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Homeland Security: Hug a doll and thank a soldier this weekend.

Oh, Memorial Day Weekend, how you beckon me! I can’t wait to fire up the grill, buy some replacement summer cushions (squirrels discovered my old seat cushions and nested within them—yuck!), and have a warm and relaxing 48-hour retreat. Memorial Day Weekend is when we remember to have fun, to spend time with friends, to get our “party on,” isn’t it?

Well, actually, no. Memorial Day is the complete opposite of hedonistic Coppertone pursuits. Memorial Day is when we’re supposed to take time to honor our fallen military heroes—a time to pay respect to the men and women who have sacrificed their lives so we can get on with our own. It makes the hunt for the perfect tan line seem pretty superficial, doesn’t it? What is most amazing is that a doll company is keeping the true reason for Memorial Day alive and well. A child’s plaything, often dismissed as frivolous and a mere slice of frippery, is reminding us that we have our freedoms to swim and surf and sizzle because of the brave military.

hugahero1Operation Hug-A-Hero is the brainchild of Tricia Dyal and Nikki Darnell, who are committed to honoring the memories of military personnel who are currently deployed, or who have given the ultimate sacrifice. Knowing that the separation of a parent or parents from a child can be devastating, Dyal and Darnell decided to do something about it.

Working with the Department of Defense, city and state first-responder lists, and scores of volunteers, the two women are determined to identify and then supply the kids of military families with huggable, soft dolls that represent the enlisted mom or dad. Their mission is remarkable, and the testimonials and photos on their Web site (http://www.operationhugahero.org) are heart-tugging. I defy you to troll through the gallery of images this weekend and not come away with a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye. Their work is laudable, and, unfortunately, seems to have no end in sight. With three active battlefields going on simultaneously, American soldiers are in continued jeopardy. Take a moment to read over the Hug-A-Hero purpose statement, and think about donating to this worthy cause. It’s a way to recognize the fathers and mothers who are overseas, and to allow their children to cuddle with them nightly. Harm’s way succumbing to arm’s way. It’s a beautiful thought.

What I find fascinating is how summertime and dolls have always gone hand-in-hand. There was a time when basic dolls were sold garbed only in bathing suits. It didn’t matter whether it was a chilly day in Kalamazoo or a rainy day in Walla Walla, fashion dolls always came clad for a romp in the waves.

It’s rather shocking when you consider how staid and straitlaced Eisenhower America used to be, and even during the Kennedy administration, there was a buttoned-up bent to the culture. How odd, then, that dolls were sold in itty-bitty swim wear.

I suppose that many an eyebrow was raised when little girls got those first start-up dolls in their zebra-patterned bathing togs, or their redbarbieonepiece1 stretchy one-pieces, or their gold lamé bikins covered by a white mesh topper. I’m sure that heads were shook, and lips were pursed, and the older generation lamented about “end of days.”

barbieupdatebikini1Well, more than 50 years have passed, and dolls are still arriving in their swimsuits, unveiled and bellies bared. Some are even showing up clad in scanty teddies and very sexy unmentionables. There are smatterings of discontent, and some folks point to the dolls as vinyl harbingers of the apocalypse. Most people, though, recognize them as playthings—tools for a young child’s imagination.

I don’t think that the heroes who are living and dying in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libyamilitary1 are thinking about Barbie, Gene, Tyler, or Alexandra Fairchild Ford. But their actions—and their determination to serve and to protect—allow all of us back home to indulge in our pastimes of collecting and conversing.

This holiday weekend in between dipping the potato chips, and taking a dip in the pool, take a moment to remember how and why we have these freedoms. Consider donating to the veterans organization of your choice. As collectors, we collectively owe the military a great deal of thanks. We’re free to extend our pursuit of the perfect suntanned doll because these brave souls protect us.

Semper Fi!

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Besides hugging a doll, I'm going to hug a soldier this weekend. Two, in fact. My husband and my son.
Terry , May 26, 2011
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We do take our soldiers for granted, and most people do not make the connection between the military and this upcoming weekend. It's just sales and swimming in most people's minds. I wish this doll charity good luck. It is a noble cause.
Bette , May 26, 2011

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Latest Articles from News & Notes

2015 DOLLS Awards Industry's Choice winners announced

The 2015 DOLLS Awards of Excellence Industry’s Choice winners (DAEs, also called the Diamond Awards) were announced at the International Doll & Teddy Bear Show in Asheville, N.C., June 6. The Industry's Choice winners will go on to become the nominee's in the Public's Choice voting, set to begin in late June.

Without further ado, here are the winners of this year's Industry's Choice Diamond Awards!

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Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

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:

  • Been active in the doll or bear field a minimum of 25 years.
  • Maintained or increased the quality of reputation and product or service provided since inception.
  • Served the industry with integrity, honesty, reliability
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The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:

2002 Steiff
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2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2010 Helen Kish
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
2015 Kaye Wiggs

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BLACKALL ASSOCIATES INC. 
ANNOUNCING Winner of the Summer Heat Photo Contest

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. 

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i have very old magazines need to sell them before something happens to them
margie , December 20, 2014
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i really like all the barbie balack dress, can i ask question can i buy this, because its all out in the market now here in the philippines, can you help me please im a big fan of thiss dolls
mark christian paul l. carigma , December 16, 2014 | url

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The Chicago Toy Show

You haven’t seen a toy show until you’ve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and children’s 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.

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Konnichiwa and Grüezi - 150 years of Japan and Switzerland

19 April 2014 – 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.

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