Friday, June 26, 2015

Target's Dolls of All Nations Will the Real Artist Please Stand Up?

Yvonne from the 1996 Target- exclusive Dolls of All Nations Collection (Second Edition)

During the mid-1990s, Target released The Dolls of All Nations Collection.  My newly acquired doll, Yvonne, is from the second edition of this collection. The dolls were Target exclusives, distributed by Dayton Hudson Corporation of Minneapolis, MN under the Unimax label.  The box date is 1996.

I vividly recall shopping in Target during the time the first edition of this doll line was stocked on Target's shelves.  Wanja, the doll that represents Kenya is part of the first series of Dolls of All Nations (1995).  I purchased Wanja from Target the year of release.  I never saw Yvonne in stock.

Yvonne (Uganda) and Wanja (Kenya) from the Dolls of All Nations Collection, 1996 and 1995, respectively.

Nearly 20 years after the doll was released, Yvonne was recently purchased for $7.99 plus shipping and arrived in never-removed-from-box state.  The box shows shelf wear but Yvonne is perfect.  This all vinyl doll stands 12 inches, has painted brown eyes, and black rooted hair styled in multiple braids with green ribbons braided through each.  She wears a coral dress with African print belt, matching head wrap, multicolored beaded necklace, gold tone elasticized bracelet, and black sandals.  A doll stand is also included.

The back of Yvonne's box reads:
1996 Hello, I am named Yvonne.
I come from Uganda.
It is one of the 52 nations on the
continent of Africa. 

 You will be pleased to know I speak your 
 language, English, and I also speak our 
native language, Swahili.

Because our climate is tropical and warm, my country
is home to many flowers and forests.
We also have many colorful birds living near our rivers.
When my family travels in our long canoe to visit friends in
the next village, we see ostriches, flamingos and storks.
Monkeys swing from tree to tree along the river's edge.
It is as if they want to visit our friends too!

My family is perhaps bigger than yours.
It includes many cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
We live together in a village that is close to the coffee farm
we own.  Each member of the family has a job to do.
It is my job to carry cooking pots to the river for washing.
I also make ngunza, a delicious thick sauce made
from cassava leaves, tomato paste and peanut butter.

Isn't my dress colorful?
It is the traditional dress of Ugandan women and girls.
It is called a busuti with a long, full skirt,
square neck and a cloth tied diagonally.

My friend, would you like to come in our canoe?
You can share my long bamboo pole
for pushing, and we will go to see
the hippopotamuses bathing in the
river with their babies.

(I wonder who wrote that blurb.)

While the Dolls of All Nations dolls resemble Swiss doll artist, Heidi Otts' Little Ones dolls (a high-end collectors doll line, also released in the late 1990s), Ott did not sculpt the Dolls of All Nations.

Ott did sculpt the 18-inch Faithful Friends  dolls that were Target exclusives from 1997-1998.  These traditionally dressed dolls were designed to compete with the original, historical American Girl dolls. When conducting research to prove or disprove recently circulated information that Ott sculpted the Dolls of All Nations dolls, I found that she did not.  Under the heading, Background, in paragraph 7 of the online details of a lawsuit Ott brought against Target on July 29, 1999, Ott alleges that the dolls Target sold as Dolls of All Nations were knock offs of her Little Ones, proof of which is cited in the text, which can be read in its entirety here.

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15 comments:

  1. She is a beauty! Such a sweet face. I am looking on Ebay now at all of the different ones. The dolls from Kenya, Japan and Russia are stunning as well.

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  2. They are beautiful. Whomever sculpted these came pretty close to Heidi Ott's Little Ones. That probably wasn't too difficult to do if they had one of the Little Ones in hand as the Ott vs Target lawsuit alleges.

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  3. Interesting to hear about he controversy over their creation - I've seen a few of these floating around before but hadn't know the history behind them (or even that they were originally sold at Target - I somehow thought they were a mail-away promotion), so this was an interesting (and educational) read.

    Regardless of who sculpted her, she's cute. And I love the hair on her!

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    1. Thanks, jSarie. That case was very interesting. I suppose money and power and the fact that Ott is not a US citizen led to the outcome of the lawsuit. I often wondered why such a talented artist stopped making artist dolls. I am sure this experience probably influenced the decision. She began making miniature dolls a few years ago, but I am not sure she is still doing that. I have seen several on ebay that I have contemplated purchasing.

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  4. I reviewed the Japanese doll on my own blog about a year or so ago. This was a great line, for sure. I think Wanja is so cute in that yellow!

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    1. I remember reading your review RM1987. This was a great, educational line.

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  5. She is very cute! I don't remember seeing her.

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  6. Yvonne is pretty! I have the Wanja doll. I wasn't aware that there was a second edition. I actually purchased Wanja at a thrift store. She was still in the box. Great post! Thanks!!

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    1. I wasn't aware of the 2nd edition until recently, GG. I never saw Yvonne in Target stores. I am not sure if the 2nd edition was supposed to be a remake of the 1st after Ott confronted Target about using the sculpt of her Little Ones doll to create the 1st edition. But if it is, they still did the same thing. The 2nd edition uses the same mold as the 1st edition dolls. Very shady on Target's part to "allegedly" steal an artists sculpt to create their own line of dolls.

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  7. She's beautiful! I wish she was 1/6 scale.

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  8. melancholia to Jej drugie imię ♥

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Thank you! Your comments are appreciated!