Dollhouse Dolls

Three Dollhouse Dolls Compared:

Dollhouse dolls range from high-quality artisan pieces to mass-produced. Questions to ask yourself before buying a doll are:

  1. Who do you want to occupy your dollhouse or other display?
  2. How much money do you want to spend?
  3. How quickly do you need the doll?
  4. Is the doll the focus of the display?
  5. Do you want to play with or pose the doll?
  6. Are you comfortable buying a doll sight unseen?

Below, I compare the quality of the three dolls I bought and currently own.

Maria and Baby

I bought this mother and newborn doll set in Denver in the 1990s. The mother doll I call “Maria” and the newborn “Baby” (yeah…I know…)

mother doll holding newborn in bed
A mother doll with newborn. I call the mother “Maria” and the newborn “Baby.”
Mother doll detail
Maria, close-up.
Front View of mother doll’s clothes
Maria’s nightgown.
mother doll detail feet
Marie’s legs and feet.
View of mother doll’s legs
Another view of Maria’s legs
Newborn baby doll
Close-up of Baby. She really looks like a newborn.
Baby in chair showing diapers
Baby has legs and a diaper!

As the above photos show, Maria and Baby are extremely detailed.  I acquired them at a miniature exhibition in Denver in the 1990s from a doll artisan. Notice the quality of both Maria and Baby’s hair. Look at the quality of both Maria and Baby’s nightgowns. Also, Maria’s hands and feet are proportionate to her body. As for Baby, she actually looks like a sleeping newborn.

This artisan doll set was pretty expensive – I believe I paid around $100. Initially, I displayed Maria and Baby in a dollhouse. Later, I moved them to a nursery shadow box display. Obviously, the dolls were the focal points of the display box and dollhouse. 

Dollhouse where Maria resided
I placed Maria and Baby in this dollhouse before moving them to a room box.
Steven, who I call Teddy

Two years ago, I wanted a small child doll to occupy a room box I made to showcase my collection of toy miniatures. I purchased a boy doll sight unseen from an online seller. I believe the manufacturer called the doll “Steven,” but I prefer Teddy. He has vinyl arms, legs, body, and head. His shoes have been painted over the vinyl.

Boy doll in chair with drink
A child doll, who I call Teddy.
boy doll in chair
Close up of Teddy. Notice the fuzz that comprises his hair. Compare his fingers to Maria’s. Notice the stitching on his clothes.
boy doll side view
Hard to see, but Teddy’s feet are tiny and out-of-proportion with his body. His clothes do not fit his pants are too big.
View of Steven full body
Another view. At least Teddy is somewhat poseable.

Compared to Maria, Teddy is clearly an inferior, mass-produced doll. His hair is not hair at all, but some sort of fuzz.  His facial features are not distinctive, and his clothes are ill-fitting. Compare his hands to Maria’s. Teddy’s fingers are not separated. But, what bothers me the most are his feet! His feet are unnaturally small for his body! This might be because Teddy does not have shoes, but paint over his vinyl feet.

Despite his flaws, Teddy is an okay doll. However, this is only because the focal point of the room box is not him, but the toys. Additionally, Teddy is somewhat bendable, so he can be posed sitting or standing (with a doll stand).

Scott

I recently needed to buy a doll to inhabit a Greenleaf vintage camper I built from a kit. The kit was cheap and the dimensions worked with my small condo. With Covid19 restrictions, I ended up buying a male doll online. I call the doll “Scott.” He has a vinyl head, hands, and feet. His body consists of foam and wire. Similar to Teddy, Scott’s shoes are simply painted over his feet.

Male doll standing
A male doll, who I call Scott. Notice the poor quality of his jacket.
Front view of Scott's foam arms
The clothing shows poor stitching. Scott’s shirt is sleeveless.
male doll hair in back
Back of Scott’s hair is simply glued in place and looks like a bun.
male doll poor craftsmanship
Scott does not have arms but foam.
Back view of Scott's foam arms
The back view of Scott. I’m not sure why he has back “scars.”

While Teddy is sloppy, Scott is atrocious.  Scott is a male, but his hair looks like it is in a bun (and not a man bun), or a net-less hairnet.  What is most appalling about Scott is his clothes. They are so poorly made that even I – a horrible seamstress – could make a better jacket (or at least not have threads hanging loose).  When I tried to remove Scott’s terribly made yellow jacket, I noticed he did not have arms, but foam.  At least Teddy had arms and a torso.   Scott, unlike Teddy, is not bendable.

But, for all his flaws, Scott kinda-sorta fits his camper home. Actually, I need to trash the camper a bit more so that it is more fitting for Scott.

Scott in his camper
Scott currently resides in an (unfinished) Greenleaf camper.
Greenleaf camper with Scott
The unfinished camper. Still need to sand and paint and figure out what minis I want to display in it.
Three Pros of Mass-Produced Dolls

Obviously, if you are on a budget, mass-produced dolls are the way to go. Both Scott and Teddy were less than $20. As a retiree on a fixed income who prefers miniature things over dollhouse dolls, I’ll probably stick to mass-produced and focus on the dollhouse or room box.

In addition to the cost savings, Scott and Teddy are child-friendly dolls. If a child bangs the dolls around, the dolls can take it. (If they are destroyed, their losses would not be missed.) However,  Maria and her newborn are extremely delicate.  Definitely not for play or for children.

Finally, unlike Teddy and Scott, Maria is not bendable. She is stuck in a sitting position with her arms bent to cradle her newborn. Teddy and Scott aren’t really poseable, but they can bend to sit or stand.

So, if there are youngsters around or if money is a concern, mass-produced dolls are clearly a safer choice over artisan dolls.

Other options

More expensive porcelain and bisque doll options (like Maria) can be found at miniature conventions and shows. However, occasionally you can find artisan dolls online. I recently found a selection of higher-quality dolls on websites like thelittledollhousecompany.com.   Their handmade dolls range in price from about $75 on up, which is not a bad price if the doll is the centerpiece of your dollhouse or display box.   Also, don’t rule out eBay for vintage dolls or Etsy for artisan dolls.

If you want a doll for display, don’t need bendability, and want to save money, resin dolls are an option. They are in a fixed position, but look good in display boxes.

Resin doll
A resin doll. She costs around $20-25.

Ananda

My passion is small-scale stuff, from small toys to miniatures to small home decor items. If you enjoy collecting and viewing miniatures and other little things, I hope this website will provide you helpful information and useful links.

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