Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tonner 2009 Collection

The 2009 Tonner Doll Collection is finally up on the website--most of the images are working. Here are the highlights (in my opinion, and listed in order that they are listed on the website):
  • DeeAnna Denton has some great new basic and dressed dolls with some new terrific promo shots and great new outfits. I have to confess, I have deliberately avoided this doll in the past (due to her larger body size, since she can't share Tyler's clothing), but she's adorable.
  • Disney Princess dolls. Snow White is making her debut with the new 15" teen body that Bella Swan (from Twilight) uses. There are two dressed dolls available--one in her traditional fancy outfit with yellow, blue and red, and then one in her raggedy cleaning dress (complete with clogs).
  • Also, listed here and under the American Model section, you'll find new 22" Cinderella, Belle and Sleeping Beauty dolls, with facial sculpts inspired on the Cinderella sculpt. These are priced similarly to other dressed American Models, however--at $349.99--so be prepared for some sticker shock.
  • Actress Bette Davis makes her debut as well. I'm anxious to see this sculpt in real life, since the Joan Crawford sculpt was so amazing. A basic doll is available, two dressed dolls and two outfits.
  • Under the Dick Tracy line, two gorgeous new dressed dolls have arrived--a new Tess and a new (not platinum!) Breathless. I do love the Breathless doll.
  • A teaser spot announces a new fashion doll called Antoinette, who will be unveiled at IDEX 2009.
  • Joan Crawford introduced another new basic doll (very nice!) and a gorgeous raven-haired dressed doll to her line.
  • Miss Piggy debuts her line of basic and dressed dolls, plus wigs. She's quite a likeness, and she's 16" of all pig.
  • The Golden Compass introduces the most gorgeous character in the movie--Serafina Pekkala. I hope she's as pretty as her promo photo.
  • Will Turner makes a limited edition appearance (250) in Arrested at the Altar in quite a fancy outfit in the Pirates of the Caribbean collection.
  • Gone With the Wind debuts three more Scarlett dolls, one Melanie doll, and another Rhett doll for the collection.
  • The Superhero DC Stars line debuts its new DELUXE Tonner Character Figures, which are new facial sculpts on the new action figure 17" bodied with fashion feet. They've added quite a few character to the line, including the Green Latern, Hawkwoman and Catwoman, in addition to redoing Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Poison Ivy.
  • Agnes Dreary has added a new Agnes, Viktor and Sister to their lines--Sister's outfit is a limited edition of 200 and is particularly pretty. Plus, she's auburn this time around. In addition, Tonner is offering a 16" Flexi-pose™ Agnes doll with inset eyes as well.
  • Finally, to Tyler Wentworth! Might I quote the top of the page: "Tyler's 10th Anniversary Celebration officially kicks off with her glorious wedding to Matt O'Neill™ at the Tonner 2009 Convention in Lombard, IL!" I think this year will be a fun one. Gorgeous Tyler and Sydney dolls are listed on the site, plus, surprising to me, a fantastic Angelina, exclusive to TonnerDirect. Also, A Deluxe Giftset is listed, with the original Tyler sculpt and Sydney sculpt, but no photos listed as of today.
  • Harry Potter has listed a new Dumbledore and Bellatrix Lestrange figures.
  • Also new this year are the Maxwell Smart (Steve Carell) and Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway--very good!) from the Get Smart™ line. I'm impressed by Anne Hathaway's likeness, though not so much with Steve Carell's (though I do like his shoe phone).
  • Torchwood has been listed (with no photos) as a new line. I'm not familiar with the show.
  • Dr. Who also has been listed with no photos. I'm interested to see the dolls as well.
  • Now to the Wizard of Oz... This line has added a new Dorothy, in the likeness of Judy Garland, in the new 15" teen body, complete with many new outfits. I'm not sure I'm excited by this new body yet--I'd like to see real life photos first. I do like Lady Emerald, though--her spooky eyes intrigue me.
  • Alice in Wonderland has added a new Alice and a new older sister to Alice (also in the new teen body), plus a delightful new Queen of Hearts, who will look lovely next to my ReImagination dolls in a Wonderland Costume Ball outfit. Unfortunately, she is also a TonnerDirect exclusive, so I can't patronize my favorite dealers for this doll.
  • Speaking of ReImagination, this year has brought about a spooky rendition of Romeo and Juliet, called Star-Crossed and The Sun, which I find quite intriguing. They use the Sean and Cinderella head sculpts, and include a vial of poison and a dagger.
  • Last on the list are the Devereaux Sisters. Two new fancy dressed dolls, and two new outfits, available only from TonnerDirect, these are some gorgeous pieces. I collect historical dolls, so at least one of these lovely ladies will make it to my house this year, I'm sure.
All in all, there were some surprises in the collection this year. I'm excited to see the rest of the photos and the release of the Antoinette™ line. My advice to you collectors is to find your favorite doll shop and pre-order your for-sure-must-haves early, and wait on the others. I will be doing that shortly. Keep in mind that many shops (such as Dreamcastle Dolls) will split a doll from her outfit as well, so if you only want one, you can save a lot of money.
My question to you: What are your favorites from the new releases? Your disappointments? I hoped to see more Jeremy Voss and more Tyler Wentworth. I hoped (of course) to see some historical dolls. Please leave your comments for me!
Photos courtesy Tonner Doll Company.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Specials at Tonner Direct...

Save $15 off a $75 or more purchase when you use the coupon code T1575 at checkout.  Valid through February 1 midnight.
There are a couple of great sales right now, too:
Others are also available.  Check out the Special Offers page.

Switcheroo Part 2

Angel or Devil?, originally uploaded by tac_stamper.

The second result is posted here--Sister Dreary is wearing Noel's outfit, with wings and everything. She makes a fearsome messenger, I think. Her dark makeup and strange eyes contrast with the ivory and gold of her outfit. She can't be bearing good news!

Switcheroo Part 1

Taking a break, originally uploaded by tac_stamper.

I chose two dolls from my collection least likely to exchange outfits -- Noel angel (Daphne) and Sister Dreary Marvelously Morose. This is the first part of my experiment: Daphne, with her blonde hair and super-soft makeup, wearing a dark and dreary lace dress with a choker chain necklace.
The juxtaposition is interesting, I think, and she can carry off the look easily. This doll, actually, would probably look nice in a paper bag.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Madame Alexander is catching on...

Apparently, Madame Alexander has caught on to my fever of historical dolls and clothing. In the latest 2009 catalog, there are three dolls scheduled for release in August 2009 which interest me:
  1. Anne Boleyn, who uses a 16" Alex-style body and sculpt. I am not familiar with Alex, nor do I own any Alex dolls (yet), but after seeing these promotional photos, it looks like I soon may. Anne is wearing a lovely, historically accurate Tudor-style gown in deep iridescent purple and gold taffeta, including a pretty decent headpiece with chiffon veil, covering her dark brown braided hair. The details of the costume look good--from the lamb's "fur" sleeves to the pearl jewelry. Even if I chose to use my existing Anne doll, Alex dolls can swap clothing with Tonner slim-busted dolls. Retail price is $249.95.
  2. Elizabeth I. This doll is a blue-eyed likeness of the virgin queen. She sports Elizabeth's cropped curly hair, and seems to be her father's likeness. I'm not in love with her face sculpt, and I have a RTW Spring Tyler I plan to use instead. But the gown is truly beautiful. She's wearing black velvet with pearl accents, over a gold underskirt. And she even has a lace ruff, popular at the time. Also, according to the notes, she is wearing a crown with an attached veil. Her outfit is lovely. This doll retails for $259.95.
  3. Marie Antoinette. A vision in pink silk dupioni, she models all the pomp that was pre-revolutionary France. Floral embroidery and elegant lace make up the fine details of the outfit. Her hair is done up in an ivory cascade of curls, topped off with feathers. She even includes panniers (the basket-shaped hoop that gives the skirt its shape) and white bloomers as her underclothing. (I only wish she weren't in pink--she looks too much like cotton candy or a fancy Barbie. I would buy her in a heartbeat if she were in blue or yellow.) This doll also retails for $259.95.
I haven't decided which, if any, of these dolls I will be adding to my collection, or if I will be pre-ordering them. Last time I pre-ordered any dolls, I regretted it. You wait for so long, and then the prices drop significantly. But these are limited editions of 300. And I don't know anything about Alexander dolls--do they sell out quickly? Are they hard to find? These do have higher prices than dolls I have seen before from this manufacturer, so I may wait till they actually come in stock, and then see how it goes. And for now, I will just admire the lovely promotional photos!
Photos courtesy Madame Alexander.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Nous Petite Couture: an interview with a doll clothing designer

Susan, one of the two costume and clothing designers of Nous Petite Couture, agreed to an interview with me, to discuss the business of designing clothes for dolls and doll collecting. 

Nous Petite Couture has been in business for five years in the San Diego area. They are a mother-daughter team, primarily selling clothing and historical costumes for Tonner (including Marley), Gene and Barbie dolls on Ebay, doll shows and by commission. They have won several awards, including a blue ribbon at the Del Mar Fair two years ago (here in San Diego) and Best Historical Bride at Vicki's Finds in an online contest several years ago. Susan originally started sewing for Barbie dolls because she wanted clothes that were different, and better made, than the ones she could find in stores.

About your business:

What's your favorite thing about sewing dolls?
Creating costumes for dolls is faster than sewing for humans, and I don't really enjoy sitting with a lap full of fabric. Also, if you screw up, it isn't as costly to throw out a sleeve or half of a bodice, and it doesn't take much time to cut out another one.

What's your least favorite?
Sewing on snaps! Very tiresome and not creative.

Do you have a favorite costume you've designed?
"Mary Stewart" is one of my best. I really like historical clothing, for several reasons: 
  1. I love history.
  2. History comes alive in doll fashions.
  3. Doll fashions are ornate and usually use gorgeous fabrics. I love textiles and always have.
Some things I'm very proud of, but overall, I'm very critical of my work. I want to be as professional and perfect as possible, yet always attempting new things and pushing the envelope, so I don't get stagnant. There are a lot of seamstresses of Ebay who make the same gown over and over, just using different materials. I don't think that's bad, because I'm sure they are lovely gowns and well made, but I would get bored if that's what I did.

Do you have new plans on the horizon?
I've just started drafting my own patterns using slopers.  My goal is to get really good at that, and then eventually market my patterns as well as the clothing I make. And yes, I agree that most homemade patterns are either too simple or not well done enough for the average person to make anything like the design shown. I want to make patterns that look like something a human being would wear (or wore in the past), and that have clear enough instructions that anyone with a basic knowledge of sewing could follow. 
Also, my mother has just gotten her first Riley doll (by Kish).

Who styles your dolls for photography?
I do. I like to play around with my dolls' hair, and I'm just now getting into wigs. I learned to make jewelry for dolls, but I don't have the ability to cold-cast stuff. I've learned a whole lot of tips through posts at Prego. It's a gold mine!

About your dolls:

How long have you been collecting dolls?
I've been a collector all my life. My paternal grandmother started a collection for me when I was an infant. At four, I started collecting Barbie. My childhood collections were set aside for many years, and then, at 37, friends bought me Mulder and Scully Barbies (yes, I'm an XFiles fan). Well, Mulder and Scully weren't content to live in a box. They adorned my cubicle at work for many months. Co-workers were always coming by and playing with them. Then, Scully demanded more clothes. More clothes demanded more dolls. More dolls led to still more dolls. After collecting more than 200 Barbies, I was given a Tyler for Christmas.
My first Tyler was a Sport Tyler. I liked her, but she wasn't really to my taste. I did enjoy sewing for her, and soon my mom bought one for herself and then another. Then there was Angelina, then Brenda and Daphne. On a trip to Vegas, I stopped in FAO Schwarz and fell in love with When in Rome Sydney. We now have 18 Sydneys between Mom and me, and yes, she is my favorite sculpt.

Does your private collection have a theme?
Not really. I buy the dolls that "speak" to me and that are in my price range. I have a limited budget for dolls, but I got a few of my grail gals--Supergirl and Autumn Sonata Sydney [Woo hoo! Go girl!]--brand new. Most of my dolls were splits or pre-owned nudie cuties.

Do you have a (current) favorite doll (or sculpt) in your collection?
I don't know why Sydney is my favorite, but she is so beautiful. I think, "Oh, I have plenty of Syndeys. I don't need another one." And then I fall in love again. Close seconds are Supergirl, Ashleigh and Stella. Tonner does amazing sculpts, and there are very few I'm not interested in. My mom's favorite sculpt is Tyler, with Daphne as a close second.

Do you have a grail doll who hasn't yet been added to your collection?
I'd say Smoldering Daphne and Lilac Allure Ashleigh. I never thought I'd be nuts about a platinum doll, but both of these are gorgeous. I also want to collect all of the Theatre de la Mode fashions Tonner has made. They are exquisite and inspirational.

If you'd like more information about Nous Petite Couture, check out their gallery of past designs, or send Susan some email at nouspetitecouture@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is doll collecting in our DNA?

This heirloom family photo shows an ancestor playing with a precious doll. Is it possible we pass our love of dolls along not just by modeling our behavior, but also in our genes?
I will add yet one more reason to buy a doll: because we just can't help ourselves. It's in our genetic makeup.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My January display

My January display, originally uploaded by tac_stamper.

This is a current snapshot of my January display: the living room, the hearth and the bookshelf.
The wives of Henry VIII, it was recently pointed out to me, tend to be a bit of a downer to those who know their story--since only two of the six women actually survived their husband to tell their tale. My point in having those dolls is to pay homage to their sacrifice, I suppose--seeing them in a beautiful three dimensional doll form almost makes their story more real than reading in a history book.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Henry's Wives

I thought I should post an update of my Wives of Henry VIII collection on my blog.  You can see the full-size pictures in my gallery.
  1. Wearing the Queen of Club's Gown, Catherine of Aragon, Henry's first wife, the Spanish bride, delivered Henry a daughter, Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary). He divorced her, and she died (probably of grief or poisoning), since she could not give him sons. The doll is the Wicked Witch of the East, Basic.
  2. Anne Boleyn is wearing the blue gown with gold trim and lace. She was Elizabeth's mother. She was beheaded (because she could not give Henry sons, and on trumped up charges of "adultery"). My Anne doll is a basic raven Ashleigh from Two Daydreamers.
  3. Jane Seymour was Henry's third wife. She gave him Edward, Henry's only son, and died in childbirth. I'm using a wheat blonde Jane doll for this queen, and she is dressed in a gown that my seamstress friend Jen created for me.
  4. Anne of Cleves was married to Henry for only about 6 months before she was set aside (divorced) as Henry's most beloved sister (because he didn't like her). She did manage to outlive the king, however. The Queen of Clubs (Betty Ann sculpt) is my model, and she is wearing the outfit from the Wicked Witch of the East.
  5. Kathryn Howard was Henry's youngest wife. She was beheaded for committing adultery (she was probably only 19 or 20 years old, but she may have even been younger). She was a cousin of Anne Boleyn. My doll is a golden Stella (Cherished Friends exclusive), wearing Eilzabeth's court gown and Noel's halo as a crown.
  6. Katherine Parr was Henry's last wife and nurse. She was widowed and outlived her husband. My doll is a redhead Ultrabasic Shauna (from Angelic Dreamz) in Royal Portrait.

Sydney in her Birthday suit

Well, she's not really in her birthday suit--more like an outfit my friend Jen made me for my birthday.  Rather inspired by the 1980s, I have to say!
The cocktail dress is a cotton/silk blend, and shiny, with an attached black tulle petticoat skirt for fullness.  Her lacey fingerless gloves are a bit tricky to put on--but with bendy-wrist dolls, a down and dirty trick is to pop the hands off first, slide the gloves on, replace the hands, and then pull the thumbs back over the hands.  Her tights are heavy stretch lace as well.
The model, by the way, is Sydney on the Rocks, and her shoes happen to match perfectly.

Mommy Dearest makes an appearance...

My basic Joan Crawford doll, Ready for Wardrobe, has arrived and made her appearance.  Dressed royally in the outfit Mad About the Hat, she looks ready for her screen debut.
I really think this doll is fantastic likeness.  Her hair could use a rinse--the curls are a bit gelled to help them hold their shape in transit--but I will leave them for now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New auction listings...

I've listed a few dolls for auction, starting at just $10 each (no reserves), with a few Buy it now options, with shipping listed at actual shipping cost.  All my dolls are from a non-smoking home.

I'm running out of space and needing to part with some of my dearly beloved collection, and I have some hard-to-find dolls on my auction list, so check them out, if you're looking for any specific dolls.  Drop me a line if you have any questions.  Thanks for looking!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Publication in TonnerSpace

Three of my photos were published in Tonner's December newsletter TonnerSpace, along with many other collectors' holiday photos. I was pleased to see them posted!


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