Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Meet Doll Artist, Wyatt E. Hicks

Doll artist, Wyatt E. Hicks

Toledo, Ohio native, Wyatt E. Hicks contacted me recently with a request to share images of his doll art.  I am in turn sharing those images here because I think his work is astounding.  If I can help him gain the exposure he deserves, I am all for it! 

The Essence of an Ebony Man

Personal likeness of a loved one passed: Miss. Lillie.

Up Where We Belong

Up Where We Belong (close-up)

Likenesses:  Bob Marley, Kweisi Mfume, Sammy Davis, Jr., George Washington Carver, Toni Morrison
Hicks' dolls are made of Super Sculpey and wire armatures mostly. The heights range from 6 inches to 30 inches.  Prices for personal likenesses range from $300 to $600, depending on how elaborate the clothing. Other dolls range from $85 to $225. 

Closeups of Marley, Mfume, Davis, Carver, and Morrison likenesses follow:

Additional Likenesses
Josephine Baker

Tavis Smiley
Nikki Giovanni
The Following Are Spirit Filled

About himself Wyatt writes:
I met Miss Laverne Hall* in 1993 by accident. My sweetheart and I found a flyer about a doll show and decided to drop in uninvited.  Miss Hall was more than nice to us. She allowed us to participate in the event (we sold T-shirts). I saw some of the images that were being made and it immediately inspired me. I couldn't wait to get home and buy some clay. (It wasn't until weeks later that I realized it was OK to use something other than my fingers to sculpt).

For three years or so I was able to express my creativity at Hall's Holiday Festival of Dolls. I couldn't pursue many shows following due to my father's prolonged illness.  Many of the dolls [shared here] are at least ten years old as a result.

I attempted to share the images with the Doll Reader magazine but they weren't interested.  The other day I was researching online when I happened across your words about your love of black dolls and felt that it was time for me to resurface...

I've lived in Toledo most of my life, but I love to travel.

Email address is OK to pass on:

Thanks for all you do!

I am happy that my words inspired you to contact me, Wyatt.  Thank you again for sharing the photos of your art dolls. 


*About LaVerne's Original Holiday Festival of Black Dolls taken from a 1998 National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center flyer:

LaVerne Hall began her own company manufacturing paper dolls in response to a need she saw for Black paper dolls.  She named her first line of dolls after her daughter, Mahji... [which grew into a thriving business.  Her line included] custom paper dolls of other children and historic Black figures.  Stemming from early frustrations convincing major retail stores to carry her line, she established an organization to help increase the public visibility of Black dolls and dollmakers.  This organization, LaVerne's Original Holiday Festival of Black Dolls, was the first of its kind to sponsor Black doll shows in selected cities each year.

Events and shows produced by LaVerne's Original Holiday Festival of Black Dolls continued for 18 years.  A February 16, 2012, article, Woman Creates Black Paper Dolls for Her Daughters, provides additional information about Ms. Hall's work in the Black doll community.

It's a Small World
Ms. Hall is also responsible for publishing my first doll-related writings in her DOLL-E-GRAM publication from 1998-1999.  I wrote several collector profiles for the "Spotlight on Collectors" column of DOLL-E-GRAM.     



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Who Am I? The Netherlands Doll Find

I received the following inquiry with images seeking help identifying the doll head shown.  I could not identify the head and asked permission to share the images here. 

Dear Debbie Garrett,
I saw your website about your black doll collection. I am from The Netherlands and I bought the head of black doll on a market without a body. It’s made of paper [mache]. I looked for more information about this doll, but I can’t find anything. Do you [know] more about this doll? Can you can give information about this doll?

...find photos in the attachment.
Best regards,
The Netherlands

If you know the identification of this mystery doll or can offer leads in this regard, please post that information in a comment.  Thanks in advance!



Monday, July 28, 2014

Assessment of First Phicen

Inspired by Roxanne's blog posts about her Phicen females, I stumbled upon the following video.  After viewing, I conducted a more-information and best-price search for:  Phicen model PLLB-03 Brown.

The head sculpt is more attractive than most others I have seen.  This, along with the supple "skin" and seamless joints, interested me.  Her facial features also remind me of someone I know.

There are two versions with this head sculpt in brown complexion.  One has straight hair, the other has curly hair, as seen in the video.  Based on the April 12, 2012, date of the video, I believe the curly haired version was released first.  I chose that version because I prefer curly hair over straight.

My best-price find was located on eBay.  My Phicen left China on July 11, 2014, with an estimated delivery between Tuesday, July 29th through Tuesday, September 2nd!  I received an email from the seller requesting my patience because it could possibly take several weeks for the package to arrive.  If the package did not arrive within a month, the seller asked to be contacted.  I already knew that patience would be required based on the proposed estimated date of arrival, but thanked him for his warning.

My Phicen, fortunately was delivered much sooner on Saturday, July 19th.  I immediately tore open the end flap of the shipping box to inspect the contents.

The front of the box shows a shapely female silhouette with check marks placed alongside this figure's attributes:
  • 1/6 Seamless female body/33 points of articulation
  • Large breast size
  • Brown

The back of the box illustrates the figure's functionality and offers warnings on how not to over-manipulate the figure. To ensure that the consumer understands how fragile the joints are, an extra typewritten (Chinese to English translation) note was included inside that reads:

Please note:  the joints of PHICEN Toys TBLeague is fragile if it be moved tightly.

Nudity warning (keep in mind that this is a doll, not a human, and this is a review with photos of the product).

Phicen inside box liner as she arrived.

Overall Assessment:


In addition to the attributes indicated on the front of the box, this figure is:
  • Anatomically correct
  • Has two extra sets of hands (animal-print hand cuffs are included). 
  • The head is removable, although I have not attempted to remove it.
  • The "skin and muscle areas" are very supple, similar to the silicone/vinyl mixture used for some "lifelike" collectible baby dolls.
  • There are preplaced holes in each earlobe for earrings (which can only accommodate a short ear post).  
  • The hair is nicely rooted.  
  • She can stand alone (and why wouldn't she be able to with those flat feet?).  Animal-print ankle cuffs are included. 
  • The arms can be raised and lowered and, in the raised position, can be locked into several positions until extended at shoulder level.
  • Both arms rotate outward and inward.   
  • The hands are fully rotational and can move up and down. 
  • The waist movement is minimal -- two clicks forward, two clicks backward.
  • The knees bend backward and lock into position with several clicks.  
  • The feet are removable and fully rotational.  They can move up and down slightly in the forward position.
  • It took a while for me to find and move the hip joints, which have slight left and right sway and up and down swing where the legs can be lifted forward.  The side panel of the box illustrates more movement than I was able to achieve.
  • This could be perceived as a con to some:  Phicen is not a girly girly figure in facial appearance, but her face is more appealing than most brown female action figures.
Dressed in animal-print bra and bikini, Phicen demonstrates the arm movement.
Hand movement is up, down, and fully rotational
Leg and knee movement
Dressed initially in a Mixis fashion with borrowed earrings from Prettie Girls Lena, Phicen poses for a close-up.

  • Phicen has man hands, all three pairs.
  • There is supposed to be a left and right sway movement at the waist.  I could never make this happen. 
  • All joints are rigid with awkward movement. 
  • Finding shoes to fit her long flat feet, which measure 1-1/2 x 1/2 inch, will be difficult.
  • In some positions, an impression of the joints is visible underneath the "skin."
  • Because of the joint fragility, manipulating for posing will be minimal for fear of breaking a joint.  

Clearly the pros outweigh the cons.

Additional photos were taken after I fluffed the hair with a styling brush and dressed Phicen.  The flat feet were replaced with OJItoys' FemBasix high-heel feet with molded-on shoes.  The extra feet were purchased several years ago for the Perfect Body Stage 2 female by Blue Box Toys.  The brown color is not an exact match for either figure but is a closer match for Phicen.

Phicen holds a pair of new feet, then poses after they have been placed.

I decided Phicen should be named Pam (a name that I will remember because of her mature body:  think Pam Grier).  As a dressed doll, her mature body and face give her a motherly look...

Pam becomes the perfect mother for Calista.

...or maybe, in the right clothes, she could be an educator.

Brianna Joy and Calista will be excellent students in Ms. Phicen's classroom.
Even with the cons, I am not disappointed in this purchase.  Pam reinforces the fact that dolls as inanimate representations of humans are not just pretty playthings to collect, display, and/or document.   They can be posed, redressed, and otherwise enjoyed. In the case of Ms. Phicen, however, the posing should be done gingerly. 

Check out Roxanne's post that inspired this purchase and also her Phicen vs Phicen post.