Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Girls Playing With Dolls a Thing of the Past?

Girls abandon dolls for Web-based toys
By Lini S. Kadaba
Inquirer Staff Writer

Paige Gabriele loved her dolls - once.
At age 8, however, the Swarthmore girl has largely abandoned them. Even Barbie gets slim face time, and the single American Girl doll, a gift from her grandmother, sits pretty on her bureau - untouched.

Playing with dolls "gets boring after a while," said Paige as she passed by the well-stocked aisles full of Barbie, Moxie Girlz, Liv, and other fashion dolls at the Target in Springfield Mall. She was more interested in a basketball, and gushed about social Web sites such as, where she nurtures pet monsters.

It used to be that dolls held girls' interest at least through elementary school. But these days, girls are dropping such playthings at ever younger ages, largely replacing the childhood mainstay with technology-driven activities, even as the toy industry battles to attract the coveted market with new products.

According to the NPD Group, U.S. doll sales have declined by nearly 20 percent since 2005 - and older girls are the least likely to have such toys. In 2009, 18 percent of dolls sold went to girls 9 and older, but 37 percent landed in the hands of 3- to 5-year-olds, the "sweet spot" ages, said Anita Frazier, NPD toys and video games industry analyst.

But ditching doll play says just as much about the erosion of childhood - as well as imagination and attention spans, argue some - as it does about the multitude of gadgets and activities that vie for children's spare time.

Lindsey Peppel, 12, of Phoenixville hasn't played with the fashionable figures for a while, instead favoring online sites, including, and Barbie video games (when she's not reading books).
"I don't think I'm good at making up imaginary things," she said. "I didn't know what to do with dolls."
Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, who chairs the psychology department at Golden Gate University and wrote the book Gen BuY, agrees that children nowadays need lots of stimulation to keep their interest.

But she said, that's not necessarily a negative. "Maybe," she argued, "this is preparation for exactly what they need when they grow up. The world these kids are going to be adults in is more souped up."

Others, though, say loss of doll play is a sign of the Microsoft speed at which children mature.
"Girls don't play with dolls as much or for as long anymore because they are being socialized by media culture to grow up faster," said Patricia Leavy, an associate professor of sociology at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., who has witnessed a lack of interest in dolls in her own 9-year-old daughter.

After all, 5 is the new 10, and 10 is the new 15.
Often, young girls, called tweens by marketers, are pushed to act and look like teens, whether that message comes from the latest Hannah Montana TV shows, outfits at the Limited Too, or virtual playlands. Playing with dollies has little place in this world.

Tween culture "is transforming the lives of girls," Leavy said, and often to the detriment of self-esteem, she argued, with its emphasis on idealized images of beauty.

To understand why this matters, consider the role of traditional doll play in socialization.
"When little girls play with dolls, they're practicing being a mommy, practicing tending and nurturing," said psychologist Yarrow.

Although some say an avatar fills the role just fine, Leavy disagrees, calling online diversions "a different level of intimacy and connection. It doesn't have to be dolls, but I don't think it's going to come from a Web site."

Dollhood has grown to play a large part in girls' lives ever since the end of the Civil War, when toy companies proliferated.

Traditionally, even after baby dolls were outgrown, play continued with so-called fashion dolls, with different outfits, different personalities, and, in the case of Barbie, 125 different careers.
Now, the timeline is compressed. Many girls are done with fashion dolls at 6, having given up baby dolls at 3. (American Girl dolls are popular with tweens, but as more than one mother has observed, once they're brought home, they often sit in rooms collecting dust.)
What's next for them? Online doll play, where and Barbie's rank among the Top 10 Web sites for girls 8 to 12 years old, according to Youth Trends, based in Ramsey, N.J.

This summer, Mattel will come out with Barbie Video Girl, essentially a doll that's a video camera. She has an LCD screen in her back and a camera lens in her locket, and a USB cable enables girls to edit and share video clips taken from Barbie's point of view.

Last fall, Fisher-Price/Mattel introduced Dora Links, a grown-up Dora the Explorer that connects through its USB cable to the computer, enabling a girl to make online changes to her Dora avatar that result - like magic - in actual changes to the physical doll's hair length and color of her eyes, lips, earrings, and more. The product was expressly intended to keep older girls interested in Dora.

"We were losing girls," said Gina Sirard, vice president of marketing at Mattel. "By 31/2, maybe 4, they were out of the door."

According to Sirard, the doll with the long hair and stylish clothes - that tween look - has succeeded. NPD data, she said, show the Dora franchise now extends from age 2 to 6 plus. "We even get 7-year-olds," she said with delight. "They are very connected to that Internet. It would behoove manufacturers to tap into that."

Danielle Mauger's youngest daughter is already well-entrenched in online play. Although Mauger's 14-year-old still played with dolls when she was 8, her youngest, Kelsey, is that age now and "has zero interest in dolls" anymore, said the North Wales woman.
Instead, the child likes her iTouch (acquired from her sister) and Club Penguin, where penguin avatars travel a virtual world and friends meet to chat online.

"She will call up her girlfriend," Mauger said, "and the two of them end up on the phone giggling while they're . . . on the computer."

"They're dressing [avatars] up, they're buying things for them, they're feeding them," Epstein said. "In effect, they still have dolls, except there's no physical doll anymore."

Tonner's Movin' On Up!

Hurley, NY (March 30, 2010) - The Tonner Doll Company today announced it is moving its corporate headquarters to 301 Wall Street, corner of John Street, in uptown Kingston after 10 years at its leased location at 459 Hurley Avenue in Hurley.

Robert Tonner, CEO of the Tonner Doll Company, purchased the building earlier this month. "For years, I've been looking for a special building that has architectural integrity and also has the space requirements we need," Tonner said. "I'm thrilled that we found one in uptown Kingston."

Built in 1887, 301 Wall Street most recently was the home of Chase Bank and has been vacant for just about one year. Tonner hopes to complete the move by May 1, once renovations are complete. "The roof needs some work and we are refurbishing the second and third floors," Tonner explained. "The second floor will be restored to what it was back in the 1940's," he added.
The new home of Tonner Doll will house the design, production, sales, marketing, finance and administrative staff; a total of 17 employees. "Part of my whole belief is that change, while painful at times, is good," Tonner admitted. "I think this space will give us a new creative energy."
Opening in 1991, the internationally renowned Tonner Do
ll Company has been a staple in Ulster County for nearly two decades. The Tonner Doll Company designs and manufactures collectible fashion dolls, child character dolls and licensed character figures such as HARRY POTTER and WONDER WOMAN.

In 2007, Tonner purchased 12/14 Hurley Avenue in Kingston and made extensive renovations before opening the Tonner Company Store there in December, 2007, which will remain at its current location. The renovation received two local awards; one from the Chamber of Commerce of Ulster County, and another from the Friends of Historic Kingston.

Tonner plans to lease out the street level of 301 Wall Street. Rental information would be through Harris Safier, Broker Westwood Metes & Bounds Realty Ltd. at 914-388-3351. Safier represented Tonner in the purchase of the building from J.P. Morgan Chase.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Timeline of Dolls

1959: Barbie
The first adult doll focused on fashion was also one of the first toys to rely heavily on TV advertising.
1960: Chatty Cathy
This talking doll used a low-fidelity phonograph record to speak one of 11 phrases when the "chatty ring" on her back was pulled.
1986: American Girl
Blends historical-fiction storybooks with 18-inch character dolls and has grown to include boutiques, bistros, and live-theater shows.
2001: Bratz
Heavy makeup and provocative fashions, including fishnets and miniskirts, made the fashion doll contemporary -- and controversial.
2009: Liv
The four high-school friends come decked out in fast fashion, with changeable wigs and bendable bodies.

Dolls Days in Doylestown

Children are invited to bring their favorite dolls to the Mercer Museum for a day of fun and fashion on Saturday, May 1. "Doll's Day Out," one of the museum's most popular annual programs, features a tea and doll fashion show in the museum's elegant Elkins Gallery, along witha host of other entertaining activities. The event takes place from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.Seatings for the tea and doll fashion show will take place at 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.

Children will also enjoy storytelling by Jane King, a clothespin doll-making craft activity, face painting, hair wrapping, and an open-hearth cooking demonstration in the museum's Log House with historic food experts Rita Fillinger and Carol Oughton. The latest in doll fashions and accessories will also be on display and available for purchase.Pastries for the teas are provided by J. Scones, a specialty bakery located on Swamp Road in Doylestown.

Doll's Day Out is presented with the support of the BuxMont Doll Lovers Club and many of the dolls featured in the fashion show are provided by club members. Tickets for Doll's Day Out (which include museum admission) are $12 per person and $10 for members. Space is limited and registration is required. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-345-0210, ext. 123 or by visiting the Mercer Museum's Front Desk. For more information on the event, visit

Guests to this year's Doll's Day Out event should be aware that due to ongoing construction on the new wing, the museum's entrance will be on the Pine Street side of the building, and the regular parking lot will be closed. Visitors should plan to find street parking, or park in the lot atthe Bucks County Free Library. Watch for signs and banners directing guests to the museum entrance.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wu - Not for You

Jason has produced a special "private-label" doll for a lingerie company in Taiwan that is doing a special event (we believe next week). While the doll is not an official Fashion Royalty product, the head sculpt is the same that is used on Eugenia. Since they may pop up online at some point, we wanted to be sure to alert you about what these dolls are. Since we know many of you will ask, we were able to secure a photo. Again, this is a private label Taiwanese company product, so unfortunately, we aren't involved with the project and don't have any further information.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Prop Replica

10" Replica

Highly detailed and movie accurate, this full-sized replica matches the doll gifted to Coraline as seen in the movie.

Coraline Raincoat Bendy Doll
7" Solid

A super poseable bendable 7" scale Coraline doll. The face plate is removable, and the eyes can be repositioned to create many different expressions, just like the figures used to create the stop-motion film!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Madame Alexander Takes Over Lee Middleton

The renowned New York City-based collectible and play doll company, Alexander Doll (founded in 1923), has acquired the business assets of Lee Middleton Dolls (founded in 1989), which had been manufacturing Alexander’s exclusive club dolls. Keep posted for more details of the acquisition as they become available at

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mad Men Barbie

Barbie and her signature hourglass figure are getting the "Mad Men" treatment.
Mattel, Lionsgate and AMC announced a partnership on Wednesday to create four dolls in the likeness of characters from the influential, Emmy-winning show set in a fashionable, 1960s ad agency.

The Betty Draper doll will wear a floral dress — with pearls and pumps to match — just like the suburban housewives of the day, and office bombshell Joan Holloway has a purple skirt suit and a pen necklace. Don Draper and Roger Sterling both get trim suits, ties and pocketsquares.

The collectable dolls, made of porcelain-like Silkstone, will be available in July with a suggested retail price of $74.95. Sketches will be distributed inside Season 3 DVD sets on sale later this month.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tonner Convention!!!

Unforgettable:(Breakout Event $149 - requires separate ticket purchase) – LUNCH EVENT - The most beautiful women in the world wear Revlon, and Robert Tonner has joined with the famed Cosmetics House to create an ultra limited modern take on the Revlon Doll in an all new fashion doll body size. As a special tribute to one of his favorite 1950s glamour girls, Robert is also working on a surprise with a `vintage touch'. You'll want to wear your unforgettable Revlon Red to this exciting event celebrating beauty from today and days gone by.

Steampunk Gone Wilde:(Breakout Event $175.00 – requires separate ticket purchase) – DINNER EVENT - Steampunk is a popular genre mixing science fiction, speculative fiction and fantasy blended with steam-powered technology of the 19th Century and Victoria era England, echoing such musings of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Ellowyne Wilde adores steampunk style as a fun departure from her chronic boredom. However, at this event, she'll come face-to-face with her nemesis, Amber Stanhope, making her debut. Help us to keep Ellowyne's ennui to a minimum by wearing your most outrageous steampunk attire (special attire is optional).

Hat's Off to Effanbee! The 100th Anniversary Party:(Breakout Event $25 - requires separate ticket purchase) - CAKE EVENT - Since its inception, Effanbee actually has many anniversaries marking their centennial, but Robert Tonner wishes to celebrate the partnership of Bernard E. Fleischaker and Hugo Baum in 1910 – a partnership that would pave the way to 100 years of Effanbee Dolls. Many Effanbee dolls are counted amongst some of the most popular 20th century play dolls, and we're having a centennial birthday party to honor the Effanbee tradition. Your souvenir doll will be a delightful 100th Anniversary Patsyette, by Robert Tonner, and you'll receive a special raffle ticket that may hold your chance at one of three prizes, the top prize of which will be a registration package for your choice of the Tonner 2010 Halloween Convention or the Tonner 2011 Collectors Convention. Wear your most celebratory birthday hats (the bigger the better – and of course, hats are optional) for this once in a lifetime party; beverages and birthday cake will be served.

Saturday, May 22, 2010Browncoats' Breakfast:(Breakout Event $165 - requires separate ticket purchase) BREAKFAST EVENT - Browncoats, Smugglers, Shepherds and Companions gather in a secret location from The Alliance to revel in the cult phenomenon known as `Firefly'. Joss Whedon's blended science fiction and western sub cultures play into the highly original Fox Television Series and its subsequent Universal Pictures film `Serenity'. Robert Tonner invites you to his latest pop-culture partnership as he presents your very special Inara Serra souvenir and the debut of Malcolm Reynolds to the Tonner Character Figure™ family. Think sci-fi western in your attire (optional, of course) and be prepared to evacuate should any Reavers invade the breakfast buffet!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wilde News

JMK Rothman Doll Show
Hackensack, NJ 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Wilde Imagination will have a sales table. Stop by and sigh - and see some of the new items for 2010 for Ellowyne and Evangeline Ghastly. We'll have specials and free giveaways for all that stop by. For directions and more information please visit:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tonner Drops Most of Sinister Circus

Not to be produced!
Not to be produced!



Tonner Doll Company has decided not to produce the following items in the Sinister Circus collection:
· T10SCDD01 – The Painted Lady
· T10SCDD04 – The Bearded Lady
· T10SCDD05 – Keiko
· T10SCDD06 – Marina
· T10SCDD07 – Quimby