The Tonner Doll Co. released images of the remainder of its spring 2015 line yesterday, and, like every other fashion doll collector on the Internet, I have an opinion about it.The fashion doll items were limited; out of 37 dressed dolls and fashion-only offerings, only 12 could properly be called “fashion dolls,” and that includes those from Tonner’s “Re-imagination” series. There were also four female superheros, although only one of those was ready for photography.
Does this mean that Tonner is moving toward primarily becoming a designer of child dolls and superheros? Patsy and Patsyette have been generously represented in the past few lines, and Tonner’s new child doll line, “My Imagination,” seems to be set up as a clear contender for American Girl fans, especially since the outfits appear to be designed to fit the AG body. Like many long-time Tonner fashion doll collectors, I yearn for the days of yore when Tyler and Company ruled the fashion doll market, and each line brought a bounty of different sculpts and fashions to choose from. Collectors rushed to get their orders in before editions as high as 1,500 sold out overnight. The stock market was up, times were good, and money was flowing. Of course, that was before we were all laid off in 2008.
That said, this line does see a return to the venerable House of Wentworth, although Tyler, Sydney, Esme, and friends appear to have faded into the annals of fashion doll history. Yesterday we were re-introduced to Marley Wentworth, Tyler’s all-grown-up sister. She has a strong angular profile and a colorful sense of fashion. One basic, two outfits, and three dressed dolls are being offered. I must admit that my first reaction to Marley’s sculpt was “What the hell pissed HER off?” She has a stern expression, with eyes set wide apart and lips that appear slightly pursed. But my reaction to new sculpts is often unfavorable at first–even with sculpts that I end up adoring. Even Sydney rubbed me the wrong way in the beginning. And now I have about 60 of her.
So I revisited the images of Marley throughout the day, and she did grow on me a bit. It does appear that this doll is still early in the manufacturing stage, as the sculpts appear a bit inconsistent. We probably won’t have a truly accurate representation of her until she is in stock.
Marley bears no resemblance to her 12-year-old self, but that matters little to me. Out of the four fashions pictured, two really appeal to me. My personal fashion taste favors bright, bold colors, and Marley seems to share the same aesthetic. “Skyline Blue” is a bold dress-and-skirt sleeveless ensemble that is a new, refreshing take on Tyler’s classic outfits. “Rose Rouge” has a colorful ’50s vibe with its full circle skirt and contrasting colors. On the other hand, I could do without the gowned doll “Positive Negative.” Other than its nod to No. 1 Barbie, I see nothing new or innovative–just a tired old one-shouldered gown. “Cool Chic” also does nothing for me. It seems recycled from past Cami designs, although it’s hard to really tell without being able to see what is underneath the coat.
My biggest problem with the Marley line is that it is presented in a vacuum. Clearly, these dolls are meant to be characters in an ongoing narrative–only, the narrative is conspicuously absent. There are plenty collectors who discovered Tonner’s dolls after the reign of the House of Wentworth. Who is Marley to them? Without a backstory, she’s some new doll with a weird name. I can’t understand why a company that goes to such pains to give backstories to some of its characters (Deja Vu came with her own book! Ellowyne keeps a diary!) completely ignores this vital element in other lines. I recall the days of Tonner’s portfolios, neat little booklets tucked into each doll box, describing and giving a backstory to each character and fashion. I understand that such little touches may no longer be economically feasible in today’s market, but how difficult would it be to write a little vignette on the website, filling us in on what Marley has been up to during the past ten years?
I can’t make the same complaint about Tonner’s most recent “Re-imagination” line, an enchanting reimagining of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Although this line is not to my personal taste, I certainly appreciate the artistry and creativity that went into it. Casting Alice as a male character with Lewis Carol’s given name is very imaginative, and the new Mad Hatter and White Rabbit are colorful and expressive. Sometimes I think that Robert Tonner is at his artistic best when conceiving and executing Re-imagination characters. One doll that I do possess from this line is “Sheehee,” a half-man/half-woman in the Sinister Circus. I love the playfulness of this doll, and it is executed flawlessly.
So that’s my take on the fashion portion of Tonner’s 2015 Mainline Release. I anticipate purchasing Skyline Blue Marley and perhaps Haddy Madigan. Take a look for yourself and see what appeals most to you. I’d love to hear your feedback!
9 thoughts on “Adding my opinions to the mix…”
hi I am also wondering what tonner co. is up to. it’s mid 2016 and there’s nothing there. I can’t get any answers as to why Charlie Dodgson has so many face shapes and hair. I too like the first one better. I wonder if tonner co. reads any blogs. they keep coming out with these patsys which ok for some but I like the old quality. also so many stores have told me they haven’t ordered lately as they are too ugly. Robert please read our concerns.
hi I love Charlie Dodgson but why did they not keep the original one with darker suit. I see some have a matt chin and some have a long slim jaw. what’s going on here?
I also missed out on the Tyler fashion line when it was the IT thing of the Tonner company back in the early 2000s. But I am very fortunate that I was able to acquire such a vast collection of the Tyler Wentworth line of dolls and fashions….Now, most of that stuff is gone.
I’m not interested in the Marley or the Re-imagination or superhero doll lines. I prefer the classy elegance of the Tyler Wentworth line, but who knows? Perhaps Tonner will have some pleasant surprises for us down the line in their production of what is yet to come in the new Marley Wentworth line.
I have the same complaint you made previously, Barbara, that the photos don’t show enough! What is the dress like under the coat in Skyline Blue Marley? What’s under the jacket of Cool Chic? It’s very frustrating not to know! Could we have a close up of the Basic Marley’s face?
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Amen! I’m wondering if those dresses underneath are not finished yet? Why else hide your product from your customers?
I miss the days when Tyler was Tonner’s darling. I fear she is now gone. If not, she has definitely been pushed way to the back burner. I am ordering the basic Marley to see if I like her, but I don’t get that same vibe from her that I always got from Tyler.
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The good news about having just started collecting Tyler is that you can get a lot of her stuff on the secondary market, such as on Ebay, for much lower prices than the original ones!
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Personally, I could care less about the fashion lines, except that I have one Cami (love the Cinderella sculpt). The pop culture dolls–especially Sci Fi and the more creative Super Hero ones–are much more interesting to me. I would LOVE to own a Steam Punk Wonder Woman, for instance, and am continually kicking myself that I sold my Torchwood Captain Jack Harkness. Luckily, I still have Gwen Cooper. Of the new line, Charlie Dodgeson looks very interesting. He’s one of the cutest male characters I’ve seen. So, to each her (or his) own!
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I was so excited about the new Marley Wentworth, but now that I’ve seen it I’m really, really underwhelmed. If I had to choose the doll I liked best it would be the strawberry blonde with the hazel eyes, but I didn’t particularly go for the dress she was wearing. And why did Tonner give Marley a Chic body? This might be a more posable body but it is lighter and, in my opinion, not nearly so nice to hold or handle as the original Tylers, and the real deal breaker for me is that no sharing of clothes is possible. Marley might have her own look but at nearly a hundred dollars a pop buying outfits for her is not cheap and being able to share with her big sister would have been nice, also consistent as, unless I’m wrong and I am a fairly new collector, Tyler and friends usually share the Tyler body.
I totally agree with what you say about back story and I also hanker for the days when Tyler was top of the heap. Unfortunately I started collecting very recently when Tyler’s hay day is long over, but looking at the archives I can’t help feeling that to capture people’s imagination the grown up Marley really could have been a lot better than this.
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