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Dance for Joy!

Kissing under the mistletoe…decorating with evergreen wreaths, silver bells and red holly…baking sugar cook­ies…brightly wrapped surprises waiting to be opened… singing carols by a crackling fire… The holiday season is upon us, bring­ing beloved and time-honored traditions, memories and goodies in its festive wake. This year—thanks to a collaboration between the New York City Ballet (NYCB) and the Tonner Doll Co. (TDC) that brings a new ex­pression to a beloved symbol of the season—all good doll collectors (if you’ve been naughty, there’s still hope) can look forward to a delightful gift.

In celebration of its sponsorship of the 2006 Nutcracker Family Benefit supporting NYCB and its official school, the School of American Ballet, TDC is unveiling graceful ballerina dolls. The collection’s designs are based on and inspired by the original costumes of NYCB’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™.

The NYCB dolls, approximately 16 inches tall, boast multiple articulated joints, including bending wrists. Dolls are sculpted with stationary en pointe feet (one style is made with standard high-heel arched fashion feet) and feature a smaller bustline than traditional Tyler-style 16-inch fashion dolls. The Emilie head sculpt is used on all 16-inch dolls in the debut NYCB collection; it is not the same as the Cinderella’s Wicked Stepsister Euphemia head sculpt, which is also a new sculpt.

“Marie’s Special GiftThe dolls will help bring the ballet’s magical fantasy into collectors’ homes and recapture fond childhood memories of the holiday ballet, and all the excitement and anticipation this special season brings.  While the 1892 version of The Nutcracker is now the most popular, it was the least well known of Tschaikovksy’s ballets until George Balanchine staged his adaptation in 1954. A resounding success, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ has become an enchanting introduction in the artistry and grace of the ballet for generations of children.

The ballet also marked one of the most important artistic collaborations of the 20th century—that of George Balanchine and the great costume de­signer, Barbara Karinska. Beyond music and choreography, production de­sign can be a signature element of a ballet. According to Robert Daniels, NYCB’s managing director of marketing and communications, the “leo­tard ballets” or the “black and white ballets” serve as visual signatures. “The dan­cers are costumed in black and white leotards, and the backdrop for the ballet is most often a deep blue scrim,” he notes.

“George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ is a perfect example of the other ex­treme in the NYCB repertoire as it has an opulent production design, with lavish sets, and hundreds of costumes of all shapes, sizes and colors,” Daniels continues. “A decision to re-costume a ballet is an artistic decision made by the ballet’s choreographer. Sometimes costumes are remade, but not re­designed. In a ballet like George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™, for ex­ample, the company still uses most of the original designs that Karinska created for the original 1954 production.”

Karinska’s designs for George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ “clear­ly merit being memorialized as they are an integral part of a work that has had an extraordinary im­pact on the dance world,” Daniels notes.  And who better to memorialize the costumes and capture the Balanchine NYCB vision than Rob­ert Tonner, who has done so much to elevate the quality of miniature couture?

On December 9, 2006, when NYCB and the School of American Ballet present their annual Nutcracker Family Benefit, TDC will be the proud sponsor. It was during the discussions about this sponsorship opportunity that the idea for the NYCB collection em­erged. The result: a three-year lic­ense enabling TDC to re­produce costumes from any of the ballets in the NYCB repertoire costumed by Madame Karinska.

“We are also allowed to do costumes outside the ballet-based costumes,” Ton­ner ex­plains. “They understand our need to develop a fuller line. We certainly will try to keep the flavor of the NYCB in all that we do, and what we do will be part of the NYCB collection.”

The production of this specialized collection has enabled Tonner to em­ploy the 16-inch fashion doll body he first created for Tyler Wentworth. In doing so, however, the body required some re-engineering to more accurately capture a ballerina’s style and grace. For the collection, Tonner opted for the small bust torso developed for the Memoirs of a Geisha collection and the bending wrist articulation developed for Tyler.

“We did have to develop new legs,” Tonner notes. “However, NYCB was with us every step of the way to assure we achieved the right look with the en pointe feet and the turned out leg. “I have always wanted to do a ballerina. I love ballet. The dancers are amazing and the stories and costumes are perfect for dolls,” Tonner declares. “Sometimes things just fall into place when they are supposed to. Until we were asked to sponsor the Nutcracker Family Benefit, we didn’t have a ballerina in the line. It was just good fortune we had the body ready for her when the opportunity came.”  For the first head sculpt of the NYCB collection, Tonner chose Emilie, the head sculpt used for the limited-edition character created for the 2006 Paris Fashion Doll Festival. (Emilie, however, was produced using the Tyler body and fashion foot, and, as such, remains unique.)

Joe Petrollese, TDC’s design director, visited NYCB at its Lincoln Center home and had a field day studying and photographing the costumes housed there for the details and inspiration necessary for their re-creation.

“Scale is always an issue in re-creating the collection in mini­ature,” Petrollese explains. “We tried to keep the construction and design as close to how the costumes are actually made. Until you see them up close, you cannot imagine how they are made. For in­stance, the layers of tulle are hand-stitched together to create an effect that’s as if the skirt is defying gravity.”
Petrollese also notes the decorative detail on some of the actual costumes can be quite large and out of scale in order for them to be seen from the stage. These had to be reduced to proper scale for the miniature reproductions. When collectors re­ceive the “Sugar Plum Fairy” pictured on DOLLS’ Holiday 2007 cover, they can admire the small “sugar plums” and “spun sugar” ribbons on the costume, details that a photograph could not fully capture.

In addition to her Land of Sweets costume, “Sugar Plum Fairy” will also be available in a romantic long pink tutu, a featured part of the FAO exclusive NYCB trunk set.George Balanchine’s The Nut­cracker™ will provide much opportunity for humor and delight as the costumes from the visit by Marie and her Nutcracker Prince to the Land of Sweets are reproduced. One can just imagine peppermint candy canes in their stripes of green, white and pink as they dance before the Prince and Prin­cess, marzipan shepherd­esses and other “sweet treats” to enchant and inspire.  For many of these, collectors will have to wait, however. But, hopefully in time to grace our holiday décor, Tonner and Petrollese have selected to reproduce the two costumes worn by the Sugar Plum Fairy in the ballet. The Sugar Plum Fairy in her pas de deux in the Land of Sweets wears the costume featured on the cover. The other is her romantic long pink tutu, which is a featured part of the FAO exclusive NYCB trunk set. Also available will be the “Dance of the Lady Doll,” which wears the costume appearing in the ballet during the Christmas Eve party. Two of Marie’s costumes are also reproduced: “Marie’s Special Gift,” which she is wearing when her godfather gives her the gift of the Nutcracker, and “Off to the Land of Sweets,” her sleep ensemble for the transition to the dream sequence. Other costumes in the NYCB collection—“L’Hiver,” “Spanish Rose” and “Swan Lake”— were designed by TDC and are not actual reproductions.

“I certainly would like to do more with the collection next year, and new characters are part of that plan,” Tonner notes. “By all means, a male dancer is needed.”  
Among the offerings for the 2007 collection will be a lovely “Coppelia,” as well as a rehearsal doll. The latter, wearing the NYCB T-shirt and jeans, will be the only fashion-footed doll in the NYCB collection. So, this holiday season, if you can’t make it to your nearest ballet theater production of The Nutcracker, check out the movie version by the same name. With Tonner’s “Sugar Plum Fairy” or “Dance of the Lady Doll” in hand, you will thrill to the rich movement of color across the stage as you dream about the next “must haves” for your collection.

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2013 DOLLS Awards of Excellence

The winners of the 2013 Industry’s Choice DOLLS Awards of Excellence (DAEs) were announced April 12 at the Debut of Dolls Banquet held at IDEX in Orlando, Fla. Each entry in this year’s competition was evaluated by our panel of judges: Doll industry consultant Pat Burns, doll writer and historian Penny Herbst, Simon Farnworth of DollObservers.com, author and DOLLS contributor Stephanie Finnegan,

DOLLS editor-at-large Jill Jackson, and Modern Doll President Patsy Moyer. This year’s Industry’s Choice winners go on to become the nominees for the Public’s Choice awards voted on by DOLLS readers. Look for photos of all the nominees, ballot, and online voting instructions in the July 2013 issue of DOLLS.

 

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DOLLS publisher Carie Ferg wins special Colliii Award

Iola, Wis. – Jan. 9, 2013DOLLS magazine publisher and former editor Carie Ferg received a special VIP Award for Outstanding Achievement in the 2012 Colliii Awards. The Colliii Awards are the largest online dollmaking competition in the world.

“We wanted to present the 2012 VIP Award to Carie Ferg as a recognition of the dynamism and innovation she has brought to the doll industry over the past few years,” said Colliii Awards Director James Carlsson. “The VIP Award is presented every year to a person or organisation that has made a significant contribution to the doll world. It was Colliii.com’s pleasure to present this to Carie as a token of appreciation for her hard work.”

Past VIP Award winners include DOLLS’ Editor-at-Large Jill Jackson for her work with "Doll Reader," the Biemann family from Schildkröt dolls in Germany, and such atists as Stephanie Sullivan.

Registration for the 2013 Colliii Awards will begin in July. For more information about the competition, go to www.colliii.com/en.
ProSculpt 2012 winners announced

The winners of the 2012 ProSculpt Annual Sculpting Contest have been chosen by collectors and artists from around the world. Winners this year are from England, Italy, Japan, South America, and the United States. Photos of all the winners can be viewed at the Johnston Original Art Dolls website. The winners are:

 

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A Chair for Your 16-Inch Sweetheart

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Haute Doll introduces its new exclusive by Horsman Ltd., the modern-style “Heart Chair” perfect for 16-inch fashion dolls. The design was inspired by Verner Panton’s 1959 full-scale contemporary chair design.

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Rockin’ Out at Rockefeller Center: An outdoor winter event showcases model-worthy Manhattanites.

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{besps_c}0|1.jpg|Available on December 6, “Ravena, Winter Chic” is an exclusive BJD from Ruby Red Galleria and DOLLS magazine. It can only be purchased through DOLLS.|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|2.jpg|At a recent European fashion show, these lovely models showcased what Australian fashion designers are cooking up for winterwear. “Ravena” could have joined that lineup!|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|3.jpg|Lauren Graham looks stylish and seasonal in her winter attire. Just because snow might be flurrying and blowing, no reason to let a fashion sense melt away!|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|4.jpg|Singer/actress Brooke White was layered and lovely at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting.|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|5.jpg|When some of us layer, we come dangerously close to the Michelin Tire Man vibe. Sometimes too much bundling means near bursting!|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|6.jpg|Cee Lo Green never worries about the curse of the Michelin Tire Man. The portly singer is proud to be a big man, and rejoices with his winter-clad Muppet pals.|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|7.jpg|The 80th Anniversary of the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting was a special one, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. The 80-foot Norway spruce hailed from New Jersey! 45,000 LED lights caused it to glow so brightly!|{/besps_c}
{besps_c}0|8.jpg|Even the Christmas trees in New York are fabulously dressed from head to toe! The Swarovski star that tops the Rockefeller Center tree is brilliant.|{/besps_c}I just learned about a new BJD debuting on December 6—it's a Ruby Red Galleria exclusive for DOLLS. The creation is so spot-on in its costuming and its attitude, I swear that one of the designers must have been tailing me last month.

When my friend Cam phoned me and invited me to the annual Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, I should have said “no.” Any sane person would have, but sanity and an evening with Cam rarely go hand-in-hand. Instead, I agreed, and we headed out to Midtown Manhattan on one of the most crowded, most frantic nights of the year.

As we attempted to approach the skating rink where the enormous evergreen will reign supreme, I looked at Cam and burst out laughing.

“Isn’t this how ‘The Day of the Locust’ ends?” I shouted to him. (That film from the 1970s is among my and Cam’s favorite flicks. It stars Karen Black and Donald Sutherland, and it concludes with a horrible, free-for-all deadly crowd stampede.)

“Don’t be such a Grinch,” he called back. “Or should I say ‘Grinchette’!”

“I’m not sure there is a female Grinch,” I replied. “I know there was a Smurfette, the only blue gal around. But a Grinchette? I have to check my Seuss.”

And so this intellectual discourse continued as we fought our way through the jangling and jostling crowd—and, yes, the mass of people were LITERALLY jangling as they jostled. A huge number of them had on Santa hats with bells affixed or had bells attached to their lapels or collars. They were rude but they were rhythmic!

Since our trekking was so slow, and the other gawkers had gotten their much earlier to stake out their spots, Cam and I didn’t so much watch the tree lighting as watch the other folks’ reactions to all of the events.

A shrill shriek would emerge from the people way ahead of us.

“What is it?” I’d ask.

“Il Vole,” Cam would reply, referencing the teenage opera singers.

A cheer would erupt.

“Who is that?” I questioned.

“Chris Mann, from ‘The Voice.’” Another opera singer, who is marketed as a heartthrob.

Then just a smattering of applause.

“Mayor Bloomberg,” we both declared.

Since we were merely hearing the audio playback of the concert, we gazed at all the young men and women surrounding us.

“I think there is more wool here on Sixth Avenue than in all the sheep farms in Scotland,” Cam proclaimed.

Looking around, I had to agree.

Guys and girls were all decked out in the “official” apparel of the season: woolen flap hats, jauntily tied scarves, and boots. Girls had on legwarmers—“Hello, Flashdancers”—and fingerless gloves. (“What’s the point of that?” Cam groused. “Are we supposed to WANT our fingernails to turn blue?”) We had our very own Joan & Melissa Rivers Red Carpet fashion critique.

There’s a certain hip look that New Yorkers achieve—even when they are multilayering, they still come across as thin, chic, and hip. When I add scarves and sweaters and hats to my wardrobe, I look bundled up and ready to explode: envision the Michelin Tire Man, but not as perky.

When these twenty-somethings put on the extra bits of fabric, they look like they are taking a break en masse from shooting the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. It really is quite amazing.

“I wish we could bottle their youth,” Cam lamented, looking at all the rosy-cheeked kids, teens, and college students who were scrambling about.

“Yep,” I agreed, “but can you imagine how much it would cost? And just how big would that bottle have to be! Better just to dream about it.”

And, wouldn’t you know it, just in time for Christmas . . . a doll that perfectly embodies that free-spirited New York City style has loped onto the scene.

The ball-jointed doll, which is a collaboration between DOLLS magazine and Ruby Red Galleria, is fittingly named “Ravena, Winter Chic.” Limited to 100 pieces, she’ll sell for 149.95. And, like all the other fashionable femmes who congregate in Manhattan, she weighs only 2 pounds, 6.9 ounces! The “Ravena” doll is bundled up and beautiful. Quite a feat, indeed!

Like her advertising copy says: A New York City native, the harsh NYC winters don’t stop “Ravena, Winter Chic,” a DOLLS dressed doll exclusive by Ruby Red Galleria, from exploring the city she loves. From uptown boutiques and coffee shops to downtown restaurants and theater, “Ravena, Winter Chic” bundles into her purple tights and faux-fur boots, corduroy short pants, pansy T-shirt, black motorcycle-style jacket and cozy knit hat to hit the streets in style. Even when the elements are unforgiving, “Ravena” survives and thrives in the city that never sleeps! The fully dressed 12-inch ball-jointed vinyl doll features removable wig and eyes, plus underwear and a sweet “love” tank top.

Ruby Red Galleria always has a way with its wardrobe, and “Ravena, Winter Chic” is no exception. I am sure Cam will be ordering one online. He’s probably circled December 6 on his calendar. After all, if he was willing to chew “instant youth” vitamins or spray on “adolescent forever” cologne, can you imagine how happy he’ll be to have a chic New Yorker to call his own?

“Exercising and eating well . . . who could be bothered,” Cam knowingly observes. “I’d rather play my way to younger days.”

And, yes, it can’t be denied. Cam has the healthiest inner-child in town!

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Pullip and Dal Doll Lovers Event
Fans of Pullip and Dal pose with their dolls at PUDDLE 2011. Photo by Mike Hurlock

The fourth Pullip and Dal Doll Lovers Event (PUDDLE) drew 60 doll lovers from 10 different states and Canada to the Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn in June. This year’s theme, cranes, was inspired by the sandhill cranes at the group's charity organization, the Willowbrook Wildlife Center. Six custom dolls and other items donated by sponsors like The Sleeping Elf and Denise's Dolls were raffled off at the event, raising $500 for the center.

The weekend started Friday night with dinner at Mitsuwa Japanese Mall in Arlington Heights, followed by a tea party at the hotel. PUDDLE officially kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday, starting with an organized buy-sell-trade opportunity, and dozens of fans milled around trading and buying doll wigs, eye chips, bodies, clothing, and more.

5_costume_contest_newEvery attendee received a door prize, thanks to generous donations from many sponsors. Distribution of the door prizes was followed by a secret gift swap and lunch break. Afterwards, an informal Q&A-format customizing workshop answered questions for many fans new to the hobby, followed by a display of fully customized and modified dolls entered in the customization contest. Winners of an online photo/art contest which was held and judged before the event were announced along with the customization contest winners. The photo and art entries can be seen at www.puddlestyle.com/photoart.html.

Many fans continued the fun over dinner in the hotel restaurant and in the hotel lobby until the wee hours. Krista Farmer, who traveled from Toronto for the event, said “It was a crazy cool day.” Although the event officially ended Saturday night, 11 fans stayed for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Willowbrook Wildlife Center Sunday. — Jane Easterly

For information on PUDDLE 2012, visit www.puddlestyle.com.
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R. John Wright Convention

Attendees at the third annual R. John Wright Convention enjoyed the festivities of several major holidays coupled with outstanding dolls,R. John Wright introduces the “Wicked Witch of the West,” the newest piece in the Wizard of Oz series, at the Halloween Masquerade Luncheon. all rolled into four fun-filled days! R. John and Susan Wright chose “Celebrations!” as the theme for their 2011 event held at the historic Desmond Hotel in Albany, N.Y., which was co-chaired by Loretta Nardone and Lillian Wright.

The convention opened with St. Patrick’s Day reception Wednesday evening, where everyone laid claim to being a wee bit Irish while enjoying a scrumptious dessert buffet. The sales room opened immediately after this kick-off event, with conventioneers hoping the “luck of the Irish” would help them find that perfect doll or dolls.

Thursday began early with the Easter Morning Breakfast; those attending this ticketed event didn’t have to search for large, beautifully decorated baskets serving as table centerpieces. They were filled with molded felt eggs in pastel colors. At the end of the breakfast, the eggs were distributed and the happy new owners opened them to find “Peep,” a 3-inch yellow mohair chick as their event souvenir. His companion, “Posey,” was available for sale. After breakfast the special and competitive exhibits opened, along with the helper room. This year’s special exhibit, arranged by John and Susan Wright’s daughter Emily, was titled “Happy Holidays” and showcased R. John Wright dolls and animal characters and the traditional holidays that inspired them.

That afternoon, attendees boarded buses for the short trip to Bennington, Vt., for a tour of the R. John Wright facility along with other local activities. The Wrights explained the development of their creations from concept through completion before everyone had the opportunity to visit with their employees as they made various doll parts and accessories and shopped in the R. John Wright store. The day culminated with a Fourth of July BBQ followed by fireworks at dusk.

“Rose Fairy,” a new addition to the Flower Fairy series, was available for purchase at the Valentine’s Day High Tea.Workshops by dollmaker Gail Wilson and a program by Alan Pate, a leading American expert on Japanese dolls, were offered on Friday, along with several roundtable discussions on various topics. Attendees dressed up for the frightfully fabulous costume parade leading into the Halloween Masquerade luncheon, with prizes awarded in five categories. After lunch, the newest piece from R. John Wright’s Wizard of Oz collection, “Wicked Witch of the West,” made her debut in front of an enthusiastic audience.

The ticketed Victorian Yuletide Dinner featured traditional table decorations and an enchanting program, “A Victorian Christmas,” presented by Nardone. The event souvenir was the 10-inch “Mary Frances,” the latest addition to the Victorian Children Collection. Available for purchase was her 7-inch little sister, “Baby Grace.”

Saturday morning’s activities included another program by Pate and a workshop conducted byElaine Romberg won the Best of Show ribbon in the Competitive Exhibit for her exceptional Lenci Leprechaun Gnome type character doll. Emily Wright. That afternoon, a Valentine’s Day High Tea charmed conventioneers with fine teas and delicacies. The newest addition to the Flower Fairies series, “Rose Fairy,” was available for purchase. The evening’s closing event was a New Year’s Eve Gala Celebration. This elegant banquet featured another entertaining program produced and presented by Nardone. When the souvenir dolls were distributed, delighted attendees found the adorable 12½-inch “Celebration Scootles” would be going home with them. As an added bonus, her delightful twin brother was available for purchase.

As the convention ended, attendees were already making plans for next year’s “Around the World” event, which will be held at the same location June 20-23, 2012 and will celebrate the magic of children around the globe. There will also be an added treat as the first bear event held at an R. John Wright convention will be incorporated into the excursion to the Wrights’ facility in Vermont. For more information, visit www.rjohnwright.com or call (802) 447-7072. — Pat Burns
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