It’s that time of year again…the new doll collections! Brush away that empty wallet, pull up a seat next to Uncle Tommy…and let’s talk. This is the time when manufacturers and artists unveil their new offerings up to you, the collecting deities you are…and don’t you forget that. But by the time the first dolls start delivering, the doll designers have moved on to the next collection; leaving all collector bitching, whining and complaining to the help (the designers design it – then the help sorts out your shit). Doll makers excel in that they have help…and you cannot make a doll without help…ah…but, I digress...
And true to my Treatise, I will mostly be celebrating the newest dolls that truly warrant it. That is, those dolls with the highest FRODO scores. You see – here at Tommydoll, we are a highly scientific sort. New dolls are rated using the following scale and rationale:
Fabulousness – this almost entirely refers to the doll’s ability to exacerbate incontinence. Not just any doll is fabulous, mind you. Now, now…I know what you’re saying, and yes, every doll deserves love. But that doesn’t mean it’s fabulous. There’s a difference between those comfortable day-to-day jeans (and I mean that literally with my blues) and that which we revere as haute couture. Some of us wouldn’t deign to wear both. Lucky bitches. However, when it comes to dolls, true Fabulousness has a direct connection to a magical mixture of color, flow, design, and thought…those ethereal elements we hold in such extraordinary graces when celebrating our favorite designers. Whether or not the incontinence can be measured in teaspoons versus pints is the scientific measure here. If you are one of those people who have such amazing control over your susceptibility to fabulous, then think of it as how many times you turned back to look again for the pure joy of it, and not because you wanted to see how long it took to temporarily blind you. Or, you may think of how long it took to pull your eyes away from its draw. This my Puddings, is Fabulousness, and never, ever take it for granted – which is also why it’s first. Just full of ‘f’ words today…
Realization – the measure of effort going from point A to Point B – namely: idea, sculpt, design – and eventually execution. When a new collection is released, Realization can barely include the actual execution seen during production, but as I have said before, it should. Remember this when you are crying on the floor with a Janet Lennon doll staring at you. Design isn’t enough, as Madame Alexander has proven on numerous occasions – a manufacturer must be able to actually make what it has offered to make for its customers…or don’t bother showing it.
Case in point, if a doll is offered at Toyfair, then it’s not produced, it’s almost always a case of ‘not enough orders were written for it.’
“We couldn’t get the fabric.”
“We had production issues.”
“The shipment sank in the China Sea during transportation.”
“A 50-foot Clea Bella attacked our port of entry.”
These are all lies…well, mostly. For some reason or another, the maker couldn’t get the lead out of its ass to get its shit together and produce the doll they offered to you.
If they could actually deliver, then how did it stack up against the prototype? From the sinuous stretch of imagination that led to the idea that became the design which was crafted as a sample and sent to a factory for manufacture and wrapped in a pretty little package to make you wet your pants (see Fabulousness, above). That’s what Realization is. And this is also the only score that can be lowered on the unfortunate occasion the doll maker dropped the ball on your fabulousness.
Originality – goes without saying, even if they ripped-off another concept. I mean it, too. I’ve seen a number of ideas cycle and recycle through various doll makers. Harry Potter, is an excellent example. Mattel’s offerings were fun toys, but limited in what they were because they never expanded to the characters as older children. Tonner did the best, in my humble opinion, despite the design challenges that beset their execution – I mean…you have to actually watch the movies to know what in the hell you’re designing, right? My thoughts, exactly…
Be that as it may, it was one of the best collections Tonner ever created just shy of Tyler Wentworth. Then you have Alexander’s attempt. MA acquired the rights to make dolls based on the illustrations by Mary GrandPré – an original, if not brilliant concept. But the dolls never delivered because little was done to actually sell the line…and retailers just weren’t having any of it – well, that and Alexander’s endless pursuit of anything that Robert Tonner was doing (ahem, um…Alex? – not the only one, either – more on that later).
The highest scores in Originality go to the one who did it the best, not first. Please note ‘originality‘ almost never includes Ashton-Drake, Franklin Mint, Danbury Mint, or the like…if it does, then listen up,we may have another Gene Marshall on our hands. In that case – run, don’t walk, to get yours now. Why? Because no one will ever pull off that amazing marketing hype as did Ashton-Drake with Gene…and it’s unlikely it will ever happen again (more later on that, too).
Durability – basically, what’s this bitch going to look like when you’ve been playing with her for six months until you can get another. This is a criterion of which you cannot really assess until 6 months or so after the doll delivers…but you can make reasonable assumptions based on the materials, construction quality, and customer service should something break, or it’s perhaps missing an eyelash. This is the only category that matters surprisingly least, because not all materials are alike, and not all dolls are designed for extensive play. It’s a ‘good-to-know‘ thing…and if the construction does happen to be crap, it’s also something worth mentioning.
Optical Sentience™ – namely, this is a doll’s quality to possess an almost lifelike consciousness solely through its eyes. I made this one up…because it’s important to me (and many people I know). So use it if you like – ignore it if you want – buy what you love. Just don’t blame me when you’ve been waiting for a week for this doll to ‘speak‘ to you through those lifeless, zombie-unfortunate, dots-in-the-face-some-self-righteous-bastard-has-called ‘eyes‘. Nope…this is non-negotiable for me – you’re alive or dead, and not the Walking Dead cool kinda dead…but just ‘with no life or appeal’…not unlike any toy doll line without a Saturday morning kids following and/or a mammoth advertising campaign whored by Nickelodeon or Disney – ain’t gonna happen.
Put it all together and what do you spell? FRODO – hey, Hobbits are doll-like, and I’m a big LOTR fan – besides, ‘BARBIE‘ would have been too obvious (yet, you’re just dying to know what that acronym was, huh?).
A FRODO score is a simple 1-10 scale with 10 being the best and 11 being deity.
Anything below a FRODO score of 5 is average, and probably subject to dolly euthanasia, but still worthy of love. Be that as it may, those with less than a 5 probably won’t make it to this blog, as there are plenty of other writers that review the good, bad and ugly…who am I to traipse into their territory? I’d rather focus on the dolls I like, rather than ruin your fun with those I did not. And besides, I am certain you feel exactly the same way about some of my favorites…so go and write your own blog, or feel free to comment below.
I do actually like hearing what other people love in dolls, and I’m open-minded to hear you out. I may not agree…but I respect your opinion, and will even celebrate it as long as you take your doll away from me.
So you see, there is a science to it all (ish)! This is how all things should be viewed (if only), and not just dolls…if this blog continues beyond next week, maybe you’ll be slapping a FRODO on your favorite things…for that is what FRODO is all about.
This isn’t carrying something around in remorse, trying to clandestinely discard it into its fiery birthplace in an effort to destroy its evil – rather, it’s a dance in the Shire with all your Hobbit friends, blithely unaware there’s even another world out there.