We all know them, and pretty much any of us can find a fit with one or many of these folks. Despite the satire associated with this, I must emphasize that it is because of people like these that doll collecting is what it is – sometimes a pain, mostly a joy. It’s an exciting hobby that invokes such imaginative and colorful people, that it would be an insult to not identify them by their traits.
I will say that there are a few of these types that just rub me the wrong way, and for obvious reasons – but no single type here defines a single collector – rather, given the label that is assigned to each type, you might even be able to pick yourself out, and proudly parade your newfound status.
I am most certain some will read this and say, “well, he’s obviously writing about me.” Good for you, Dear…I must have struck a nerve for the truth to impact you in such a self-serving way. I can assure you that most of you who think this would rather die than admit it to anyone else. Truth is, each and every one of these types is represented in at least one person I know or have met – sometimes, they are a hybrid of two or more – but I’ve cleverly mixed up some of the qualities to preclude any potential libel.
Just how big is our doll world? Well, when you count those that go to conventions versus the folks online – the lurkers and the part-time enthusiasts – not to mention the published edition size versus the actual number produced (and whether it sells out quickly enough, or any other demand, for that matter), this is the way I see it: Barbie-type Collectors – about 15,000 worldwide (I am certain Mattel would sharply deny this number – but I know better); Tonner/16inch Plastic Fashion Doll Collectors – about 1000 worldwide (and declining); Integrity/Fashion Royalty/Poppy Collectors – about 2,000 worldwide (and increasing); Child Character Doll Collectors – about 10,000 worldwide (including baby dolls/Reborns); Action Figure Collectors – easily approaching 100,000 (you heard me right – but it’s such a diverse audience, it’s almost criminal to put them into one category); Art Doll Collectors – about 1,000 worldwide (quite possibly, less); Superdoll/Goddess Collectors – about 500 worldwide (which will probably increase as folks know more about the artistry value in these dolls); and Madame Alexander Collectors – about 30 still alive. Of course, there’s always room for error – after all, there are hundreds, if not thousands in Central and South America that are largely uncounted, but that is changing with the internet and worldwide shipping services. There are probably only 3,000 active doll collectors trolling the internet – we’re not as populous as you might think. Oh sure…I just know someone has an email list or an online group where millions are registered…blah, blah, blah. You can’t really count the people who have a doll or two, and sometimes sashay and parlay into our world calling themselves a collector – and there are thousands of those. Ours is not a big world…and to think it is – well, that’s just stupid.
Remember…this is humor, so if you are offended by this post, you shouldn’t be reading my blog anyway – if we can’t laugh at ourselves, there are plenty of people out there who will do it for us.
So, Puddings…which one are you?
The Archivist – You focus on a specific type of doll, and stick with it through thick and thin. You are amazingly humble about the vast amount of knowledge you possess surrounding a doll’s history, features, variants, and infamy. You are the type of person that comes in handy when written material needs an expert, or when photography craves the visage of a vintage beauty. You are mostly generous with your time and resources, rarely use your collection to show off, and you are frequently dissed by other collectors who hate that you have what you have. Everyone wants you as a friend, and they hope to be included in your will – but if nothing else, you are the best type of folk to have at teas and cocktail parties (but avoid sleepovers). Others need to get over their petty jealousies before ever opening a conversation with you; but you know that you probably have little else to discuss (probably from your own choosing).
The Spectre –You are the ones we mostly see at conventions, because we don’t see you anywhere else. You don’t talk, you don’t interact – you just move silently from one event to another. When you stand to have your doll signed, you say nothing. I think you may actually be a ghost, or some otherworldly being. But we know who you are…so say something to someone before we call Ghostbusters.
The Damned – You’re not really ‘damned’ at all…but few get you because of your piercings, tattoos and other types of goth makeup/style. You’re actually very intelligent, and quite engaging when someone discovers you to not be a Spectre (see above). You are an independent spirit, who works in some type of job that allows you to be you – and the rest of the world can go fuck themselves.
The Prayer – The priests of the doll world; you tend to be more concerned with giving and receiving prayers for sick kittens, misguided children with no common sense, the weak and frail, and the lot rather than to discuss dolls. You are selfless to a fault, but sometimes you can attach yourself to a cause for the self-serving purpose of being the champion. There can be no denying your strong faith in your God, but you do tend to be a bit inconsistent in the praying you will afford to others that you don’t like very much (which is not very Christian, I might add). Religious holidays hold special meaning for you because of the sugary edibles that surround your tablet, unless they detract from your actual time devoted to doll collecting. You secretly wish you were a faith healer, but your powers simply cannot be focused on cracked shoulder jointing or those with lesser gods.
The Deboxer – You see packaging as an utter annoyance, damning all packaging designers to the depths of Hell each and every time you rip a Barbie from her box. You see no rational reason why dolls can’t just be sold in simple plastic baggies, and hand-carried to your home to protect it during transit. Your bathroom and kitchen are spotless, but the rest of your home is cluttered with packaging and ephemera directly associated with dolls, their clothing and/or accessories. People often will find tiny twist ties in your shag carpeting. The sound of popping bubble wrap shoots you into tantrums.
The Know-It-All – You know more than anyone else, including God, regarding all dolls and their very existence. Your cranium will collapse upon the knowledge it holds if you’re not the first one to announce new details on the internet, or to show the latest deboxed images via Instagram. You hate Facebook, but delve into its shadowing Big Brother world because your audience demands it, seeing as they have no duplicative need for Instagram (which you find annoying, because you actually need to write text with Facebook). You answer every single question posed by any collector world-wide, often utilizing translator apps to make sure you’ve understood the question, and to provide somewhat intelligible replies. You think you know more than the doll makers do, but they largely laugh at your flamboyant rants because they find it mildly amusing on a coffee break. It’s likely you were dropped on your head at birth, but this will not be confirmed by your parents. Disney is trying to file a restraining order on you. I can honestly say that I very much identify with this collector, though the precise rationale escapes me.
The Hero – Everyone loves the Hero, unconditionally – and there are few Heroes out there. This is the collector that keeps the peace, makes people feel wanted, and celebrates all dolls with hardly even a scrap of criticism. They are mostly Libras, and love the color blue. Their purpose is entirely selfless – they are benevolent to their community and can’t stand to see anyone disparaged. We need more Heroes, yes?
The Exhibitionist – Every single thing you do is news…everything. No, really…even taking a crap at the Ritz requires a selfie. People often question if you’re even a doll collector because dolls detract from you, and any real dolls in your ‘collection‘ are seldom seen by others. Your home is like a Norma Desmond movie set, with décor and props suitable for every occasion requiring a lengthy demo or tutorial. In reality, you don’t do anything well, except whore yourself out to others (you’ve not become The Whore because the pay isn’t that great). You’ve considered prostitution, but dismissed it because it involves someone else.
The Antique – You are fascinated by dolls of antiquity and vintage, and you are drawn to their history. Much like them, you also have a thin layer of dust all over yourself, and apologize to no one for it. Modern dolls appeal to you, but they don’t capture your imagination like those of yesteryear. You have been known to lurk on eBay all day instead of doing anything productive, and keep your finger on ‘minimize’ when someone approaches you. You have multiples of the exact same doll, but would get into a fist fight with anyone telling you that. Doris Day makes your heart sing, and Uncle Kracker makes you cringe. That being said, you’d make a great fashion designer, if you’d just get out of Doris Day’s closet.
The Optimist – You see no wrong in anything. When acid rain destroys every last fiber in your nylon taffeta Gene dress, the body has yellowed from inferior plastics not engineered for age, the eyelashes have jumped onto your Aunt Myra prompting her to take DDT to every last corner of your house, and the shoulder seams have cracked – on both sides – you still marvel at those hypnotic blue eyes and share your dreams of Hollywood. Your glass isn’t just half-full – it’s offering more than your humble self deserves. Vanilla is positively a rainbow to you, and others will only ask you a question if they are looking for the ‘upside’, which you could find in a steaming pile of dog shit.
The Pessimist – See ‘The Optimist’, above – now flip it over, and violate it with a hoo-hoo stand until the plastic cracks. You love pastrami on rye, and you’re the only type of person out there that doesn’t get ‘Calvin & Hobbes’…and this annoys you for some mystery that can’t even be explained by the highest level of psychiatry.
The Dissenter – You find it odd that few ask your opinion – but you know the real reason. You negate every single possibility without thinking anything of its potential or viability. Brainstorming is a chore for you because nothing will interest you unless it’s something you or your friends would like to experience – regardless of the unimaginable delight it might bring others (which are the majority, by the way). You are so selfish, you would be hard-pressed to share your shadow with the sun. Nothing really stands out in your doll collection, because there’s always something to detract from its overall beauty. You find it hard to enjoy your favorite color, purple, because it comes in so many shades, forcing you to choose one – which is unacceptable. Dolls only provide you with brief joy while you wait for your Hot Pockets to finish cooking.
The Elitist – Other dolls have become passé for you because you’ve found that One. Perfect. Doll. And everything else pales in comparison. You’ve lost friends because you can’t enjoy the commonality of others’ doll collections. Your dolls are each and every kind of perfect, prompting you to bring fire and brimstone to the doll maker’s customer service team unless the eyelashes are perfectly even, the facial features perfectly symmetrical, or the seams have no stray threads. There is no such thing as ‘quality’, or even varying levels – there is only perfection, and when you don’t get it, you throw such a bitchy, cunty, hissie fit, you make Lisa Vanderpump look like the Queen of England (Liz and Lisa are friends, you know). You’ve sent dolls back to the maker for facial repainting when the screening wasn’t what you hoped it would be (and those stupid doll makers comply, thereby validating your power). Despite all your elitist attitudes, you still use blue toilet drop-ins because white toilet water doesn’t look as clean as blue does.
The Politician – You are the negotiator, the unofficial representative of most dollmakers, and the arbiter of argument. You see both sides so clearly that it’s impossible to choose a clear winner in any debate. Like lawmakers, you have learned how to lie with the best of them, sometimes using phrases like ‘bless her heart’ or ‘I just love them to death, but…”. Your upside is that you find it difficult to find fault with anyone or any doll – largely, you chalk it up to human error, or concede to Chinese factory labor woes. You may possibly also be involved in doll-related publishing, because advertisers dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Dollmakers love seeing you at their events, because they know they won’t have to apologize to you for anything should something go wrong. You could give candy diabetes.
The Whore – You will attach yourself to any brand, maker or cause as long as it can be used to promote you. Little is taboo in your eyes when it comes to garnishing much needed attention, being a spectacle, or disrespecting people you feel are beneath your whoredom. At doll conventions, there is no mistaking you; you tend to stay close to important people, manage to be included in every image, and are neck-and-neck with the Know-It-All when it comes to informing the public about the latest and greatest. Unlike the Know-It-All (see above), you really don’t care how foolish you look in your whoredom if it brings immediate gratification toward your narcissistic goals, often tossing about scandalous thoughts and opinions of which no one really cares about, anyway…but it looks good for shock value. You can often go shirtless, which is quite the shock for the female whores. You think any doll is great as long as you think the doll maker will give you the attention you think you deserve. Oh honey…don’t I know your pain…I’ve been there…but with a shirt on.
The Attention Whore – You are the pers…oh, who am I kidding…this is me. See my blog for more…
The Wheeler-Dealer – You probably started retailing dolls to support your own collecting habits, and everyone’s your best friend when the new dolls come out. You’re always looking for the opportunity to drive a sale home, and you even vary your deals with different buyers if you think they might afford more. You publicly celebrate bad dolls as something collectors should ‘give a try‘, but secretly discuss the doll maker’s hidden agenda, and how terrible it has been for your business – but continue to whore their shit out like it’s the only doll ever made. You openly denounce discounting practices of other retailers, yet you clandestinely offer special offers to only your ‘very best customers’. You love Whores(see above)…and work with them often. Everyone loves you and they praise your name; but nobody trusts you. Many of you don’t actually collect dolls, you only sell them for personal gain. Mosquitos bow in your presence.
The Observer – You watch and listen to everything, and you even disseminate information – but rather than personal gain, you are focused on knowledge for the greater good. You ask the right questions, seek fullness to incomplete answers, weigh in on all sides of the stories – if nothing else, but to make sure that the information you issue is whole and accurate. People turn to you for the most current information, and most collectors follow your news. Dollmakers see you as a breath of fresh air in your impartial reporting, impeccable research, and well-rounded stories – and your opinion, even when critical, is revered because you know your shit and you aren’t just being bitchy. You also make the best cookies – ever.
The Completionist – You see doll collecting as a sport, and you strive to achieve excellence through getting every damn thing in a series you can get. You’ll knock over small children for that last TRU exclusive Barbie, or you’ll wait all night online to nab that new Karl Lagerfeld. You are an athlete, and no edition, regardless of size or convention exclusive is out of your reach. Sniping on eBay is child’s play to you, and it’s all about the hunt. Sure, you probably throw everything in a closeted pile once received, because you’d rather die than to debox, but you have every fucking BFMC Silkstone ever created, except one-of-a-kinds – and that’s just leering at you from some criminally masterminded plot where you are not above murder to attain. Bravo, Completionist, you have run the distance, and to hell with anyone in your way. You also avoid underwear because it’s just too complicated.
The Snob – You got started with Barbie, Gene or Tyler…something along those lines, but as you learned more about finer dolls, you abandoned the others like a used lover – and now, they’re not good enough for you. You say things like, “I used to collect those, but I moved on to better things as my tastes became elevated.” If a doll is lacking in any type of articulation, you can’t be bothered – despite the doll having a certain beauty in its own right rather than the ability to perform yoga. You’re willing to pay exorbitant amounts for details that just don’t matter much like working pockets, handbags and miniature vodka bottles. You’d just die if anyone found out you sleep in your dirty socks. You don’t recommend witty or well-written blogs because they expose you for the hack you are.
The Addict – Recognition of the problem is the first step, and God grant you serenity, but you have no control, whatsoever. It’s not even about completing your collection, it’s the brief rush you get when you’ve obtained your last fix. You open the box – whiff in deeply that new doll smell, and then it’s over faster than a fart in church with much less implications or impact. You will open a new credit card just to buy that latest doll, which you then hide from your spouse for fear of discovery and reprisal. Like anyone high on Ecstasy, you can identify other addicts just by looking at each other squarely in your wide, dilated pupils. Dogs commonly will bark in your presence, and you fear Hostess snacks after midnight.
The Hoarder – see The Addict above, but remove any sense of buyer’s remorse, collection re-cycling, or socially interactive tendencies. No one has actually seen your home in years.
The Obsessive-Compulsive – Not very different from The Elitist above, but with absolutely no standards whatsoever. You measure a painted eyelash by micrometer using a lit magnifying glass. You have been known to send vinyl samples to chemical labs for analysis to determine if the body color matches the head – exactly. Dolls you buy don’t ‘speak’ to you, they haunt your very existence under the umbrella of perfectionism – and not really understanding what that means in doll mass production, you just let it rule your life instead of getting a strong prescription for Prozac. You think doll makers arbitrarily increase head sizes just to fuck with you. Other collectors fear showing their collections to you because of the obvious fallout.
The Dependent – Incapable of decision-making on your own, you live in the shadow of The Enabler and The Bitch (both; see below). You have no sense of self-awareness, and have been often confused with a turnip. Depending (of course) on the track record of The Enabler, you may have a stunning collection, provided the funds are readily available (as most Dependents are fairly wealthy). What you seriously lack is the drive and determination to learn what makes something good and/or worthy of your collection, which would also take a sound, decision-making ability. You are the one everyone hates to ask, “Where would you like to go for dinner?” To which you reply, “Oh, anywhere is fine.” That wasn’t what they asked you.
The Loyalist – You are the type of collector that will go hungry before not having the latest doll from a favorite maker. You won’t see the scars for the sparkle, and have very little independent thought. You either met the doll artist in person, and were blinded by the stars in your eyes; or you had some profound orgiastic moment with a particular doll that has forever branded you. If your favorite doll or doll designer was involved in a scandalous act, you’d be the first to jump to his/her defense. You are the type of person that doesn’t like chocolate chips in your chocolate chip cookies, but you eat them anyway because the packaging was printed on re-cycled paper.
The Artist – If you applied gold leaf to a fresh swirl of your own excrement, you’d be offended if your fans didn’t virtually try to kill each other to get it. You’re an Artist, and as such, you hone your skills to make Talent your middle name. There’s no denying your abilities, and much of your behavior is not only warranted, but even expected in the beauty you create. However, your ego is exacerbated by stupid and simple little practices like thinking you invented plastic, or created the concept of ballet shoes. Really…get some humility. Although adults love you, children tend to fear you. You secretly love ‘Hooked on Classics’ – and you don’t care who knows it.
The Competitor – Anything you can do, I can do better – you seem playful, but you are constantly trying to one-up someone else just to show off, rather than showcase any kind of originality. If Gertrude gets a Sybarite, you have one shortly thereafter. If Aberforth finds an Alex at TJMaxx, you swallow back that stomach bile to pilfer one of your own. You love dolls, and find decision-making difficult, but put little thought into it, because keeping up with the Joneses has fully adopted you into their coven – provided they are of a status you find to be appealing – see The Lemming below.
The Lemming – You’re just happy to be here…and your willingness to go along with what everyone else does is just your way of playing in everyone’s sandbox. You just like to play, and don’t really care what others are doing – so you wander along, blithely unaware of spending your son’s college fund, or risking that third mortgage – just so long as it continues to bring you loads of warm smiles and dolly hugs. You don’t remember your dreams, and you think the Earth is 6000 years old.
The Saint – like the Hero (see above), you are loved by many, and envied by few. But what makes you different is your complete and total abandon for your hobby. You are not out to rescue anyone; rather, you just don’t understand why we can’t all get along when we share a common passion. You are likely a writer, and seek to inform folks with no selfish reasoning, and purely out of the joy of documenting it all. You’re probably a regular contributor to the doll media – and birds chirp and flock near you when you sing. Mirrors tend to envy you because they can’t reflect anything so pure.
The Cheerleader – Lighten up, Sweetie…really. You brighten every room (or internet chat room) with your positivity, your thoroughly knowledgeable discussion of the latest dolls, and your dismissal of even the most heinous of marketing stunts by doll makers – hey, that’s what you do, right? Why let the downers spoil everyone’s fun? Perhaps, but you might want to start mixing your Melatonin with some St. John’s Wort – all while shaking, and not stirring your gin. You could easily power a third world village if someone would just use your ass as a power outlet. And yet – through all the glowing light and sparkles, you still can’t stand anyone wearing white after Labour Day.
The Handyman – ‘Frankendolly’ is your middle name – and you wear that badge proudly. Many of you have gone on to elevate your skills by honing a doll of your own, still others have been so amazingly resourceful that you could turn a piece of Stilton into the dashing must-have accessory for the year. You are the go-to person when people want to pop off a doll head, re-glue eyelashes, break their doll into pieces, or polish Esme’s ashy skin. No task is too challenging for you, and folks are often entertained just by looking at your well-muscled arms and your pretty polka dot dress. Early spring annoys you because you’re living life to its fullest, come what may.
The Voyeur – You have been called a stalker by some, and it doesn’t really bother you. You’d rather sit back and watch the fireworks fly over the latest doll rants rather than participate. You typically hang out with people whose collections are considerably larger than yours to vicariously live the life of a Completionist or a Loyalist. No act is too small to warrant a box of bon-bons and a glass of champers, Sweetie…and you giggle like a schoolgirl whenever anyone mentions the word ‘crotch’.
The Enabler – You know people know who you are. For some inexplicable reason, you seem to have every doll ever made…just how is a mystery. But you have detailed reviews of these dolls, and you take new photos all the time, sharing them online – driving people insane with want over your enabling practices. Some say you are not really a person, but a clever doll industry person who works undercover to learn more about what collectors want, and pushing their products to increase their revenue – but no doll maker is that smart, so I like to think you’re just some rich bitch who likes to play with dolls. Judge Judy makes you faint in glee.
The Critic – You have no style or taste, but we hear you comment critically on a number of dolls, even dolls you don’t collect. You hide under the veil of being The Expert, but you’ve been caught misinforming people often, and just plain getting shit wrong enough that people have stopped noticing. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop you from picking apart the quality of fabrics, the elements of design, and the artistic appropriateness (or lack thereof) in articulated jointing. You’re delighted you can spew your criticism on your computer so no one can smell the scotch on your breath.
The Indecisive – You poor dear, you just don’t know what you want in life. Best to give up on dolls, and join Greenpeace. You scare retailers like the sun scares a vampire.
The Angel – You are the ones who love unconditionally. You redeem sins and allow doll creators their fancy…you forgive, and move on. In your light, I find great solace…the savior…the kind…those who love dolls…for those of us who’ve made mistakes, you are forgiving. You see art where no one does…including reborns. You mentally flip off The Bitch (see below), and ignore her in her best rant. You remind us we are one…and we can’t collect without you. That’s what I love about doll collecting, that people like you exist in our world.
The Mother – You’re not unlike The Hero (see above), but you can scold people from time to time who just need their hand slapped. When you’re not watching your own children makes fools of themselves at doll conventions, they are busy making tiny little changes to your doll collection at home – you don’t notice them specifically – but they are just enough to make you feel there’s always something amiss in your life. You have more advice than a self-help book, and it would probably be best used in an update of Doll Collecting for Dummies.
The Bitch – People generally refer to you as one who Can’t Understand Normal Thinking, and its acronym is fairly accurate, but not used in civilized conversation. You tell yourself you’re an ‘expert’, but you really lack the drive and stamina to actually work for anything – including your self-appointed titles of various sorts. And unlike some instances where ‘bitch’ can be affectionate, rest-assured that reference to you is nothing of the sort. It is usually driven by your general attitude, either disillusioned from believing you were wronged, or not deciding if your plastic surgeon should be arrested for crimes against humanity…not to mention your two-faced approach to meeting people with pleasantries in person, then stabbing them in the back while online. You believe you install rapture in everyone or thing because of your multi-talented approach to dolls, and for all you whore in your collection – including amazingly stupid statements you make that seem clever when issued, but just make the rest of us laugh our asses off. People would rather avoid you than show any recognition of credibility. Those that follow you do so out of fear (see The Dependent, above), or they wish to leech off you like a Remora. You secretly despair for love and acceptance – for who could ever learn to love…a beast?
And that’s the T, Hunty…