Author: Debbie Behan Garrett

Ayako Jones, Beautiful Child, Jetsetter!

I asked Barbie® enthusiast, Romona Jennings to share images, her thoughts, and overall opinion of her most recent acquisition, Ayako JonesTM Barbie® by Byron Lars, and she did! “The above photo represents the heavy influence of ethnic culture that Mr. Lars incorporated into his vision for Ayako JonesTM, the first doll in the Byron Lars Barbie® “Passport Collection.”  The term “passport” leads me to believe that there may be more high-end Black dolls in this line. “An online dictionary defines Ayako as “beautiful child.”  This Ayako is a jetsetter who is smitten with Japanese culture.  The doll’s outfit is sewn on; therefore, for redressing, a collector will have to carefully undo the seams.  The pinstriped pants are not separate from the beautiful jacket.  The jacket’s painted-on design is absent on the sleeve where the arm is bent.   The doll’s limbs do not bend because she has a Model MuseTM (MM) body; a body sculpt designed by Robert Best.  This is the only downside – not being able to pose Ayako.  The MM body is a slimmer sculpt with small breasts and longer legs like runway models.  Many faithful Barbie® collectors are not fond of the MM body because they feel it is not a realistic image – even though the Twist ‘N TurnTM body isn’t either.  The other dolls pictured above with Ayako are Princess of South Africa...

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New Doll Trio Promotes Sisterhood by Madame Alexander

Lila Brown, owner of Ella Bee Social Media and Public Relations shared the following exciting press release: “A new African-American sorority doll inspired by sisterhood has been created exclusively for The Sisterhood Boutique by the Madame Alexander Doll Company. Ivy Rose is a “first” for the Alexander Doll Company. “The creation of the Ivy Rose doll collection hopes to unify women who like creator and founder, Rochelle McAllister, desires a purpose driven lifestyle and a natural appreciation for fashion and style. “The three dolls for the 2009 Pretty As Is collection are named Ivy, Ivy Rose, and Rose [as illustrated in the image above]. Like the first Ivy Rose doll created in 2008, each aspect of the 2009 collection has been meticulously considered as each doll is hand-crafted by Alexander Doll Company. This exquisite heirloom doll is perfect for sorority sisters, gift giving, and doll collectors alike. Ivy Rose, Ivy and Rose, celebrate the diversity of beauty within the sisterhood of women. Pretty, takes on many forms, the bonds we honor and the ties that bind us help us to realize pretty is physical, mental, and emotional and as created beings we are “Pretty As Is,” says McAllister as she created the collection’s concept. “For more information about the Pretty As Is collection from the Sisterhood Boutique, visit ; follow Ivy Rose on Twitter at;” or contact...

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(An excerpt from my book, Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion, pages 19-21) S ome dolls may be considered “special,” unusual, or aesthetically challenged. These dolls need love, too. Do not be bothered by comments from others who consider a doll or dolls in your collection “special.” If the doll warms your heart and provides pleasure to you, that is all that really matters. T each others about your hobby via everyday conversations or exhibits at local libraries, schools, youth groups, and other similar organizations. You will discover that many non-doll collectors truly appreciate dolls. U derstand that everyone will not share your passion. You’re okay; they’re okay… but they probably need a passion, too. V erify the authenticity of antique and vintage dolls with doll appraisers, reference books, or fellow informed collectors. Not every doll labeled “antique,” “vintage,” “rare,” or “hard-to-find” falls into these categories. This is the reason an up-to-date doll reference library is very important as well as networking with other informed collectors. W here to buy dolls is something a collector needs to know. Local dolls shops, toy and department stores, reputable Internet doll retailers, local and online auctions are excellent avenues for purchasing dolls. If you have Internet access, use search engines to look for specific dolls. Doll magazines and other doll publications that advertise dolls are also...

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Thank You, Stacey McBride-Irby!

I really love Mattel’s So In Style (S.I.S.) dolls, Grace, Kara, and Trichelle. Of the three in the first group of dolls, Trichelle is my favorite.  I favor the texture of her hair, her denim fashion, and her interests in art and photography.  Courtney, Kianna, and Janessa, the little sisters, are quite adorable.  Also appealing are the second generation big sisters, the Stylin’ Hair dolls (Grace, Kara, and Trichelle).  Interestingly, Grace is my favorite Stylin’ Hair doll. As an adult collector of black dolls, I am especially grateful for dolls that capture the range of various skin tones; hair colors, textures, and styles of the African American color spectrum.  Do they represent all?  No, but this is impossible for any doll line to accomplish.  The big sisters’ ethnically correct facial sculpts–broader noses and fuller lips–do confirm these as not just white dolls colored brown. Their appearance and fashion sense in combination with their positive attributes of promoting friendship, mentorship, sisterhood, interests, and scholastic achievement result in a near-ultimate doll collection. Thank you, Stacey McBride-Irby, for creating this beautiful, believable line of light-to-dark-skinned African American dolls that promote achievement.  While a small faction of the non-doll collecting community may not appreciate what you have done, your dolls are  perfect from a collector’s perspective as a play thing, a collectible, or a combination of both. If you have not left the S.I.S. drawing table; however, my wish is...

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(An excerpt from my book, Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion, pages 18-19) J Join doll clubs, doll discussion groups, or other organizations. If none are available; or if those available do not meet your needs, organize a doll club or doll group of your own. K Keep track of your collection with a … L Log (written or computerized) to include the dolls’ names, dates of purchase, prices paid, and a brief description of each doll. Photographing your dolls is another way to document them. Store the photos in a photo book with the documentation inserted behind each doll’s photograph. M Money or a reasonable price to pay for a doll can be determined by its retail value and/or your established doll budget. It is important to shop around and compare prices. (Please see R.) N Network with others who share your passion to gain additional information and to share tips on collecting. (Please see J.) O Organize your collection by displaying dolls according to category, size, era or by creating vignettes or doll stories. An orderly collection is certainly more enjoyable than doll clutter. P Patience is an important factor in doll collecting. Exercise it, particularly if you are on the hunt for an antique, vintage, or otherwise truly hard-to-find doll. Patience may be required for soon-to-be released dolls as often...

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What Kind of Collector Are You?

Several years ago, a prominent person in the black-doll community asked me, “What kind of collector are you?”  She wanted to know if I collect dolls for their historical significance or if I collect dolls for other reasons.  Someone else recently commented, “I didn’t know you liked boy dolls.”  Yet another person shared that redressing dolls is something she would never do. I collect dolls that are endearing to me, that also mirror my image (or the image of one of my avatars).  As a whole, they represent my ethnicity.  The entire collection, however, is comprised of  a variety of doll genres – from play line dolls that I can enjoy… touch… feel… manipulate… redress if I so desire, to finer dolls that are enclosed in curio cabinets or placed high on shelves for the purpose of preserving and to prevent damage. I am enthusiastic about antique-to-modern black dolls. These include dolls made of paper and other mediums, those made during my infancy through teenage years, artist dolls, one-of-a-kind dolls, those made by specific artists, and celebrity dolls, just to name a few, all interest me.  Dolls with historical significance are included in my collection, but the collection is not limited to these or any one specific category or attribute (other than their deep complexions). I am basically an unfocused, black-doll-a-holic.  It is impossible for me to collect dolls that I cannot...

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