Doll collectors of a certain age will know the Madame Alexander dolls. I will not go into the history of this historic doll-preneur right here. There is so much to say about her vision of beautiful dolls to help with childhood development. She also wanted to inspire the passion of collectors. I want to show off Zola. a new doll with a very pretty face sculpt.
I believe Zola may be the first African facial sculpt for a Madame Alexander doll. There were black dolls from the Alexander company but they would have used a general face. If you believe that representation is important then you don’t need me to tell you that black dolls matter. My blog about Where to Buy Beautiful black dolls online features many dolls, not all from Amazon! Zola doll can also be bought from the Madame Alexander shop.
The Madame Alexander company has been bought by Kahn Lucas a family owned, 4th generation maker of clothing for girls. Their website shows their. models proudly displaying dolls. This feels like good news for doll lovers.
This is a micro-blog to showcase two suppliers who bring unusual collectible black dolls to the UK. The blog was inspired by a new Mizi Doll from JHGFashion Doll in China. who caught my eye with her beautiful African style. The UK website with this doll is Simon’s Collectibles – the link has a different name! The Adonis doll who I mentioned before in my blog as an outstanding black male doll is here.
My other UK seller is Bentzen’s Emporium. For this mini blog I will feature a sweet little doll who will go out of production soon – this is a FailFix, like a mini version of Rainbow High. She is “related” to Monster High and is a beautifully made doll. On display she has her ‘fail’ look so please look closely is you see her on-shelf to appreciate her full beauty.
Both these suppliers are great fun to check out – exotic dolls and toys from the United States of America are always exciting when they are well-chosen and displayed. Both sites are worth learning to bookmark.
This post is about a trend I have noticed in the doll world where the big European brands have started to pay serious attention to black doll buyers and are creating black, brown, Pan-African and mixed race versions of their classic dolls.
I am talking here about the traditional play dolls that many people associate with Europe. To show you what I am talking about, here is my favourite European toy shop, Serneels in Brussels on Avenue Louise.
The quintessential European doll is over a foot high, is based on a little girl under 8 and has a beautifully made wardrobe. Between 1-3 scale and 1-4 scale. Pricey. Heirloom.
Many European countries have their own doll brands. I will go through some of the big names and show their old and new offerings, specifically their black and African new dolls. Then I will list some of the boutique suppliers in the US and UK.
The dolls are from Germany, France, Spain and an ex British colony – Hong Kong. In fact, two ex colonies, I will do an Irish doll too.
Germany – Kathe Kruse
Here side by side are two Kathe Kruse dolls. Joy is the basketball player. She seems to be widely available. The dancer on the right is from My Best Friend Doll.
Germany –Zwergnase dolls
I am including these 45cm dolls in an “in-for-a-penny-in-for-a-pound” frame of mind . I think the artist, Nicole Marschollek-Menzner , has created an exceptionally lovely black doll. The price is over 200 dollars. Pics from MyDollBestFriend where there is good description of the story of these toys.
France – PetitCollin/Finouche
This doll is called PetitCollin and is based on a doll by designer Sylvia Natterer. Pics from MyDollBestFriend.com.
These dolls will be familiar to collectors of Dianna Effner’s Little Darling doll. The dolls are available from the Nordstrom site and MyDollBestFriend and they are now called Ruby Red Fashion Friends. I read that the Maya doll was sculpted by Ruby Ho, of Ruby Red Galleria, the entrepreneur behind this brand.
Ireland – Lottie doll
Lottie dolls have always wanted to be inclusive and their range has three black dolls, including a boy Sami who is a reporter and two activist girls. The dolls are on Amazon and on the Lottie websites in Europe and the US. These are little 8cm dolls and I am adding them as Ireland is very proud to have a home-grown doll.
Dolls are expensive to make, support the doll makers that you love.
Here is my First Holy Communion Paper doll sketch. It is a suggested greeting card style. This sketch shows the idea of a girl dressing for her Communion Day.
If the idea is approved then the next stage is to convert the drawing into a slick digital file . The drawings will be recoloured with pencil and scanned again. The fina card will be to a high standard while keeping a hand drawn look.
I my next post I will be showing some of the ways adult collectors have dressed, posed and photographed the two black dolls in the Signature Looks set. Watch this space s i need to get permission from the creative collectors who have reworked Barbie and Ken.
For toy designers, it is easier than ever to see how doll collectors are using your creations. Social media and digital photography by collectors can be a boon to designers. Often the decision to purchase a new doll l can be prompted by a photo that shows the potential of a restyled doll.
In the Facebook Group. Black Dolls Rule, Bindi Merinda was showcased by the artist Son of Ellis. The doll’s persona is as a long-legged supermodel and Son of Ellis used luxury brands and a richly textured gold colour scheme to show off his doll.
Designer Jozef Szekeres says “I am loving seeing collectors have redressing fun with their new GlamourOZ Dolls. That’s what I really wanted to see… that they inspire play and engagement. “
Bindi Merinda is one of 10 Australian 18 inch editions by Jozef Szekeres. The doll is sold in quirky sixties mod fashions from Australia via the GlamourOZ website . She fits clothes and shoes for 16 inch dolls.
I asked Jozef if the description AA (African American) was correct for his dolls and he replied ” I’ve always thought that for an Australian doll, AA could also mean Australian Aborigine. I actually took inspiration from my country’s own beautiful indigenous black catwalk models in creating Bindi Merinda.”
Mattel is launching a new Barbie doll and she is creating waves of excitement. If you only buy one Barbie this year – let it be Doctor Maya Angelou. Social media has been buzzing with people racing to their local Target and Walmart to grab early releases of this doll. Dr Maya Angelou Barbie is part of Mattel’s Inspiring Women series and she sold out rapidly. Social media was full of pics of the boxed doll as shoppers grabbed the new Barbie and told the world “I’ve got her.!”. I have a blog aboutwhere to buy black dolls but it is early days.
I am going to give a Barbie collector’s view on this doll with the help of two collectors and one amazing doll designer. This quote is from the talented Mr Carlyle Nuera, the Mattel designer who made this doll. Head on over to his Insta feed to hear the love! Thousands of doll collectors are thanking Mr Nuera. @carlylenuera is the handle
“Such an honor to design this doll. We worked with her son and his wife to make sure the doll accurately represented Dr.Angelou, from the print of her dress to the gap in her teeth”
The box has a literary feel.
“The doll was designed to look like Dr. Angelou circa 1970s, around the time when ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ was first released. The doll’s color scheme was inspired by the OG cover art for ‘Caged Bird’, rich warm sunset tones.”
A quote from Nuera on the process:
This joyful collector spent hours driving around NY on a Dr Maya spree. She tells the tale well in her beautiful unboxing video The video by @DolliciousLife answers questions about the African print as well as the length of the hair under the wrap. Barbie rarely wears West African prints and Dr Maya’s fabric was scaled down. It looks like Mattel did that especially for this figure.
One of the first people on Instagram to comment on Carlyle Nuera’s achievement was @CelebrateSoulfulDolls . Robin Hickman-Winfield is an adult collector. She complimented the designer thus “SOul Beautiful, a wonderful testimonial! You captured her essence, physically and her spirit… Oh my goodness the sculpt! ” Look at her homage below.
Instagram is full of adults with dolls having the best time. Robin Hickman-Winfield, like many people on the Gram, has a mini-me. Her mini me, Robyn who is married to Stevie, decided to invite their new doll around. Look!
The styling refers back to the doll’s design seamlessly in my opinion. And God is in the detail. Look at the 1/6 scale food. The artist at @wife_in_miniature sculpted the food.
Her is what Robin said to the designer. “Dr. Maya is healing, and we need all the healing we can get! EXCELLENT job, Blessings and Thank You.🙏🏾❤️☀️”
I think I will have to do a whole new blog on Carlyle Nuera, the yellow-haired gent who has been doing SO MUCH for representation and dolls. In researching this Dr Maya blog I have been impressed by his contribution to representation in the doll world.
Last words on books
I will say a few words about books. You don’t need me to help you pick a book by Dr Angelou. You don’t need me to suggest you go over to YouTube to hear her recite her poetry. I am adding a book for the younger children who might be gifted a Dr Maya doll.
Amazon has a pricey version here but keep an eye on your local shop.
After a tough 2020 I’ve decided to think about happy things like weddings and Barbies. It has been a very good year for diverse dolls and I want to hunt down the nicest brides and dresses – and maybe even a groom. I’ll start this blog and add more.
I am starting with this delightful doll – she is Barbie 60th Anniversary Doll. Just look at all the references to the original Barbie 1950s. The ponytail is there- in glossy black plus the side glancing eyes and red lips.
The above photos show how well this dolls works the retro look. I hope that collectors of black dolls will appreciate this elegant reworking of the original 1950s dolls. The dress marks a diamond anniversary and is a twinkly, sparkly full skirted, sleeveless gown. I can see fans and children enjoying this keepsake toy.
Well- i am looking for my own Christmas present right now and here is a doll who I would love to add to my collection.
She may have gone out of my price range but let’s have a look at Puma Barbie anyway. I will add her to my blog about Where to Buy Beautiful black dolls online. She is a Black Label Barbiedoll with the hugely popular Made to Move body. Look at how she poses with her hands on hips!
The designer is Carlyle Nuera who did many of the BMR1959 dolls. The facial sculpt is Selma. and the hair is streaked pink and in two big braids.
The shoes are black and pink suede Pumas that will delight anyone who enjoys miniaturisation. Is that a word?
I am linking to her page on the Barbie website so you can learn all you need to know about her and about the other urban, afrocentric dolls by Carlyle Nuera. I have to stop and smile here. Do people still think Barbie is blonde and blue eyed. Mattel mixes plastic in many shades!
The affiliate link is below. I might pick this doll up un ebay but if Jeff Bezos (he owns Amazon) said I could have anything I wanted from Amazon, I’d click on the link!
Gabriella came out swinging to the Late Late Toy Show stage. She approached Ryan Tubridy on her pogo stick, played with her dolls and styling head and then tried to teach the host some dance moves. In between the pogo stick and dane moves she made a little piece of history.
For the first time ever the late Late Toy how had an entire section devoted to black hair. With wigged dolls and styling heads surrounded by black Barbies the table of toys reflected black Irish girls. Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Jean King were the collector dolls and a scatter of Fashionistas covered the table.
Gabriella showed off her “I’m a Girly” doll explaining how she had dressed the doll with boots borrowed from another doll and a skirt made by her nanny. I will add the brand to my ongoing blog about Where to Buy Beautiful black dolls online.
Kayla was the doll that Gabriella described as being like her. She said “What I really like most about her is that she has a skirt like me and she has hair like me.” Boom!
The Late Late Toy Show is an Irish institution. For one night in the year the chat shows takes a break from the issues of the day to showcase toys in the run up to Christmas. The show is watched globally and her moment is history did not go unnoticed.