|On the QT: “Django Unchained” dolls have gone underground and are netting record prices.|
Quentin Tarantino is known for his violent films and their rapid-fire dialogue. Did you know that in his off-screen life Tarantino is a big collector of movie mementoes? (He has tons of board games, dolls, and original laser discs.)
The movie is peppered with the “N” word, which has long been a favorite of Quentin’s scripts. (And this is not a joke, but he justifies his reliance on it because he feels like an honorary black man because his mother used to date basketball Lothario, Wilt Chamberlain. I am not kidding. This is an actual explanation.) Rough language aside, the film is steeped in graphic violence, blood and gore, and brutal race relations. The title character, Django, seeks revenge against the Southerners who have enslaved and brutalized him and killed his people. In chatting about it on “Saturday Night Live,” the film’s leading man Jamie Foxx said he was happy to play the part because it allowed him to “kill hundreds of white people.” Oddly, white people in the audience laughed and applauded that line.
So, the film has been sparking big fires and little fires throughout its promotion. Now, though, it’s even affecting the world of dolls and collectibles. In his personal life, Tarantino is a huge collector of movie memorabilia. He also loves to acquire campy, kitschy items—he has a museum’s worth of old board games based on cheesy TV shows and movies. He loves this kind of schlock.
Because of his appreciation for toy tie-ins, he’s allowed almost all of his movies to be licensed by toy manufacturers. Yes, the largest companies to the smallest independent artists have been welcome to create action figures and dolls based upon his screenplays. (And the list of Tarantino-inspired dolls is a rogues’ gallery of gangsters, assassins, con men, Nazis, corrupt cops, and sado-masochistic Gimps! These are not family-friendly offerings. Like his films, these QT-designed effigies are meant for a grown-up’s sensibilities.)
When “DU” opened—and before the furor started to swell up—a series of dolls based on characters from the movie was released. Produced by NECA, these dolls were done in the vein of the old Mego 8-inch dolls with cloth outfits. (Quentin is so darn respectful of retro wares.)
Priced at $29. 95 to $34.95, the dolls were selling modestly . . . and then Al Sharpton came along. Armed with his megaphone and indignation, Sharpton and other community activists demanded a boycott and a recall of the dolls. They maintained that the dolls were an abomination and an insult to the heritage of African Americans. They stated that it was an insult to have “slave dolls” available for “young children to play with” and that it sent a negative message to the kids. Mind you, half the NECA dolls were of the white characters, so these were not solely “slave” creations.
Now, I wish Sharpton had contacted me. I could have put his mind at ease. The NECA dolls were never intended to be bought by children. You know that; I know that; Quentin Tarantino knows that; and perhaps deep down, Al Sharpton knows that too. (If he had bothered to read the company’s press material, the dolls were designed for an adult audience, aged 18 years and up.) But not wanting to let a good rant go to waste, he pressed hard, along with his associates, and they got the NECA dolls pulled from shelves and to have their production curtailed.
But remember, there is such a thing as cyber shelves and Internet sites and re-sales. So collectors, who were quick on the trigger and bought initially, and dealers, who have them in stock, are giving a big “DU” to the nay-sayers. The dolls are selling for over $350 each now, and the version of “Broomhilda” (the Kerry Washington character) has been bought for over $10,000! (That’s not a misprint. The doll sold for $10,000.)
One enterprising collector has a mixed grouping of 10 dolls (the six originals plus four duplicate characters) up for grabs at $19,999. It is outrageous that such a price could be asked, and more unsettling that it might be paid.
Also unsettling is that Sharpton and other leaders decried the selling of these dolls to children because it devalued the African-American experience. They didn’t think it was right to have this chapter in American history bought and sold. One community activist also stated that Leonardo DiCaprio, who appears in the film as the ultimate bad guy/slave owner, collects slave dolls in real life! I’ve heard many tales of DiCaprio’s environmentalism and his free-spending ways, but I have never heard that allegation before. It seemed concocted or sorely misrepresented. Now, because of the activist interference, the dolls are being auctioned off to the highest bidders: an event that must smack of slave auctions if you are super sensitive and inclined to be bothered by this tempest in the first place.
I doubt as the weeks pass if these dolls can maintain the insane asking prices. It has to be an inflated reaction to the shutting down of the merchandising. For movie collectors who feel they’ve missed out on this bit of memorabilia, perhaps there is a silver lining to this storm. Potentially stuck with a backlog of “damaged, controversial” product, NECA might one day down the road—let’s say a year or two from now—offer these for sale at your local Dollar Store. Along with the other once-trendy but now out-of-date offerings found in a remainder bin, a “Candie” or “Butch” or “Schultz” 8-inch doll from “Django Unchained” might catch your eye. If so, scoop them all up and hold on. For a $1 investment, you might get the actual retail price paid to you by a QT fan: $29.95. And that amount seems just about right.
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 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.
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.