One of the brightest parts of social media is the fact that friends check in occasionally with news of their “fur babies.” Over the last decade, the term “pet owner” has become obsolete. Today, advertising agencies use the term “pet parent” to peddle treats, vitamins, veterinarian visits, and even pet insurance. Cats and dogs are no longer four-legged visitors in our lives. They are full-fledged family. Even the expression “animal companion” is not considered strong enough. We are encouraged not to view our furry houseguests as companions. They are our four-pawed kiddos. During their 25 years in the doll world, Zwergnase has witnessed many fads and trends, upticks and downward cycles. Zwergnase dolls and bears are mascots for their company’s uncanny ability to adapt and to adopt. They know what collectors are craving.
Case in point: America’s love affair with their canine and feline friends. For 20+ years, Nicole Marschollek-Menzner ranks as one of the dollmakers who has always made room for four-legged extras. Many of her dolls share the spotlight with adorable bears, bunnies, kitties, and dogs. Her company, Zwergnase, is recognized for its merging of mohair and misses. Zwergnase dolls and bears are ambassadors of joy.
Well-dressed Zwergnase dolls and well-attired bears make the pairing a perfect testament to the power of pets. The presence of a bear or another plush pal makes the dolls seem less lonely, more childlike somehow. We certainly don’t want our dolls to be lonely — look at the sad life of children’s author Dare Wright, who penned the classic “Edith the Lonely Doll” book franchise. We want our dolls and our bears to be glad. If they can become each other’s best friends, cheers all around!
Founded in 1994, the Zwergnase company is based in Germany, where its chief designer and “dreamer CEO” was born and raised. Young Nicole grew up in the portion of Germany that is considered the corridor for “toys, porcelain, and glass.” Living in Rauenstein, Germany, Nicole had the collector gene embedded in her makeup from early on. She studied to be a toymaker, and she never doubted that she would attain that position. While some people play around with impossible dreams and goals, Nicole knew that she would fashion dolls and bears one day. Zwergnase dolls and bears were destined to become a reality.
The stylish bears are reflective of their creator, Marschollek-Menzner, and also of doll collectors. These pals straddle the world of teddy bears, wide-eyed children, and positive thoughts for a happy future. The “animal companions” are hybrids of the best of humanity and what we imagine our real-life pets could be. Never mind how real-life bears might react if we were to surprise them during a walk in the woods. In the Zwergnase universe, all plush pals have the good humor of Pooh and the empathy of Paddington. A Zwergnase bear or bunny possesses the can-do spirit of Corduroy, the teddy bear who had the initiative to get down off a store’s toy shelf and hunt for his missing overall button!
When interviewed about Zwergnase dolls and bears, Nicole admits that she is loyal to both creations. She has a self-described “soft spot” in her heart for the animals that wear her fashionable togs. Like the riddle “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Nicole can tell you that her bears came first, but not professionally. Before she excelled at crafting and selling dolls, she had worked with teddy bears. When she became a professional toysmith, and established her company in 1994, she concentrated on the dolls. Her lifelike creations earned her massive kudos and many collectors.
Soon afterward, in 1996, she decided to pair them with an occasional “fur friend.” Since then, her children-and-critter combinations are highly sought after. Collectors love seeing how the kids and the kitties go together so effortlessly. Zwergnase dolls and bears have become a dynamic and expected duo, like milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly, Batman and Robin!
Zwergnase is a company that is always evolving, and their focus on dolls and animals is at the top of the plush pinnacle. Nicole describes the Zwergnase dolls and bears as “ways to show collectors what is inside my mind and my heart. They are my love and affection that has come to life.”
In children’s literature, “The Velveteen Rabbit” ranks as one of the most beloved tales. It explores the life story of one dedicated rabbit toy. Due to the rabbit’s selfless devotion to his human, a fairy grants him an actual life. She transforms him into a living, breathing rabbit. He becomes as real to the world as he had been to his boy. That ultimate end game — to “make toys real” — bubbles inside the Zwergnase studio. Nicole is a master of the “magic of make-believe.”
“We want our dolls to seem like real little girls or boys,” she has said. “Children love their toys, and they love the bears and rabbits that accompany them. It is the magic of wish fulfillment. As children, we wish for our dolls and animals to be real. As a doll company, we help to make those wishes come true.”
For 25 years, Nicole Marschollek-Menzner and Zwergnase have been accomplishing just that. They are not simply manufacturing dolls and stuffed animals. They are creating lifelong friendships between collectors and their dolls, and, of course, their Zwergnase dolls and bears.