|The Girls from Dream City|
In the doll-collector community, âGene Marshallâ is synonymous with âclassic.â Mel Odom launched his 15Â˝-inch fashion doll in 1995, forever changing the face of doll collecting. Depicting an actressâ life throughout the â30s, â40s and â50s, the mini-icon with a big backstory took hold in doll collectorsâ hearts the world over, creating an unprecedented market for fashion dolls for adults. Prior fashion dolls had largely been childrenâs playthings. Dozens of mimicries followed in her wake, but 13 years later, Gene continues to captivate collectors with her archetypical allure. They anticipate each new incarnation Odom and his team at Integrity Toys will dream up.
On Sept. 11-13 at the 13th annual Gene Marshall Convention in Orlando, Fla., more than 200 devoted Gene collectors will witness the talented teamâs newest vision of Gene and her friends, âIvy âVee J.â Jordanâ and âMadra Lord.â Dubbed The Girls from Dream City, the convention will encompass three themes unified by cosmic characteristics.
While dreaming up the primary 2008 theme, Integrity Toys sought a solution that would meet collectorsâ requests for more âout thereâon-stage looks for Gene,â says Alain Tremblay, executive marketing director and event coordinator for Integrity Toys. However, Gene collectors also demand costumes stay specific to the period she âlivesâ in. With these criteria in mind, the three-themed concept was born. The convention presents âa visit to various sets and sound stages within Monolithic Studios, [the fictitious studio Odom invented at Geneâs inception]. You get a peek into all these different dramas, which gives us the breadth we were going for in this collection,â Tremblay says.
The Girls from Dream City Convention Collection consists of three dressed dolls, one basic doll and one stand-alone fashion. One theme inspiring the collection design is based on a â60s TV show about otherworldly dimensions. One episode in particular influenced Odom as a child. âA lovely girl is trapped overnight in a department store and gradually discovers that sheâs actually a mannequin. I think the life of Gene Marshall coming from my imagination fits perfectly somewhere in that story line!â Odom says.
Another convention theme reflected in the collection is Moon over Orlando, a tribute to the â40s musical starring Betty Grable, Moon over Miami. âDuring the 1940s Twentieth Century Fox had the most extravagant color being used in Hollywood. We went to the amazing Technicolor films that Miss Grable made and chose a beautiful evening gown that captures the combination of the innocence and design bravura of the era,â Odom explains. ââBlue Horizonâ is a gown specifically designed for dance with a sequined bodice and skirt, and a hemline covered in turquoise feathers.â
Next, Odom looked to the unearthly inspiration of the early â50s comedy he invented for the convention, Distant Venus, to inform the collection. The movieâs premise is that aliens would learn about earth from the media transmitted through television signals. For the related fashions, âWe went to the 1930s and chose really gorgeous costumes from movies that were old enough to have been shown on TV by then,â says Odom. âWe tweaked them a bit and added elements we considered âVenusianâ in order to create an alien fashion sense based on the assumptions of combined cultures.â The designs, says Odom, âwork as costumes as well as pure fashion.â
Odom feels the collection fashions are a success. âI love them!â he enthuses. âVaughn Sawyers and I worked our heads off creating these dolls and costumes. We were trying to walk a line with both recognizable fashion elements from the decades involved and the way those decades interpreted fantasy. Theyâve ended up among my favorite things weâve done this year.â
âOonaâ also adds to the convention excitement. Created as a âblank paletteâ for collectors to determine her character in a design challenge, the contest entrants will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the Harbor House of Central Florida, a shelter for domestic violence survivors. Integrity Toys looks forward to collectorsâ creations. âThe Gene collectors are incredibly talented,â says Tremblay. âTheir design and sewing skills are amazing. Last year the dolls for the âGray Ladyâ contest went for $1,000 to $3,000.
In past years the Gene convention was run informally by collectors. Integrity Toys has owned the license for several years, and the 2008 event is its second Gene convention. Since taking over, âWeâve really formalized the convention,â says Tremblay. âLast yearâs Film Noir theme felt more like what previous organizers were doing. This year, we really departed from whatâs been done. I wanted something really different to make it new again to keep it exciting. Last year was so dark; this year is so bright. Itâs really come full circle.
Integrity Toys, which took over production of Gene in 2006 after Ashton-Drake Galleriesâ 10-year run with her, knows just how to keep collectors coming back for every new rendition of the doll. Although some things never changeâlike Geneâs story line and the era she is set inâIntegrity Toys realizes the importance of keeping her fresh. âWe look at every doll as new,â Tremblay says. âIf you compare what we did in 2006 to today, you can definitely see a progression. Every new release brings something new and different from the previous release. I think thatâs why people like our product.â
Attendees at the 13th Annual Gene Marshall Convention wonât be disappointed at the latest âsomething newâ from Integrity Toys. Odom and his team have created an out-of-this-world collection sure to keep collectors asking for more of Gene and friends.
The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.
The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.
To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:
The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:
2003 Hildegard Gunzel
2004 Alexander Doll Company
2005 R. John Wright
2006 Wendy Lawton
2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2009 no award presented
2010 Helen Kish
2011 no award presented
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat.
You havenât seen a toy show until youâve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and childrenâs playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.
19 April 2014 â 5 October 2014
A special exhibition will take place at the Toy Worlds Museum Basle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese-Swiss diplomacy and friendship.