When did you start collecting?
I don't remember exactly, but I want to say within 5 yrs of graduating from college. Of course, Barbies had always been in my life as a child. I had the 3 story townhouse, cars, furs, etc. I also began making porcelain dolls in 1995. I hated the way most artists portrayed Black dolls. I kept asking, where are the pretty Black dolls. So I vowed to make my own.
How many dolls do you own?
This is all a guess. Barbie sized - about 300-400; 16 in - about 40; Baby dolls and porcelain - 100 - 150.
What is your favorite doll and why?
I don't have a favorite doll. It changes daily. The majority of my dolls bring me incredible joy. I love playing with the Barbie sized dolls at the moment. This past weekend, as I was showing my porcelain babies to relatives, I just melted when I looked into the eyes of some of my favorite creations. I can get a whole conversation from a doll through their eyes. The soul of a doll really is in the eyes.
What doll(s) is not my favorite?
I am not fond of the Stardolls. They have vacant eyes and I can't relate to them because of it. I plan to repaint the eyes on the one I have to see if that will make a difference. I am not terribly fond of a lot of the Fashion Royalty dolls. There are a few that I have fallen in love with, but for the most part they just don't do it for me.
What is the biggest challenge about collecting dolls?
My biggest challenge is I am not supposed to be collecting dolls anymore. I was supposed to be getting rid of the majority of my dolls and somehow I ended up adding more dolls than getting rid of them.
How do you store or display your dolls?
The main part of my Barbie collection is working throughout Morristown, so they are out all the time. I have 3 open bins which house the dolls I play with regularly. There's a bin for the men, the ladies, and the kids. In my basement there are boxed dolls and glass cases with some of my coveted dolls, like my Byron Lars collection. All of my Gene dolls are displayed in the basement on an open shelf. The Barbies that aren't used regularly, but are deboxed, live in 2 huge IKEA black boxes. They are easily accessibly when needed.
Have you ever been to a doll show?
I have been to lots of dolls shows. I used to be a vendor at dolls shows for several years, when I sold porcelain dolls. Now, I attend at least 3 doll shows every year.
When you travel, do you look for dolls?
Only PowerTeam guys. They are my favorite when it comes to the male dolls. The price is good. The articulation is great, and the sculpts are wonderful.
What is your latest purchase?
My latest purchase is the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill set. I was able to get it for $19, during Barbie Collector.com Pink Week sale and using my Barbie Fan Club $20 coupon. Look for Tim and Faith's dress in future stories.
What doll is on your wishlist right now?
There is only one doll on my wishlist. That is AA Hard Rock Cafe Barbie. I haven't really looked hard for her, but if I find her at a great price, she is mine.
What do you wish you didn't purchase?
I never regret buying a doll. Even if I don't like it, I can sell it or donate it to someone. I have only regretted NOT buying a doll, and I vowed never to do that again.
Do you talk to other collectors in person or only on the web?
I always run into local collectors at the doll shows and it's great to talk to them in person.
If you had a chance to speak to toy companies like Mattel, what would you say?
First I want to apologize. I have given you a hard time over the past few years. I realize that I am not your primary target market, and as such, not everything is going to be geared to me, a 40+ yr old collector. Your primary goal is to reach the young kids, and since I am not in that world, I shouldn't even pretend I know what they like. I do know they will NOT like what I as an adult collector will like. I have to also thank you for doing what is necessary to stay in business. I can't imagine life without you. So many companies, that I never imagined would go out of business have. We are in a different economic time, and I realize you can't do things the way you used to.
On another note, there are a few areas that need improvement. First on the list is articulation. Please stop producing dolls with partial articulation. A doll with articulated legs and straight arms is useless. All "I Can Be" dolls should be articulated. It just makes sense. Speaking of making sense, since you introduced the So In Style dolls with articulation, they should have kept their articulation. You went backwards with those dolls, and that is never a good thing. With the fashionistas, it is time for a Black male to be introduced to the line. This brings us to issue number two, diversity. On your website, you tout diversity. You are so far from being diverse it borders on ridiculous. Granted, you introduced the So In Style line, but where is the Asian representation in dolls? You had a few ladies in your Barbie Basic line, but now that is gone. Yes, there's an Asian and Hispanic in the Stardoll line, but we aren't even going to talk about that line! What is up with those bodies? That's right, I said we weren't going to talk about them. Third on the list is the Desiree mold. It has to go. I know it's the playline, but there has to be more variety there. More variety with the faces and the skin tones. Last thing on the list, is the fashions. I finally understand the clothes you are producing today is for your primary market, the kids. I'm cool with that and I have learned to like some of the clothes. I have a suggestion. Why not produce a fashion line geared towards the adult collector, too? It would be similar in style and quality to the Fashion Avenue line you had out years ago. That way you can satisfy your target market (kids) and your secondary market (adults). The price point can be higher to distinguish the two lines.
I am sure there is more I can say, but I think this is enough for now.
What doll do you wish were reissued?
Happy Family and Barbie Basics.. Nothing got my heart racing like the introduction of the new Basic lines!
Thanks Ms. Leo for posting the questions. This was fun. I think I may send my letter directly to Mattel.