Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Shoed and Glued

Plastic egg with secret contents; sandals courtesy of Limbe Dolls

I looked in my collection for an East Indian-looking male doll and rediscovered Jordan by Integrity Toys (IT).

I found Jordan alone with bare feet at a thrift store, circa 2008.   Except for being by IT, at the time he entered the collection, I didn't know his manufactured name. I wrote IT who informed he is from the Janay and Jordan Royal Heritage Wedding Gift Set, 2000.  Until this morning, he had been displayed with a group of female fashion dolls.

When I removed him from the surrounding ladies, I discovered his loose left leg.  I examined and diagnosed him with a fracture/dislocation of  the left femoral head.  (The hip knob that inserts into the leg socket had broken off and lodged into the socket.)   As an alternative to glue, I used Silly Putty to provide stability and maintain desired movement.

I took photos of the process:
Using a steak knife, I removed the broken knob that had lodged into the leg socket.

A dab of Silly Putty was pressed over the socket and around the outer diameter to act as an adhesive cushion (joint cartilage).

The leg with Silly Putty applied was then pressed against the body's remaining knob to embed the Silly Putty into the leg socket.  Next, the excess Silly Putty was removed.

The leg was pressed against the body.  Proper alignment and good range of movement was noted.

Jordan was allowed to recover from the general anesthesia that was administered immediately prior to the procedure.  After recovering, he redressed and was given the Silly Putty to have on hand in the event the joint loosens again. 


The title of this post mentions glue; however, as noted above, glue was not used for Jordan's procedure.  Instead, I used Silly Putty to perform the fixation.


Before the procedure, I located a pair of white Ken shoes for Jordan with plans to cover his bare feet with them.  Enclosed inside the plastic bag with the white shoes  were brown braided sandals made by Paulette of Limbe Dolls.  I decided Jordan would appreciate wearing sandals in his postoperative period a lot more than those boring white loafers.


I hope none of your dolls incur fracture/dislocations like Jordan did, but if they do; try using Silly Putty as a quick temporary fix. 

If your dolls or action figures have bare feet that need covering and you'd like to try your hand at making gladiator sandals like Jordan's, watch the Limbe Doll's tutorial below. 


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Love Child

Diana Ross dolls by Mego 1977, Ideal 1969, and Mattel 2003

Mego's Diana Ross, head shot
As indicated in yesterday's post, I finally found Mego's Diana Ross doll (far left in the above image), my least favorite of the three Diana Ross dolls in my collection.  I knew with patience and moving around enough dolls, I would find her.

My 1977 Mego doll was purchased on the secondary market during the 1990s a few years after I began collecting black dolls.  I had only seen a black and white image of this doll in Myla Perkins' book, Black Dolls: An Identification and Value Guide 1820 - 1991 (Collector Books, 1993).  The doll was immediately placed on my doll wish list.

The only other Diana Ross doll made prior to Mego's was Ideal's 1969 doll (center doll in the first image).  The Ideal doll uses the Crissy body.  Their doll is not an exact portrait of Diana, but between the two, theirs was my favorite.  The Mego doll looks mean and doesn't resemble Diana Ross at all to me. But I wanted it back in the day, so I bought it, sight unseen! 

The Mackie doll from 2003 by Mattel is my favorite; it looks most like Diana.  I purchased two of these.  At one time I owned two of the Ideal version.  The first one was redressed  by her former owner/seller in a silver gown accented with pink feathers.  I gave that one a weave, and eventually sold it after upgrading to one pictured above in the original orange gown accented with orange marabou feathers.

My first Diana Ross doll by Ideal was given a weave after she arrived.
Known for her singing career with Motown as the lead singer for the Supremes, Diana Ross eventually launched a solo singing career. Acting roles followed.  Films include Lady Sings the Blues, Mahogany, The Wiz, Out of Darkness, and Double Platinum.  I have always enjoyed her singing over her acting, not that she is poor at the latter, but her singing is far better in my opinion. 

In my 1968 eighth grade gym class, the PE instructor, Ms. Mayes, failed at teaching my first course of sex education using a Diana Ross and the Supremes song.  Why she even wanted to do this is still a mystery to me.  Sex education was not part of the approved curriculum.  Seated in our white gym suits, white socks, and white canvas sneakers, we had to write an essay (or a few words for me) on the meaning of the 1968 song, "Love Child."  (What? I thought.)  "What do you think it means?" is what I probably asked a friend before writing my own opinion. 

What I wrote is as elusive as Mego's Diana Ross was, but whatever I scribbled in the allotted time had nothing to do with a young, unmarried girl, born out of wedlock, feeling stigmatized because of it, now experiencing pressure from a love interest to engage in premarital sex.  My answer also did not state what the girl eventually said, "No... but I'll always love you."  At 13, sexually naive, a product of married parents, I could not connect those dots; "Love Child" was just a song to me.

Now that I have located my Mego Diana Ross, I am content.  The doll was where I thought it was originally; I kept overlooking it, or as my mother would have charged, I "half looked."  The doll was positioned where I couldn't readily see it (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.)

In the process of finding this doll, I also conducted a mini inventory by documenting the names and locations of the found dolls before dusting them off and returning them to their display/storage areas.  If I forget the location of one of the 50 or so dolls that I frantically moved around trying to find Diana, I can refer to the "Where they are" tab of my Excel doll inventory workbook.

Read the lyrics of "Love Child" below:

"Love Child"

Tenement slum

You think that I don't feel love
But what I feel for you is real love
In other's eyes I see reflected
A hurt, scorned, rejected

Love child, never meant to be
Love child, born in poverty
Love child, never meant to be
Love child, take a look at me

I started my life in an old, cold run down tenement slum
My father left, he never even married mom
I shared the guilt my mama knew
So afraid that others knew I had no name

This love we're contemplating
Is worth the pain of waiting
We'll only end up hating
The child we maybe creating

Love child, never meant to be
Love child, (scorned by) society
Love child, always second best
Love child, different from the rest

Mm, baby (hold on, hold on, just a little bit)
Mm, baby (hold on, hold on, just a little bit)
I started school, in a worn, torn, dress that somebody threw out
I knew the way it felt, to always live in doubt
To be without the simple things
So afraid my friends would see the guilt in me

Don't think that I don't need you
Don't think I don't wanna please you
No child of mine 'll be bearing
The name of shame I've been wearing

Love child, love child, never quite as good
Afraid, ashamed, misunderstood

But I'll always love you
I'll always love you
I'll always love you
I'll always love you
I'll always love you
I'll always love you

Below, see Diana Ross and the Supremes Sing "Love Child" on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1969 (with new Supreme, Cindy Birdsong, who replaced Florence Ballard).

See Diana passionately sing "Love Song" years later and interact with the audience below.


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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Let Your Dreams Run Free

Flo Jo by LJN, 1989

The words in the title of this post appear on the front of Flo Jo's doll box:  Let Your Dreams Run Free.  This is what little girls who played with the Flo Jo doll were encouraged to do.

The stunning, 1988 Olympic track and field champion Florence Griffith Joyner "is still considered the "fastest woman of all time" based on the fact that she still holds the world record for both the 100 metres and 200 metres, both set in 1988 and never seriously challenged. She died of epilepsy in 1998 at the age of 38." ( 

Known for her fashionable running attire, lengthy and colorful fingernails, mounds of hair styled in a variety of ways, and her overall glamour, Flo Jo, is still fondly remembered by many. 

"Florence brought a certain style to track, something so different, with her fashionable appearance and her stunning speed."-- Patricia Rico, president, USA Track and Field

LJN's 1989 Flo Jo doll
In 1989, LJN manufactured the 11-1/2-inch doll that bears Flo Jo's likeness.  The doll was the last one removed from the shelf where many of my celebrity dolls line the shelf and rest against the back wall.  Baby dolls are seated on the same shelf in front of the boxed celebs obscuring the boxed dolls' view.  Removing every baby and each celeb doll is what led to my finally finding Mego's Diana Ross!  Woo hoo!


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Monday, February 27, 2012

Lisa and Dionne

Saved by the Bell Lisa (Lark Voorhies) by Tiger Toys 1992
Saved by the Bell-character Lisa, played by Lark Voorhies, was captured in playscale doll form by Tiger Toys in 1992. They did a decent job of reproducing her 1992 likeness, but no one can mass produce for the play market better portrait dolls than Mattel.  Lark was always a pretty girl to me.  Apart from Saved by the Bell, Voorhies has appeared in music videos, TV commercials, soap operas, and currently manages her production company.  Divorced, she was once engaged to Martin Lawrence.

Dionne by Mattel 1996
Clueless movie and TV series character Dionne, made by Mattel in 1996, is a good likeness of  Stacey Dash, who played the Dionne role.  This 11-1/2 inch doll has a puppy/back pack, a cell phone, and a feather-topped ink pen.  Other dolls in this series were made of Clueless characters, Amber and Cher.  Learn more about the real Stacey Dash here.

These dolls were and are back on the same display shelf with Beverly Johnson and Naomi Campbell.


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One Thing Leads to Another - Meeting Bev Collins

Recently, doll artist Beverly Collins introduced herself to me through email with the subject line, Black Dolls Made in America. She invited me to visit her web site. I did and enjoyed looking at her dolls and wearable art.  I googled her name and found an online biography written for October Gallery.  The story of what led to her doll making is very touching to me.

Prior to receiving Bev's email, the members of my online doll group had begun discussing our 2012 club doll. "Which artist should we ask to make it?" was one of the questions asked. I shared Bev's intro email with the group and urged them to visit her web site.  One member, after visiting Bev's site, suggested we ask her to create a wearable art piece for us (a brooch). I did. 

2012 WLBD Club Brooch by Beverly Collins -
Photographs Courtesy of Beverly Collins

As a result of Bev's intro email and my sharing it with my group, 16 dated, signed, one-of-a-kind (yet similar), polymer clay brooches were created for us.   We are all very pleased with the 6-inch elegant wearable art that serves as the group's first club brooch and this year's club piece. Some have mentioned displaying it in a shadow box. I have proudly worn mine and allowed it to command attention.

After reading her initial email and communicating with Bev on several occasions, long before commissioning her to create our club piece, I asked if I could share her October Gallery bio in a blog post. She suggested I share the updated version from her web site instead.   I have been planning to do this, but the time seemed to never present itself.

Today I received notification about Bev's latest doll creation and the inspiration behind it.  Now is the time for me to share Bev with you.

See her most recent doll creation and what inspired it below:

"Over the years I have seen movies, heard stories, and watched programs about the Tuskegee Airmen. After seeing the movie Red Tails I was inspired to do more research and create a doll in honor of the warriors known as The Tuskegee Airmen."  - Bev Collins
Photograph Courtesy of Beverly Collins

Read her artist statement, here.
For additional information about Bev, her dolls, or to purchase the Tuskegee Airman, please visit her web site.


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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Real Models

Real Model Beverly Johnson by Matchbox 1989
Real Model Beverly Johnson - Head shot

Last week I reconnected with 11-1/2-inch doll, Beverly Johnson from the Real Model Collection by Matchbox, 1989. Ms. Johnson is the first African American model to appear on the cover of  Vogue magazine, August 1974 issue. The other portrait dolls in the Matchbox Real Model Collection include former super models Christie Brinkley and Cheryl Tiegs. In addition to modeling, Johnson has done some acting, launched a line of multicultural beauty products, and will star, along with her daughter and son-in-law, in the reality TV show, "Beverly's Full House."  The show is scheduled to premiere on Saturday, March 31, 2012, on the OWN network. 

Naomi Campbell by Hasbro, 1995
Naomi Campbell - head shot

Most people know British-born super model, Naomi Campbell.  Finding the Naomi Campbell doll minus the box or other ID indicators might make identifying the doll as a 3D portrait of Campbell difficult.  Manufactured by Hasbro and distributed only in the United Kingdom, this 11-1/2 doll has a box date of 1995.  It is hard to believe Campbell endorsed it, but according to the back of the box, "Naomi ...participated in the creation of the outfit worn by her doll."  Both the doll and the fashion lack appeal.  Why, then did I buy it?  Collectors-itis:  I collect portrait/celebrity dolls.  This one was made for a non-US market. These two features made it desirable.  I had not seen it in person prior to buying it in the late 1990s, however.  Had that been the case or had I seen a good photo image beforehand, Naomi, the doll, would probably not be here. 

I think Madame Alexander's original Paris Williams doll sculpt resembles Naomi Campbell. 


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Saturday, February 25, 2012

I'll Stop the Boat If You Make Some Like Mine!

Miss America Tonya by Kenner 1991

Kenner's Miss America Talent Show Tonya has a box date of 1991. The doll is part of a five-doll set manufactured by Kenner with the Miss America Pageant Organization's blessings. The other dolls are Blair (a blond), Raquel (a brunette), Devon (another blond), and Justine (yet another blond).

The other dolls in the Miss America series are illustrated on the back of Tonya's box along with an image of Miss America for 1991, Marjorie Vincent.

The back of the box has a small image of Marjorie Vincent who won the Miss America title in 1991, becoming the fourth African American to hold it (the third to win it with Vanessa Williams relinquishing her title in 1984).

According to the back of the box, "Tonya dreams of being Miss America, but what she loves is animals and singing.  What better talent number for her than singing a piece from the Broadway musical "Cats"!"  Unfortunately, the doll's performance was delayed. 

Like Barbie, the doll stands 11-1/2 inches, but in my opinion, that is where the similarity ceases. Mattel, however, did not think so.

When Kenner began importing its "Miss America" line of dolls into the United States, Mattel asked U.S. Customs to detain them. Kenner and the Miss America Organization responded by suing Mattel and United States Customs in federal court. (Read full text here.)

At issue in this [1991] case is whether two of Kenner's five "Miss America" dolls infringe on the copyright of Mattel's "Barbie" doll under the applicable portions of the Copyright Act. Mattel possesses a copyright in the unpainted head sculpture of Toy No. 9720, the "Super Star Barbie," which has been registered in the United States Copyright Office and with the United States Customs Service ("Customs"). This unpainted head sculpture is used on eleven and one-half inch fashion dolls. Kenner's "Miss America" dolls are all eleven and one-half inch fashion dolls and the question is whether two of the heads on the five dolls are designed from the same mold as that used to make Mattel's "Super Star Barbie." For purposes of the alleged copyright infringement, only the "Tonya" and "Devon" heads are at issue.

The above excerpt and additional text regarding Miss America Organization/Kenner v Mattel can be read here

As evidenced by my ownership of Tonya, the dolls were made (and Tonya did perform her talent act), but if memory serves me correctly, Kenner did not recover any losses as a result of the US Customs' delayed dolls.  A snippet of the case results can be read here.

I was trying to locate Mego's Diana Ross when I reconnected with Tonya and her "case."


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Swoopes and Thompson

Former Houston Comets team members Tina Thompson and Sheryl Swoopes in water bottle-form

In 2002, a former coworker gave me these souvenir water bottles on two separate occasions. They are made in the likeness of then WNBA Houston Comets players Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson. Both stand 10 inches tall.

Tina's bottle is the first water bottle created by Jazzwares, Inc. for the WNBA in a limited edition of 5000. It was issued on July 25, 2002, at the Comets vs. Miami Sol game, won by the Comets 69-60. Tina holds a Sears breast cancer awareness pink and white ball.

Swoopes' water bottle is also from 2002 but was a different ball game giveaway. Swoopes holds a molded basketball.

The removable tops of each contain a plastic straw.   Below is a view from the back:

While they are water bottles and not dolls, my former coworker thought I would appreciate owning them.  She was correct.


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Friday, February 24, 2012

Before Glee

Back of Cut and Style Barbie's Box
Naya Rivera who plays the role of cheerleader Santana Lopez on the TV series Glee, is illustrated on the back of Cut and Style Barbie's box from 1994 as she gleefully enjoys doll play. 

I remember viewing her as an adorable African American child in 1990s TV commercials when she was about the age she appears on the back of Cut and Style Barbie's box.  I immediately recognized Rivera after examining this doll-less box, which was found (yes) while looking for my Mego Diana Ross.
Cut and Style Barbie, 1994, shown above to illustrate the length of her hair
Cut and Style Barbie was purchased new and has been on display along with other Barbies since the purchase date.

Before finally discarding the box, I photographed the back to share my Rivera discovery, but first I removed and stored the doll's accessories, which were still attached to the card in the box.  These include ponytail holders, a black hair extension, and child-safe orange scissors.  I never planned to cut and style the almost floor length hair.  Only a child would be tempted to cut it.

Another discovery is that Rivera's descent is described in an online bio as half Puerto Rican, quarter African, and quarter German.  In those 1990s commercials, she was typecast according to the color of her skin.


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First Ever National Pretty Brown Girl Day!

Pretty Brown Girl baby doll, Laila - Photo from

February 25, 2012, is National Pretty Brown Girl Day! The organization is calling for all girls and women across the globe to celebrate themselves, families, and friends as a way for brown girls of all ages, cultures, and ethnicities to empower themselves and boost their self-confidence. Pretty Brown Girls encourages families, youth mentoring groups, civic organizations and churches locally and nationally to embrace the differences among their youth. They feel (and I agree) it is important for girls to understand that no matter what their skin tone they are beautiful inside and out.

What Can You Do (They ask)?
  1. Host or Attend a Pretty Brown Girl Party to celebrate your fabulous uniqueness and take the PBG Pledge!
  2. Commit to finding a PBG mentee of whom you can Inspire, Empower, and Encourage!
  3. Decide how you will personally Dream Big and impact yourself, your family, and your community!
Visit their website for additional information about PBG Day and to view their products, which include the baby doll, Laila, shown above. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sindy's Friend Gayle

Gayle is an 11-inch fashion doll distributed in the US by Louis Marx in 1978. Gayle's friend Sindy originated in England in the 1960s, manufactured by Pedigree but was later distributed in the US by Marx. The 1970s Sindy and Gayle share the same sculpt. Pedigree also made dark-skinned Sindys for the British market. Active Sindy was an articulated ballerina.  A non-articulated Sindy is shown here.  Gayle was sold exclusively in the US.

Without their original clothes and original hairstyles, black Sindy and Gayle will look alike.  Made in England is marked on the Pedigree dolls (if there are other marks, I am unaware of those).  As documented in Black Dolls an Identification and Value Guide 1820-1991):

Gayle's head is marked:
2GEN 1077

The body marks are:
Made in
Hong Kong

The book continues:  "1978.  Gayle was a friend of Sindy..."

Sindy and Gayle remain popular, but dark-skinned Sindy are the most popular and highly sought.   Gayle holds her own with reference to value and price commanded on the secondary market.  I have had my 1978 Gayle since the late 1990s and paid $75 for her then.  I recently reconnected with the doll while looking for my Mego Diana Ross. 

Gayle was stored on a shelf with Mr. T., Pilot Barbie (that I didn't know I owned), Radiant in Red Barbie, Doctor Barbie, Working Out Barbie, Totally YoYo Nikki, Hollywood Nails Christie, Generation Girl Nichelle, Baby Sitter's Club Jessie (the playscale version), Sharnell (a fashion doll by Fiesta), Father-to-be and Mommy-to-Be dolls, Bead Blast Barbie, Cut and Style Barbie's box only, Magic Moves Barbie (I thought I'd found Ross until I pulled this box out fully), and several other boxed, long forgotten fashion dolls.

Sindy is said to be England's answer to Barbie, but she and Gayle remind me more of Ideal's Tammy.  Perhaps Tammy is America's answer to Sindy. 

More info on Sindy and Gayle dolls that were made for the American market can be read here.


I Speak My Mind...

... and I took over the show.
Urkel doll by Hasbro

"I Speak My Mind" is the caption on (Steve) Urkel's box, the doll created by Hasbro, box date 1991, in the likeness of Jaleel White's Family Matter's character.

This is another doll that I rediscovered during my search for Mego's Diana Ross.

Urkel is a pull-string talker that says some of the nerdy phrases the character spoke on Family Matters.  This long-running show, "focused on the character of police officer Carl Winslow and his family: wife Harriette Winslow, son Eddie Winslow, elder daughter Laura Winslow, and youngest child Judy Winslow (until Season 4)... Steve Urkel was introduced midway through the first season of Family Matters and eventually became the focus of the show."  Read more (if desired) about the show history here.

When cropping the image for this post, I noticed Urkel's suspenders and denim jeans are cleverly incorporated into the box design. 

Except for the fact that doll collecting was new to me at the time this doll was purchased, when I found almost every black doll that wasn't nailed down "collectible," I haven't a clue way I wanted Urkel.   


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Soul Train Gang Re-Invented

Mattel's 1993 Soul Train Shani, Asha, Jamal, and Nichelle

These dolls were not readily accessible when I posted my Don Cornelius tribute because they were stored in a Baby Crissy doll box that was inaccessible at the time.  I gained access to the box yesterday to see if my Mego Diana Ross was also in it.   Unfortunately, Ross was not. The only other doll in the box with Soul Train Shani, Asha, Jamal, and Nichelle was Party 'N Play Stacie. 

I photographed the Soul Train dolls and returned them to the box along with several cloth dolls that had been on a built-in shelf in the doll room. I took precautions to remember where these are stored in the event they are needed in the future.   Party 'N Play Stacie remained free to join my Skipper and Janet dolls

If I could assign true identities to Mattel's Soul Train dolls based on popularity and gender, Shani would be Jody Watley, who began dancing on Soul Train at age 14 in the 1970s.  Asha would be Rosie Perez (Soul Train dancer, late 1980s).  Jamal would be Jeffrey Daniel (Jody Watley's Soul Train dance partner, also said to have pioneered Michael Jackson's moon walk).  Nichelle would be dancer/choreographer Damita Jo Freeman (shown far right in the photo at the previous link with Jody Watley in center).

Prior to dancing on Soul Train, Damita Jo was one of the few African American dancers on American Bandstand and became a successful TV show choreographer and actor.  Jody and Jeffrey transitioned from Soul Train dancers to becoming two of the original Shalamar members.  Rosie made her acting debut in Spike Lee's 1989 Do The Right Thing.

See Damita Jo amaze James Brown and Joe Tex with her robotic dance moves in the following Soul Train video.


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B. A. Baracus

This is one of my rediscovered dolls found in an attempt to relocate my Mego Diana Ross.
Galoob's 1983 Mr. T (A-Team character) doll
Mr. T., real life super hero authentic action figure of the A-Team, dressed as the character, B. A. Baracus (bad attitude). He wears several gold chains, earrings, bracelets, and molded-on rings on every finger.  Molded hair is fashioned in his signature mohawk style, which in recent years has regained popularity among boys and men. 

I remember purchasing one of these for my daughter back in the day.  I obviously wanted one later on after I began collecting dolls. He has a price tag of $28.00 attached to his left hand, probably the price I paid during the 1990s on the secondary market.   Made by Galoob, box date 1983.


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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I See the Family Resemblance

Musical Entertainers - Diana Ross - Mego 1977 - Ideal 1969, Mattel 2003
L-R:  Diana Ross dolls by Mego (1977), Ideal (1969), and Mattel (2003) -- the Mattel doll captures her likeness the best.  I have this trio, but could only locate two.  I looked high and low for my Mego Diana Ross; my doll room is in a shambles as a result, and I still have not located my doll.  The image is courtesy of Flickr's share feature.

No, this post is not about Diana Ross.  It's about her sister, Dr. Barbara Ross-Leethe first African American woman to be appointed dean of an American medical school.  Read more about Dr. Ross-Lee at the following link that was shared on my WLBDSister list on October 20, 2011, by Ruth Manning.  It was her final post on the sister list.  She was still using the signature, "Healed by His Stripes." (I am confident and comforted in knowing she is now healed, just no longer with us.)

Below is a link to more information with an updated image of this Dr. Ross-Lee, a history maker:

In the next few days or until the end of the month, whichever comes first, I'll be sharing images of dolls rediscovered during my search for my Mego Ross.  Where is that darn doll????

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Difficult Days

The past few days have been very difficult for me.  My emotions have ranged from shock to grief over the loss of two people who died one day apart.  The world shared one person with me.  I shared the other with her circle of doll collecting friends and her own family and friends.

Whitney Elizabeth Houston, who died on February 11, 2012, was always a very beautiful woman and an accomplished, most talented singer and actress, with the singing being her passion.  I remember one of her first videos, "You Give Good Love." (Her tiny frame and ill-fitting spandex pants make this video memorable as well as her melodic voice).  After becoming familiar with the songstress, I recall recognizing Whitney in a bit part on, Gimme a Break

The news of her untimely death was very shocking.  I couldn't believe it, but unfortunately, it was true.  I will always remember her powerful gift of song.  In the words of my 7-year-old niece, who is also a gifted singer, "She has the most beautiful voice in the world!"

R.I.P. Whitney Elizabeth Houston.

Paper Flowers*, a 2011 UFDC Convention souvenir gift from Ruth

Ruth Manning entered my life on January 20, 2003, after I received an email request from her to join my online black-doll discussion group, WeLoveBlackDolls.  According to the new-member protocol, I introduced Ruth to fellow WLBD members with the following email:

January 20, 2003, New Member Welcome - Ruth M.
Please join me in welcoming our newest member, Ruth, to our list.
We also have another member whose name is Ruth. For this reason, I
will refer to our new member as Ruth M. Below is Ruth M's self-description of her doll-collecting hobby.
Hi Debbie,
I've been collecting dolls about 30+ years but I've really gotten carried away in the past 3 years. That's how long I've been retired.
I have about 700 dolls of all kinds but mostly black. I have about
150 Barbie/friends of Barbie-about 95% are black. I only look for
black vintage dolls but I don't stick to that. The last black dolls
that I bought, in Dec, 2002, were 4 Barbies, Bebe-a Jan McLean
Lollipop Girl, & Madison-My Scene Barbie. I've bought about 150
dolls since last May-mostly black. The dolls are running me out of my own
house. Between the dolls & my 700 Ty products (beanie babies) I
am nearly bankrupt.

I go to doll shows, frequent antique shops, & really enjoyed the
Barbie convention held in Denver, last June. I only collect dolls.
I made my first & last doll last summer-a black porcelain doll about
22". That was too much hard work. I can really appreciate the cost
of dolls.

What can I say? I'm really an "Incurable Collector"!

Always Blessed,

Doesn't Ruth sound like a delightful person? Please join me in welcoming her to our list. Thanks!

And welcome her we did!  She became part of our doll-collecting sisterhood.  We loved collecting dolls right along with her and vicariously through her doll purchases because Ruth could buy some dolls!  Her monthly doll purchases often totaled 30 dolls or more, and she had the pictures to prove it.  In the spring of 2003 (shortly after joining the list), Ruth allowed me to share her doll collector's profile with the readers of Black Doll-E-Zine

The WLBD members not only delighted in Ruth's enthusiasm for doll collecting, but we were also fascinated by her zest for living life to the fullest.  She traveled throughout the country often solo to doll shows and conventions.  She had a goal to visit all 50 US states.  I believe, with the exception of never visiting Pennsylvania, she accomplished this goal. 

As illustrated in her email introduction, her signatures usually exhibited her faith in God, which remained steadfast until the end.  They varied from  Always Blessed, Hallelujah Anyhow, Healed by His Stripes, to just signing her name (after she switched from individual emails to reading posts at the WLBD website in 2011). 

Ruth lost her battle with an extended illness on February 12, 2012.  I did not find out until February 16, 2012.  The world lost a sweet angel and heaven gained one.

I will truly miss our several-year on- and offline friendship and hearing her sweet voice over the telephone to just talk dolls or about things in our personal lives.

Rest in peace, sweet Ruth.  I will always love you. 

*The paper flowers are actually called lithographed paper scraps that were possibly made in Germany. Collecting and swapping paper scraps was a popular childhood pastime. There are adults who continue to collect these today. Read more about the process here.


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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So in Style Grace and Courtney for 2012

As seen on Flickr... can we all say in unison, "articulation"? (!)

Grace and Courtney will try their hands at tennis in the Fall/Winter of 2012. I look forward to seeing the other articulated sets.


Happy Valentine's Day!

Flowers from my son waiting on my desk this morning at 4 a.m.; a nice way to begin my work day

Trichelle and Darren and little Ginny in a Valentine's cup are surrounded by various SIS doll-themed greetings from SIS collectors

Greeting from me to you

My favorite childhood Valentine's Day candy to share

Happy Valentine's Day
from me


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A Nancy Ann Storybook Doll Valentine

In addition to collecting modern dolls, I also incorporate historically-significant dolls into my collection for a variety of reasons.  These early dolls often illustrate how black people were perceived during the time in which they were made.  One of my Valentine's gifts this year includes a doll that falls into the historically-significant category.

The doll is a 5-1/2-inch Nancy Ann Storybook (NASB) Doll, circa 1948-1950. Her name is Topsy, based on the young slave girl in Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic book, Uncle Tom's Cabin

First published in 1852 as an antislavery text, Stowe, an abolitionist, is said to have intentionally created stereotypical characters to expose the evils of slavery.  Topsy is an incorrigible, young servant, purchased as a "gift" for a woman who despises her because she is black.  Topsy's new owner refused to touch her for the same reason, the color of her skin; it is unnerving to her.  Poor Topsy doesn't know how to love and believes, because of the mistreatment she has endured throughout her life, that it is impossible for a black person to be loved.  She is eventually "delivered" from this belief the moment the young white mistress, Eva, "touches" her and tells Topsy she loves her.  Eva's mere touch cures Topsy of her waywardness.  When Eva dies, Topsy is heartbroken.

Topsy, the doll, arrived in a Valentine-shaped box (used only as a gift box; it is not original to the doll).  The top of the box is painted to look like a men's vested suit.  The doll wears her original rust and white, block-check taffeta dress, white pantaloons, and painted-on black shoes.  Initially, I thought my doll was one of the original bisque, 1930s storybook dolls that the founder of the company, Nancy Ann Abbott, made.

Abbott's original, 1930s storybook dolls were bisque with painted eyes and were similar in appearance to my 1948 doll, which was fashioned to look like her original dolls.

Other hard plastic, dark skinned NASB versions from the late 1940s-1950s were made with sleep eyes like the one I referenced in Black Dolls A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion

Two versions of late-1940s hard plastic NASB Topsy dolls, one with sleep eyes, one with painted eyes

In addition to their different eyes, my Valentine's doll and my first hard plastic Topsy (shown above), have different head sculpts. At the time of this writing, I do not own an original black bisque NASB doll, but would like to eventually. 

Other dark skinned NASB dolls, circa 1930s through 1950s include, and are possibly limited to:
The dolls shown at the two previous links are made of bisque.   As illustrated at these links, the fabric used for their dresses varied throughout the years.  Use was probably based on availability.  Mammy and Baby are harder to find today and usually are quite costly.   Topsy and Eva together command top dollar, too.  I have no plans nor desire to own either of these sets. 

Nancy Ann #208 Nigerian, from the Bourla years (1966 - 1973)

The Nigerian Nancy Ann doll, shown above, is made of plastic.  This more recent dark-skinned Nancy Ann doll was manufactured by the Bourla Company and may be part of an international doll series. 

Albert Bourla acquired the original NASB company during the 1960s following Ms. Abbott's death and the company's subsequent state of bankruptcy.  I discovered the Nigerian doll while doing research for this post and purchased it in a buy it now auction the day prior to publishing.  The Bourla dolls, made in Hong Kong, are said to be inferior in quality to the original dolls.  I will know for myself within a few days.

Bourla sold his company in 2003 to sisters, Claudette Buehler and Darlene Budd. Their dolls are designed by Dianna Effner.  The first ones were produced in 2005.  I do not own any of the sisters' dolls.  To date none are dark skinned

Black Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls' Historical Significance:
  • Early 20th Century dolls manufactured by a female entrepreneur.
  • Black and white dolls share the same molds.
  • Black dolls' facial features are not stereotypical, unlike many early 20th Century black dolls that had exaggerated facial features.
  • Black dolls are characteristically stereotypical, depicting blacks as subservient, which was the norm during the 1930s through 1950s.
For more NASB historical facts, visit the following sites:

Nancy Ann Storybook Doll History
An Insider's Guide to NASB Dolls

For more information on Topsy dolls that were manufactured by other companies click here and here.


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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rocawear SIS @Mattel Shop 15% Coupon Use Ebates

So In Style Rocawear Grace, Darren, Trichelle, and Marisa
Mattel stock photos (combined)

I know I am only supposed to share merchants' for sale items on my Dolls for Sale Blog, but I know so many who do not follow that blog may be looking for this complete set.  I will probably write a dual blog for this -- one here and one there.

Those who have not been successful in finding the latest wave of Barbie So In Style Rocawear dolls (shown above) may want to purchase them online from the Mattel Shop (; all four dolls are available at the time of this writing for $12.99.  Please read this entire post first to take advantage of two and possibly four ways to save on your purchase.

1.  If you are registered with, go to first, and from there link to by entering "mattel shop" in ebate's search box, then click the Mattel link.  You'll get 2% cash back on your purchase.   (If you are not already registered with, do so here.)

2.  If you have not already joined the email family, join it at their website (see the banner at the top of their home page) to get an additional 10% off your first order. Now -- I am not sure the additional 10% will work along with items 3 and/or 4, below, but the possibility that it will is worth joining their email loop.

3. For 15% off your order, use coupon code FEB15OFF during checkout at

4. If your order totals $50 or more, use coupon code FSOVER50 to get free shipping. 

You may only be able to use one of the above coupon codes, but again, I would try both.  Both coupon codes are good through 02/29/2012.

Happy Saturday and happy shopping.


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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jason Wu: From Play- to Full-Scale Fashions

Alysa Simply Chic by Jason Wu/Integrity Toys, 2000

My first Jason Wu-designed doll is Alysa Simply Chic*, featured on page 55 in my first book, The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls (Hobby House Press, Inc., 2003).   New to the doll design world, the then teen Jason Wu went on to design several other fashion dolls for Integrity Toys, specifically the Fashion Royalty line, which includes my favorite doll, AdΓ©le.  

In 2009, shortly after the White House inaugural balls, a portion of Alysa's book text was hacked into a Kindle "book." (Shaking my head in disgust,) I experienced extreme difficulty getting to remove this unauthorized, one-line-of-text "book" from their Kindle store.   The hacking took place, not because of the doll, but because Jason Wu designed it. 

Women's fashion designs by Wu have been seen in high-end stores such as Neiman-Marcus for at least a decade, but he was basically unheard of outside doll-focused world, until First Lady Michelle Obama (FLMO) wore one of his designs to the White House inaugural balls.  This white, one-shouldered gown, a design Wu had submitted to FLMO for consideration prior to her selecting it as "the" inaugural gown of choice, was replicated by Danbury Mint for their FLMO doll.

In addition to designing for Integrity Toys and becoming a household name after the inaugural balls, young Mr. Wu designed dolls for Madame Alexander.   Bon Bon Neo Cissy's hand hat (shown at the previous link) still bewilders me, but thank God it's removable!

Recently Mr. Wu partnered with Target to offer affordably priced women's wear. The initial 60-piece stock of fashions and accessories, priced from $19.99 to $59.99, sold out immediately in stores and online earlier this week.  Reportedly Target plans to restock their stores.  At the time of this writing, some online items have been restocked.

So if you're into designer fashions for yourself, you may be interested in purchasing a Wu fashion or accessory before they sell out again. 

*Alysa uses the honey complexioned Charice/Charisse sculpt by Paul David for Integrity Toys.  Wu designed Alysa's fashion. 


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My Stardoll

Vanessa, of Fashion Dolls at Van's Doll Treasures, has shared how much she enjoys the Stardoll website where members can design their very own MeDoll and create the virtual doll's wardrobe. I promised Vanessa that I would try the site.  I finally did a few weeks ago.

I created my own MeDoll with an attempt to have her resemble me.  I have not created a fashion wardrobe. I have also not decorated her various rooms. If I were interested in fashion and design, this site would probably enthuse me as much as it does others; and if indulging in these design activities were free, I might be more inclined to spend time at the site. However, Starcoins and Stardollars are required to purchase the more desirable items. I do have the 100 Stardollars that came with the purchase of my three-dimensional Stardoll; however, I have no immediate plans to spend this cybermoney.

I did promise Vanessa that I would share my MeDoll, which is the purpose of this blog. I thought since I shared my young Debbie paper doll two days ago, that today's blog would fulfill my promise to Vanessa.

So here she is:
We are definitely not twins, but she is as close to resembling me as I could achieve using the limited face shapes, skin tones, eyes, eyebrows, noses, mouths, and hairstyles available at the site.    What she lacks is personality.  Not that I have a lot of it, but she has none.  She also does not have the natural coarser, curlier texture of my hair.  My MeDoll is missing one of my two pairs of black framed eyeglasses, because she has 20/20 vision.  I certainly do not.  I've worn glasses since I was the age of my young Debbie paper doll.  Back then I did not wear them all the time, but now I do, sometimes even when I sleep.   She has thick eyebrows.  Mine used to be, but they are thinner, a sign of "maturity."  Also missing is the gray hair that frames my face and the years that came with it -- I know she wants that; she wants to wear eyeglasses 24/7, too. 

So add in a little personality, coarser/curlier hair salted with the gray that I recently stopped coloring, about 20+ more years (she looks 30ish), corrective lenses for severe astigmatism, thinner eyebrows, and my MeDoll and I could be twins.   


Fellow bloggers/readers, have you stardolled yourself?  If not, try it; and please share your MeDoll on your blog. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I Am a Paper Doll -- You Can Be, Too!

During the end of December or beginning of January, I received a flyer in the mail from paper doll artist, Diana E. Vining, announcing her portrait paper dolls of children.  Using a suitable photograph of your child, grandchild, or other young girl, Diana fashions a portrait paper doll which includes the original artwork, the paper doll, a colored sheet of fashions, and two extra fashion sheets to be colored by the child.  There are three age groups from which to choose: 2-3, 4-7, and 8-12.

Using a photograph of me at age 10 (I might have been 11), Diana fashioned my portrait paper doll.    Of course I am not a child, but I do collect paper dolls and thought it would be neat to have yet another portrait paper doll of myself as a child (my husband and son made my first two sets). 

The photo used and actual paper doll created by Diana are shown below (click to enlarge).

You too (or a real child) can be a paper doll. Visit Diana's website for details.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Meet Felicity, Possibly Again

Felicity an OOAK Barbie
Felicity* arrived yesterday from Chynadoll Creations.  She patiently awaited my arrival at the post office where I was pleasantly surprised by her presence.

I knew her face looked familiar after removing her from the white bubble wrap envelope in the parking lot of the post office.  (I couldn't wait to get home to open it because I read the return address label in the PO lobby and knew something fabulous was inside.)  I didn't make the connection until several hours later when I saw her image on Facebook.  I backtracked and read Chynadoll's July January 27th entry, which confirmed my revelation.  Who knew the friend referred to in the statement, "Felicity was created for a fellow blogger friend of mine as a belated gift," referred to me.  :-)

Touched, honored, blessed are just a few of the emotions I continue to feel.

The gorgeous Felicity wears a strapless dress designed by Chynadoll.  She has additional handcrafted goodies: an Ebony magazine, an adorable little puppy, and a cell phone.  She also has a handbag by Mattel, as shown in the full-length image above (click to enlarge).

Close-up image of Felicity's gorgeous face and loosely curled, re-rooted locks
As described on her intro blog, Felicity has re-rooted, loosely curled brown hair with platinum blonde streaks.  Her alluring eyes are gray with the most beautifully feathered eye brows.  Her lilac lip color matches the main color of her print dress.  She has three tattoos; one on her chest, one on her left arm, and one on her left thigh.  The two larger ones are clearly butterflies.  I was told several years ago by a pathology resident at a local hospital that butterflies mean good luck.  I have loved them ever since.

Thanks so much Chynadoll for this very, very sweet surprise.  I love Felicity and will cherish her forever.

*Before realizing who Felicity was, I showed her to my husband and said, "She needs a name."  He said, "Britney."  So before I made the connection that Britney already had a name and that I had already seen her in cyberspace eight days prior, her name was Britney.  In fact, the original title of this blog was "Meet Britney." 


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