Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Brief History of the Italian Doll Company: Lenci Company

The Lenci Company was founded in 1919 in Turin, Italy by Enrico and Elana Konig Scavini. It is reported that the company continued making dolls into the 21st century, however, there is conflicting information about the year company was founded and exactly how long they continued making dolls.
The dolls made at Lenci during the 1920s and 1930s are particularly desired by collectors because of their superb craftsmanship, and also because they are so irresistibly adorable.
The most notable among the Lenci’s 83 years of history was the period between the two World Wars. These are said to be the most valuable and best well made of their creations.
The early highly sought after Lenci dolls have the pressed felt and oil-painted faces. They also had double felt ears that were sewn on individually. Their heads swiveled on their bodies. They had jointed shoulders and hips and some dolls had rooted hair on mohair wigs. They often had side glancing eyes and were dressed in elaborate costumes made from either felt or organdy.
Some of these early Lenci dolls can be found today carrying things such as a carved wooden animal or a broom. The later Lenci dolls are reported as being somewhat less well made and many have fabric covered cardboard torsos with felt faces that are hard and have been compared to cloth covered cardboard. The later dolls might be found dressed in clothing made from cotton, rayon, and taffeta. They are also usually less well accessorized than the earlier better made dolls.
The Lenci dolls apparently were also imitated everywhere since the year of 1927, from Turin to Florence, and then in Germany, France, and England. The imitation dolls were also said to be Read on at:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Galoob Baby Face Dolls

Mel Birnkrant is the creator of the Galoob Baby Face doll. He has been in the toy industry for many years and is a leading toy designer. Mel Birnkrant was the Creative Director for Colorforms Toys for over 20 years. While in this position he created a cornucopia of products that included the Mickey Mouse and Disney Colorforms toys. He licensed the Baby Face doll design in partnership with Kiscom Toys to the Lewis Galoob Toy Company in 1990. All the original outfits worn by the Baby Face dolls were created by Judy Albert, who also has fame for the Cabbage Patch family of dolls.
Mel and his wife, Eunice converted a three-story schoolhouse in upstate New York into a home for themselves and their unusual collection of rare comic character toys.
The first dolls’ names were:
• So Surprised Suzie• So Happy Heidi• So Sorry Sarah• So Shy Sherry• So Delightful DeeDee• So Playful Penny• So Innocent Cynthia• So Loving Laura• So Sweet Sandi• So Funny Natalie Read on at:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Vintage Doll Collecting: Tim Wilson Dolls

Tim Wilson was the first in the USA to place Zapf dolls, Lissi Dolls, Engel Puppen, Stolli, and Steiff Dolls on the American Shopping Channels to help build the awareness of the German quality. The Tim Wilson Family of Fine Dolls is recognized for innovation, quality, delivery, and value for over 18 years.
The partnership between German makers of Zapf and Steiff and Tim Wilson dissolved when the German makers each decided to merchandise in the USA with their own corporate distribution.
Tim Wilson introduced the Lissi dolls on TV and to the US retailers in the 1980’s. Lissi Batz doll makers were the smallest of the German doll makers in the area of Coburg, West Germany. Arno, Lissi, their son Manfred Batz, Tim and Susan Wilson came to an agreement to start Lissi Dolls USA. This was a new company in the US with Tim Wilson as President. As the result of this success, Tim Wilson was named “Vendor of The Year” by “Home Shopping Network.”
Tim Wilson approached the largest seller of German made dolls in the US, the Pleasant Company, in 1994 to solicit their business to change to Asian production. They agreed and as a result the quality of Asian production was up to their high standards.
The Tim Wilson Family of Fine Dolls and Cute As a Button Babies Company was established in 1997 under the umbrella of KACHA INTERNATIONAL, LTD. Tim searched for leading American artists and designers to produce the winning sculpt. The first artist developed molds from Tim Wilson’s children, Kara and Chad, who were 11 months apart in age and often referred to by friends and family as “Cute as a Button Babies.” Thus, the name of the line was trademarked, CUTEASABUTTONBABIES. The first of the many face molds sere sculpted by Donna Vernal, who is a long time designer for many leading companies.
CUTEASABUTTONBABIES (trademark) was immediately nominated for Doll of The Year in 1998, and the packaging for the products was 100% successful having the total sellout each year by Thanksgiving during the prime Christmas selling season. This discovery was definitely a successful find.
He found award winning artists to design the newest “Designer Reproduction Series,” and personally sculpted three play doll faces for the CUTEASABUTTONBABIES (trademark) series. The theory behind the DRS series is to offer award winning dolls in the vinyl medium. The molds are winners, however, consumers have not been able to obtain or afford the dolls produced in very small limited edition pieces to less than 50 pieces and some dolls are editions of only one. Now, due the DRS series, they can be offered at retails less than $100. Read on at:

Friday, November 9, 2007

Vintage Doll Collecting: Chad Valley Toys and the Palitoy Toy Company

Palitoy was the name of a British toy company that manufactured some of the most popular toys in Britain, of which some were original items and others were under license. The company, near Leicester, England, grew out of a plastics firm established by Alfred Edward Pallett in 1909 and became one of Britain’s leading toy manufacturers. Some of their most famous toys included:
• Action Man• Action Force• Tiny Tears Baby Dolls• Pippa• Tressy• Star Wars figures• Care Bears
British Xylonite bought the Cascelloid Company in 1931 and created the trademark “Palitory” in 1935 for their toy division. Alfred Edward Pallet founded the Cascelloid Company in 1909 to produce celluloid and fancy goods. They produced their first doll in 1925.
Injection molding was developed by British Xylonite in 1941 and was used for the Palitoy toy ranges.
Palitory was sold to General Mills in 1968 and became the Palitory Company in 1980 when Palitory, Denys Fisher and Chad Valley broke away from General Mills. Their business closed in 1984. Hasbro bought the factory, toy molds and copyrights from whom they had been a major licensee.
Action Man
Action Man was a doll marketed as “moveable fighting man,” and as with Hasbro’s G.I. Joe in the U.S. (of which was licensed copy) no mention was ever made of the figure being a doll. It was unseemly for boys to be playing with dolls in the 1960’s.
Action Man was originally produced and sold in the United Kingdom and Australia by Palitoy Ltd of Coalville, Leicestershire from 1966 until 1984. Action Man and accessories were originally based on the Hasbro (US) 1964 G.I. Joe. The first Action Man figures were “Action Soldier,” “Action Sailor” and “Action Pilot.” They were all available in the four original hair colors of blonde, auburn, brown and black. Their outfits depicted the participants of the Second World War. Action Man was subsequently reintroduced in 1993, based on the GI Joe Hall of Fame figure of that time.
The action figure featured changeable clothes with various uniforms to suite different purposes which eventually created global popularity for this type of toy. Read on at:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vintage Doll Collecting: German Zapf Dolls and Toys

Zapf Creation AG is Europe’s leading brand manufacturer of play, functional and mini dolls and accessories. Headquarters are in Roedental/Coburg (Germany). The company’s most popular brands are BABY born, Baby Annabell and CHOU CHOU. The company’s play concepts are successful all over the world and designed especially for girls between three and eight years of age.
Accessory and doll clothes designers follow trends in children’s fashion and general lifestyle products to incorporate these into the approximately 70% of new products launched each year.
The United States represents the single largest market, Europe’s top five toy markets of Great Britain, Germany, Spain, France and Italy make up more than 60% of the global toy market for the Zapf Creation Company. Their market segment is the global doll market, which includes: Read on at:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Vintage Doll Collecting: Engel-Puppen Doll Company

Engel-Puppen has been in business for more than 100 years. It is the oldest doll factory at its location in Roedental, Bavaria, Germany.
The Engel-Puppen dolls produce almost any type of doll from small playable vinyl dolls to decorative dolls in original German costumes, from nostalgic collectable dolls to valuable artist dolls made of porcelain in limited editions. The company also produces a large variety in doll clothes and accessories. One very important fact about the Engel-Puppen doll lines and accessories is that they are all made in Germany and meet the standard of quality that German products are known for all over the world.
At the end of the 19th century, home-workers in the city of Rodental, collected materials from their contractors located in world city of toys, Sonneberg. The dolls were usually complete. Most of the workers worked from workshops in their living rooms.
The first doll factory was established in Monchroden in October/November of 1896 by Edmuch Knoch and his wife, Emilie. Together they started working in one room of her father’s house, but soon outgrew the space and moved to another house in Rothinestr 7. They moved into their own factory building in 1908 in Lange Wiesen 6.
The first big success of the Edmund Knoch Company was the small princess dolls sold mostly by exporters from Hamburg. Their next biggest customers were the export companies from Sonneberg, which is the oldest toy city in the world.
Edmund Knoch died in 1934. Edmund’s son, Otto and his mother began to run the company, which now had 30 employees and home workers. Read on at:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Vintage Doll Collecting: The Remco Toy Company

The Remco Toy Company was founded in the 1940s and best known for toys marketed and sold in the late 1950s and 1960s such as the Johnny Reb Cannon and Mighty Matilda Atomic Aircraft Carrier. One of their slogans was: “Every Boy Wants a Remco Toy.” In the mid-60’s, the Remco Toy Company acquired several licenses for popular culture acts such as the Beatles, Monkees, Munsters, Lost in Space and Batman.
The Remco Toy Company was acquired by Azrak-Hamway International, Inc. in 1964. This was a toy company in New York, New York. In 1997, Jakks Pacific acquired Child Guidance and the Remco Toy Company from Azrak-Hamway International.
Heidi was probably one of the Remco’s Toy Company’s most popular dolls. She was extremely popular from the mid ‘60s into the early ‘70s. Heidi was a little blonde doll standing about 5 ½-inches tall who came with a plastic case, which was similar to Remco’s TV Jones line. Heidi had a Japanese friend, whose name was Jan. Both Heidi and Jan featured a magic button on their stomachs that made them wave. They also produced a version that caused the doll to blink when you pushed the magic button. It is rare to find a doll today that still has a working button.
Remco later introduced a sister to Heidi. Her name was Hildy, then there Pip, who was Heidi’s little friend, Spunky was her tomboy friend and Herby. Today you will find more of Heidi and Jan. The other dolls are harder to find. There were also many carded and boxed outfits and play sets made for Heidi and her playmates.
The Remco Toy Company was one of the first companies to sell their dolls through television advertising. I, being from the Baby Boomer era, do remember television commercials ending with “made by Remco,” (probably during an “I Love Lucy” episode or “Popeye the Sailor Man” cartoons). Read on at: