Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Love Letter to a Doll Company

Special post by Milady Blue

I am sure that with every single new release announced by various doll companies, they are besieged with emails, not only from excited collectors counting down the days until the dolls are actually available; but also from those disappointed collectors telling the company everything they are doing wrong. You can’t please all of the people, all of the time, and in the doll collecting world, this, sadly, holds true.

However, with the recent Toy Fair release, I just wanted to take this opportunity to write a “love letter” such as it were, to my favorite doll company, to let them know how much I appreciate the efforts they have been putting forth in the years since I started collecting their dolls.

Dear Mr. Tonner, President of Tonner Doll Company,
I have officially been a collector of your dolls since I first received a Signature Style Tyler Wentworth on September 5, 2007. This should show you how much of an impression your dolls have made on me, since I keep track of the very day I received each and every Tonner doll I have in my collection.
I have been a doll collector for a very long time – in fact, the first fashion doll I ever received was Christmas, 1972. I was six years old at the time, and I was just thrilled. I was an only child, and finally, here was someone who would always be there for me as a playmate. No worrying about someone moving out of state, or going to another school, or deciding, for whatever reason, that they didn’t like me anymore. This was a friend who was here to stay!
In spite of my father’s best efforts, however, I was not a typical girl – "ladylike" has never described me, but I was not truly a tomboy, either. I never liked the lacy, frilly pink dresses most of my dolls came wearing – I like “practical clothing.” Instead of playing house, where I was the mommy, and the dolls were my children, I was always taking my dolls on adventures with me. Whether we were war heroines, pirates, quest knights or whatever – the point was, we didn’t dress up in “typical” girl clothing, because running from the baddies in the forest in a nice dress was impractical; not to mention, it was hard to hide in a bright pink dress.
You might find it amusing, Mr. Tonner, if you knew that at one point, I wanted to be a fashion designer myself, thanks to my dolls. I did not like the outfits they came in, so I would strip them, and dress them in scraps taken from my mother’s sewing projects. In retrospect, the poor things probably looked pretty silly, but I did grow up in the 1970s, and there were some mighty odd designs that were making it to red carpet premieres; Cher is one of the main culprits. To me, it looked pretty easy. After all, Gloria Vanderbilt was selling “designer jeans” for fifty dollars and more a pop, which looked, for all the world, to be a pair of regular pants with Ms. Vanderbilt’s autograph embroidered on the back pocket.
How hard could it be, I thought, if all you had to do was buy some regular jeans, cut off the tag, and then put your autograph across someone’s butt?
Alas, however, you do not have to fear a rival, because I found out that designing is real work – a designer has to go through a lot of training, and be able to anticipate or even create and start trends. I am the type of girl who, if it is comfortable, I’ll wear it.
High school was better described as “high anxiety” due to my ongoing interest in acquiring more dolls for my collection, despite this being “not cool.” Again, I was not typical, since I started forming an ornery streak wherein I really didn’t care what people thought of me. I did not choose to flaunt this by bringing my dolls to school.
No sense risking my beauties to the barbarians!
The realities of adulthood, so far, have been a real bore. All the responsibility – what IS all this grownup stuff, for crying out loud? –working eight hours a day, mortgages, credit ratings, insurance premiums… sheesh!
But my main escape, as always, has been dolls.
I did go through a pretty long dry spell, and did not buy any dolls for a long time. I did not know it took so long, back in the days of yore, to create new sculpts, and I was getting pretty tired of nothing but the same doll, with the same hair – blonde – and always wearing the same color – pink. I started investigating the few other companies that put out fashion dolls, but most were bought out by larger companies, or went out of business.
I actually discovered Tonner dolls while I was first getting online back in the late 1990s. However, I was hesitant because of the prices. “Sure, that doll is gorgeous, but forty dollars is insane!”
Ah, the bygone days when that seemed like a lot of money for the next great thing in my collection! Now, thanks to savvy online retailers with generous layaway plans, I don’t even blink at the thought of spending one hundred and fifty dollars, plus shipping and handling, for one of your dolls.
Since September 7, 2005, Mr. Tonner, nearly one hundred of those dolls have come from your company.
My main ambition, if I can ever get over whatever it is that is causing writer’s block, is to become a science fiction/fantasy author. Do you know that many of your dolls fit the bill, to sheerest perfection, for many of the characters I have imagined? The brave, handsome hero, the beautiful, plucky heroine, the hilarious comic relief, and even, sometimes, the dastardly villain… should I ever actually get myself published, your name will appear in the acknowledgements, and I will send you an autographed copy.
I should also thank you for, in addition to your lovely, lovely dolls, the wonderful people I now know because of them. I have been fortunate to meet some of the most incredibly talented, intelligent, kind, funny and generous people online discussing all things dolls, through such sources as Prego, MEF Forum, and the Cheery About Agnes Dreary Yahoo! discussion list. Then, too, is the wonderful staff you have working for you at Tonner Dolls. Tom, Shauna, Jennifer, Dr. Noreen and Dr. Irma – all top notch, great folks. I sincerely hope I have not driven any of them crazy with some of the rambling emails I have sent from time to time.
I know you are in the planning stages for your next dolls, designing their looks – outfit, hair, style, makeup and so forth – and that you have probably heard no end of complaints about what you are doing “wrong” with your dolls.
But I thought you might find it refreshing to have someone tell you that you are doing a great job, and that they really, really appreciate the hard work and talent you have put into your wonderful dolls.
Thank you, Mr. Tonner!
Milady Blue

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