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Hocus Pocus: A focus on Harry Potter and raising two little sorcerer’s apprentices
One of the most miraculous things about sharing your life with a child is that doors open up, and windows slide down, to reveal worldsPotterdollrobe1 that you never would have noticed—let alone have dwelled in. With my own kids, it’s a constant introduction to new phrases, new dance moves, new fads, but very old riddles (knock-knock jokes and corny puns still score big with six- and eight-year-olds). Amid all the hype over Silly Bandz (my two had to answer history and geography questions to amass any) and desiring a Nintendo DS (I refuse to budge and buy one for them to share), Tommy and Jane have learned that I’m not a total pushover when it comes to pocketing treats and toys. They have to work for a special surprise, or I have to see something as having value and significance before I purchase it for them. Over the past month, a captivating, commercial creation has charged into my home, taking me for a spin. He has elbowed his way into their playtime; he has them drawing comic books and playing dress-up. Their dolls are now named Hermione and Ron and Draco. The ringleader’s name is: Harry Potter.

I know, I know—the boy wizard has been a global phenomenon for more than a decade now, but I was childless in 1997 when his publishing franchise first made a splash. Though I knew of Harry (I was working in children’s literature, for a rival publishing company, however), I never got caught up in his spellbinding adventures or his forays into friendship. Now, however, Harry has become a living, breathing entity in my home. It all began when my children began to watch his film incarnation, and gathering around the telly (a little Britishism as a nod to Master Potter) became a rewarding night of family togetherness. Noticeably, though, when we’re done viewing the films en masse, the children watch them again—and again—the following day.

We’re three movies into the whole Potter canon, and I know that the subject matter is going to get grittier and more PG-13 as we proceed, so I’m not sure if I’m going to slam on the brakes at film number 4 and let a year or two go by before we then approach the last four flicks. I know in “real time,” moviegoers had to wait years in between the theatrical releases, but once you have the DVDs made available—well, patience goes flying out the door on a broomstick, doesn’t it? It would seem very villainous of me to stop this ride through “Potterville,” but my maternal blinking light is saying “caution” might have to be applied as we forge forward.

Ron1As it stands right now, my son enjoys the films because of the soaring-through-the-air sporting games the students at Hogwarts Academy play. He is on the edge of his seat watching the aerial athletics (which Harry’s team always manages to win, imagine that). He is also thrilled by the combat that Harry and sidekick Ron engage in. It must be incredible for an 8-year-old boy to witness a fellow grammar student slaying trolls, staring down giant spiders, and vanquishing serpents. (By the way, I wish Harry would come to the Bronx, which is a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live. There’s a huge cobra on the loose up there, an escapee from the zoo, but jaded New Yorkers are taking this slithering snafu in stride.)

My daughter, however, is taken with the whole magical element of the films, and beyond that, she is caught up in the history of the characters. She is constantly trying to figure out which character is a half blood, who is a mudblood, and are the purebloods really that special! She just asked me earlier today if she could enroll in a sorcery school one day, and when I explained how we are “muggles”—the term for non-magic humans—I could see her little face become positively crestfallen. It made me wish I had magical powers to chase away her tears and disappointment.

The Potter obsession has become all-encompassing now. This morning, Jane chattedhermione1 her way through breakfast with “Harry this” and “Hermione that.” Finally, she was given a cut-off quota: one Potter question allowed before breakfast and one after dinner. Magical tome closed! (I’ve heard of book banning, but now we’re banning discussions about books at the house.)

With all of this talk of alchemy and wizardry and transmutations, I can’t help but feel caught up in the whole enchantment Jane and Tommy are experiencing. It makes me long for those days when I was a child and I would find myself wanting to re-enact the heroes and heroines who traipsed across the screen. And that is what is so heart-tugging for me. Just like the celluloid images that flicker and disappear, childhood and the accompanying ability to believe so completely and fully lasts for just a moment, and then fades away. I’m lucky now to have a front-row seat to two children who have had their imaginations touched and unleashed.

I’m already gearing up to hit eBay in search of Harry Potter paraphernalia for summertime play: Legos, board games, the original books, and the dolls are all fair game for my bidding prowess. I know that Robert Tonner has fashioned the ultimate Harry Potter likenesses (all shown here as illustrations) and I will be scouring his site, dealers, private sellers, and summer clearance sales to see what I can uncover and afford. (Meticulously investigating all marketplaces often reveals the most amazing bargains—something that is supernatural and surreal when you want to stretch a buck beyond its normal constraints.)

voldemort1For now, Jane’s Hannah Montana doll is Hermione and her Jonas Brother likeness is Harry, and Ken is Ron, and a Transformer has been drafted into service as Lord Voldemort (or he whose name can’t be spoken—it says nothing about writing it in the films). I know that these dolls have slid in and out of so many guises over the past year—it’s dizzying—but that’s what is so fabulous about childhood playing. In a way, Tommy and Jane are as powerful as any well-versed sorcerer. Through sheer willpower and determination, they can turn any article, any piece of plastic, into who or what they want it to be.

Sooner than I wish, those skills will burn away, and they will grow into well-adjusted,HarryPotter_poster1 well-mannered members of society. Hopefully, a bevy of Potter dolls will be on their bookshelves or in their curio cabinets, and they’ll remind them of the days when a movie could be a moving experience, and yearning to be magical seemed an everyday request. I hope the dolls will be a touchstone to the time when it was ordinary to ask: “Mom, pass the orange juice, and when will I ever learn to fly?” And, hopefully, both my children will learn to soar in their own unique ways.

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Harry Potter is one of the best things to happen to classrooms since I don't know what. He has helped so many children want to learn to read. They love the movies, and they then want to read the novels. Couldn't ask for more than that.
Catherine Cooke , April 01, 2011
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So true. Childhood is fleeting. I hope you find the Harry toys for your kids, and that they appreciate them as much as you have loved your toys. It's obvious in your writing that you have always loved and still love your dolls.
Charlene , April 01, 2011

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Latest Articles from News & Notes

One World Doll Project, Tonner Doll Company merge to become Tonner One World

One World Holdings, Inc. and Tonner Doll Company, Inc., announced Dec. 3, 2015, that their Boards of Directors have approved a definitive agreement for One World Holdings' subsidiary, The One World Doll Project, to merge with Tonner Doll. The agreement was entered into Dec. 2. Following the closing of the merger, the combined business will change its name to Tonner One World.

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Very informative article. I am happy for Tonner Doll and hope that their new venture enables them to continue creating beautiful dolls.
Terri Gold , December 05, 2015 | url

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2015 DOLLS Awards Industry's Choice winners announced

The 2015 DOLLS Awards of Excellence Industry’s Choice winners (DAEs, also called the Diamond Awards) were announced at the International Doll & Teddy Bear Show in Asheville, N.C., June 6. The Industry's Choice winners will go on to become the nominee's in the Public's Choice voting, set to begin in late June.

Without further ado, here are the winners of this year's Industry's Choice Diamond Awards!

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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
2010 Helen Kish
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
2015 Kaye Wiggs

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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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The Chicago Toy Show

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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