Tonner Doll Company: Robert Tonner's Dolls
Dolls...really? Do you know how big doll collecting has become? Dolls aren't just for little girls anymore...big girls are collecting them all over the world. Surely you've heard of Madame Alexander dolls? She started her collectible dolls in 1923. With her sisters, sitting around the kitchen table, they hand sewed the first Madame Alexander doll. What about fashion dolls? Of course you know Barbie and Ken.
Okay, so who is Robert Tonner? Robert Tonner is the owner and designer for the Tonner Doll Company who just happen to make some of the most collectible dolls you can buy. Any serious doll collector has heard of Robert Tonner. As a child Robert liked to draw. When we started college it was as a pre-med student but it just wasn't what he wanted. He switched to fashion design and headed for Parsons School of Design in New York City.
When he was 23 he was hired by a sportswear company as a designer but he wasn't to stay there long. After three years he was signed on with Bill Blass! He actually had his own label under Bill Blass...but, this was still not to be his career. After 18 years working in the fashion industry he decided though he loved the industry he didn't love dealing with salespeople and buyers. He had seen many dolls and was fascinated with them, especially Barbie. But, with his background he thought there was something lacking in Barbie. So, he decided to make fashion dolls. Every year since he began Robert Tonner has put out a new Tonner Collection to add to his already blossoming line.
Dolls are the second-most collected item in the United States, said Laurie Panasci, owner of the Doll Parlor in DeLand.
''Doll collecting has become so serious that it ranks No. 1 worldwide. Europe is still ahead of us,'' she said."
''Collector dolls should be left in their original clothing, the way the artist designed them. That's one way they go up in value. Collectors must even keep the box and the tags,'' she said. Designer Dolls Become Big Business, All dolled up, December 2, 1993|By Dianne Copelon, Sentinel Correspondent
He started with the 19" American Model doll, a porcelain, jointed doll...the beginning of his empire! After producing various other dolls he came up with a porcelain American Model doll. After this version of the American Model doll came several others; Zoe, Betsy McCall, Julia and then...Tyler Wentworth. Tyler Wentworth is not just a doll, she is a whole persona. Tyler is a fashion model. Tonner designs her fashionable clothes himself.
This 16" fashion doll, after many revisions and corrections, was 'officially' released in 2000. You can purchase a basic Tyler Wentworth (in her underwear) or you can purchase her dressed in one of her exquisite outfits. You can also purchase any number of exquisite outfits (often referred to as doll clothes), Tonner doll shoes (high fashion doll shoes), furniture, etc. Her persona? She took over her Aunt's high fashion house and became a well respected high fashion designer. She has a little sister, the Marley Wentworth doll and lots of friends...all with their own designer clothes!
Tonner DollsClick thumbnail to view full-size
About doll collecting
"Attention to details such as wigs, eyes, hands, feet and shoes is very important to collectors who will spend over $200 for a high-quality doll," says Pam Danziger, a Pennsylvania-based market researcher who specializes in collectibles." (THE GOODS : No Mere Playthings : Doll collecting is big business. If you want more than a pretty face, think quality, January 20, 1995|SUSAN JAQUES | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES)
So now you think you know Robert Tonner and his dolls? Nope. Yes, more fashion dolls were created with different names and shapes but then Robert Tonner started a line of character dolls. I don't expect everyone is into fashion dolls but Tonner's character dolls are truly something to behold.
He has dolls 'inspired' by fairy tales, movies, comic book characters and pop culture. I'm not just talking dolls, I'm talking fabulous dolls. The design and detail he put in his original Tyler Wentworth has carried through to his character dolls. Some of them almost look as if he'd taken the real character, shrunk it down somehow, and made it into a doll!
More Tonner Dolls - Photos by TonnerClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tonner Store in Kingston, NY
I've always loved dolls and miniatures but attention to detail is important to me. Tonner has paid very close attention to detail, making him one the top doll making companies in the world as well as making his dolls the most sought after. His character dolls are simply amazing!
So at this point in time you're wondering do I own Tonner dolls? The answer is yes. How did I come to own Tonner dolls? Ironically my sister-in-law in Queens introduced me to Tonner dolls. Shortly after that wonderful introduction I found that Tonner Doll Company's Headquarters was right here in Ulster County! Each year, due to Robert Tonner's generosity, he holds a special sale at a local high school...guess who goes to the sale? Right, me. After the I found out about the sales, lo and behold, he opened a beautiful store in Kingston, N.Y. I was (and still am) in my glory.
You need to know, however, Tonner dolls don't come cheap. The average price for a character doll starts at $159.00 and goes way up! There are sales and discontinued items which can be purchased for less. I good way to keep up with Tonner and his ever expanding line is to sign up on his website for newsletters. Newsletters tell of new releases, Internet Sales, store sales, and any news you need to know about Tonner's dolls.
I hope you've enjoyed this trip into Robert Tonner's world. Please leave a comment and feel free to share it with your friends.
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