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What Is the Fate of Doll and Toy Publications?

Few people would argue that the doll industry is a shadow of its former self—that its heyday of the ’80s and ’90s is long past. As a relative newcomer to the doll industry, I wasn’t around in those days. But have I heard stories. So many long-time doll industry people remember packed-out shows with collectors rushing to get through the doors to buy up dolls. And they remember doll magazines being as thick as Cosmopolitan, and the high demand for collectible dolls driving up doll prices.

 

But the industry has changed since then. Dolls have ceased to be viewed by the masses as a way to invest money and make a quick buck, so mostly the market that remains are people who truly love dolls. From what I’m told and what I’ve learned in the last few years, that pool is pretty small.

In response to the changing market, doll companies have changed, too. Some that didn’t went away. Others adapted and survived. Still others sprang up, all over the world, catering to the contemporary collector’s aesthetic. Doll companies started selling direct online. Some retailers closed shop, while others stayed relevant by increasing their online presence.

Meanwhile, as the doll industry swung downward and shrunk, so did doll magazines. The result? Three doll/toy publications—Haute Doll, Doll Crafter & Costuming and Playthings—have recently ceased publication because with lack of advertising support, they were no longer viable.

As a doll magazine publisher, it is indeed sobering to see these publications make their final print run. It’s sad to think of a world with no doll magazines covering the dolls and artists behind the magic. In order to survive though, doll magazines must change to suit the needs of the market. At DOLLS we’ve worked hard to do just that, thrusting our emphasis into digital media, with a significant Web presence, a digital magazine that’s now viewable on the iPhone and iPad, and a regular breaking news e-newsletter, DOLLS Updates.

Additionally, we’ve worked to cover the latest trends in the industry—from the very traditional to the most innovative doll designs.

But will this be enough? What do you think of the future of doll publications? Will doll magazines continue to exist? Or are doll magazines a part of doll collecting past, no longer relevant in the collectible world of the present and the future?

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Back in the good old days of collecting--when both the power of the pocketbook and the spark of creativity seemed limitless, I was lucky enough to be editing DOLLS magazine. I did the first-ever article on dolls and the Internet in the magazine (in 1996) and started a monthly listing of retailers and artists who had a cyber presence (called it Caught in the Web). Back then, we were trying to shepherd people onto the Web and have them see that as a bonus/supplement to the printed word. With that in mind, 14 years later, it seems natural that the scales have shifted, and the Web has become the main focus. Fourteen years is a long time for a shift to occur. And it's not just with hobby magazines: it's all printed format (daily newspapers, fashion magazines, home decor monthlies). These are all folding. However, don't think of the magazines as being curtailed. In many instances, they are now bigger, better, and more interactive in their cyber versions. To keep the print magazines alive, perhaps some bonuses or some paper-only incentives need to be included in every issue. It will give subscribers and readers a reason to continue to buy and will keep the hard-copy magazines alive.
Stephanie , August 10, 2010
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It is really sad to see that. As a fashion doll collector, I've been buying every HauteDoll issue, but I didn't have a single thought of its potential end...
I'm afraid that everything's moving in an online direction indeed. I think that I can speak on behalf of most Russian doll collectors -
we here used to buy American doll magazines and consider them to be the best doll authorities, plus we used to see them as a sign of a stable offine doll market. The end of such famous projects is really a pain. As for the offline magazines, I hope they will still be - it's a special feeling to get your hands on the latest issue.
Ekaterina Ziborova , August 08, 2010 | url
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I think some Doll magazines will definately always be there. As an artist, I have seen the market change through the years. Dolls, however have always been considered a valuable collectible, and there will always be collectors for them and collectors interested in industry magazines.
It is sad to see some of these magazines of which I have been a fan, subscriber, and contributer fold up. I think it is a sign of our economic times and financial outlook on the future. In the past couple of years, peoples extra income has gone down. This year I have noticed a resurgence and new interest in collecting. I think this is all just fluctuations as America bounds back from our economic depression. Magazines which encompass all aspects of dolls and doll collecting will always be around, whereas those that are more tailored to a particular genre of doll collecting will not be able to compete with changing tastes and interests.
Kori Leppart-Butts , August 06, 2010 | url
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I have been a retailer for 22 years and seen many changes during this time. I am sad to see the need for doll companies to sell directly, thus forcing retailers to close their shops because they are unable to compete with the doll companies. While I understand their need to do so,I feel this will ultimately be the demise of dolls. We are becoming too electronic and losing our connection with people. Doll shops help to keep that connection alive. There are so many people out there who are not internet saavy and do not even have a computer. True, we try to reach some of these people with doll shows but the constant spark of day to day communication through doll shops is missing. Thus, I feel doll magazines as printed material will cease to exist. I will miss them.
Marie Gardyne - The Brass Horse , August 06, 2010 | url

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