Recently in Playscale (1:6) Category

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).
I've been on a miniature kick for a while now, searching Etsy and eBay and the web in general for crocheted or knitted miniatures to inspire me.  Through poorly-matching search results, I've discovered that there are a lot of people making clothes and accessories for dolls.  For Blythe dolls, in particular. 

For those of you not in the know (as I wasn't until recently), Blythe is a melon-headed fashion doll with a 1:6 scale (also called playscale or sixthscale) fashion doll body (like Barbie's).  Blythe was produced by Kenner and sold only in 1972, but cancelled when it didn't sell well, probably because it gave the target audicence of little kids nightmares. 

Oh, the big selling point (Get it?  Big?  Because of its giant head?) was that when you pulled a string on the back of its head, its eyes rotated, bringing different-colored irises to the front.  Scary, eh?

Then in 1997, a video and TV producer with a camera she wanted to test found Blythe and shot a bunch of Blythe photographs.  They were published as a book in 2000.  Other people bandwagoned and we have the Blythe phenomenon.  In 2004, new Blythes went into production and they're still around, so we can assume they're a success.  The Internet lurves Blythe.

I think Blythe's giant head is ugly.  I hate that it's not to scale.  Pick a scale, any scale.  I am glad that people are using it and its ripe melon as inspiration to make outfits and do photography and meet (virtual) friends, so it's not all bad.

I just wish their stuff would stop popping up in my searches.