etc.
  • A politically In-correct doll (especially her unrealistic breast to waist to hip proportions.)
  • A piece of history – There are now three generations who have grown up with Barbie. And she ‘stands’ in multiple museums.
  • A financial juggernaut – The number one selling doll of all time.

And I’m sure there are probably dozens more thoughts that come to your mind when trying to complete the sentence.

Today I’d like to offer one more:

“Barbie is… Art.”

klimt barbie

Barbie® Doll Inspired by Gustav Klimt from the Museum CollectionGustav_Klimt_Adele Bloch-Bauer IThis is the painting that inspired Mattel’s Museum Barbie. It is known as Portrait of Adele BlochBauer I.

OK, raise your hands… how many of you know who Gustav Klimt was? Or Adele Bloch-Bauer?

And the question I would really love to know the answer to: Out of the thousands and thousands of paintings made in the last thousand years of western art, why this one to inspire a Barbie?

If someone knows, I’d love to hear the answer, but until then, I’m just as happy to enjoy this beautiful Barbie for exactly what she is: A work of art.

A Tale of Two Dolls

I was surprised the first time I heard a ‘less-than-enthusiastic’ comment about American Girl’s® Addy doll. It’s not that I think American Girl walks on water or anything, but as a competitor in the doll business, I had to respect the tremendous success of the brand, the marketing and everything that goes into making American Girl such a huge success.

The Pattycake Doll company didn’t always carry 18 inch American Girl type dolls. We were geared more to the baby doll and rag doll market. But we kept getting requests, and finally I asked one of the mothers who had called me – once again – to find out if we carried 18″ Black Dolls: “If you want a Black 18 inch doll, why don’t you just buy American Girls’ Addy?”

The answer floored me. “I don’t want to give my daughter a slave doll.”

18 inch Doll Portraits -12-2

So gradually, Addie and I added 18″ dolls for children of color to our store. First we just had one Asian 18″ doll, one Black 18″ doll, and one Biracial/Multicultural/Hispanic skin tone 18 inch doll; but we quickly expanded as we discovered that there was a definite need and desire for these American Girl clones. And the more we looked, the more we found… Black American girl dolls with straight hair, and Black dolls with curly hair, eventually reaching 12+ different skin tone – hair style – hair color combinations. And because none of them were ‘Addy,’ there were no books, or ‘background stories.’  They were just dolls. Beautiful Dolls.

But this year we started carrying a new 18″ Black doll, from Madame Alexander, who comes dressed as a Ballerina. And she is simply stunning.

Ballerina 18in Doll Portrait

And for all those mothers who were reluctant to present their daughters with a ‘slave-girl story,’ we could suggest something different. Because in America today there are some really beautiful Black ballerinas with tremendously inspiring stories. Like Misty Copeland and Ashley Murphy and Ebony Williams.*

American Girl’s Addy has a wonderfully inspiring story – but as we learned, it’s not for everyone. Maybe a Black Ballerina Doll, and your daughter’s imagination, can create an alternative story more to your liking?

* Neither Madame Alexander nor Pattycake Doll are inferring that this beautiful 18″ doll is meant to represent any of the real Black ballerinas mentioned in this post.

Christmas Decorating with Dolls

'The Grinch' doll by Manhattan Toy

‘The Grinch’ doll by Manhattan Toy

Before you groan and moan about how ‘early’ I am –posting about Christmas and Dolls — I would like to gently remind you that The Pattycake Doll Company is an etailer of dolls, and as such, our Christmas Sales period starts in October.

I don’t mean that we decide to have sales in October, I mean that we see a huge uptick in business starting in October, and in the next eight weeks we will sell more dolls than in the preceding 44 weeks!

And about 10% of our customers are already buying our ‘Santa’s Sack’ gift wrapping service as well. So it’s not just us… our customers are ‘there’ too. Christmas has started at the Pattycake Doll Company!

 

Perhaps you’ve never considered dolls as ‘Holiday Decor,’ perhaps you’ve only thought of dolls as gifts for children or collectors.

But for our family, when the holidays roll around, we decorate the office with Christmas Themed dolls, and our favorite is The Grinch!

Just about everybody who walks into our office goes over and picks him up or has a comment. He’s really popular. The UPS man bought one (at a discount of course), a couple of visiting sales ladies asked if they could ‘get themselves a Grinch,’ and of course I get asked a bazillion times if I have him out as a warning that I’m some kind of a Grouch/Grinch myself!

I’m not trying to suggest that you rush right over to our site to buy one, (although I wouldn’t complain), but just wanted you to think it over… Would you decorate your house for the holidays with dolls?

PS: We carry Max the Dog and Cindy Lou Who as well, but we don’t put them ‘out.’ They’re popular with the kids as dolls, but not really popular as decor.

How to create a Politically Correct Doll

yingyang

I have found that in order to define the perfect ‘politically correct doll,’ you first have to identify the politically incorrect dolls – it’s a yin – yang kind of thing. And based on my many years in the doll business, I can identify for you – with authority and certainty – those features that make a doll politically incorrect.*

Politically Incorrect Feature #1 Any doll with eyes is politically incorrect. Especially if the eyes are on a doll that is described as ethnic or ‘of color.’ This applies to eye shape, eye color and eye placement on the doll’s head. Especially incorrect are brown dolls with blue or violet eyes. God knows this never occurs naturally.

Politically Incorrect Feature #2 Any doll with removable clothes. First because the doll may end up ‘nude.’ Second, because a child might put boy doll clothes on a girl doll or worse, girl clothes on a boy doll. Cross dressing dolls is so definitely not politically correct because it may lead to homosexual tendencies in adulthood.

Politically Incorrect Feature #3 Any doll with a penis is automatically politically incorrect. This is true interestingly enough for both the far religious right, and the far feminist left. An equal opportunity political incorrectness. Any doll with a vulva is suspect, but probably too shocking and therefore also politically incorrect.

Politically Incorrect Feature #4 Any doll of color. As everyone knows, colored dolls are bad dolls and white dolls are good dolls. It was proven by giving very young and impressionable children a choice between a white doll and brown doll and then forcing them to decide – and label – one of them as a bad doll. (The Clark Doll Test.)

Politically Incorrect Feature #5 Any doll not of color. (For those few children who guessed ‘wrong’ on the Clark Test and then the various follow-up clones of the Clark Test)

Politically Incorrect Feature #6 Any doll with a figure, particularly Barbie. Little girls of five and six will be totally screwed up for life if their breast to waist to hip ratio in adulthood doesn’t match that of their childhood Barbies.

So there you have it. The Politically Correct Doll. No penis or vulva, no eyes, no clothes, can’t be white or ‘of color,’ and without a figure. Just shove some old rags into a sock and draw a smile on it. You’ll be fine.

*Our expertise has been provided by a wide assortment of haters and idiots who have either written us emails, commented on our dolls or blog posts, or otherwise self-identified their ignorance on the internet.

The cure for naked dolls Part II

I have never wanted to be a psychiatrist, never interested me much, but I have to admit I wish I knew a little bit more about why people get so upset over certain things.

Anatomically correct dolls upset a lot of people. So do naked dolls – even naked dolls that basically have sacks of cloth for a body.

As discussed last week, there are a few easy fixes for naked dolls: helping them – Good old fashioned down on the floor play time – to dress their dolls, or having a few extra outfits to put on their dolls.

Here’s another simple fix: Buy dolls that can’t be made naked.

Biracial Baby Bath Doll

Biracial Baby Bath Doll

Like this BathTime™ baby doll from Adora. Her cloth sack body has a ‘bathing suit’ print on it. Even if your daughter removes the robe, the doll is still ‘dressed.’ There are a lot of doll companies who do this.

Like Zoe’s Owls? Remove her dress, and you get a one piece doll with a colorful stripe print. Is she technically ‘naked?’ Yes. Does she look like a ‘naked doll?’ Of course not.

Another solution to the 'naked' doll.

Another solution to the ‘naked’ doll.

But still, children love to dress and undress dolls. Two of the best selling dolls are Barbie and American Girl Dolls… and all their fashions. But those are for older children, and we’re talking here about the naked baby dolls that your toddlers are dragging around the house. So here’s another solution… dolls that can never end up naked!

How Many Dolls Have You Ever Owned?

If you’re reading The Doll Blog, I’m going to assume you love dolls. I’m also going to assume you’ve owned dolls.

How many dolls have you owned in your lifetime?

Which one was your favorite?

My all time favorite doll, Cutie Pie

My all time favorite doll, Cutie Pie

In my case there are two answers: As a doll store owner I’ve ‘owned’ somewhere around 100,000 dolls give or take. I bought them and then sold them. I warehoused them. I owned them.

But if you want to count only ‘personal’ use, dolls I’ve unwrapped and loved and kept on a shelf in the office and wouldn’t ever want to sell them until I’m ninety-nine and there ‘s no room for me to keep them in a hospital room… well that number is a lot smaller.  couple of dozen maybe.

And if you ask: do I have a favorite, just one doll that I would take with me into that aforementioned hospital room, then yes I do. Her name is Cutie Pie. And she’s my favorite.

Why that doll? That’s between me and my therapist; if I ever do go to a therapist. Without a therapist I couldn’t tell you why that one doll has such a strong hold on me.

And I would also like to turn that question around… can you tell yourself why your favorite, out of all the dolls you ever had, is your favorite doll? Probably not!

But if today’s post has got you thinking, or if you want to share with me a story or a picture of your favorite doll of all time, I’d be interested.

World’s Largest Rag Doll

Nana the worlds largest rag doll

photo © Guinness World Records

I know, I know. We doll lovers already know of all the benefits that come from dolls, but still, it’s always nice to hear another ‘Feel good about dolls story’ isn’t it?

The World’s Largest Rag Doll*, “Nana,” has just been created in Palmira, Columbia, South America in honor of the 10th “National Day of Childhood,” and the proceeds from the unveiling were donated to charity.

  • Nana stands 21 feet 4 inches tall, 14 feet 4 inches wide and 3 feet 6 inches deep
  • She was constructed on a scaffolding of bamboo, and then filled with cloth
  • Her hair is made of natural fique fibers ( a plant native to South America)

*As certified by ‘Guinness World Records.’

PS: The previous record holder, was also created for a great reason: She was created in 2005 to support the UNICEF vaccination campaign in Italy. That one was 15 feet 2 inches tall. (Another ‘feel good about dolls’ story!)

Breaking the ‘Doll’ color barrier

There’s no really nice way to say it, so I’ll just blurt it out: It’s a crying shame that with 50% of American kids now ‘non-white’ ethnically, it’s still about 100% White in the children’s doll design and manufacturing world.

The numbers are a lot better in the ‘Art Doll’ world, but the Toy Industry as a whole is still pretty much ‘lily white.’

There are exceptions of course, and one, ‘The One World Doll Project,’ is the subject of today’s post.

the Doll designer Stacey McBride

Me with Stacey McBride

The One World Doll Project makes dolls of color. Beautiful Dolls. They’re a young company as far as how long they’ve been in production, so currently there are only two dolls available: Lena, an African American doll, and Valencia, an Hispanic doll (whose back story has her hailing from Mexico City.) In the pipeline are dolls from Africa and India.

Prettie Girl Doll Lena

Prettie Girl Doll Lena

Prettie Girl dolls are built to the 11½ inch fashion doll scale, so there are literally thousands of additional outfits and accessories available for them.

What makes the Prettie Girls special is that they are designed by a woman of color, to represent women of color – for little girls. They have individual personalities and ‘ethnic looks,’ as opposed to the mass produced Barbie Dolls® and her cloned sisters. No one in their right mind would ever expect to meet a woman who looked like Barbie on the street. I see women who look like the Prettie Girl dolls every day. That’s huge in my book.

Seriously, walk down any major Toy ‘Big Box’ retailer… you’ll find plenty of Black  Barbies and her clones. But they all look alike. Prettie Girls look only like themselves, and are beautiful at that. I sincerely hope that this new doll company becomes a tremendous success. Absolutely nothing against Barbie mind you… I’m just a little tired of her ‘look,’ and ready to see real ‘Dolls of Color’ and especially ‘Doll Companies of Color’ take the stage.

Prettie Girl Doll Valencia

Prettie Girl Doll Valencia

Disclosure Notice: The Pattycake Doll Company, as of the date of this post, does carry and sell Prettie Girl dolls. We were not paid nor asked to do this review. It is as the largest Ethnic Doll site on the internet, and as authors of this blog about ‘Dolls and the Doll industry,’ that we wrote this post as a comment on the industry.

Ganz, Gund and Grumpy Cat

One of the strangest coincidences from my many years in the Doll Business: Ganz, GUND and Grumpy Cat!

GUND's "Grumpy Cat"

GUND’s “Grumpy Cat”

I recently read the story below in the trade press about a recall. It caught my eye because, while walking Toy Fair last month, I happened to see the Grumpy Cat plush in the Ganz booth. As I had already been in the GUND booth (we carry a lot of GUND products), I knew that they also had a license to manufacture Grumpy Cat plush.

And I felt bad for GUND, because I think the Ganz recall for Grumpy Cat plush – a possible choking hazard because the eyes can come off – is going to affect consumer perceptions of GUND’s Grumpy Cat plush. (And of course I feel bad for Ganz… I’m sure they spent a small fortune to make their toys safe and meet CPSIA regs… it just goes to show that even the best designers and manufacturers can have something like this happen.)

But in the end, I think parents are going to remember ‘Grumpy Cat Plush,’ and not differentiate between Ganz and Gund. They’re both going to suffer for awhile.
Isn’t that a strange coincidence? Two famous Plush Doll companies, both have four letter names, both start with the letter ‘G,’ and both have a license to make Grumpy Cat plush!

Ganz Recalls Grumpy Cat Stuffed Animal Toys

Grumpy Cat Sitting Toy

Ganz’s Grumpy Cat

WASHINGTON – Ganz, in cooperation with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), has recalled three styles of its plush Grumpy Cat stuffed animal toys due to a choking hazard.

(You can read the full story by clicking here)