Friday, May 19, 2017

Faithful Friends by Heidi Ott

Target-exclusive 18-inch Faithful Friends, Ellie and Will, by Heidi Ott

In the late 1990s, Target stores partnered with Swiss-artist Heidi Ott, who created a line of 18-inch dolls that were sold only at Target.  Made along the style of American Girl dolls, they were dressed in nineteenth century clothing and had a historical fiction book series.  Meet the Friends by Sharla Shannell Whalen, is the first book in the Faithful Friends book series.  Unlike American Girl offerings during the 1990s, the Faithful Friends line included both girl and boy 18-inch dolls.  The above two, Ellie and Will, have been part of my personal collection since the late-1990s.  I purchased Ellie deeply discounted at Target for $6.99.  Will was a gift from a "faithful friend," who knew I needed the boy or that Ellie needed her brother.

Ellie wears a blue plaid dress with white pinafore.  Her curly hair is accessorized by a bow that matches the dress fabric.

I added Ellie's glasses. 

Made in 1996, the dolls have artist-type vinyl heads, arms and legs, and stuffed cloth bodies. Heidi Ott's signature is incised in the back of their necks.  They both have Kanekalon wigs, brown sleep eyes, and smiling mouths with two upper painted-on teeth.  Made in China, the dolls were distributed by Dayton Hudson Corporation.

Will is decked out in a white shirt, brown tweed jacket with brown corduroy collar and pockets, brown corduroy pants and hat, white socks, and brown lace-up shoes.

While he shares the same head sculpt as his sister, Ellie, he does look like a boy.

The back of the box describes the Faithful Friends dolls as follows:

Faithful Friends
By Heidi Ott

From head to toe, you can be assured that your Heidi Ott doll is 100% handcrafted of the finest materials.  We invite you to look closely and admire each feature of your new friend.  You will see that her beautiful eyes, arching brows, rosy lips and blushing cheeks are all handpainted with loving care.  Examine her clothing and find double-stitched, double-layered fabrics for lasting quality, plus beautiful extras like hand-knitted lace and fine finishing on hems, seams and edging.  Note the leather shoes and sparkling glass eyes.  And appreciate that each doll is made with child-friendly, DOP free vinyl.

Will and Ellie's certificates of authenticity are shown above.

Your new faithful friend from Heidi Ott comes with her very own Certificate of Authenticity. We recommend that you keep this certificate in a safe place for lasting verification of her one-of-a-kind hand-crafted quality.

Congratulations on meeting your newest faithful friend, and for gaining a treasured family heirloom that will last for generations.

The left side box panel reads:

Faithful Friends Collection
Welcomes you—With Open Arms

We are pleased to introduce you to your new faithful friends, created exclusively for Target by the famous Swiss dollmaker, Heidi Ott.

Each friend has her own personality—just like you—and her own stories and adventures to share.

With your new faithful friends at your side, and your own imagination, you can share exciting adventures, plan quiet tea parties or anything in between.  Collect them all, and you will surely treasure them as faithful friends forever.

The right side box panel reads:

The artful Swiss Dollmaker

 All over the world, Heidi Ott and her dolls are treasured for their quality and craftsmanship.  To doll collectors, her dolls are some of the finest examples of hand painting done today.

 To Heidi herself, they are a reminder of simpler times when loving and caring for a doll was a little girl’s pleasure.

 “When I create my dolls,” says Heidi Ott, “it brings back memories of my childhood.  I lived in the world of my dolls together with my brothers and neighborhood friends.  Life passes by so fast today that I like to preserve those precious memories with my work.”

 The dolls’ resemblance to real children makes them even more endearing—and charmingly collectible—for wherever they go, these beautifully dressed dolls are capturing the hearts of children everywhere.

Scan from The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls (Hobby House Press, 2003)

I took updated photographs of Ellie and Will to share with my doll group for our May theme of 18-inch American Girl-type dolls and competitors.  Prior to these recent photos, the only ones I thought I had were the above scan from my first book and the original hard copy photograph used in the book.  The hard copy is filed along with the other photos from the book.  But then I remembered writing the post, "Black Dolls From Around the World—Switzerland," which includes a photograph of Will and Ellie taken at the time that post was published.  I did not have close-up photos of their faces, so "fishing them out" from behind other doll boxes to rephotograph, share the pictures with group members, and to use in this post was worth the trouble.

Their original retail was around $35 in 1996.  The assessed book value of $75 was appropriate for the 2003 doll market as the dolls had been discontinued by then.  On the secondary market today, depending on condition, they usually sell for around $30 outside the box.  All original dolls with boxes will command a slightly higher price, but this will vary.

Known for her high-end artist dolls made for collectors, very few dolls by Ott, such as Faithful Friends, were made for the play market.  Her last known dolls and doll accessories were 1:12 miniatures.  On the secondary market, the minis command as much as Ellie and Will and often sell for much more.

Read more about Faithful Friends here.

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