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Tonner Doll Company: Robert Tonner's Dolls

Updated on August 22, 2014
Miss America doll by Robert Tonner
Miss America doll by Robert Tonner | Source

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.

Doll collecting

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 Dolls

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The cowardly lion - my very favoriteIf this doesn't look like Bert Lahr!  Amazing.The Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz as done in Tonner's Patsy CollectionEmme the plus-sized modelBrenda reporter...comic stripBrenda Starr with an updo and fancy dressTiny Kitty Collier doll in one of her outfitsThis bear is from a special collection of Tonner's
The cowardly lion - my very favorite
The cowardly lion - my very favorite | Source
If this doesn't look like Bert Lahr!  Amazing.
If this doesn't look like Bert Lahr! Amazing. | Source
The Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz as done in Tonner's Patsy Collection
The Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz as done in Tonner's Patsy Collection | Source
Emme the plus-sized model
Emme the plus-sized model | Source
Brenda reporter...comic strip
Brenda reporter...comic strip | Source
Brenda Starr with an updo and fancy dress
Brenda Starr with an updo and fancy dress | Source
Tiny Kitty Collier doll in one of her outfits
Tiny Kitty Collier doll in one of her outfits | Source
This bear is from a special collection of Tonner's
This bear is from a special collection of Tonner's | Source

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 Tonner

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tonner's Besty Collection of Wizard of OzTonner's regular Wizard of Oz CollectionThe door mouse from the Alice in Wonderland CollectionJack Sparrow from Pirates of the CaribbeanHarry PotterThe fabulous Miss PiggyBasic Tyler WentworthAn outfit for Tyler WentworthShoes for Tyler WentworthBoots for a Tonner doll
Tonner's Besty Collection of Wizard of Oz
Tonner's Besty Collection of Wizard of Oz
Tonner's regular Wizard of Oz Collection
Tonner's regular Wizard of Oz Collection
The door mouse from the Alice in Wonderland Collection
The door mouse from the Alice in Wonderland Collection | Source
Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean
Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean | Source
Harry Potter
Harry Potter | Source
The fabulous Miss Piggy
The fabulous Miss Piggy | Source
Basic Tyler Wentworth
Basic Tyler Wentworth | Source
An outfit for Tyler Wentworth
An outfit for Tyler Wentworth | Source
Shoes for Tyler Wentworth
Shoes for Tyler Wentworth | Source
Boots for a Tonner doll
Boots for a Tonner doll | Source

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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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Peg they are gorgeous and new ones are coming out all the time.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Wonderfully detailed and interesting. I had never heard of these dolls and I love them.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Please tell Samantha not to feel badly, she should be proud her Dad outdid lots more people by being voted Best All Around Hubber and Best Hub! Fantastic! Double congrats to you.

      I'm glad Samantha enjoyed this hub. These dolls are just so great!

    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      First of all....congrats on winning a 2012 Hubbie Award. Just so you know my daughter is much better this morning after a tough night as her Avatar lost to your She enjoyed looking at the photos and videos of the Tonner dolls....especially the Cowardly Lion one. I enjoyed all the information in the hub....which I am voting up and very interesting. Job well done....and Samantha(my just turned 6 year old) says congrats as well on your Hubbie win.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Nell, Tonner dolls really are beautiful and he keeps up with what's going on in the movies, all kinds of movies! Of course he still makes his fashion dolls which is what makes him so interesting. Glad you enjoyed.

      Thanks so much Au fait. Now, if I only knew more about other collectible dolls I could probably do well on Google ;) I just happen to know a lot about Tonner...though I guess I could research other dolls.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      7 years ago from North Texas

      Very much enjoyed this hub as I do all of your hubs. While I'm not a collector of anything myself, I do know that dolls are very high on the collector list. I remember going on a 'field trip' when I was in high school to a collector's home where she had hundreds of beautiful and expensive dolls.

      These dolls you are showcasing are beautiful dolls to be sure. This is a great hub and I think helpful to people who may be thinking about becoming doll collectors. I would expect more hubs on this subject would be very popular on Google, especially written by someone like yourself who can speak with authority.

      Great hub! Voting you up and the works. Awesome, and will share!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi I love it! I used to collect dolls, the ones that were 18th century, and spanish dolls etc, but these are great! I particularly love the Jack Sparrow and Harry Potter! what a great idea to make dolls that are so different and are the characters from films and tv, wonderful stuff! loved it! cheers nell

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Thanks Lovelovemeloveme. Yes, I've seen the Effner dolls and they are lovely.

    • Lovelovemeloveme profile image


      7 years ago from Cindee's Land

      Nice HUB. have you heard about Dianna Effner dolls? I find some of her porcelain dolls to be the most beautiful.

      stunning arent they? it's like a mother's dream child.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      I am surprised at the number of people who have never heard of Tonner alocsin, maybe I should call him and tell him I'm doing his advertising ;)

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I have never heard these dolls but was surprised at their relatively low cost. They seem to be worth twice as much. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Glad you enjoyed Moonlake...there is nothing like the softness of a rag doll.

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      Love this I have a few Barbies that I collected. I always loved collecting rag dolls. Now I don't have the room for collecting them. Really enjoyed your hub and voted up.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Lord, I met his son at one of the high school sales, maybe he's learning? Don't know. I love it when you read my hubs and leave your great comments.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      7 years ago from New York

      Did enjoy terribly this trip into Robert Tonner's world Mary. Even though I'm not a collector, I'm a kid inside this man. Loved that teddy bear, and Miss Piggy! Interesting story. I wonder if his legacy will survive with future designs. Voted up and shared!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      How nice of you to read and share Brett. These dolls are highly collectible in the U.S. but I don't know if they are exported. Again, thanks for stopping by on this one.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett C 

      7 years ago from Asia

      Up and interesting. While I can't say that I know anyone who collects these particular dolls, I have met some that collect teddies and also porcelain dolls. The prices and detail that come with them, ensure that they surely are NOT for children.

      Shared with followers ... just in case there is another collector on here ;-)

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Barbies are great too. I have a few, Lucille Ball for one...but Tonner just has that extra grace to his dolls. Thanks for stopping Arlene, it's always good to have you read and comment.

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      7 years ago

      A+++. Wonderful Hub all around. I have the entire set of Harley Barbies, Kens, and their motorcycles NIB, but they are remnants of my wheeling and dealing on Ebay when I first retired. These Tonner dolls are drop dead gorgeous, and I am sure they are worth every penny to their loyal fans. I can see why you collect them! If my home was larger that 960 square feet, I would be highly tempted to collect them, too!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      I love blackboards, so much nice than green boards!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      And that friend sitting next to you, knows EXACTLY how we did it, because she's the ringleader!! I'm so used to having fingers pointed at me, I feel like a blackboard!! LOL!! Ask me if it bother me! HA!

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Oh girl, you're on! You know a good friend is one, who when you get arrested and thrown in jail is sitting next to you saying, how'd we do this?

    • fpherj48 profile image


      7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Very funny Til....I have no doubt you could teach a lot I don't know....and I would be happy to return the favor to teach you all I know.

      A mere suggestion, but make sure Larry has a "bail/bond account" handy

      giggle giggle.....

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Effer dolls have been my passion forever ....I obviously haven't outgrown them yet. I would love to seriously collect but settle for the chosen few I have. I'm glad I could finally teach you something you don't already know ;)

      Jackwms I think the Cowardly Lion doll is just incredible but then so is the Tin Man in this series, oh and the flying monkeys and on and on.

      Josh, I'm not surprised you liked Jack Sparrow...all of his male character dolls are fascinating. Glad you enjoyed looking at the photos!

      Vinaya, I know many men who liked to play with dolls as small children...remember that's why they created G.I. Joe! Glad you enjoyed my hub.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal

      I still remember, as a child I fought with my sister for a doll until I had my toy gun. This hub made me nostalgic.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 

      7 years ago from Pennsylvania


      I may be a guy, but this was still a very fascinating read! This guy seems to have had and still have an amazing career! I had no idea that dolls was the second highest thing collected in the world. I also want to let you know that I clicked at all of the different photos, because I was that interested. The Jack Sparrow one, of course was my favorite! So intricately designed; this guy is amazing!

      Thanks for sharing Mary! I am sharing as well!

    • Jackwms profile image


      7 years ago

      This is great. Love it. I especially liked the Wizard of OZ dolls.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Til....I've had a weakness for "Dolls" forever.....If I were to ever get seriously into "collecting," it would definitely be dolls.

      You have introduced me to someone I did not know anything about. I love this about HP and you do it so damned perfectly, GF.

      This is an excellent read with all the important info explained and details described.

      I am IN LOVE with that adorable Wizard of OZ collection.....The gorgeous Model Dolls are so stunningly life-like!

      Very nice article Til...thanks so much. You've increased my catalog of knowledge........I now am familiar with The Tonner Doll Company!


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Thanks loveme!

    • loveme23 profile image


      7 years ago from Wisconsin

      cool i like it


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