The Sisterhood of the Dolls (Or should that be Fandom of the Dolls?)

Back in 1990 when I got my first American Girl doll, I remember thinking it was a little bit crazy.  A grown 20-something woman wanting a doll geared towards an 8 year old kid.  But then again, my mom collected Barbie dolls, so it wasn’t all that weird, was it?  It was a Christmas gift and I was so excited to get her.  Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I decided to buy Rebecca and if you’ve been reading my blog since the early days, you know that my collection has expanded a bit.  Alright, not just a bit, A LOT.  I guess I got past thinking it was weird.

Starting this blog 3 years ago was something I did just for fun and as an experiment.  Never in a million years did I ever think that I would still be doing it at this point (and no signs of stopping).  Nor did I expect the kind of responses I’ve gotten from people.  I just figured it would be one of many blogs out there that once in a while had someone pop in and read.  Boy was I wrong!  I’ve had people from all over the world visit.  And comment.  There are days when I go in and look at the daily stats for visitors and I’m totally blown away.  The best part is that quite a few of these people have not just become readers, but friends.  People who I e-mail, text and have phone conversations with on a regular basis.  I’ve even managed to meet one of them in person several times, and I hope to meet several more someday.  These are awesome friendships, forged from a mutual interest.  You have no idea what that has meant to me over the past few years.

I had no idea just how many adult collectors there are for just American Girl and other 18 inch dolls of similar styles.  I love how passionate these people are for their collections too.  There are those (like me) who collect a variety; GOTY’s, historicals (they will never be BeForever to me!) and others.  Then there are those who find their niche and stick to it.  It’s a great community though, and even though there are times where we may not all agree 100% on everything, there is one thing we can all agree on for sure–that we love dolls and for us, there is no age limit.  Whether you are 8 or 80, dolls are such a universal thing.  Truthfully, you can say that about almost any toys, but I think dolls are probably one of the most varied items in that category and there is something for everyone.

San Diego recently had their giant convention where people from around the world get together to enjoy all sorts of different areas of science fiction, comic book, adventure–well, quite frankly, just about anything you can think of.  I hadn’t really thought about it much until someone posted a photo on Twitter that showed the crowd (or lack thereof) on the day of the very first one.  A couple of guys walking around in front of a large building.  Then there was a photo of the most recent one, a big crowd.  Now it’s a huge event, with people buying tickets well in advance and it sells out every single year.  Amazing.  Something that people thought of as weird, unusual, and only for “nerds” has become so popular that the biggest celebrities in the industry show up year after year.  Who would have thought?  I’m sure the guys who set up the first one never imagined someone as big as Stan Lee (the godfather of comic books) would eventually be making regular appearances at these things.

This got me to thinking–we are sort of like our own little “club”.  (I hesitate to use the word sisterhood because I know that there are a few male doll collectors!)   All brought together by a mutual love of dolls.  I always feel terrible when I hear of someone who has been made fun of because they collect dolls (or something else).  Collectibles have a way of giving you a great amount of pleasure, no matter what they are.  Whether it’s taking you back to a moment in childhood, or something you always wanted but never got for Christmas, there is that moment of excitement when you’ve found that particular item.  And it’s a feeling many of us share.  I recently listened to an interview with the lead singer of one of my favorite bands who has an large collection of lunchboxes.  He talked about how it was fun in the early days of the band (before the internet) to go scrounging through the phone book of the various places that they went, looking for stores that sold collectibles, antiques, etc, hoping to score that great find.  For him it was a “Lost In Space” lunchbox, the one he always wanted as a kid.  As I listened, I could totally relate, not just from my own view point, but also from that of so many of my friends, readers and fellow bloggers in this awesome doll fandom.  I not only enjoy when I find something incredible, but also when I see that one of my doll cohorts has come across a terrific find somewhere.  While we might be slightly envious at times, we are also genuinely happy for someone because we know how it feels.

A couple of years ago I read an excellent post by an author whose blog I followed.  Unfortunately I can’t share it because her blog isn’t exactly suited for kids.  But I’ll give you the basic gist.  As a kid growing up, her family had very little money.  Her “holy grail” of toys was an American Girl Samantha, but the reality was that when you barely have enough money to put food on the table, a doll that costs that much just isn’t happening.  A couple of summers ago she was vacationing with friends and while in a store, she noticed a Samantha doll in one of the displays.  She had recently released a book that did better beyond her belief, and she decided that Samantha was going to be her reward for that.  She didn’t care how much she cost, she was prepared to wipe out every penny in her wallet to get her.  And then an amazing thing happened.  When she asked the woman who ran the store (who was also the owner) about Samantha and if she was willing to sell her, the woman said no.  She gave Samantha to her.  I can remember reading that, with tears pouring down my face because I was so happy for her, and I totally got how she felt.  Samantha later appeared in further blog posts with some hilarious results, and it was no doubt a moment that she was never going to forget, and neither was I.  It was great to see someone get their hearts desire, that item that had been missing from their past.

So why am I writing this post?  Well, for several reasons.  I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has read this blog for the past 3 years for all of your support, well wishes, laughs and friendship.  It’s been an amazing journey thus far, and I look forward to seeing where it ends up next.  I’m still surprised at how things have turned out, and since my brain doesn’t seem to quit working when it comes to all things doll, I’m sure I have at least a few good years of ideas to go.  Time will tell.

I also wanted to tell everyone to stay passionate about your fandom.  Whether it’s dolls, lunchboxes, Sherlock, Doctor Who–whatever–don’t let anyone discourage you.  If it is something you love, don’t let others tell you it’s stupid, or that you are too old for it.  My mom was 89 when she passed away, and her dolls were a tremendous source of joy and fun for her.  I’m always a bit disheartened when I hear someone say “oh, I’m too old for (insert item here).”  No you aren’t.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise either.  If you want to get rid of your dolls or toys because you truly aren’t interested in them anymore, that’s fine.  Maybe further down the road you’ll find that interest again, or you’ll find something else to fill that space.  Whatever you do, don’t let anyone bully you into thinking that you are too old for something you enjoy, or that it’s weird.  If it gives you true happiness and it’s not hurting anyone else, that is what is genuinely important.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret–some of them are either jealous or secretly have dolls/toys hidden away somewhere, but are afraid to admit it! 😉

So, to the Sisterhood/Fandom of the Dolls (and whatever else you collect)–thank you and to many more years of fun! (And in case you are wondering, yes, he did finally get the “Lost In Space” lunchbox. 🙂 )