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