2015 Integrity Line Revealed & Reviewed

On Saturday, Integrity held a webcast for its W Club members during which it announced its latest very impressive doll lines–four lines consisting of 27 dolls–and an “event doll” available exclusively to club members.

I was with my husband and son at Disney World all day on Saturday, so I missed the grand unveiling and simultaneous commentary by Integrity’s designers. But the ever-efficient W Club moderators immediately followed up the event with emails featuring detailed photos and descriptions of the dolls for everyone. When I returned to my house with a sleepy, cranky, four-year-old in tow, I had forgotten entirely about the event and just wanted to put the kid to bed for the night. I was looking forward to pouring a glass of wine to decompress after walking for miles around Animal Kingdom in 93-degree Florida heat for seven hours.

But upon propping up my feet and sipping that oh-so-satisfying first taste of pinot noir, I bolted upright with the recollection that I had sacrificed my viewing of the latest Integrity line for the sake of spending a family day with The Mouse. I ran to my laptop and began pouring over the latest Integrity doll offerings. My panic was justified. Hard-core Integrity collectors can sell out a popular 500-edition doll in a few hours. I liked a lot of what I saw, so I figured a lot of other people probably did too. Within a half-hour, I selected my two favorites (I tried to hold myself to one, but that was too difficult with so many beauties to choose from), and I hastily emailed my favorite “dealer.” (My husband loves that phrase.)

I didn’t have much hope that I would actually get both dolls. I was hoping that just one would be available. I should have known that the magnificent Ed Ferry from Happily Ever After would come through for me as usual, as he had a precious few left of his allotted number.

I spent the rest of the evening ignoring my poor husband (who had hoped for some shared quiet time of watching non-cartoons with me on TV) and going over the new doll lines with a more critical eye. I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised by how many individual dolls I liked. Integrity tends to be a bit hit-or-miss for me. I’ve passed on entire lines, and I have gone way beyond my budget on others. But this new collection showed off to great effect the classic, superior tailoring of the women’s suits and gowns that persuaded me to branch out into the 12-inch doll market to being with. I was also bowled over by Integrity’s 16-inch doll offering. It took a great amount of self-control to pass on those girls, lest I break the bank.

Rather than post photos of the entire line, which you can now see on other blogs and retailer sites, below I select my favorite and least-favorite of each of the four lines unveiled yesterday. In some cases, it was quite difficult to narrow my picks down to just one.

First up in the unveiling was Integrity’s latest pop culture license: Katy Keene. Katy was a comic-book star from the 1940s-1950s, so the clothing of her era fits in well with Integrity’s aesthetic. The dolls wear tailored suits and extravagant gowns, but the open-mouthed sculpts are a bit too “cartoony” for my tastes. Of course, they are depictions of a cartoon character, so that can hardly be considered a criticism. My favorite doll in this series in not Katy, but “Gloria Grandbuilt,” and her dark red suit and black fur wrap ooze sophistication. The blonde hair in the style of Veronica Lake really suits the era. I didn’t order her, but she was certainly in the running. “The Odds Are Stacked” Gloria sells for $145.

My least favorite of the Katy Keene dolls is “Blue Serenade.” My biggest complaint is her hair, which resembles a giant sausage roll, but, again,this may not be fair, as it is the signature style of the Katy Keene comic book character. The dress also looks awkward–the bodice looks sloppy, and it doesn’t seem to drape well. “Blue Serenade” Katy sells for $145.

Next up was Integrity’s FR16 dolls. These are right up my alley, as they are the same height as my beloved Tonners, and they also feature beautifully realistic female sculpts. I purchased two FR16 dolls last year, and I do not regret it. My favorite sculpts are back again this year, and they are wearing some terrific casual and formal ensembles. I was immediately able to name a favorite. Incognito Elsa Lin combined my favorite FR16 sculpt with a classic jacket, pencil skirt, and bright yellow tank. And that bouffant hair is perfect. I didn’t order her, but I am considering robbing a bank to do so. Elsa Lin sells for $175.

I’m guessing my least favorite of this line is one of the most popular among most collectors of this line. I applaud Integrity for being edgy and daring here. This doll has nothing in common at all with her FR16 sisters. And her flamboyant outfit appears well-executed. I just don’t like it. I think having her on my shelf would scare me. Exuberance Hanne Erikson sells for $200.

On to Fashion Royalty–Integrity’s oldest and most successful line. The vast majority of my Integrity dolls hail from this group. I adore many of the sculpts, and the FR girls have worn Jason Wu’s best fashions. It was difficult for me to choose a favorite from this group of eight, so I chose two–the two I selected for my own purchase. The tailored business suits and neutral and pastel colors that characterize this group make it hard for me to believe that these dolls weren’t chosen especially with my tastes in mind.

It was no surprise that Vanessa was my favorite here. I maintain that she continues to be Integrity’s best sculpt. While it is true that there have actually been three Vanessas, the differences, to me, are minute, and I love each one. I adore open-mouthed sculpts, but it is so difficult for sculptors to get them right so they don’t end up looking cartoony or buck-toothed. Refinement Vanessa Perrin wears a classic skirt, blouse, and coat ensemble. I love everything about her. She sells for $145.

The second dolls I chose to add to my collection is Perfect Reign Tatyana. I do not have this sculpt in my collection, and I am not all that familiar with her, but the second I saw this beauty staring at me from my computer screen, I knew I would order her. I also love the beading detail and draping of her gown. I can tell now that she will likely not be redressed after she arrives in my home. She looks perfect the way she is. Tatyana sells for $135.

My lease favorite FR pick is all about the outfit; I think the sculpt and hair are beautiful. But Adele deserves so very much better than a poofy prom gown designed for a teenager. I have nothing good to say about the unimaginative ensemble, so I’ll say nothing at all. Timeless Adele Makeda sells for $135.

And then there’s Poppy. There’s always Poppy. Nine, to be exact. And, IMHO, that’s nine Poppys too many. That’s nine Fashion Royalty and Nu Face dolls that could have been. I know Poppy Parker has a huge following, and I think it’s great that Integrity has done so well with her. I’ve really tried to like Poppy over the years. Starting with “The Reluctant Debutant” (which really was a lovely doll), I’ve purchased several of them. But each one I ultimately ended up selling. (Usually at a profit, so I can’t really complain.) I don’t know why I don’t like her. I can objectively recognize that she has a cute sculpt, and I’ve liked many of her ensembles. But Poppy ultimately leaves me cold, and the more she lingers around, the more she irritates me. The “space age” outfits that she’s been wearing lately are really grating. I was thinking (hoping?) that Poppy may be ready to make a graceful exit, but this strong showing of nine dolls proves me very wrong.

Darla Daly is my best pick of this group. While I’m not completely won over by her sculpt, I love her hair and colorful outfit. She sells for $120.

“Out of This World” is definitely where this Poppy should stay. I know that the “space age” aesthetic was a thing in the 60s, but it is really best left there. This Poppy looks like she’s wearing a cheap Astronaut Barbie outfit. And her makeup makes her look like she’s ready for the morgue.

And that’s a wrap for this post.

But before I sign off, I want to thank all of my readers from the bottom of my heart for their support and encouragement since I began this blog in January. I have heard from doll lovers all around the globe, and it is so gratifying to know that I am promoting the enjoyment of this creative hobby to so many people. My last post, the tongue-in-cheek “2015 WTF Doll Awards,” attracted nearly 700 readers–the most of any post I’ve written thus far. That tells me that doll people have a sense of humor about themselves and their passion, which makes me happier than ever to be a part of this global community of incredibly creative people. Happy reading, dear friends!

Where to spend your dolly dollars in 2015

Now that you’ve saved enough money to attend a doll convention this year (see my previous post for instructions), you of course need to decide which one to spend your hard-earned dolly dollars on. This year’s lineup of fashion doll gatherings takes place on the east coast, west coast, and everywhere in between—some even overseas. Doll conventions are surprising diverse, each attracting a different type of collector, so you want to make sure you choose the one(s) that you will get the most out of.

Conventions held by the major doll manufacturers are of course the most professional and polished, while others, which can be acts of love by volunteers, can have a more “homemade” feel. I’ve attended several Tonner Doll conventions, two Integrity Toys conventions, and several Modern Doll Collector conventions, so those are the only ones I can personally comment on. One of my perennial dreams is to attend the Paris Fashion Doll Festival, but as of now it remains just that—a dream. Feel free to donate to my “Send Barb to Paris” charity if you like, and I promise to write you a kick-ass blog entry in return.

My mother and I pose at Tonner Con with Lois Lane and (an apparently dieting) Superman
My mother and I pose at Tonner Con with an aging Lois Lane and an apparently dieting Superman

For some convention-goers, location can be a significant factor in their decision regarding which event to attend, as they like to make the event a “family affair,” allowing spouses and/or kids to explore the surrounding area while they surround themselves with dolly madness. (In my experience, spouses and kids are rarely interested in attending the convention itself. And that’s usually a good thing.)

Last year, the Integrity convention was held in Orlando (big bonus for me, as I live in Tampa), and several attendees enjoyed a few days in Disney World before and after the convention. That said, most of the collectors I know don’t care where a convention is held, as the convention itself is the big draw for them—many would travel to Jupiter, if necessary, and just put up with the weather while they play with their dolls.

Below is a list of the major fashion doll conventions slated for 2015. If I’ve missed any big ones, please let me know, and I will add it to the list. I am including brief descriptions taken from convention websites and all necessary links. Enjoy your planning! (And if you need me to talk to your spouse to convince him/her that this will be an essential expense for the year’s budget, I’m more than happy to do so.)


International Fashion Doll Convention (IFDC): Las Vegas, July 8-11Theme: “42 Street – Dolls on Broadway”

From the IFDC website: You are cordially invited to the 13th Annual International Fashion Doll Convention! Bring your family and join your friends for a full 4-day legendary adventure in Las Vegas. There will be the Goody Bag, Big Salesroom, $15 and under Salesroom, Competition, Raffles, Exhibitions, Rock of Ages Bowling Tournament for doll prizes, Sister Act Slot Tournament for doll prizes, the Freebie Bags, Workshops, Seminars, A Treasure Hunt through the Casino……..and there will be surprises!

I’ve never been to an IFDC convention, but I hear that it is a great event that incorporates a significant number of activities. A number of doll companies are represented at this annual event, including Tonner Doll and Integrity Toys, which usually turn out pretty cool souvenir dolls.


Modern Doll Collectors Convention: Reno, NV, Sept 16-19Theme: “My Favorite Things”

Modern Doll incorporates breakout events from a wide variety of artists, spanning vinyl fashion dolls, fantasy resin BJDs, child dolls, and many others. I’ve attended this event twice, and each time was very enjoyable. In addition to adding to my collection exclusive dolls from artists I already collect, I’ve also discovered new artists who have made my collection more diverse. In 2014, the Modern Doll convention was hosted in Orlando (again, awesome for me), and Tonner Doll furnished the final banquet’s souvenir doll, from the Déjà vu collection. This year, Connie Lowe is creating the convention doll, and collectors who do not wish to purchase the doll have the option to pay a reduced registration price to attend. Modern Doll has even made a photo of the in-progress doll to help collectors make their choice.

Prototype Connie Lowe doll for 2015 Modern Doll Collectors Convention
Connie Lowe BJD from 2014 Modern Doll breakout event (original doll on left, redressed and re-wigged doll on right)

Last year, I attended several breakout events hosted by artists I do not typically collect, and I was delighted by the dolls I received from Connie Lowe’s lunch and Helen Kish’s breakfast. If you do attend the convention this year, make sure you go to artist Nikki Britt’s event. Nikki is a young resin BJD artist of all of 23 years, and she is producing imaginative dolls unlike any other in the BJD market. I did not attend her event, and boy was I sorry when I saw the adorable BJD that was the souvenir. Nikki is headed places; don’t miss the opportunity to add one of her fantastic dolls to your collection.

Nikki Britt’s “Pepper Annie”

One final comment on Modern Doll: It is clearly an act of love by a small group of retirees who work very hard to bring it together each year. They do a great job, but, that said, there are some noticeable bumps and bruises that at times give it a “homemade” flavor. Both times I attended the event, the participants tended to be much older. Not a lot of partying going on with this group. At the final event, organizers arranged for a cash bar in the back of the ballroom. I think myself and one bedraggled husband were the only patrons. The bartender did not look pleased with her empty tip jar.

Me at Modern Doll 2014 with an adorable Diana Effner doll I bought in the salesroom.
Me at Modern Doll 2014 with an adorable Diana Effner doll I bought in the salesroom.


Integrity Toys: Long Beach, CA (date TBD)

Integrity generally does not announce its theme and convention date until later in the year, although they have announced that this year it will take place in Long Beach, California. The 2014 convention was over the Halloween weekend, and it also took place during Halloween in 2013, so I’m assuming that trend will continue. I’ve been to the Integrity convention twice now—when it was held in Orlando in 2011 and again in 2014. (There are definite perks to living in Florida.) I was left giddy with doll happiness each time. Integrity gives you a lot for your money (and it’s not cheap to attend), and they work hard to make sure you enjoy yourself. I also think the attendees of Integrity’s conventions are among the doll community’s most colorful characters, and that makes it all the more fun.

One note of caution: Collectors who attend the Integrity convention generally know their dolls. I consider myself an Integrity collector, but my knowledge of body types, characters, storylines, and sculpts paled in comparison to those around me. These are hard-core core collectors, and—more so than others of their ilk—they take their hobby very seriously. So, unless you can carry your own weight during a conversation regarding the multiple incarnations of Vanessa’s face sculpt over the years and which one is superior to which, be prepared to smile and nod a lot.


Tonner Doll convention: Dallas, TX, May 29-31

Theme: “Guilty Pleasures”

From Tonner Doll website: Don’t be shy – we’re all guilty here!  Welcome to the wide world of guilty pleasures!  Like decadent desserts, binge watching your favorite TV shows, and frivolous luxury, the 2015 Tonner Convention is going to be Wilde… especially since it’s in Dallas, TX – the Wild West!  Famous for hosting more restaurants per capita than New York City, local celebs Bonnie and Clyde,   its sheer love of country clubs and more, Dallas is an exciting, urban city that will no doubt be the perfect backdrop for all our Guilty Pleasures!

This year’s fun will kick off with registration starting Friday morning, from 10a-12p, with events beginning later that very afternoon.  For those that delight in ‘evening’ wear, the PJ Party is BACK with a ferocious appetite for fun!  AND prepare yourselves for a super fabulous 16” fashion doll souvenir – a BRAND NEW collection debut that we are excited to welcome (back) to the Tonner Family.

Myself and The Legend himself
Me and The Man himself

I’ve been to more Tonner Doll conventions than any other. Until my mother got Alzheimer’s, we went together each year, and each year, we had more fun than the previous one. For a long time, Tonner held its annual gathering in Chicago, but this year they are venturing into Texas. Like most doll manufacturers, Tonner’s employees work their butts off to make sure their attendees enjoy themselves. There are generally more hits than misses with their souvenir dolls, and their comedic presentations are invariably laugh-inducing. (This is the company that staged a doll wedding when Tyler Wentworth tied the knot with Matt O’Neill.)

Robert Tonner is one of the nicest people you ever want to meet, and he cheerfully endures what can most generously be described as the “over enthusiasm” of many of his fans. The company has managed to keep the event exciting throughout the years. The addition of Wilde Imagination and Tonner’s multiple comic book and movie licenses has added to the diversity of the dolls offered.

Robert at his "daughter's" wedding
Robert at his “daughter’s” wedding

The waning popularity of Tonner’s fashion dolls in recent years (he has a lot more competition now than he had a decade ago) has meant that the company often has convention dolls left over, which it makes available to the public soon after the convention has ended. This has dampened the enthusiasm of many convention-goers (admittedly, including me), as a big drawn of conventions is the exclusivity of the dolls offered. If a collector can purchase an “exclusive” convention doll just a few days after the event without having to pay for an airline ticket, it kind of defeats the point.

That said, many collectors point out that there is no way to replicate the thrill of “being there” and enjoying several days of being with other collectors who “get” you and your hobby. Should you go to a Tonner Convention, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll agree.

P.S. It’s a poorly kept secret that an all-grown-up Marley Wentworth will make her debut at this year’s Tonner Convention. She’s the first addition to the Wentworth line in quite some time, so I expect collectors of the Wentworth dynasty (myself included) will be pretty psyched about this particular event.


National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention: Arlington, VA, July 29 – August 1

Unfortunately, the Barbie Convention site has been down for the past week, and I’m unable to find information other than the time and place. I’ve never attended the Barbie Convention (produced and hosted by Mattel), but I’ve been told it’s as polished a doll event as you ever want to attend. If you have any more information about this event, please feel free to add it in the comments section.


United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC): Kansas City, MO, July 16-19

Theme: “A Dream Come True”

From UFDC website: Join us for an exciting experience sharing our passions for dolls with friends and family. Fun filled days of educational activities, superb salesroom, themed meal events and sightseeing opportunities including tours of our UFDC headquarters and newly renovated museum.

UFDC bills itself as a no-nonsense, research-oriented institution. Local clubs that want to become officially associated with the UFDC must submit an application and pay dues. In fact, individual collectors must be formally invited to join an UFDC club, and likewise apply for membership and pay (modest) dues.

UFDC’s mission statement states that its global community aims to elevate doll-collecting by enabling the study of dolls: The home of our organization is our headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. From this hub UFDC is able to support the goals of its membership: to promote and assist in the preservation of dolls and historical documents pertaining to dolls; to serve as a clearing house for ideas pertaining to dolls; to promote and stimulate interest in the establishment and maintenance of museum doll collections and other permanent and temporary exhibits for display in public places; to assist the educational process through the sponsorship of and participation in lectures, seminars, conferences, and symposia; to publish a magazine to encourage the above enumerated charitable, scientific and educational activities.

I’m told the UFDC’s museum houses quite the collection, representing antique through modern fashion dolls. UFDC’s 2014 convention likewise featured a wide variety of doll artists, including Denis Bastien, Susan Fosnot, Beverly Stoehr, Helen Kish, and Kathe Kruse, among others. Like Modern Doll, I’m betting that it’s a good gathering for collectors open to discovering artists who are new to them.


Madame Alexander Doll Convention: Dallas, TX, July 29-Aug. 1

Theme: “Bluebonnets, Boots, and Big ‘D’”

From Madame Alexander Doll Club website: Each summer the Madame Alexander Doll Club holds it annual convention. It has been in locations all over the continental United States. During the convention, there are Events, Workshops, Seminars, A Competitive Exhibit, Sales Room, Raffle Room, Special Exhibit and the Annual MADC Meeting. It takes countless volunteers to hold this event, and we are thankful to everyone who helps out with their support.


Paris Fashion Doll Festival: March 13-15, Paris

Theme: “Cabaret”

I’ve only attended the Paris Fashion Doll Festival in my dreams, but I hear that it’s a terrific affair for fashion doll collectors the world over. This year’s souvenir doll will be a Barbie produced by Mattel exclusively for the convention. Wilde Imagination and Tonner Doll are also typically represented, and their event dolls are almost invariably TDF. I’ve spent years chasing after some of them on the secondary market. This year, Superdoll will also be represented, although its souvenir doll has somehow already sold out two months ahead of the event.

Paris Fashion Doll Festival souvenir Parfum de Fleur DeeAnna Denton
Paris Fashion Doll Festival souvenir Célébration à Paris


St. Louis BJD Convention: St. Louis, Missouri (Where else?), Nov. 13-15

Theme: “Pirates and Ninjas”

From the website: We geek out about dolls, learn new things, meet new people, and have lots of fun! We offer workshops to learn more about the care and design of your dolls – want to learn how to face-up your doll? Give it a manicure? Create your own doll? Perhaps you’d like to learn how to create and sew a corset for your doll using a sewing machine? Or make a wig? These are all things that we’ve offered at the convention previously, and we’re just getting started!

I don’t know much about this event, but, according to the website, this is a one-day gathering hosted by a St. Louis-based doll club is in its fourth year. The website states that the event typically draws about 50 people, so it seems to be a small affair.


Italian Doll Convention: Milan, Italy, May 16-17

Again, I don’t know much about this international event besides what I can see from its website. From what I can gather from the photos, good-looking men, drag shows, and alcohol play significant roles in the proceedings. And really, do you need any more motivation to attend than that? Barbie appears to be the main doll represented, and the 2015 souvenir doll is a Barbie dressed by Magia2000.

2014 doll convention photos:

2014 Italian Doll Convention fashion runway
2014 Italian Doll Convention fashion runway


In addition to these events, local clubs often sponsor “doll shows” in locations across the country. Rather than shows, these are typically one-day salesrooms, at which local retailers and informal sellers gather to sell their wares. There are usually one or two of these events within reasonable driving distance of me each year, and I enjoy attending them to see dolls in person that I can otherwise only see on the Internet. If you find one of these events near you (and most of them are held in the late winter or early spring), make an effort to attend. They are good places to meet fellow collectors in your area and perhaps pick up a doll you’ve been searching for. Doll Show USA lists events by state.

Once again, a post that I thought would take a few minutes to write has ended up being the length of a short novel. If you are still with me at this point, thanks for reading, and may all your doll convention dreams come true.

When you wish upon a star...
When you wish upon a star…

The most exclusive club in town

Up until two years ago, I was a casual collector of Integrity dolls. Since I broke up with Barbie 12 years ago, I’d only been seeing the 16” girls. But the occasional Fashion Royalty model did catch my eye, especially the younger NU Face girls. I eventually broke down and purchased Pretty Calculated Erin, followed by her partner in crime, Urban Outfitting Nadja. A number of factors attracted me to these dolls, including their hilarious back stories (no one weaves a soap opera like Integrity does), many non-Caucasian sculpts, and, of course, those clothes. The detail, fit, and accessories remain, IMHO, unsurpassed. And the price for what you get is very good. In time, Colette and Ayumi joined the crowd, and I fell for a few Vanessas and her sister, Veronique. But I kept the group to around a dozen.

And then I joined the W Club.

Pretty Calculated Erin Stalton
Urban Outfitting Nadja Rhyme
Perk Collette Duranger
Miracle Child Ayumi Nakamura

The W Club (Named for the prodigy doll-designer turned human-designer Jason Wu) is open each year to the public, and it is the best deal in Dolldom. For a modest membership fee, collectors are privy to a host of perks and exclusive dolls. Members may choose a variety of price levels, ranging from $50 for basic membership, perks, and coupons, to more expensive packages that include exclusive club dolls. This brochure will give you all the details. (And read them thoroughly before purchasing. It can get complicated distinguishing among the many options available to you.) A video brochure is available here.

Fashion Explorer Vanessa Perrin – 2014 W Club Doll

Membership in the W Club made me a full-fledged Integrity collector. There are many exclusives to choose from throughout the year, and if I don’t like one, I usually fall for the next one. I hear the online community (available only to members) is very entertaining and informative (although I generally don’t participate due to other demands on my time). Members also get first dibs on attending the Integrity Convention, which I’ve now been to twice. There is a members-only event at the convention, which generally features kick-ass dolls (an industry term).

High Visibility Agness Van Weiss – 2014 W Club doll

So even for the mildly curious, I highly recommend trying out the W Club for a year. For only $50, you are entitled to some cool perks, including $20 toward a club doll. So even if nothing tickles your fancy, you won’t be out too much.

Below is a peek at this year’s first (of many) club dolls, available for purchase with club membership until Feb. 16, when the open membership period ends. I will likely pass on Poppy and the dude, although I admit that he would be a hilarious addition to my group. I will definitely get Agnes, as I have a newfound appreciation for Fashion Royalty’s “bitchy” girls. For the longest time, I couldn’t understand what collectors saw in these sour faces. But now they make me laugh, and they are typically dressed in the sharpest outfits. (Although I will admit that this Agnes’ dress doesn’t do too much for me. Still, cool accessories.)

So there’s my testimonial. If you decide to join, welcome to the club!

Baroness Agnes Van Weiss – 2015 W Club doll
Groovy Galore Poppy Parker – 2015 W Club doll
Vice Effect Ollie Lawson – 2015 W Club doll