Three Dollhouse Dolls Compared:
Dollhouse dolls range from high-quality artisan pieces to mass-produced. Questions to ask yourself before buying a doll are:
- Who do you want to occupy your dollhouse or other display?
- How much money do you want to spend?
- How quickly do you need the doll?
- Is the doll the focus of the display?
- Do you want to play with or pose the doll?
- 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…)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.