Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Black Dolls from Around the World - Switzerland

Dolls by Heidi Ott, a Swiss-born artist, are featured in this, my final blog on black dolls from around the world.  I own only seven dolls by this artist, one of which is not African American or black, but dark in comparison to other European dolls.  Their images and  descriptions follow:

Tom, Baby Harry, and Saddie

From their hand-painted eyes, to their realistic facial expressions, great detail is realized in Heidi Ott's dolls. Part of the "Little Ones" series, Tom, Baby Harry, and Saddie were made during the late-1990s. They have vinyl heads, arms, and legs with stuffed knit bodies.  Tom and Saddie have vinyl breast plates.  The larger dolls are 13 inches; Baby Harry is 9 inches.  Tom and Saddie have black, rooted human hair.  Baby Harry's hair is molded.  Their feet remain as they arrived from the artist, bare, but they wear their complete original outfits. 

Saddie and Tom close up

Baby Georgia (BG) from the year 2000 is a lug to carry!  She is 29 inches and weighs at least 10 lb... at least.  BG has a brown, human hair, afro-style wig that has a few tiny braids throughout.  The braids were originally accented with fuchsia beads that I replaced with white beads.  This big baby is from the "Dreamkid" series.  She holds her vinyl "Dreamkid" teddy bear.  BG has a male counterpart whose name is Samuel (owned by a fellow collector).  See his pictures below. 

Samuel by Heidi Ott, photo courtesy of Phyllis Schlatter

Samuel has painted hair.  He has been nicely redressed by his mom, Phyllis.

Lucie, a tan-skinned Heidi Ott Original doll is made of vinyl with stuffed, stockingette body.  She stands 17 inches and holds a vinyl and cloth 7-inch baby.  Lucie wears her original outfit and replaced shoes.  I have been unable to document her (possible 1990s) year of manufacture.  Purchased at an estate sale for $15, Lucie has been one of my doll children since the summer of 2005.  After purchasing Lucie, an identical doll was offered on eBay with a buy it now amount of $299. 

Ott's Will and Ellie (made in China/distributed by Dayton Hudson Corporation) are from 1996.  These 18-inch (American Girl-style) dolls are made of vinyl with stuffed knit bodies.  They feature natural textured, brown kanekalon wigs; brown sleep eyes, and smiling mouths with two upper molded teeth.  They wear their original clothes.   (I added Ellie's glasses) A target exclusive, their original retail was $35.

According to Heidi Ott's "under construction" website,  she currently makes miniature child dolls

More links to Heidi Ott dolls:
Close up of another collector's Ellie
Two Heidi Ott babies
Another Lucie
Another Miniature Child Doll


It has been fun reacquainting myself with dolls in my collection that for years have gone without a glimpse or without a thought. Writing this month's themed blog allowed me to provide some much needed, undivided attention to the featured dolls and to learn a little more about them. I enjoyed the process. I hope you did, too. 

Do you have dolls that long for your attention? 


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Black Dolls from Around the World - Spain Part 1

My absolute favorite baby dolls used to be MiBeBe dolls made in Spain.  These are 27-inch, vinyl and cloth dolls made there for the play market.  Their realism (size and appearance) was unmatched by American-made dolls of the same 1980s era.  They are attributed to Berjusa, which I believe is now Berenguer, but the MiBebe dolls only bear the mark:  b.b.  They have closely rooted black hair, brown sleep eyes and pacifiers with a wired crying mechanism.  However, none of the 6 that I own have ever worked.

Coochie Coo/Coochy Coo/Cuchi doll (I have not been able to confirm his actual name) is another mechanical doll by Berjusa marked BB, from the 1980s, further described above (click image to enlarge).  My doll is mute.

Berjusa – 16 and 21-inch, all vinyl sleepers; smaller doll’s hair rooted by manufacturer; larger doll (La Baby) was rooted by a reborn artist; originally manufactured in the 1990s.  The smaller doll may be a La Baby, too, but I not certain.

Berjusa – 21-inch, all vinyl, anatomically correct boy, originally had molded hair and no eyelashes; usually came dressed only in diaper.  His hair was rooted by a reborn artist.  Made in the 1980s.  I purchased him on the secondary market along with the smaller sleeping doll above.

Berjusa – 21-inch, all-vinyl, anatomically correct girl, originally had molded hair and no eyelashes; rerooted by a reborn arist.  Made in the 1980s-1990s.  This doll was also purchased on the secondary market for $12 with her original box.

Berjusa – Baby Joselle, boy and girl, 19 inches, vinyl with cloth bodies; boy has blue sleep eyes; girl has hazel sleep eyes. Both have dark brown, closely rooted hair.  Made in 1984.

Diana Collection babies by Berjusa, 1993, further described above (click image to enlarge).

Berjusa – Tanya is a 19-inch, all vinyl, anatomically correct, chubby doll with curly brown, rooted hair and hazel eyes.  She has a certificate of authenticity (seen below) which indicates she is from 1989.  Tanya wears her original outfit.  After photographing Tanya for this blog and before returning her to her position of display, I pierced her ears.

See Spain Part 2 for additional dolls made in Spain by other manufacturers.


Black Dolls from Around the World - Spain, Part 2

Famosa – Nitey-Nite Baby, 21-inch vinyl with cloth body, brown rooted hair and brown sleep eyes; made in 1989.

Jesmar – 19-inch boy; bald, brown sleep eyes, vinyl with cloth-over-foam body and battery compartment; mechanical (probably cries); wears original blue knit outfit with matching booties.

Same doll as above; I added the brown wig. Made in 1970s or 80s.

Jesmar – Natiora, 1998 anatomically correct boy and girl, 19 inches, all vinyl, bald with black stationary eyes; originally dressed only in disposable diaper. I added the diaper shirts, booties, and the girl’s lace headband. Their boxes are signed by Mary C. “Almuruna” or “Alburuna.”

Mariquita Perez/NP Creations, 17-inch vinyl with brown cloth bodies, brother and sister pair with black rooted hair, brown stationary eyes with applied lashes, open smiling mouth with sculpted tongue; made during the 1990s.

Lulu and Sammy are part of the Holly Doll Collection designed by Marie-Luise Schulz for White Balloon International.  They are 16 and 14 inches tall with short black curly hair and painted eyes. Their outfits are original.  Made in 2004.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Black Dolls From Around the World - Russia

Two 1950s Dolls from Russia manufactured by Lenigruska and a Russian Nesting Doll set (nested)

The rigid vinyl dolls from Russia are 14 inches tall.  They are identical except for lip color and the tribal-type clothing worn by the one on the left.  I acquired them from a Russian eBay seller several years ago.  Lenigruska is the name of the factory that manufactured these dolls in Leningrad, Russia (now known as Saint Petersburg, Russia). The doll on the right was the auctioned item.  After the doll arrived, I voiced great displeasure with the seller about the doll's condition.  It has several tiny scratches on its vinyl surface, which were not described in the item description nor visible in the auction images.  The seller sent the second doll as a "peace offering." 

The wooden nesting dolls (matryoshkas/matrioshkas) shown above were made in Russia.  Un-nested, they consist of five dolls ranging from 1/2 to 4-1/2 inches tall.  Their accompanying literature reads: 

The art of producing hand-painted Matrioshkas began in the 17th Century in Sergiev Posad, Russia and later spread to Moscow, Semenovo, Polohov-maidan, Tver and other regions.

In October 2009, after exhausting attempts to add at least one additional set of black nesting dolls to my collection that were not caricatures or portraits of  African American celebrities, I made a set of five using images of one of my doll families and a blank Russian nesting doll set. In December 2009, I closed the collection by making an African American Santa nesting doll set.

AA Santa Russian nesting dolls (front)

AA Santa Russian nesting dolls (back)

My collection of black matryoshka's remains at a standstill of three sets total.


Black Dolls From Around the World - People's Republic of China

China baby, circa 1940s

My made-of-China baby is 5-inches and has a jointed head, arms, and legs.  His jacket is tagged "MADE IN HONG KONG."


The above all-vinyl, jointed, 14-inch Kewpie-type doll was made in Taiwan, circa 1960s.

Now, fast forward five decades after the Kewpie-type was made to the need to locate more recent black dolls made in China.  This prompted a search.  In the search results, I found an interesting Blythe-type doll distributed by Shanghai Huasheng Plastic and Produces Co., Ltd., which is located in China.  I need her, but the minimum order is 200 pieces.  Oh well. 

Hot Toys, whose main facility is in Hong Kong, is a manufacturer of lifelike 1/6 scale figures (that some consider dolls).  Favorites by them include my Terrence Howard lookalike, pictured above, recently dressed in my duplicate, deboxed S.I.S. Darren's Rocawear gear.  The discovery that Darren's jeans barely close in the back was a surprise.  "Terrence" has "back."

Most Hot Toys Michael Jackson figures are favored, except I'm not too "hot" for the "Thriller" face...

...and while I'm not a Wesley Snipes fan, their Blade II figure of the character he portrayed in the movie by the same name, mirrors the actor's likeness (no image available).

Hot Toys Limited has offered a host of other dark-skinned, 1/6 scale male figures in the past.  I look forward to salivating and coveting their future male offerings.  I remain hopeful that my request for a TrueType AA female figure with a fierce afro will be realized... soon.  It never hurts to ask or pester.

In the meantime, I'll make do with my TrueType African American Slim Figure (Terrence).


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Black Dolls From Around the World - New Zealand

Pedigree-Type Hard Plastic Walkers made in New Zealand

Identical to England-made Dixie and Mandy Lou by Pedigree, are these, Made in NZ-marked, 21-1/2-inch hard plastic, head-turning walkers, made between the 1940s and 1950s.  With a manual walking motion of their legs, their heads turn from side to side.  They both have flirty/follow-me eyes, astrakhan wigs, and closed mouths with slightly exaggerated, red-painted lips.  Except for the girl's lace-trimmed, nylon socks, both are redressed in period-appropriate clothing. 

Dixie and Mandy Lou by Pedigree were produced in greater numbers than my unnamed, NZ pair.  Mandy can be readily found on the British doll market, usually described as "Pedigree Black Hard Plastic Walker."  Dixie, like my NZ-made and marked pair, might be a little more difficult to find. 

Line Brothers of New Zealand, who manufactured Pedigree-type, hard plastic walkers, may have manufactured my brother and sister pair that interestingly was acquired from a seller in England. 


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dolls from Around the World - Japan Modern

Takara is a Japan-based manufacturer of 10-1/2in dolls, Jenny, Licca, and their multitude of friends.   Dark skinned (actually tan-skinned) versions of Jenny and Licca as well as a dark-skinned male, Tom, are included in the line.  Made for the Japanese market and also quite popular there, the dolls are soft vinyl with rooted hair, painted eyes, and wire armature for posing. 

To avoid rephotographing, I scanned images from my books of the Jenny and Licca dolls in my collection.  Tom was part of the collection, but he left prior to the publication of my books, and I do not recall ever photographing him.   Links to other Takara Jenny sites, which include images of Tom are also included below.  As always, any image in my blog can be enlarged by clicking on it to open up another window without leaving the blog.

Neo Licca from 2001 and PhotoGenic Jenny from 2000 from page 132, Black Dolls A Comprehensive Guide...

Black Licca from 2000 from page 95, The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls

Links to More Takara Jenny Dolls
Example of a Gorgeous Black Licca
Headshot of Jenny's 1st AA Boyfriend, Tom
Full and Headshot of Tom (don't get excited; Tom is sold out at this merchant's site)
My Three Toms (a comparison) by a Philly Collector of Playscale Dolls and Action Figures


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dolls from Around the World - Japan Pre WWII

Prior to World War II the following types of bisque and celluloid babies and Topsy-type black dolls were manufactured in Japan, sold there and/or exported to the US. 

The Dolly Sisters from the 1930s are celluloid quintuplets. They have their own cardboard carrying case/box which has a handle on top.  "Japan" is on the front of their colorful box and their backs are marked, "Japan."  The sisters are jointed, stand 2 inches, and wear glued-on satin suspender skirts, each a different color.  Molded-on white socks and red shoes complete their outfits.  (No panties!)

L-R: Bisque bunting baby; celluloid bunting baby twins, circa 1930s.   They measure 3-1/2 and 5-inches, respectively.  The back of their cardboard packing is marked "Japan." 

L-R Unusual, 3-1/2-inch wooden smoking doll; 2-inch celluloid baby, and 1-1/2-inch bisque Topsy-type baby.  The smoking doll, marked "Made in Japan," was probably made after WWII. Included with it are 10 packs of "Poffy Magic Cigarettes." The cigarettes were made in Western Germany.


These dolls serve as reminders of how black people were perceived during this time through the eyes of those with little to no connection to the culture. 


Monday, March 22, 2010

Black Dolls From Around the World - Italy

Italy-based doll manufacturers past and/or present include Furga, Lenci, Sebino, and Zanini and Zambelli.  All, except Lenci, mainly produced dolls for the play market, but even those are considered collectible.

Furga – Appena Nati, which means newborn, is a 16-inch all vinyl, anatomically correct boy with black rooted hair, black stationary eyes; wears a disposable Pampers (that I probably added); came with red and white stripe cloth diaper, certificate, ID bracelet, gauze and tape for umbilical cord; made in the 1980s.

Furga – Florence is a 30-inch vinyl doll with cloth body. She has been redressed. Her original multicolored tunic, pink leggings, and white vinyl shoes with painted pink ribbon design are stored away.

Florence has brown stationary eyes and mounds of black rooted hair, which I prefer in an upswept style.

Lenci – Naomi is a 19-inch felt doll made in 1994. She has a dark brown wig and painted eyes. Naomi wears her original clothing.

Sebino – Cicciobello, Angelo Negro (Black Angel), is a 19-inch, vinyl with cloth body boy with black rooted hair, brown stationary eyes. He has a plastic ID medallion that bears his name; made in 1979.  I love his luscious lips!

Zaninni and Zambelli – Patrick and Julia are 21 inches, made of vinyl with cloth bodies. They have black rooted hair, black sleep eyes; made in 1986.

Zaninni and Zambelli – 25-inch vinyl doll with cloth body, has same attributes (other than size) as the two smaller Z&Z dolls in the previous image.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Baby Aaliyah and Amiri-Adam from Greece - A Quick Makeover

Last night I painted Baby Aaliyah's blue "tongue" using FolkArt acrylic color by Plaid, #753 Rose Chiffon.  I applied paint only to the tip of a fine-tip paint brush and "swabbed" the paint brush over the blue area inside her head.   I did the same thing for her brother this morning, whose "tongue" was bright red instead of blue, but discovered something strange. 

Amiri-Adam's tongue is not stationary like his sister's. It kept flopping around in his head each time I tried to apply paint; so I used tweezers to exteriorize it.  Pretty weird looking, right?

Next, I painted the outer area of this mysterious rubber thing and am now allowing it to dry.  After it dries, I'll reinsert it into his mouth in hopes of achieving a normal-colored, relatively stationary tongue.

By the way, Baby Aaliyah's artist-given name, original date and time of birth are:  Amya Jaysha, 01/09/01, 17:45.  I found this information on the flip side of her ID bracelet.  I never would have remembered this without looking.


Addendum, Friday, March 19, 2010, 17:59:  Here is Amiri-Adam's final photo for now before he and his sister are placed back on display.  Removing his head and the original rubber substance was required.  I painted a pink balloon using the Rose Chiffon paint and covered his mouth from the inside with it.  Polyfil stuffing keeps his new "tongue" in place.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Black Dolls from Around the World - Greece

Amiri-Adam and Baby Aaliyah from Greece

This brother/sister early "reborn" pair came to me by way of Athens, Greece in August 2001.  They were auctioned on eBay as "reborns" during the infancy phase of the doll art form known as reborning.  The seller, using these two LLorens-marked dolls, rooted one top and two side ponytails to the girl's hair (leaving the remaining, molded vinyl hair exposed), weighted their "pink" cloth bodies and heads, and manicured their fingernails and toenails.  The boy retains his original molded vinyl hair.  Both have their original eyes minus the now-removed upper eyelashes the seller added.

After they arrived, I wrote Baby Aaliyah's name, date and place of birth on her newborn ID bracelet and added synthetic hair to her exposed, molded vinyl hair.  Her brother's information was already on his bracelet.  Working from poor memory recall, I believe I changed the girl's name to Baby Aaliyah after she arrived.  I cannot begin to remember what it was originally.

According to the seller, she filled them with a material used for waterbeds in Greece.  Inside their open mouths is a blue rubber-appearing substance.  I might cover or paint this to match the normal color of the oral cavity before I place them back on their display shelf. 

I have not been able to locate information on a Llorens doll company or a doll artist by that name.  I am also not sure if the manufacturer of these dolls is based in Greece.  I am certain, however, that Amiri-Adam, and Baby Aaliyah, born 08/29/01, traveled from Greece to become members of my doll family.