Tuesday, June 17, 2014

IDS: The First Annual International Doll Show in Asheville, NC

This past Saturday, my friend Diana and I attended the First Annual International Doll Show held in Asheville, NC. It has certainly been an exciting two weeks here in the South for doll shows! I wish this happened more often (actually I don't, because I would be flat broke). What follows is a rundown of the show.

The IDS was held at the Crowne Plaza resort in Asheville. The resort itself is a bit dated, but the expo room where the show was held was nice, large, and clean. It was also very well lit, which is good when you're inspecting dolls for purchase. I liked the location, and would hope it would be held there again next year (if there is another IDS next year, more on that in a bit).

Doll Artists and Vendors In Attendance
There were a lot of reborn artists in attendance, I would say about 50% of the artists there were reborners...if that's what they are called. I am not into reborning at all, so I'll leave that post for someone else. What I am into is some of the other types of beautiful artist dolls. What was so fascinating about this show to me is that it was the first show of this type I had ever attended. The other doll shows I have been to in the past were just re-sellers of dolls, mostly vintage stuff. At this show, I was introduced to lots of other types of dolls that I would never have discovered on my own. Since there were too many artists there to talk about them all, I'm just going to throw some doll porn on here and talk about a few of them.

Twisted Wickets

Twisted Wickets

Twisted Wickets

Twisted Wickets was one of the new artists I discovered at this show. I absolutely loved these dolls. They are so unique, and so pretty. They really are more than just a doll, they are art pieces.

I don't remember who this artist was, but I loved this piece.

Marbled Halls

Marbled Halls
Marbled Halls

Marbled Halls

Marbled Halls

Marbled Halls

Marbled Halls
I really wanted this doll, she was so supernatural in her look and feel.

Marbled Halls was another great artist I discovered. I would actually like to save some money and buy one of these dolls. They remind me of fine art that one would see in a museum. Seriously. Just look at that last picture and tell me that isn't art. It's beautiful and perfect. 
Another fun doll, but I can't remember the artist.

I was also impressed by Canadian artist Kimberly Arnold of The Trinket Box. I bought a very cute necklace from her. Here is a photo of her table:

Berdine Creedy was also there, with her lovely dolls. I wanted so badly to buy a Lola doll, but I didn't have the funds to do so. 
Berdine with Diana (Diana creates some of the doll outfits for Berdine). Just look at all those Lolas in the background!

Another artist I was really impressed with was Judy Rankine. She makes cloth dolls, and they are gorgeous, and different. I was so drawn to them because they are totally unique in today's doll collecting universe. She has been making them since the 1970's, so I was a little surprised I had never heard of her before. She apparently has quite the fan following as well.
Cloth doll face

Alice doll
Her dolls were only $250. I say only $250 because the quality of craftsmanship in these dolls is impeccable. Each hand has five perfect fingers that can bend and pose (wire inside, of course). I really loved them and can see myself acquiring one in the future.

So, what did I buy anyway? Well, Helen Skinner and Joyce Matthews, both of whom are Little Darlings artists, were there with a handful of Little Darlings! I have deposits on two little darlings, but they won't be delivered until sometime next year. I couldn't resist, and bought two:
Anna and Elsa
And guess what? I got to name them while I was there. Don't you think the names are appropriate? Now I just need to save some money and get some cute outfits for them. There was something of a teaser in their booth though:
Dianna Effner BJD

Yes, that is an Effner BJD. Collectors have been asking and here she is. She's not quite ready for sale yet, but I believe it will be fairly soon. The head is made of porcelain and the body is resin. Isn't that exciting? This particular model was painted by Dianna Effner. 

Activities At The Show
There were several activities going on during the show. The Dolls Magazine awards were given away on Saturday night, and you could purchase a ticket to attend these awards, which included dinner. Also, about once per hour, there was a drawing for prizes. I didn't see all of the prizes, but I did see that one was a pair of Marie Osmond Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. This was not an additional cost, you just dropped one half of your entrance ticket into a box, and they pulled tickets every so often.

Technically, this is not an activity, but the awards and the event were sponsored by Dolls Magazine, and they had a special where you could purchase a one year subscription to both Dolls and Haute Doll for $20. Yes, $20 for BOTH. I couldn't throw my money at them fast enough. 

Friday, there were also some activities offered by doll artists. Berdine Creedy hosted a tea party where you could paint your own BJD (would LOVED to have gone to that one), and there were some reborning classes as well. Next year, I would possibly be interested in one of these classes.

Next Year...
Diana and I both enjoyed this show tremendously, and are very hopeful it will return next year. According the IDS website, they will see us in 2015, so that is very promising. The only force working against its return is how well the artists fared. One artist told us she had been moving dolls all day, but still hadn't even met her expenses. She said if artists couldn't make their expenses, they wouldn't come back. Makes perfect sense, but I really hope everyone had a great Saturday and Sunday so that it will be back, bigger and better next year!

Did you attend IDS? Leave me a comment and tell me what you thought of it!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Tonner Salute To Gone With The Wind

Yesterday, I attended my first ever doll event: A Tonner Salute To Gone With The Wind. I am not really a Gone With The Wind fan, but I am a doll fan (obviously), and since this event was in Atlanta, it was close enough for me to drive. I enlisted one of my best friends, Henny, to attend, because I didn't want to go alone. She also happens to be a huge GWTW fan, so it wasn't too difficult to convince her. Naturally, my ulterior motive is to hook her into the world of doll collecting, so we'll see how this all pans out.

Since this was my first event ever, I didn't really know what to expect. I'm going to lay everything out here, the good, the bad, and the ugly, so that if you, like me, are planning on attending a Tonner event, you can know a little more about what to expect, in terms of the event itself and costs associated with the event.

The Hotel

The event was held in the JW Marriott in Atlanta (Buckhead), and we did drive down the night before so we wouldn't feel rushed the next morning. Henny's father in law works for Marriott so we did get a little bit of a discount (about $20) on the room. The hotel itself was gorgeous, and it was one of the cleanest hotels I've ever had the pleasure of visiting. We ordered room service for breakfast (a continental) because we wanted to get ready and eat breakfast in a leisurely manner. The total cost for the room plus the room service was $126.44.

Registration began at 9:30, and we went to register around that time. There was a very nice spread of pastries and beverages available for attendees. Of course, we had already had our fill with our breakfast, but it was a nice touch, and definitely something I'll remember for the next event before I consider room service. When we registered, we got a hand stamp.

This was also when the opportunity to buy raffle tickets presented itself. I bought 50 raffle tickets for $35. 25 raffle tickets were $25, and there were bigger price breaks the more tickets you bought, just to give you an idea. I'll talk more about the raffle in a bit though, as I would like to go in chronological order. After registration, everyone was mingling and waiting on the sales room to open. There were no lines, just everyone meeting and greeting. The ladies did finally open the doors, and we walked through the main event area into the sales room. 

The Sales Room
There was not a lot of competition to get into the sales room. There were plenty of dolls to go around (I don't think this event sold out, I felt like we were a small group, maybe 80-100 people maximum). The event exclusive dolls were immediately to the right, across from the cash register when we walked into the room. There were 3 event exclusive dolls: Over the Top? Ellowyne doll, Lost Honeymoon Scarlett Doll, and Shame Scarlett doll. I grabbed an Ellowyne and a Lost Honeymoon doll, but the Shame dolls seemed to already be sold out. How could that I be? I was one of the first in the room...more on that later. Since we were in the sales room early, I was able to check out with ease. The Ellowyne doll was $165, and the Scarlett doll was $225. With sales tax, the total cost came to $421.20. Ouch. What follows are some pics from the sales room.

That sales room is a bit dangerous. I had never been a fan of Evangeline before, but seeing her in person really piqued my interested. I think I will probably buy one in a few months. She is really stunning in person.
The Lost Honeymoon Scarlett was also the centerpiece of the tables
Gorgeous Ellowyne

She has the prettiest coloring.

Meeting Robert Tonner
We were among the first folks to check out in the sales room, so we had a quite a bit of down time afterwards. We had gone to pick our table and stood by our chairs talking, people watching, etc. We chose a table in the back, and we were the only two people at our table at that time. About the time I had organized my purchases underneath my chair, Robert Tonner walked over to us and started chatting. The 3 of us chatted for about 10 minutes, and he is such a nice person. I didn't really expect to get to talk to him much other than a "Hey, how are you, could you sign my doll" kind of situation, but it wasn't like that at all. We didn't even talk about dolls, we just had a normal conversation about life, what we do, and business in general. It was really nice and I was so happy to be able to have that experience and to meet him, and to be able to have a normal conversation (not about dolls). He even teased us a little about maybe having a convention in Atlanta, they were so impressed with the hotel. He also let us take this selfie:
Henny, Robert Tonner, and Me

The Raffle
After he walked away, I decided to choose my raffle dolls. I was trying to wait until everyone had put their tickets in so I could see which dolls had the least amount of tickets. I put 25 tickets into Golden Gothess Evangeline, about 20 tickets into a Parnilla doll, and the last 5 into some random bags. The drawing was held later in the program, and very sadly, I did not win anything. This was actually very disappointing for me as I felt sure I would win, since I had put 25 tickets in one bag. I think that was a bit of naivety from me, because I'm sure other people bought a lot more raffle tickets. Two gentlemen in the audience won raffle drawings twice. You want to be happy for them, but well, you know...Anyway, I'm sure I would buy raffle tickets again. The anticipation of waiting to hear your name called is so exciting. I think next time I will spread my tickets out and put at least one in each bag so that I still have a chance up to the end.

The raffle dolls

More raffle dolls

Not a winner :(

The Luncheon
The lunch was served buffet style, and we were dismissed table by table to serve ourselves. The food was excellent, and much better than I expected. On the buffet were the following: mixed green salad, shredded carrots, red wine vinaigrette dressing, tomatoes, tomato and cucumber salad, shrimp and pasta salad, marinated tomato and mozzarella salad, spiced collard greens, green bean almondine, sweet potato hash, baked chicken with a mushroom gravy, bbq pulled pork with a Georgia peach sauce, Parmesan crusted trout, mini pecan pies, peach melba, and a triple chocolate mousse. Man, was that lunch good.
My plate

Mini pecan pie

A nice surprise: a choice of red or white wine

Gettin' crunk at the doll event

The Event Presentation
While everyone was wrapping up lunch, the presentation began. First to speak was a lady whose mother was Margaret Mitchell's first cousin. She brought a few things that personally belonged to Margaret Mitchell, and they were on display (now that I'm thinking about it, this lady may have actually spoken to us before lunch, but I considered her part of the presentation). 
A Madame Alexander Scarlett doll, belonging to Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell's perfume jar and powder jar, plus some GWTW memorabilia
The display

Next to speak was a local Atlanta historian and writer for the Atlanta Constitution. She gave us some interesting stories about Margaret Mitchell, and invited everyone to come visit The Margaret Mitchell house, where she gives tours on Tuesdays and Fridays. She also gave our her email address, and told everyone to email her if we were going to be visiting, and she would make sure she was there. It was interesting and informative, and probably more so for Henny who is a GWTW buff. Next, RT did a short presentation about the GWTW dolls that they have done, and told us that they will continue to make them because the line does very well. He also said they were "scraping the bottom of the barrel" on dresses, so they were making a lot of costumes that had been created as prototypes but never actually used in the movie. The Lost Honeymoon doll and souvenir doll are both lost costumes.

The Door Prizes
Once the presentation was complete, it was time for door prizes! We were told to number off at our table. At our table, there was one other couple that was together, and then a lady we met who was also a newbie that we invited to sit with us. We had three empty chairs at our table, so we numbered off. For the empty chairs, we gave each couple another number, and the lady by herself also got another number. So really, we all had more than one chance to win. Note to self: always sit at the back for optimum chances at winning. The tables were all numbered. The way the door prizes were awarded was RT would pull a person number, and then he would pull a table number. They gave away quite a few door prizes, and one of the guys at our table won a doll, but not us sadly. At this point I wasn't totally disappointed because I still had the raffle to come (see above for the sad ending to that tale), but I thought it was so exciting to have the door prizes. That's something I would definitely look forward to at another event.  

The Souvenirs
At the table itself, we had a small table gift, which was a cute little ceramic Scarlett bell.

The table gift

The teaser all along about the souvenir doll had been that she would be featured in a dress from the movie, but in an original color that was rejected from film. And we weren't disappointed:

Shame Doll (Duh--of course she wasn't sold out)

One Last Surprise
Just when we thought it was over, they revealed one last surprise. They had brought the factory sale to us! My blood pressure shot up as I looked over at the bags of dolls they were unloading onto the table behind us. RT drew 3 people numbers, and those people could go to the table first. They had 2 minutes to make their selections, time was called, and then the next 3 people numbers were called. I got in on the 2nd round at the table, but with only 2 minutes to decide, it was so hard! I ended up with a Disney Small World doll for $20.
The factory sale dolls are all bagged like this and priced.

By the time I was finished checking out, everyone had a chance to have their turn at the table, and so it was open and you could just browse with less pressure. On my second round, I picked up a Prudence for $65, and a Cami and Jon for $35 each.
My Prudence

Some sample items they had and their prices were: Glinda for $80, several Lizettes and Prudences for $65 (I wanted a Lizette but they went too fast so I didn't get one), lots of Tonner Models who I don't recognize were $60, Rufus for $70, some male dolls I didn't recognize for $50-$60, Viktor Krum for $70. I was a little sour about the pile of Viktor Krums there, since I paid full price for mine way back when. One lady scored an Ellowyne wig for $10. 

I could have gone totally nuts on that table, but I didn't, thank goodness. I got home and totaled my bill:
Registration: $225
Raffle Tickets: $35
Event Exclusives: $421.20
Factory Sales: $167.40
Hotel: $126.44
Parking: $12 (Tonner validated our parking but it only covered the hours we were in the show)
Total Cost: $987.04

Wow. Not for the faint of heart. I will definitely have to let some other dolls go to make room for the new ones (and recoup some money). The surprise factory sale took me by, well, surprise. Overall, I loved my experience. It was expensive, yes, but less expensive than travelling to one farther away. The most important thing is I had a great time, with a great friend, doing something I love. In fact, the entire Tonner staff is so friendly, you feel like you're there with lots of great friends. I will definitely be attending other Tonner events in my future. If you've never been, and you've been considering it, I'd say go for it, but keep in mind you need to be financially prepared.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Via-E Alexis Doll: A Collector's Review

First of all, I want to emphasize that this is a collector's review, and that this doll is not intended at all for collectors, but for little girls. Okay, disclaimer out of the way, let's get started!

If you haven't heard of her, Alexis is a new doll in the 18" category, made by the Via-E company. The company is newer, and I got a "first run" Alexis, which the collector in me couldn't resist.
Meet Alexis

Alexis is fully jointed and made completely of vinyl. As a collector, this is a huge selling point for me, since I love being able to pose my dolls the way I want for photos and whatnot. She comes in an outfit, which I happen to think is absolutely terrible. I love cats, but this just doesn't do it for me. I'm sure little girls love it, but the only piece of her "meet" outfit that I like is the boots. And when I say I like them, I mean I love them. 
John Wayne ain't got nothin' on her fringe game...

The boots are really high quality, and the zippered back makes them super easy to get off and on. I will definitely be pairing these boots with some other outfits later in Alexis's life. Since I hated her original outfit, I had to buy an extra outfit, into which I promptly changed her. 
Alexis in the Loving Sao Paulo outfit

The outfit has a dress, a reversible vest, a bandanna, and ribbon sandals. The dress is tagged Carpatina, which I'm still trying to work out (I'm not sure if Via-E purchased some old stock, or they have a deal with Carpatina, or what, but I would think they would be tagged Via-E). One thing I really like about this company is how much they stress learning and creativity, particularly because I'm a teacher. The dress is designed to be styled in many different ways. Why would I care about this as a collector? Well, I am one of those collectors who doesn't sew very well, so my dollies usually only get new outfits if I purchase them. The fun thing about this outfit is I can switch it up and it feels like a new outfit.
Reversing the vest, and using the bandanna as a belt

I really appreciate this versatility in the outfit, and it's easy to create the new looks. Another thing that's striking about Alexis is the attention to detail. 
Separated big toe, and killer pedi!

The mani to match.

Alexis's big toe is separated from the rest of her foot, allowing her to wear more realistic footwear. I love this touch and think it adds so much personality to the doll for such a small detail. Alexis also has a great mani and pedi, and has blushing painted on in all the right places. For a $95 doll, it is really hard to figure out how much profit could have been made from this first run. You are getting a lot of small details and high quality for that $95. You won't see an AG with blushing on her hands and feet, and especially not a mani/pedi. Her face mold is also full of character. If you're looking to add something new, fun, and different to your 18" collection, Alexis is a good choice, particularly for the money. 
Side view of her face mold

Alexis's face mold is very different. My mom said, "I don't like her, she has a snout." Well, she does, sort of, but I think it's precious and it adds some diversity to the Sea of Sameness, where the rest of the 18" world seems to be drowning. Alexis has rooted hair, which I generally don't prefer, but on her it's quite nice. The hair is high quality, and easy to brush. The color is also very complementary to the doll's skin tone. There were some manufacturing issues with the doll's hair originally, and Via-E sent them back to the factory to have more hair sewn into the head. 
Back of the hair

In all of the confusion, according to a Facebook post made by Via-E, the dolls' hair were never trimmed in the factory. Alexis was actually supposed to have a couple of inches less of hair, but I have decided to leave mine like she is and not trim it up. I think it's gorgeous and long, and I will be able to make quite a nice Katniss braid when I get around to it. 

The last thing I want to say about Alexis is not actually about her, but about the the company, Via-E. The lady who founded the company is named Ellen, and she's very transparent about everything Alexis through Via-E's Facebook page. During the production process, she constantly kept everyone updated on what was going on in the factory. Even as an adult collector, this made the excitement palpable, and I felt connected to the doll before she ever arrived on my doorstep. She also frequently posts activities, games, and creative things that can be done with the Alexis doll. While I don't normally do any of these things, as a teacher, I think that shows what a commitment Via-E has to its customers, and to the children who have Alexis dolls. One last commendation is that Via-E even offers a discount for good grades.
10% discount for good grades!

But please Via-E, it's "I before E, except after C", so hopefully they'll fix that "receive" on the good grades image, because that drives me nuts! 

Does anyone else out there have an Alexis doll? What are your thoughts? Please leave them in the comments!

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