Thursday, February 28, 2008

New outfits from Ebay

I splurged on a few new outfits from a seller on Ebay, and I couldn't be happier with my purchases. I know Ebay can be hit or miss, but this was definitely a hit.
I got the following items at least 50% below retail, most even less than that:
I have to admit, the shoes in particular are fun. The ankle straps with buckles are so cute!
Photos courtesy Tonner Doll Company.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Justice Protector

This gorgeous limited edition (300) Wonder Woman doll is only available through participating Previews Magazine comic shop retailers. She has rooted raven saran hair with 13 points of articulated movement.
I tend to lean towards fashion dolls, but her face is just to die for!
Photos courtesy Tonner Doll Company.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How to collect dolls without breaking the bank

Especially when you collect 16” dolls, you may find your budget is expended quickly. I’ve done a little research online, and here are some ideas I’ve gotten from other doll collectors on sticking to your budget.
  • Make a monthly budget--like you do for the phone bill--and stick to it. I’ve heard some collectors put their monthly budget into their Paypal account at the beginning of each month, and then use only those funds for doll purchases.
  • Make a wishlist for the dolls you’d like to add to your collection, and wait for them to go on sale. Check out my post on retailers’ specials site, and visit them regularly for sale items.
  • If you don’t require dolls in mint condition, Ebay is a good way to go. Decide how much you want to spend at the beginning of the auction, and realize that if you get into a bidding war, you may go over budget. I decide in advance the maximum I will pay, and bid that amount with proxy bidding. Don’t forget to include shipping costs--these can be steep from some sellers, so buyer beware!
  • Collect older dolls. Many retailers put older editions on sale when new ones are released. While you might not have the newest dolls in your collection, you will build one without breaking the bank.
  • Don’t hide purchases from your spouse. You shouldn’t feel like you need to if you've discussed your budget in advance. If you feel tempted to hide purchases, realize that you may have the same problems with displaying them.
  • Settle for nude dolls or dolls in less than mint condition. Hair problems can be fixed easily. Doll hospitals are available if you need to have more serious work done.
  • Decide on a yearly splurge fund, just in case the doll you’ve been searching for goes on sale after your monthly budget is depleted. Decide in advance how much you’ll spend, and don’t go over that amount.
  • Avoid spur-of-the-moment purchases. My rule is that any purchase over $50 (if it’s not on my wishlist and budgeted) has to wait at least 24 hours. That little bit of stewing time is often just enough to keep you from going over budget.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shopping: Links to retailers' specials

Looking for the best place to find your Tonner fashion doll--at a reasonable price or on sale? Me, too. I'm compiling this list for a quick way to find sales, specials and clearance items on all the dolls on your wishlist.
I'm sure every retailer has specials now and then, but I didn't list it here if I couldn't find a sales or specials page. Also, some companies do not have any Tonner dolls listed currently on specials.
I haven't shopped at every store, so I can't be held responsible for their prices or customer service.
Have a link of your own? Please add it to the comments section!

My kind of sewing...

I just found a great website for those of us learning to sew doll clothing. Be sure to visit Advanced Embroidery Designs! They carry embroidery designs for imitation knit and freestanding Battenburg lace fashions for 16" and 11-12" dolls. I chose the cocktail dress and cape design.
You will need water soluble stabilizer for this project and thread. I've just finished the stitch out for all three pieces of the cape--two sides of the front (30 minutes each), and one for the back (60 minutes), and I've removed the stabilizer and am waiting for the pieces to dry.
The dress will take a little longer--the dress front (complete with darts to assemble after stitch out) takes 85 minutes on my machine, and the two back pieces will take about 80 minutes. Then, there is the trim and skirt, which are done separately. I'll let you know how it turns out.
So far, I am very pleased. There are hardly any needle jumps, which eliminates the need for trimming threads. The lace cape is really pretty. And my machine is doing a gorgeous job--so far!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Project Dollway

I'm a huge Project Runway fan, and so I was thrilled to find its latest spin-off: Project Dollway.
Lots of photos on this website--and maybe I can pick up some pointers about my own experiments in sewing (or just give up entirely).
There were a total of ten challenges. My favorite was the Tyler challenge, #4. The challenge was to design a ball gown for Tyler using an oversized print and an oversized design element, using a cotton blend fabric. Click to visit the runway show.
Love it!

Link to ASM Toyfair

Here's the direct link to the Tonner gallery here. Lots of great photos.

I can't help but be excited about this doll, who seems to have rooted eyelashes! Yey!

Fashion doll fan forum

If you're a fashion doll fan, you should check out Mark's Action Figures and Fashion Dolls for a fun forum, pictures and more. Thanks to Rosemary, who pointed me towards this link!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Notes on sewing doll clothes

After my recent purchases from Ebay, I figured it would be great to sewing a few outifts for the underdressed additions to my collection. I'm a quilter, so I wondered, how different could it be? And besides, I told myself, it won't be like sewing those tiny outfits for Barbie that I did in grammar school. I'm much more coordinated now. I was mistaken!
Any new hobby needs practice.  Here are a few things I've learned so far:
  • Just because you buy a pattern does not mean it will include clear directions. I found a seller on Ebay with her own line (I assume) of patterns. All the pieces and instructions are included, but I can't tell which way is top/bottom or front/back on the pattern pieces!
  • Plan on hand sewing. You have to be exact, and many things I'd usually do on my machine just are too small.  (Your stitches do get more even with practice.)
  • Don't plan on using the serger (as much).  I love finished seams, but I do not have as good of control of it as I do the sewing machine. Plus, the seams get bulky.
  • Use natural fabrics.  Silk and cotton are the only materials I've been able to use to make a dress that hangs naturally on a doll.  I'm sure there are tricks for other synthetics, but I haven't found them yet. And I still haven't found a good lining.
  • Plan to make practice pieces.  And, oh yes, don't use your silk fabric for these.
  • Quilting pins are much too big for dolls.
  • Normal size buttons and trims are also too big for dolls.
  • Practice, practice, practice! I'm banking on the hope that I will get better with practice. I spent several hours crafting today and my doll is still naked. Ack!
If you have any tips for me, I'd really appreciate it. I'm about to pull out the fabric glue and start another outfit!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Adding to my collection

I spent some of the weekend on Ebay and picked up two steals while I was there. My two newest additions:
  • Spring RTW Tyler from 2002, NRFB. I love her eyes--and she's truly spring-y with the red hair. I am thinking she will be my queen Elizabeth I.
  • Wickedly Basic Silver, from the Wizard of Oz collection. This doll is not in what I would call mint condition, as her hair has been taken down from the original style, so she will be a fixer for me. I have a friend who got me into Wicked (the book by Gregory Maguire), and she is going to be a gift for her when she is finished.
Ebay is addicting. I need to just stay away. But if you get in on the last few minutes of the auction, you can get a good deal now and then.
Photos courtesy Tonner Doll Company.

Friday, February 15, 2008

When your doll collection threatens your spouse

Understanding is the key to resolving conflicts, in any relationship. It's good to understand why your spouse might be intimidated by your doll collection. Here are few issues I have faced, and how I'm trying to resolve them.
  • Issue: Your dolls might completely overrun your budget. Some doll collectors (like me) already have another collection of some sort, and this your new hobby might add an additional cost.
  • Solutions: Agree (and stick) to a yearly or monthly budget. Sell off some items from your other collections and use the money to add to your doll collection. Get a job at a doll shop to make money (and maybe a discount) for your new addiction.
  • Issue: Your collection takes up too much space. I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I use crafts such as rubber stamping, scrapbooking and quilting to keep me sane. We live in a tiny house (with four children), and space is an issue.
  • Solutions: Pare down on your craft collection to make it look like your stuff isn't all over the place. Use your space creatively--install a shelf or use wall space instead of counters or special furniture, if you don't have room. Rotate your dolls on a shelf on a monthly basis, and keep them in safe storage when not in use. Make sure your spouse has his own shelf or space for his hobbies or items to display.
  • Issue: Your collection takes up too much time. Every collector needs to spend time at doll shows, fairs, garage sales, thrift shops, etc., in addition to arranging and caring for your dolls.
  • Solution: Make sure you keep a regularly scheduled date night with your spouse, which does not include stopping at your favorite doll dealer, even for "just a minute." This solution actually works well in both directions, since there is nothing I like less than waiting in the car for half an hour with four screaming kids in the Fry's parking lot. Something else that has worked is getting my two daughters involved--they love going to doll shops with me, and it's a great way to instill a love of the artistry at an early age (mine are 7 and 4 years old).
  • Issue: Your spouse gets the creeps from dolls.
  • Solution: If you have one, let me know. Exposure has helped me overcome some of my own anxieties (of moths, for example), so perhaps that might help. Display only a few at a time, where you can see them and show them off, but avoid displaying them in your joint living space. Explain why you like the dolls to your spouse. I collect because I find Tonner dolls exquisitely beautiful and inspirational--I use them as muses for my own artwork. Once I explained that to my husband, it seemed easier for him to deal with.
Most importantly in any relationship--don't get to the point where you feel like you have to hide your doll addiction from your husband. I'm not one to offer marital advice, but it seems like when hobbies interfere with your marriage or partnership, it's probably not the hobby that is the real problem. That being said, I'd really better stick to my budget!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dealer exclusives

In my online searches, I've found some online doll sites that carry exclusive limited edition dolls by Tonner. If you have other favorites, please post them here! I'll be adding to this list as I find more.
I'm sure I'll add more as I find them.
Photos courtesy Tonner Doll Company.

Doll hair care

I recently purchased a doll on Ebay that claimed (and appeared) to be in "mint" condition. However, when she came in the mail, her hair was a mess. It is a six year-old doll, specifically, and she'd been on display. I've included her original photo from the convention, though I didn't get her wearing her original outfit. She will be Anne Boleyn for my wives of Henry VIII collection.
To me, part of the attraction of these dolls is their hair. When it's less than perfect, it really detracts from the beauty of the doll. Robert Tonner uses saran (a type of synthetic) hair. The company website posts some tip on how to care for it. Here is what I did:
  1. Using a very diluted rinse of windex to warm water, I rinsed the dust and cleaned the hair. I didn't soak the doll, however--just swishing to get all the dirt out. You can also use Woolite or special synthetic hair shampoo. I rinsed with lukewarm water.
  2. Next, I added a small amount of fabric softener to a fresh rinse. I swished her hair around a bit, being very gentle, and let her remain in the bath for a short time.
  3. I toweled dry gently--the hair dries quickly in the open air, and all the sites I've seen discourage using heat if you want to maintain the style.
  4. Using a new animal hair comb with metal prongs, I combed through any knots. Starting the at ends of the hair and working slowly toward the roots allowed me to work thoroughly without pulling out any hair. I've read that you should never use a brush that's been used on real hair on synthetic hair, since natural hair oils build up and be transferred to synthetic hair.
  5. I followed with a small amount of hair gel and let the style air dry completely, the doll in an upright position.
  6. When the doll's hair was completely dry, I used the comb to refresh the style, and it's beautiful. I'm simply thrilled with my bargain!

Monday, February 11, 2008

My blossoming collection

Two of my current favorite dolls are Elizabeth Swann, a limited edition and a one of a kind (OOAK) repaint of Liv Tyler from Lord of the Rings, as Arwen.
I bought Elizabeth for my collection of Henry VIII wives, and she is my Queen Katheryn Howard, Henry's fifth wife and second wife he beheaded. She is my first out-of-the-box Tonner doll. I saw her at a local doll shop, the only one in my area, which was going out of business. I couldn't leave the store without her.
The thing I've noticed about repainted or restyled dolls is that you really need to use cotton, silk or linen--natural--fabrics for their clothing. While Arwen is gorgeous, her polyester dress looks dull and stiff next to Elizabeth's yellow silk brocade.
What just amazes me is how the Tonner dolls really do look like their gorgeous photos on In fact, I think this doll is actually more beautiful in person than in the photo. Elizabeth Swann photo courtesy Tonner Doll Company.

My current Tonner wish list

Before I begin this post, I need to state that I am neither a retailer, nor am I currently selling any Tonner brand products on this website. I am not associated with Tonner Doll Company. All images and dolls are copyright Tonner Doll Company, and I am using them solely as a collector.
Oh my goodness, my wish list is getting longer every day. My favorite dolls tend to be ones in large flowing skirts and fancy outfits. Click on the pictures to go to Tonner's website and check these dolls out for yourself.
  • From Memoirs of a Geisha--a wonderful book and film--I love the sold out 2006 Spring Dance Sayuri. She even has gray/blue eyes like in the movie. The details on Robert Tonner dolls just astound me.
  • The Queens of Spades, Diamonds, Clubs and Hearts. These are from the Alice in Wonderland collection. I am an avid (but not very talented) card player--mostly hearts--and the Queen of Spades has special meaning for me in real life. These dolls are just gorgeous representations of taking the points I don't mean to take. Plus, it's a matched set.
  • The Wizard of Oz collection dolls are gorgeous as well. I love the new Wicked Witch of the East and the Blue Skies Glinda. I mean, look at the Wicked Witch's stockings and shoes, and Glinda's hair. It's just divine.
  • Swept Away is another doll in the Theatre de la Mode collection that I love. Also made in 2006, this is a limited edition of 1000. This doll has gorgeous modern clothing!
I think this is all for now. My list is much longer--the more dolls I see, the more get added to my list. I have to say, though, I probably shouldn't be spending my grocery budget on these dolls!
Photos courtesy Tonner Doll Company.

Sewing for 16" fashion dolls

I'm a quilter, and a new one at that. I'm not a very accomplished seamstress. However, there is something appealing to me about sewing clothes for my 16" fashion dolls. I thought I'd post some links to various sites online where you can get tips on sewing and patterns for your dolls. If you've sewn some clothing for Gene or Tyler dolls, let me know. I'd love to post your photos online.
  • Dale Rae Designs - This site has a bunch of measurement and fitting tips, all related to doll clothing.
  • Doll Reader's website has a few fun and free patterns to try.
  • Dolls for Joy has some fun patterns and finished photos. I've used the corset pattern for one of my Tonner dolls, and it worked beautifully.
  • has a couple of fun articles. These links include reviews of software, how to make a doll-sized purse, using embroidery on doll clothing, and more.
  • Dolly Maker has some tips about sewing for dolls.
If you knit and crochet, here is a link to pattern sites as well:
  • Daniel Bingham will email four free patterns when you sign up for his email list.
  • also has some knitting and crochet items for Barbie-sized fashion dolls.


Welcome to the Fashion Doll Review. I hope I can encourage your enthusiasm in doll collecting with this blog.
I'm a new doll collector--I had a Tyler Wentworth doll repainted as Liv Tyler (as Arwen from Lord of the Rings) several years ago. I recently rediscovered 16" fashion dolls when searching for dolls resembling Natalie Dormer and Maria Doyle Kennedy from the Showtime series The Tudors. I'm a huge English history fan, after reading many historical fiction novels by Philippa Gregory and also history by Alison Weir.
Please leave your comments--I look forward to hearing from you.


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