I attended a couple of doll shows with my grandmother when I was young, but once I got older I didn’t really attend those. I never had attended a doll collector convention, even at the height of my Barbie collecting.
I first heard about Tonner around the time that Tyler Wentworth came out. I was aware of Gene and some of the other fashion dolls, especially once I lived in Orlando and there was an FAO Schwarz nearby. I decided not to branch out from Barbie, I was afraid of opening a Pandora’s box, and I was right!
I really started looking at Tonner dolls when he began doing Harry Potter dolls, they looked really amazing! Luckily I was only seeing them online, so it was easier to resist. After lurking on Tonner’s website for awhile, I finally broke down and ordered some of the Fashion Zombie dolls when they went on sale. I could not believe how beautiful they were. I hadn’t really played with a 16 inch doll, but the fabric and the detail were just incredible.
I went to my first doll convention. Tonner hosts an annual convention in May in Chicago, IL, which is only about 4 hours away from me. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I figured if nothing else, I would meet some other people who were interested in dolls.
I met some really wonderful people, people that I have seen again at other Tonner conventions I have attended since the first one. People that are nice and friendly and love to talk dolls.
Many people who collect dolls don’t just buy a doll and set it on a shelf. Some people (like me) change outfits, and wigs to make the dolls look different. I change some dolls around with wigs and outfits, others I leave as they were when I received them. Some people sew and design their own clothes for the dolls, or knit or crochet clothes and accessories. Some people make elaborate scale dioramas to display their dolls. Some people repaint the doll’s face, or add glass eyes, sometimes they even manage to change the basic sculpt of the face.
At the Tonner convention, they have a competition room with different categories which vary from photography to costuming to crafting to support a theme. This year there were some really fantastic contest entries. The pictures in this post are all competition entries. None of them are done by me. The room below is scaled for a 16 inch doll.
So, when you ask what kind of adult collects dolls? I would say, some really kind, creative people who haven’t lost touch with the child in all of us.
As a side note, another great place to see fantastic doll photography and altered dolls is Tonner's Doll Duels site.