|Imagine That: Are dolls our friends, our possessions, or something entirely else?|
That’s such a sweet sentiment, and I recalled how I was smitten with different characters from my elementary-school book-reading days: Harriet the Spy, Cathy Leonard, Scout. It would have been great to know these young girls, and have them as next-door neighbors or as fellow uniform-wearing classmates.
There’s a company called MerryMakers (http://merrymakersinc.com/index.html) and they have converted some of the best-loved characters from popular children’s tales into dolls and other cuddly companions. I discovered them when I did a Google search to see if there was a Junie B. Jones doll to possibly surprise Jane with at the end of her school year. (I figured the doll would work as a stand-in for the real deal, and encourage her to keep up the reading, writing, and dreaming.)
Not only is Junie B.—a curious, quirky, pesky, opinionated first grader on hand—so are Ladybug Girl, Olivia, Skippyjon Jones, and so many other personalities that have filled up my daughter’s bookshelves and bedtime rituals. It was amazing to see these illustrations brought to three-dimensional, tangible life. Good job, MerryMakers, for making kids’ secret desires come true.
That got me to thinking about how even though we grow up—or at least grow bigger—do we ever lose that desire for a fantasy friend who knows all, sees all, but isn’t seen by many others. (This has been explored in movies like “Drop Dead, Fred,” TV shows like “Wilfred,” and cartoons like “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.”) For a lot of collectors, their dolls have stepped in as their “imaginary intimates.” Certainly, the dolls are visible, but their significance and importance in the collector’s life is below the surface. No one can really understand what binds the collector to her special charges.
Most likely, one of the reasons why there is such a boon in dolls being made in the likeness of celebrities, film characters, novel heroines and heroes, is that we all still have that first-grade desire to know these people, to share a conversation with them or, in some cases, to be them. The dolls that we buy might ultimately reflect who or what we wish we could have become or what we wish our life would have been in alternate circumstances.
Looking at it that way, our dolls are like totems from a time-traveling expedition. As we study what we’ve bought in the past, are currently buying, and hope to acquire in the future, we can see how we’ve developed and evolved over time. (1998’s Spice Girls are 2012’s Katy Perry, for instance.)
As of this week—the third one in April 2012—my daughter is besotted with Junie B. Jones. I hear about the characters’ family (including first names of her parents and grandparents), her foibles at school, her list of friends, and her comical mispronunciations and everyday misunderstandings. My daughter identifies greatly, and so a literary crush has been born.
Over the course of a year, I, too, have experienced these immersions into other worlds and other times, and have found myself infatuated with make-believe personalities (the “Walking Dead” cast, Ru Paul’s “Drag Race” fierce competitors, the “Mad Men” ad execs, and the “Hunger Games” top-notch archer).
I wonder which protagonists you, the readers, have found yourself taken with. Are there any characters out there—on film, in books, flickering on the TV at night—who have grabbed you by the collar and gotten under your skin? Though I’m definitely old enough to know that actors and actresses are not who they pretend to be, I must admit that I do have a hard time differentiating Jon Hamm from Don Draper—could anyone ever be better cast? I think this is probably the last vestige of the imaginary friend syndrome. Though I have to ask myself, why, in the world, am I choosing to be friends with someone who cheats on his wife, smokes two packs a day, drinks like a fish, and isn’t who he claims to be? Seems like there is a heck of a lot to imagine about this particular imaginary friend.When “Mad Men” finishes out this season, I imagine I’ll uncover and wonder about a lot more.
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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:
The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:
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
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.
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.
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.