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Future Shock: Robots are here, and they’re just big cuddly dolls, right?
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Wow, we live in a world of scaredy-cats, don't we? (My apologies to fierce felines everywhere who bravely stare down mice, dogs, and vacuum cleaners.) I'm thinking about the big human babies who are bawling about the invasion of "lifelike" robots. They are trembling nervously over these animatronic figures, which so far are female and quite "feminine" in demeanor. These worrywarts are fretting loudly about whether this is a harbinger for the end of the world as we know it. The most recent robotic "hottie" that has gotten folks all hot and bothered was unveiled in China. Its name is "Jia Jia" and the robot does look strikingly like a real-live 21st-century woman. However, its compliant and toady behavior is a throwback to the days of feudal subservience, which for many men equals the "the good old days."

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Heart to Heart: A troupe of actors and figural-art creations make theater magic
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Rise up, members of the doll community! Truly rise up and flock to see "The Woodsman". If you are fortunate enough to reside in the New York tri-state region, you can witness it at the New World Stages theater complex. If you live elsewhere, keep your eyes peeled for touring companies or community theaters that will (hopefully) produce this glorious meditation on love, loss, and the fleeting limits of liberty.

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Make My Day: Make a Doris Day Doll!
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

When Doris Day released a portrait photo of her and her dog to celebrate her 92nd birthday April 3, the Internet was enthralled. Doris has been retired from show business for 40-plus years, but she's remained a celebrity because of her tireless commitment to animal welfare and rescue. I wrote about Ms. Day's connection to critters in this week's "The Plush Life" blog, and showed off some of the teddy bears and other creatures that have been made to honor her. So naturally, that got me to thinking about her association with dolls — which, frankly, should be going through the roof about now! I mean, come on, a woman who could confidently hold the leashes on six rainbow-colored poodles deserves to have line of dolls celebrating her verve and nerve.

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Farewell, Patty Duke: A Class Act and a Collector’s Dream
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

It's always sad when we hear about the death of a famous personality who had an impact on our lives. On Tuesday, March 29, I heard about the passing of Patty Duke, at age 69, from sepsis caused by the rupture of an intestine. For me, Patty Duke was an actress whom I admired, and she was also a teddy bear designer that I had the pleasure of meeting. She was a passionate advocate for the rights of bipolar citizens and the blind. And, most telling of all, she was a genuinely kind and empathetic person.

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When Doll Love Goes Wrong: A Cautionary Tale
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

Whenever my friend Mickey gets dangerously close to ending his love affair with glamorous fashion dolls, he always frets that he is one twist-and-turn waist away from turning into Oskar Kokoschka. When he says that, both of us groan, giggle, and then quickly groan again. For the uninitiated, Oskar Kokoschka is the embodiment of the world's quirkiest and ultimately destructive doll collector. I'll tell you the story of Oskar as Mickey and I have learned it.

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Can You Be a Feminist and a Doll Enthusiast?
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

With March designated as Women's History Month, a very interesting and long-standing question arises: Is it possible to be both a doll lover and a women's rights crusader? For many people, the two categories are totally oppositional. Many strident feminists envision dolls as anchors created to weigh down young female children, miring them in the world of "patriarchal" expectations! Now, all of us on this DOLLS page have a shared history in dolls, and many of us are women. Do you agree with this dismissal of dolls as an out-of-date, out-of-step category? Do you agree with Gloria Steinem's condemnation of dolls: "We've begun to raise daughters more like sons ... We are casting away the trappings of gender expectations, beginning with their toys. You can look at a Barbie doll and say, 'Isn't that interesting? If she were to stand up, she would fall over because her feet are tiny and her breasts are huge. If she was a real person, she'd have to be 11 feet tall.' We can use that construct to raise awareness and consciousness among our children."

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Who Was Rosie the Riveter? And Why Does She Matter?
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

March is Women's History Month, and the second week of March (Mar. 8, specifically) honors International Women's Day. As part of the week-long and month-long celebrations, events are launched that promote the power and accomplishments of female scientists, leaders, authors, entrepreneurs, and cultural icons. In the doll world — where many people still mistakenly equate "baby doll" with "girly girl," "fashion doll" with "frilly and simply pretty" — there are innumerable real-life personalities who have proven that the art of making dolls is a profession where women have made money, sealed their reputations, and built thriving, profitable businesses. Think Ruth Handler and Mattel, Madame Alexander and the Alexander Doll Company, for starters. The doll industry has been made by, for, and with the power of women.

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Discover Harper Lee’s Legacy for Collectors, Doll Artists, and American Girls
In the Spotlight
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

A bit of our shared American childhood died Feb. 19, 2016. On that day, Nelle Harper Lee passed away at the age of 89. As we all know, Lee was the author of To Kill a Mockingbird and won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for that debut offering. In 2007, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to American literature. This accolade was based upon her one and only book up until that point.

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