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Nature or Nurture: Why in the World Do I Buy Dolls?

I have a unique work situation: It’s me alone in a room, with just voices and thoughts in my head. (Call it the “Joan of Arc” setup, without the unfortunate stake burning.) My office is at home, and I spend most of my 10-hour workdays behind closed doors, seeing nary another person for much of that time. Yes, I will occasionally spot my husband as he continues the never-ending project of building my house’s upstairs level (hopefully, it will be done by Thanksgiving) and my kids burst through the door for a noisy salutation at 3 p.m., but other than that, it’s solitude.

I do have a coworker, so to speak—my loyal, lovely cat, Annie. She lies beside me all day long, and follows me when I do exit the office. She’s like a faithful dog with her own unique cattitude, though. She might be fetching, but she’ll never fetch! The other office mates are my dolls. Yes, you read that right: my dolls.

Not wanting to morph into one of those “crazy cat ladies” who speaks only to felines and only has feelings for those four-legged friends, I make sure to inject a bit of humanity into my work décor. Hence, the lineup of dolls.

If I had my druthers, I’d go out and buy the “Mad Men” Barbies that I covered in a past blog. I love the show, and I really adore the crisp, tailored re-creations that Mattel has done. Unfortunately, my pocketbook is not that plush these days—see above-mentioned building of an upstairs level—so the quartet of advertising gurus will have to remain an elusive pipe dream. Perhaps, I’ll scoop them up one day in the future, via eBay, the Internet source for making materialistic wishes come true.

Desiring, however, to have a couple of new faces in my watercooler arrangement, I went out to buy a new doll. Luckily, the shopping spree coincided with my birthday and, even more important, getting a 10-percent discount coupon for Target in the mail.

Anyone who knows me knows that I adore Target. I can’t get enough of their surprisingly snazzy household accessories and their beyond-cute selection of children’s clothing and women’s pajamas. (Remember, I work at home. That means I’m often dressed like the female Hugh Hefner, ready for bed no matter the hands on the clock.) With my coupon in hand, I headed off to the big box store to come home with a big box of make-believe.

The Target near my home has a healthy selection of dolls to choose from, and I had an idea of whom I wanted to find, even before I crossed over the automatic threshold. I recently acquired the “Landmark Statue of Liberty” Barbie, and I felt Lady Liberty was crying out for some friends, some other dolls who were yearning to breathe free. I went out with that mission to spring some characters from a hollow, fluorescent toy aisle.

Keeping with the Landmark theme, I selected the “Big Ben” Barbie, as well as her Parisian counterpart, the “Eiffel Tower” miss. Getting a 10-percent discount was nothing to sneeze at, so I happily headed home with a pair of treasures.

Having the trio of national emblems is a satisfying feeling. The collection was three dolls strong, and I have accumulated ALL of them. But what if others join the motif? That’s often a problem with these arching doll themes: how do they begin, and where do they end? The four seasons is a simple one to attain: after all, only four dolls can be manufactured. But Great Eras of History? Hello?!! We have primitive man, all the way to metrosexual man. Where would that line ever stop? (This was an actual Mattel product, and I bailed from it as the decades just kept coming and coming. No end appeared to be in sight.)

Right now, I’ve got hopes that the Landmarks will remain relatively manageable. If more have to be made, I imagine I’m leaning toward a “Leaning Tower of Pisa” for Italy or a really great-looking “Great Wall” for China. Who knows what others will be concocted by the design team, or if this is truly the end of the line?

I guess this is why I am a collector (or maybe just crazy, see voices-in-my-head reference). I know that three landmark dolls should be more than enough—and each one really is beautiful and regal, standing on her own two legs. But, still, I have that uncontrollable urge to perhaps swoop in and snag another one . . . or four. See, how fast it snowballs. It’s a mysterious DNA tag that makes me, and others, want to own a doll for the simple loveliness of the creation, but then also buy more and more for the thrill of the hunt.

There you go, I have stumbled upon my answer. The next and final Landmark entry should be Egypt’s “Sphinx Barbie.” Known for its enigmatic appearance, and its skill at riddle telling, this sphinx would be the ultimate salute to all of us collectors: we see, we pursue, we buy, and we don’t really know why. If anyone can unravel that collectible riddle, a doll should be made in her honor, too!

(Readers, what other landmarks would you like to see done? If you could send a postcard to Mattel, what destination/recognizable edifice would you choose? And, for the brave among us, why do you think YOU collect?)

Photo Captions

Even though I promised myself to buy one doll as a birthday treat, I came home with this pair of glamorous globetrotters (top). I say my DNA made me do it.

If Mattel’s Landmark Collection is going to continue, what will be next? I’m thinking a salute to the Sphinx would be a mysterious, mesmerizing design (down).





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I am a doll collector and a doll historian. I would like to connect with you via blogging, facebook, or twitter.
Jeanine Gehringer , October 25, 2010 | url
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I am a doll collector and a doll historian. I am interested in connecting with you via twitter and/or facebook.
Jeanine Gehringer , October 25, 2010 | url
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I collect dolls because I like to decorate my home with beautiful works of figural art. Dolls are much softer to the touch. Even an expensive porcelain one still has fabric clothing and a gorgeous mohair wig. My collecting is very tactile.
I think the next Landmark Doll should be the Louvre or some other world-class museum of art.
Joan Emerson , October 22, 2010
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they are just releasing a NEW Cleopatra inspired doll.
fran , October 21, 2010

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Latest Articles from News & Notes

Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.

The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.

To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:

  • Been active in the doll or bear field a minimum of 25 years.
  • Maintained or increased the quality of reputation and product or service provided since inception.
  • Served the industry with integrity, honesty, reliability
  • Received a majority of the votes from previous recipients.

The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:

2002 Steiff
2003 Hildegard Gunzel
2004 Alexander Doll Company
2005 R. John Wright
2006 Wendy Lawton
2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2009 no award presented
2010 Helen Kish
2011 no award presented
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston

 

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BLACKALL ASSOCIATES INC. 
ANNOUNCING Winner of the Summer Heat Photo Contest

August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat. 

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i have very old magazines need to sell them before something happens to them
margie , December 20, 2014
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i really like all the barbie balack dress, can i ask question can i buy this, because its all out in the market now here in the philippines, can you help me please im a big fan of thiss dolls
mark christian paul l. carigma , December 16, 2014 | url

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You haven’t seen a toy show until you’ve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and children’s playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.

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19 April 2014 – 5 October 2014

A special exhibition will take place at the Toy Worlds Museum Basle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese-Swiss diplomacy and friendship.

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