Monday, July 13, 2015

Costa Rican Clay Dolls

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I am in Costa Rica at the moment visiting in-laws. Yesterday, we visited the Volcan Poas, and of course, the accompanying gift shop. I discovered some cute and unique clay dolls there, so I wanted to share with a short post. 

At first, I thought the dolls were made of wood and that the clothing was cloth, as many beautiful handicrafts here are made of wood. When I picked one up, however, I realized they were completely made of clay, except for the hair.
Close up of a clay doll with traditional Costa Rican costume

A more colorful doll, painted to resemble the traditional and colorful oxcarts

The dolls are designed to represent the culture of Costa Rica, and they do that as well as a doll can. Read more about them from the info card:

I really liked these dolls but at a whopping price tag of $25 for the smallest doll, I had to pass. Tomorrow, we head to Playa Coco, and if I encounter some for a better price, I'm sure one will be making its way back home with me. 


 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Valuing Your Collection (Monetarily)

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As I continue my series on financial matters related to doll collecting, I want to talk about valuing your collection. If you think your doll collection is worth more than $1,000, you should commit to an annual valuing/revaluing exercise. What do I mean by this? Doll values in the market fluctuate, sometimes wildly, and it's important for many reasons to have a good current picture of what your collection is worth. A few of these reasons include insurance, calculating your net worth, and making arrangements in the event you pass from this world. As someone who collects dolls for the fun of it, I admit it can be daunting to go through and revalue a collection annually. Regardless of the lack of fun this activity provides, I think it is an important task that should be completed. What follows is an explanation of how I revalue my collection. While I'm sure there are other ways to do it, this is the method I use.

The first thing to consider is what time of year you plan to revalue your collection. I like to revalue mine somewhere around Christmas, as this generally is when things fetch the highest value. I would stay away from summer months, because sales seem to slump that time of year.
It's the most wonderful time of the year ... for finding doll values.

The hardest thing you will have to do in the process is create a list of every single item of monetary value in your collection. I have lots of dolls that are very sentimentally valuable to me, but are devoid of any resale value. I do not include these in my revaluing process. I keep a running spreadsheet using Google Sheets to keep up with what I have. I create a new tab for each year so I can track fluctuations in my collection. If you would like a copy of the template I use for this, feel free to comment below with your email address and I'll send it to you. This will at least help you get started.

Once you have your list of dolls and doll accessories ready to go, just do an eBay Completed Listings search to get an idea of the value of each item. Keep in mind that you should compare the value of your item to one in similar condition that has sold (i.e. do not compare a gently played with doll to a mint in box doll, they aren't the same thing). I have two examples of this to show you. The first example is this:
Small World England Doll that my Grandma gave me

I simply do an eBay completed listings search and come up with this:

Sold dolls

My doll is not mint in box, but he is also not missing accessories like the doll sold at the bottom. This is not a scientific process, but I would value my doll somewhere in the middle of these two. I would feel comfortable putting a value of $150 on the doll I have. This doll was an excellent investment, as he was only $25 in the store, and is now worth quite a bit more (thanks Grandma!).

The second example is this doll:
Via-E Alexis doll

This is a Via-E Alexis doll (see here for a complete review of this doll). I personally love this doll as I think she is so unique in the 18" doll world. Regardless of how much I love her, what's she worth? A completed listings search yields NO RESULTS. I paid the introductory rate of $95 for Alexis back in the day. She now sells for $114 on Via-E's website. The factor that makes pricing this doll difficult for me is that quite a few Alexis Factory Seconds dolls were sold on eBay for $40-something dollars. This really annoyed me at the time and I thought it devalued the doll I had purchased. I do have a first edition doll, but considering all the factors, I would value this doll somewhere around the $80 range. This was a bad investment, but I'm okay with it, because I really do love this doll. 

Valuing and revaluing your doll collection can be a daunting task, but don't let that sway you from the mission. Pick a week or two, and fill in your values over that time. You don't have to do it all in one sitting, I certainly don't. With this kind of data, you will be much more likely to recover insurance money in the event of a catastrophe (check to see what your homeowner's insurance covers, or even get special collectibles insurance). And in the sad event that you pass away, how will your loved ones know what is a fair price to get for your items? With the proper documentation in place, whomever you bequeath your collection to will be armed with knowledge needed to sell it. Now, I have personally instructed my husband to build a mausoleum to hold my remains and my doll collection (hahahaha!). But no, seriously, I hope through this post the importance of knowing the value of your collection has hit home. I would be happy to hear from anyone who decides to do this! Good luck!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Dolls As An Investment

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Many of us collectors spend more money on our obsession...er...hobby than we would care to admit. For the advanced collector, however, collecting isn’t just about which new doll you can afford. It’s about smart investing. That’s right, investing. People invest in all sorts of things: houses, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, art, property, and so on. When you’re buying a new doll, you’re making an investment, whether you realize it or not. Some people may buy a doll with no intention of ever re-selling it, but for every doll purchase I make, I consider it an investment. I think it’s very important for collectors to understand how some doll purchases may affect your financial future. In the next week, I want to explore several topics specifically related to dolls and finance. Today, we are going to examine a very basic approach to investing in dolls.
How to spend this dough?

To understand investing as it relates to dolls, it’s important to understand investing in general. When someone makes an investment, the intention is to grow their wealth by earning interest on the money they have invested. The riskier an investment is, the higher the potential for significant gains or losses. There is what is known as a risk free rate, which is set by the government (through something called T-bills). This rate is typically around 3%. This means if you invest $100 for a year at the risk free rate, you would earn $3 (this is why people often go for riskier investments, in the hopes of earning returns higher than 8%). This leads us into something called the time value of money principle. Basically, this principle says that $100 today is worth more in the future because it can be invested and earn interest. A very simple example of the time value money principle is this: if you have a $100 bill that you keep in a shoebox for a year, you have actually lost $3. You have lost $3, because if you had invested that $100 at the risk free rate, you would have earned $3, therefore creating the loss. Now all of this is fairly boring, and I know you came here to read about dolls. So let’s talk dolls.

Before you purchase a doll, you should carefully consider several things from a financial perspective. In order to fully illustrate this concept, I’m going to use a personal example from a recent purchase. About a month or so ago, I purchased this Little Darling doll painted by Joyce Mathews:

I paid $850 for the doll. Gasp, yes. That is a lot of money, and I know it. I don’t just willy nilly throw away money like that, so I took into consideration the five points below:

  1. Always research the current selling value of the doll you are about to purchase. Is the doll worth more on the secondary market? Does the doll retain at least 80-90% of its value on the secondary market?
  2. If you had a financial emergency, could you liquidate the doll right away for a fair price?
  3. If you invested your money at the risk free rate, what would it be worth in a year?
  4. If the value of the doll were to drop dramatically, would you be okay with knowing you spent more money on the doll than it is worth?
  5. How many of the dolls are available? Is the market flooded with these dolls, or is it a limited edition (and by the way, 1000 is not what I really consider limited. I think 100 or less is a good number).

So I really answered all of these questions before purchasing the doll for this example. Here were my answers:

  1. The average selling price of the last 4 Little Darlings sold by Joyce Mathews is $1622.47. Yes, it is that high.
  2. If I had a financial emergency I feel certain I could liquidate the doll immediately for over $1,000. All of the dolls mention above were on auction for 1 week, and each sold for an astounding price.
  3. My $850 would be worth $875.50 in one year.
  4. This one is the hard one. I feel like as of the moment I bought the doll, she was worth about $1500. Will Little Darlings decrease in value over the next 10 years? It is very possible. Will I keep her for that long? I think so . I feel like she is a “forever” doll here. This can often be the hardest question to answer for me, as my taste changes from year to year, and I become interested in other things.
  5. I do not know exactly how many of these dolls are out there, but they are not readily available, and I feel sure there are less than 1000 of them. This gave me additional confidence when buying the doll, because there is a sort of exclusivity to having one of her dolls, particularly because it is notoriously difficult to get on her order list.

Now let’s look at an example of a bad investment. One of mine is the Barbie and Ken Star Trek 30th Anniversary gift set. This is not technically my own investment, as my mom bought it for me back in 1996, when I was a high school freshman. I used to collect Barbie pretty much exclusively, so I have quite a few of the collectible Barbies. Unfortunately, the Barbie craze was all the rage, so there are LOADS of them out there. I couldn’t remember the original cost, after all, my mom bought it for me, so I consulted my handy Barbie Bazaar from March/April 1996 and found this advertisement:

So they originally sold for $69, let’s say $70 to make it easier to do this math. Now, the average sold price on eBay for the last couple of months is $12....yes, $12. You can hardly buy a new play Barbie from Walmart for that price. Let’s now calculate the loss on this investment. It’s easy to want to say well, $70 - $12 = $58, so the loss incurred is $58. Well, that’s too easy. We have to consider the time value of money. If I had invested that $70 back in 1996 at the risk free rate of 3%, the value today would be $122.75. This makes the real loss $122.75 - $12 = $110.75. Ouch. This can be very painful, especially as the price of dolls continues to go up. Dolls are also like any other investment: it’s very hard to predict the future, and who knows what the market will demand? Barbies may have a sudden resurgence due to some societal factors, and those collectible Barbies from the 90’s may become a gold mine for those who have a storage building full of them (fingers crossed!).
Waiting for their day to shine...

The point of this entry is to educate my fellow collectors, and enable you to make thoughtful financial decisions when it comes to your doll purchases. Stay tuned throughout this week as I will do a few case studies in good and bad investments, and I’ll choose some of my personal picks that I think are smart purchase choices.

*Disclaimer: I am not an investment expert. I do work in the financial industry and have an understanding of how money works. Do not use this is a permission slip to cash out your 401k and buy a bunch of dolls. That’s actually the worst thing you can do.*




Friday, July 3, 2015

Little Darling Dress by Darling Lil' Bee

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Today, I received a new Little Darling dress from Darling Lil' Bee. I just love this dress so much I wanted to do a post about it. 
Elsa, modeling her new dress 

What I really like about these outfits is that each one includes a pair of shoes. This makes my life so easy, as I am one of those who will just let my dolls go barefoot if I don't have matching shoes. The dress is great quality, and the back buttons up...yes buttons!
Buttons!!

And it even has a tag...like all designer clothing should: 

I am really happy with this dress and highly recommend Darling Lil' Bee for all your Little Darking costuming needs. I just earned some eBay bucks, and I know where I'll be spending them!


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Disney Singing Princess Dolls Compared to Prudence from Wilde Imagination

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Each year sometime before Christmas, the Disney Store releases a collection of singing Princess dolls. These dolls are less than $30, and are similarly sized to the popular 16" fashion dolls on the market today. Going along with the budget theme I've had this week, I wanted to do a comparison of the Princess dolls to Prudence from Wilde Imagination.
Prudence and Ariel

Both dolls are seen here on one of the Wilde saddle stands. They are pretty much exactly the same height. 
Close up of head size

Ariel has a slightly smaller, slimmer head. Ariel also has a slimmer neck and shoulder area than Pru has. So now, on to the naked test.

Similar joints

As you can see, the dolls have almost identical knee and elbow joints. Prudence is jointed at the chest and wrists, and Ariel is not. This is to be expected, as the Ariel doll is much less expensive than Prudence.


Up close view of joints

So the question that must be burning in your mind right now is, "Well, can they share clothes?"
Clothes swap!

Up close

In the above picture, it's clear to see that Ariel's dress is a little tight on Pru, and Pru's dress is a little loose on Ariel. They do, however, look cute in each other's clothes if you ask me. 

This velcro is hanging on for dear life

While the clothes sharing is doable with these dolls, shoe sharing is not. Ariel's feet are a bit smaller than Pru's, so the shoe swap won't work out.
Pru on the left, Ariel on the right

If you love these 16" fashion dolls, the Disney Singing Princess dolls are a great, budget friendly alternative doll to add to your collection. And when Wilde has a sale on outfits, you could even snag a less expensive, high quality outfit for your Disney doll.




Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Lazy (Sort Of) Post

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I agonized all afternoon about what to write today. Well, it's getting late and still nothing. I realized I hadn't really done a post about my Geri Uribe painted Little Darling doll, so here goes. 

My husband ordered my doll for me for Valentine's Day 2014 and 2015. He put the money down for the preorder in 2014 and she was ready in January 2015. How exciting! I chose the Tiffany doll listed on Geri's page, because I thought she looked super sweet and I knew she would make a great Arwen. I was not disappointed:
Arwen protecting Frodo

She is divine. Geri's wait time is currently 18 months, and the wait is well worth it if you have been thinking about one of these dolls. If you want one, I suggest ordering sooner rather than later. The months will go by quicker than you think, and then all of a sudden, you have a lovely new doll to love! 

In her Valentine's outfit




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hearts for Hearts Nyesha & Surjan

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After doing my piece yesterday on budget friendly dolls, I discovered that the Hearts for Hearts dolls have been discontinued. So hear ye, hear ye, get out to your local Toys R Us or Target and get what's left if you don't already have one. I have decided to do a feature piece on two of them today: Nyesha and Surjan. The dolls began shipping out last October, so I stalked my local Toys R Us and Target until I found them stocked at Toys R Us. There were only two of each doll, and I bought all four, two for me and two for a friend who also collects them. I have not seen them in stores since. Without further adieu:
Nyesha and Surjan

Nyesha close up

Surjan close up

Nyesha represents a girl from Harlem, whose father is Mexican and whose mother is African American. Surjan represents a girl from Nepal who was sold into slavery. One thing I like about this line of dolls is they represent real girls, and the real struggles that girls around the world face everyday. The dolls are absolutely beautiful as well.

I am not sure why Playmates decided to discontinue these dolls. They seem to be very popular with both collectors and children, and it just doesn't make sense to me. The only thing I can come up with, and keep in mind this is pure speculation, is that maybe they just cost too much to make. The quality is much better than what I have found with other similarly priced dolls. In fact, the only quality issue I've seen with these dolls is that the eyes start to turn purple on some of the older dolls. To be honest this is not something that bothers me that much, as it happens to lots of dolls (remember all those older Himstedts whose eyes turned pink?). At any rate, the rumor is that the creator of the doll is trying to take the dolls to another company, due to the lack of marketing and subsequent discontinuation by Playmates. I certainly hope she is successful and that we will see these dolls in plentiful stock at stores again soon! In the meantime, as I said above, if you want one, now is the time to get out and find one! Good luck!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Doll Collecting On A Budget

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Collecting dolls can be a very expensive hobby. It seems like there is always some new edition of a collectible doll, or there are 3 concurrent preorders for dolls that top $500...and how do you choose between them?!! There are alternatives to spending loads of money on dolls, and I'm going to share a few tips with you (tips that I don't always follow but should).

1. Instead of buying a new doll, buy accessories for the dolls you already have. There are many wonderful artists on Etsy making dresses, jewelry, and even furniture at reasonable prices for your dollies. To check out some of my favorite shops, click here!

2.To satisfy your craving for a new doll, choose an inexpensive, high quality doll. I have quite a few favorites of these.

Hearts for Hearts Dolls

Hearts for Hearts dolls are great quality dolls that are educational as well as culturally accurate (if this is the correct way to describe it). One of the things I love the most about them is their variety: they don't just give the same facial mold a different hair and eye color, they actually have different molds for the different dolls. Aaaaand...you can get a brand new doll at your local Target for less than $30! Certainly easy on the wallet.

Another personal favorite of mine are the Disney Animators' Collection Dolls:

With a price of $24.99 each, these dolls are absolutely wonderful. They have such sweet faces, and they have an artistic quality to them which makes them appreciable by adult collectors. Sometimes, they even go on sale for $20 each! There is an entire following of these dolls dedicated to customization, and that could be a fun avenue for a collector on a budget. The doll isn't so expensive that ruining it would also mean financial ruin, so you can relax and have fun with these dolls!

3. Learn to make something for your dolls. There are tons of great tutorials out there on the internet to help get your creative juices flowing. I personally love making doll swimsuits out of colorful socks. A pack of 6 pairs of socks will set you back about $7 at Walmart, and you can make TWELVE doll swimsuits! Yay!

A sock swimsuit I made

4. Enjoy the dolls you already have. This can be easier said than done. Part of the point of me writing a blog post each day is to force myself to appreciate what I already have, while taking my mind off allllll the amazing dolls that are out there right now, just begging to be purchased. You could start taking a photo a day of your dolls, write a blog, clean up an old doll, and the list goes on. 

What do you think? Do you have any tips for collecting on a budget? I'd love to hear about your tips in the comments!


Monday, June 22, 2015

Engel Puppen Sleeping Beauty Doll

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As promised, here is the other new Disney Engel Puppen doll I recently acquired:
Okay, so her hair is a wreck. 

I didn't even realize there had been a blue version of Sleeping Beauty sold at Disney World, but there was. I also have the pink version dress only...still in search of a doll to display it. I actually really like this doll a lot because she has a different face mold than the typical Dorothea that most of the Disney dolls came with. 

Now, if I could just get my hands on a Little Mermaid doll I would be super ecstatic!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Making A Wig

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Today, I tried my hand at making a lambskin wig. There is a great tutorial that I used at this site: http://www.antiquelilac.com/tibetan-lambskin-wigs---tutorial.html . It's very easy to follow and even includes patterns. To be sure the pattern I was using was the correct size, I made a felt cap first:

The felt cap

The cap was slightly tight, so when I cut my wool pieces, I just went about 1/4 inch outside the pattern pieces. The hardest part for me was visualizing which direction the hair was supposed to flow on each piece of wool. Here is my finished product:
What do you think?

It's nowhere near perfect, but I'm relatively pleased considering it's the first one I've ever made. I want to tame it down a little, so I'm going to research the best way to do that. I also bought 2nd quality wool for this project, as I didn't know how difficult it would be, and wanted to test it out before spending more on higher quality material. I would say it was easy, and go for it if you want to give it a try!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Petra Plasty Cosimo Dolls

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In the course of my doll collecting and thrifting, I find all sorts of neat things. Case in point is this pair of German dolls made by Plasty:

After a bit of research, I found out they were Petra family Cosimo dolls. Petra was a Barbie knock off made in Germany starting in 1964. These two little cuties are clearly from the 80's. They are marked "Plasty" on the backs of their heads.

I bought these dolls on a whim for 99 cents because I thought they were different and they appeared to be well made. I'm very glad I did get them! While they will not remain a permanent part of my collection, I'm glad I found them and had the chance to learn about them!



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Engel Puppe's Tinkerbell Doll From Epcot

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My obsession to collect every Disney Engel Puppen doll made in the Germany Pavilion at Epcot has been well documented on this blog. Recently, I added two more of these awesome dolls to my collection. The first that I will showcase today is Tinkerbell (or Tinker Bell, depending on how you like to spell it). 
Tinkerbell (give me some slack on the photo, I'm using my phone here)

This particular Tinkerbell that I have has the Dorothea face sculpt, and a lime green outfit, complete with wings!
If you had wings...wait, I'm mixing up my Disney references here.

This particular Tinkerbell isn't signed, which is too bad, but I'm still fortunate to have her in my collection. I don't think I've ever actually seen one come up for sale. I got this girl when a sweet reader contacted me and offered to sell her to me. Umm...yes please!

Stay tuned tomorrow to see which other Disney doll I acquired!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Lillycat Constantine Painted By Charlene Smith

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Last year when I attended IDS, I was introduced to a whole new world of dolls....ball jointed dolls. I had heard of them before and even seen a few, but I wasn't really interested in them and didn't own one. Fast forward to today, and I am now the proud owner of 8 (I think) BJDs. Today, I received my Lillycat Cerise Dolls Constantine, which I had sent to Charlene Smith for a face up.
Constantine

I just love this doll. She has such an interesting look and really neat body proportions. She is a gray resin, and just gorgeous. I do not have a wig for her yet, as I've custom ordered one from Etsy which should be here in about a month or so. As you can see, I just couldn't wait to share her!

Close up of face up

I actually didn't pre-order Constantine, I happened upon her one day when a couple of them were put in Lillycat's online shop, so there was no long waiting period to receive her. I immediately contacted Charlene, whose work I had admired since first seeing it last year, to reserve a face up spot. She was wonderful to work with, and she has such a gift for bringing dolls to life. She also included a photo of my Constantine signed, which I thought was a nice touch. 

My pretty girl!

I ordered her dress from Etsy shop BabyChantillyAtelier, run by Eugenia. She is also wonderful to work with and does commissions. If you aren't familiar with Lillycat dolls, you should check them out. They really are works of art!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My Father's Doll

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Yes, you read that correctly. One of the things I love about collecting dolls is the stories they have to tell. Many of my dolls have fantastic stories, and I would like to showcase one of those today,
My father's doll

When my dad was young, I believe about the 3rd grade or so, my grandfather was stationed in Germany. My dad has loads of fun stories about driving to Holland for weekend camping trips, and about living in an apartment in a small German town, where most of the residents were from all different countries. One of the tangible memories I have from this period of his life is this Pelham puppet. He was purchased for my dad while he was living in Germany. As you can see, he has been very well loved. 

I wanted to know more about this special fellow, so I did some research. Pelham puppets were made in England beginning in 1946, although their creator, Bob Pelham, had been making animated donkey toys for much longer. My particular puppet is called Tyrolean boy, named for a state of Austria. He originally came with a wooden cross bar which served to hold his strings, and a green felt hat which has long been missing. He is made of wood with metal joints holding his pieces together.

I distinctly remember him hanging from his wooden crossbar on a mirror at my grandma's house when I was very small, so I know his destructed look comes from my own hands. I plan to get some green felt and fashion him a new hat to replace the one I destroyed. Something about creating a new crossbar and tying him to it makes me feel kind of sad though, so that will not be a part of his sprucing up. He's got no strings to hold him down, to make him fret, to make him frown! He had strings, but now he's free...well you get the idea.

I've got no strings on me!


This puppet is an invaluable part of my collection, because it once belonged to my dad. I don't think many doll collectors can say they inherited a doll from their dad. Sure, my dad gave me plenty of dolls when I was young (and even now that I'm old, ha!) but this one is extra sentimentally special to me.

If you inherited a doll from your dad, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Nancy Famosa Super Lot

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I recently won a Nancy Famosa super lot on eBay. It arrived today. I am so thrilled! After combing through everything, I have identified everything except a couple of pieces. Here's what I got:
A bird's eye view of the lot



En El Jardin pieces                                                      De Tarde is the red one, the blue one is identical                                                                                      but I am not sure what it is


En Las Carreras and Noche De Estreno

Lluvia

 En la universidad and equipo positizos 
Pieces from En Primavera and the outfit Con Los Amigos

And the piece I am most excited about, the Presentacion dress! It is in great condition!

Nancy has sweet brown eyes!

There are two blue pieces whose name I don't know. One is a knitted overalls type thing, and the other is the blue dress that is just like De Tarde, only it's blue. I'm going to have to do so more research to figure out what these pieces are. The outfits are in really great shape, just need a light cleaning. Nancy herself is going to require a little more heavy duty cleaning, but I'm up for that task tomorrow night. I can't wait to take a picture with my two older Nancy dolls together!