Doll Liberations: The Unboxing

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More from my recent playscale doll kick.  Stop reading now if it's not your bag. 

I subtitled this entry, because I needed it to sound important and profound to camoflauge my faint embarassment at writing about this subject.  I think I made it sound like a straight-to-video horror movie.  I'm not sure if I succeeded in my objective.  Well, onwards and upwards.

In the '80s, Mattel figured out that some adult collectors buy Barbie dolls for themselves, intending to keep them for display purposes.  Never a company to forgo profit, they came out with lines of more intricate dolls with better materials in their dresses.  Some were designed head-to-toe by real-world fashion designers like Bob Mackie.  He actually designed my favorite face mold, now used in some playline dolls, the closed-mouth (and aptly-named) Mackie mold.  Back to the story.

The dolls were successful because people snapped them up, even though some ran to the hundreds of dollars, new.  Resale has been spotty, from what I can glean, which is no big surprise.  Even putting aside the effect of hundreds of pairs of dead Barbie eyes in one room, a collection of nothing but boxed dolls, pinned to their cardboard backing and staring out forever through a window of dusty cellophane induces its own inherent creepy atmosphere.  (At least from the pictures of collections I've seen on the Internet.  I can only imagine it's worse in person.)

Besides that dolls caught forever in cardboard and plastic shells aren't as much fun to view, some of the boxes actually hurt the dolls they've entombed.  Among other problems, the cardboard isn't acid free, some fabrics have dyes that stain the vinyl of the dolls, sometimes the doll is ited to the box in such a way that it becomes distorted over time.

Among the heroes of doll liberation (and the one with the best website) is Lady Bast, who buys dolls and unboxes them, taking lots of photos along the way.  She includes write-ups on the construction of the dolls themselves, the quality of the clothing, and the quantity and quality of the accessories.  She ends each unboxing by redressing the doll in new clothes.  She's done more than fifty so far, and paging through them made for a fascinating evening.

Another who's done a few is Dorrie Bell.  She has a bunch of doll-clothes patterns and doll insights on her site (which is useful, though it could be more navigable).  I especially liked her unboxing of the Harley Quinn Barbie, which was clearly never supposed to leave its box.  Princess Fiona from the movie Shrek (which I hated) also got unboxed, as did Dori from some straight-to-DVD kids' movie I've never heard of.

I wonder if the doll companies take into account what these collectors want, or if they're not familiar with the movement (or discount them since they're not spending the big bucks).

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