|Charmed, I'm Sure|
The term charisma implies a certain magnetic charm or appeal, which is exactly how many doll enthusiasts regard Charisma Brands. Beginning with the merger of L.L. Knickerbocker and Marian, Charisma made a historic move in 1991 by approaching Marie Osmond to endorse a line of dolls for QVC. Osmond responded by actually designing the line instead, and in 1998, she and her husband and a group of investors bought the company, taking it to a new level. Since then the company has gone through mergers and transitions, but the core remains true to its initial ideals.
“While the name has changed, many of the people have remained the same,” notes Peggy Vicioso, vice president, marketing and product development. “Many of our dedicated employees have been with the companies through all of the transitions.”
The result of such dedication can be seen in the broad line of dolls Charisma has produced and created throughout the years. The company continues to build the Marie Osmond Dolls. In 2003, it gained the licensing of the well-known Kewpie, created in 1909 by Rose O’Neill, the first to introduce porcelain bisque dolls and figurines in 1913. Throughout the years Charisma also produced collectible doll lines for Bob Mackie, Richard Simmons, Universal Studios, Edith Head, Walt Disney, Warner Bros., Candy Spelling, Willow and Daisy, Magic Attic Club and more.
Charisma’s repertoire expanded again in 2006 when the company introduced three new collections—Candy Fashion, Lulla-My-Baby and Artista. Candy Fashion, a classic fashion doll originally produced in 1962, was “the dream of every girl.” During the 1960s, she was readily available— complete with four ensembles and matching accessories—in supermarkets across the country. Thanks to Charisma, Candy—as charming as ever—is once again on shelves.
Rather than a nod to nostalgia, Lulla-My-Baby—an affordable, interactive play doll for the next generation of collectors—is a look ahead. The dolls, made with baby-soft vinyl, can be rocked to sleep in their own cradle-shaped box to the sound of the five classic lullaby tunes featured on an accompanying CD. “This doll incorporates both the early learning importance of music in a child’s development along with the innate nurturing aspect of life,” Vicioso explains.
Both of these collections were created to push the envelope and “hook” younger collectors with a doll that was as artistically beautiful a piece as it was durable and high on “playability.”
Sisterhood of Artists Charisma took the concept of an artistically designed play doll (or a playable art doll) to the next level with the Artista line, which was introduced at IDEX in January 2006. The idea behind it was to bring together gifted artists, designers and sculptors to collaborate on a line of dolls that could be incorporated into any home setting and used for “play and display.”
The first collection featured eight dolls produced as a joint project between artists Donna RuBert and Jane Pinkstaff. The line proved successful enough to warrant the addition of two baby dolls, this time designed by Rachel Scott, to the line in spring 2006. Kymberli Durden included two more dolls—preemie babies—last June. The small edition sizes of the dolls (each less than 500) ensured their appeal to collectors. Both “Winter Wonderland” and “Timeless Treasure” sold out quickly.
“I think using several artists within one collection is the epitome of what Artista was meant to be—a collection of some of the industry’s most talented artists showcasing their work in trusted, fine-quality reproductions,” Vicioso says.
Charisma actively works to find talent by visiting regional art, toy and doll shows, scouring the Internet and attending large industry shows. There’s even an open invitation on its website—charisma brands.com—for new talent.
The updated collection for January 2007 features seven new dolls and highlights the talents of Pinkstaff, Durden, RuBert, Scott and Sandra Bilotto, all of whom bring a lifetime love of dolls and art to the table. “This line is a perfect prototype of artists who share a common goal and can come together in unity to present a new doll line,” says Durden, who created “Puppy Tails,” “Pretty Kitty” and “Rose Petal.” “As a part of the doll industry, we have to unify ourselves and be willing to give to one another. There are no disadvantages; we are all on the same team.”
“The benefit is the obvious diversity of styles that emerge,” concurs Pinkstaff, who joined Charisma’s Artista team in 2004. “Each artist’s own interpretation of the defining characteristics offers collectors a broader selection to choose from. Yet collectors know all the pieces are based on the same quality, workmanship and overall desirability that’s consistently achieved with the Artista line.” Bringing Baby Home Though Charisma markets its dolls in specialty doll and gift stores, the company remains dedicated to selling through QVC and other electronic retailers in an effort to “truly bring the dolls into the homes of collectors.”
The “play and display” aspect of the Artista line is something all the contributing artists take seriously. Each doll has aspects collectors seek, yet it is also constructed to fit into a décor, made to be played with and designed to encourage young collectors. “When I sculpt dolls, I always envision how the doll may be played with, and try to sculpt it in that fashion,” Durden says. “Plus I have three girls who help out with testing the play durability aspect.”
Charisma rises to the “durability challenge” by using its proprietary Caressalyn vinyl, which has a hard, petal-smooth finish that emulates fine bisque porcelain while allowing them to stand up to vigorous play. Durden’s dolls are made with human hair and a life-touch vinyl, adding to their lifelike quality. Other dolls in the line are made with high-quality wigs or rooted hair fibers designed to stand up to repeated combing and styling. Clothes are designed in better fabrics that can be taken on and off over and over again without becoming worn. “There is nothing to worry about when it comes to ruining our dolls,” Vicioso assures.
“You don’t have to be a doll collector to appreciate the warmth of an Artista doll,” Vicioso adds. “Each doll is truly a work of art and can be displayed right alongside other types of ‘traditional’ home décor and artwork.”
Just ask the artists, who are only too happy to offer suggestions on how to make their creations feel welcome in your home. Pinkstaff, for instance, recommends displaying them within easy reach, for frequent cuddling, of course. And instead of lining them like lifeless knick-knacks, make them come to “life” by creatively posing them in dynamic vignettes of babies grouped in realistic settings. Use accessories like baby buggies, strollers, bouncy seats and toys to inject a personal touch of joy and fun to your display.
Helping to add to their special quality, the dolls, which range in price from $49.95 to $149.95, are kept in low editions of 250 to 500 pieces. While the limited edition is sure to appeal to avid collectors, the line also seeks to attract individuals Vicioso calls “casual collectors and non-collectors.”
“After selling dolls for 15 years, we have gotten to know our customers very well,” Vicioso explains. “We wanted to reach those who have walls of dolls, those with dolls in every room of their homes and those who buy a doll because it evokes a memory, looks fabulous in a themed room or coordinates as an art piece in their décor. I see more and more young girls and mothers seeking out just the right magical doll that touches the heart. We believe Artista Dolls have that magic to touch the young collector’s heart. Creating memories for them helps ensure they become doll collectors.”
It is this sensitivity to the emotions and charm the dolls possess that gives this large company such a strong foothold in the industry. The company stands behind its artists, knowing it is the artist who brings the doll to life. Perhaps Durden says it best: “As long as there are companies like Charisma that care about collectors, there will be a doll industry strong and more united than ever before in history. How exciting it is to be a part of this new revolution of doll collecting.”
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.
Iola, Wis. – Jan. 9, 2013 – DOLLS 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.
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:
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.
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.
Every 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 EasterlyFor information on PUDDLE 2012, visit www.puddlestyle.com.read more
Attendees at the third annual R. John Wright Convention enjoyed the festivities of several major holidays coupled with outstanding dolls, 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.
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 by 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 Burnsread more