Mega fun at Metrodolls

As you read in my previous post, This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend Metrodolls, an annual event hosted by the Metrodolls club in New Jersey. My only complaint about the event is that it was over much too soon. Metrodolls attempts to squeeze all of the activities of your typical weekend-long doll event into six hours. So it’s a bit of a whirlwind that seems to be over soon after it begins.

The main event was preceded by another event by Kingdom Doll, in which participants were treated to a presentation about this relative newcomer to the fashion doll scene. “Liberty,” was the event doll, an exclusive to the Kingdom Doll event. While I appreciate the beauty of these dolls and their exquisite wardrobes, their look is not for me. Which is good, considering their eyebrow-raising price tag.

For me, the festivities began soon after I flew into Newark and took a taxi to the hotel. As soon as I walked into the lobby, I was greeted by doll friends I hadn’t seen since my move from Maryland to Florida eight years ago. We had a brief reunion with lots of hugs and then went to settle down into our rooms. Soon after, I was shopping in room of the talent behind “YumYum Couture.” I purchase an exquisitely tailored distressed faux leather jacket. It was difficult to limit myself to just one piece.  IMHO, “YumYum” is one of the best seamstresses in the fashion doll world.

I then joined a cadre of doll enthusiasts for dinner in the hotel lobby, where the excitement about the day ahead grew with each glass of red wine. After a few hours of nonstop chatter, the group retired for the evening.

Upon going to bed, I set my alarm for 7am, as I promised to help Ed Ferry of “Happily Ever After” set up his vendor table the next morning. I hadn’t told him that one of the chief motivations of my offer of help was to get a sneak preview of the vendor room’s goodies.

The wine from dinner made me fall asleep very quickly, and the next thing I remember was my phone ringing from across the room, where I had plugged it in. As I stumbled over to it, I looked at the alarm clock next to the bed. 10:56 am.

WTF???!!!???!!!!

I set my alarm for 7am! I swore did! The event started an hour ago!

I’ve never thrown on clothes faster in my life. Given the choice of showering and brushing my teeth or shopping in a doll vendor room was no contest. I ran out of my room with wild hair and no deodorant. I know my priorities.

It was 11:08 am when I arrived in the vendor room. I rushed over to poor Ed, who had been the one calling me, and I apologized profusely for not helping him set up. Being the ever-sweet Ed, he told me not to worry about it, and that he was about to beat down my room door, for he knew that nothing short of near-death would keep me from this event.

But I digress.

I made a quick run-through of the room, gazing at the eye candy. Sandra Stillwell and Flutterwing Designs had particularly tempting items. But I held off, as I knew I was going to bid on some auction items, and I had to save my funds for that.

In a room adjoining the vendor room was a magnificent display of every single doll and souvenir item ever offered by Metrodolls at its annual event. It was beautifully done and a great trip down memory lane. The souvenir dolls from this event have always been some of Tonner’s best work, and many have become grails over the years, difficult to find on the secondary market.

I was still drooling over these dolls when attendees were called into the ballroom for lunch. Presentations from Kingdom Doll, Marcia Friend (of “Facets by Marcia“), and Robert Tonner (who narrated a great presentation of the fashions of “ladies who lunch”) were followed by some sort of chicken dish. (I’ve always thought that the food at these events is besides the point. It’s nearly always some type of rubbery chicken, and who has any interest in eating when there are dolls to be ogled in every direction?)

During some free time after the event, I purchased a ridiculous number of tickets for the raffle, which offered a stunning array of tempting dolls.  I then headed to the Metrodolls table, where I saw Tonner’s “companion dolls,” a blonde and redhead basic named “Carmela,” after a member of Metrodolls who passed away last year. The dolls use the Shauna/Sweetheart sculpt, and they immediately took my breath away. I purchased one of each as well as some previous Metrodolls outfits on sale.

The intermission was followed by the much-anticipated charity auction. The artist dolls, outfits, and props were stunning, and the bidding was fierce for several items. The much-talked-about Kingdom Doll fetched an eye-popping $8,000. Other items, like YumYum’s gorgeous Victorian walking outfit and Tonner Doll’s elegant OOAK Marley also went to high bidders. With all of the proceeds going to charity, it was great to witness the generosity of the winning bidders.

The souvenir doll unveiling followed the auction. This year’s doll was a Marley in a lace and tulle gown and outrageous white crimped hair. She was striking, no doubt about it, but she wasn’t for me. I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to my dolls, so I knew I was going to offer Marley to someone else who would appreciate her more.

The raffle drawing concluded the event, and I was lucky enough to win a play doll for my niece and a beautiful silk sheath dress.

And then before we knew it, the event had ended. As I hadn’t won any auctions, I had dolly money burning a hole in my pocket, so I dashed into the vendor room to made a last-minute purchase from Ed of Happily Ever After. I added to my collection a lovely Veronique I’ve had my eye on for some time.

If you simply must have one of the fabulous dolls or outfits from the event, Metrodolls will soon have them on their site for purchase. I highly recommend Carmela. She is a lovely sculpt.

And thus endeth my one doll event this year, with champagne wishes and caviar dolly dreams in my head.

Carmela3
You know you want me.

Happy Dolly Fourth of July!

This is just a quick post to wish my American readers a festive July 4th. I am currently in Colorado visiting with my husband’s family. My in-laws live in a mountain community of less than 1,000 residents. No more than a dozen businesses line its main street, and there is no stop light. It is a quirky town, and breathtakingly beautiful.

When we visited last summer, I took a doll with me and photographed her against the mountains, valleys, and lakes we came across. This year I am doing the same, with the added bonus of sharing my doll photography time with my 7-year-old niece, who brought along her American Girl doll. It’s been so much fun getting to share my love of dolls with a little girl who is just starting to become enchanted with them. As soon as I arrived, my niece unpacked her backpack of American Girl clothes and accessories, and we both began redressing our respective dolls. I adore my son, but it is so magical to be able to relate to a child through doll play. Playing cars and trains with my son just isn’t the same.

Today my niece and I took our dolls outdoors to photograph them for the Fourth of July holiday. A holiday craft project created by my mother-in-law provided a festive backdrop.

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Even Barbie joined us for a while.
Even Barbie joined us for a while.

This year, my travel doll is “Sage,” a platinum Cinderella Tonner doll repainted by “K.” Sage wore some older Tonner separates for her photo shoot. I love the pieces that Tonner created for Tyler and friends when that line was in its heyday. They remain the basic staples of my dolls’ closet, and I return to my favorites (like Sage’s top) again and again.

Last year, Blush and Bashful Tyler accompanied us to Colorado. I was able to get some terrific photos during several day trips we took.

After our photo session was done, my niece and I headed for a playground, where our dolls joined us on the swings. It will be difficult to leave the crisp mountain air for Florida’s heat and humidity when we return home in a couple days.

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Kristen’s Tale (or Why You Should Never F*** With a Doll Collector)

Five years ago I bought a gorgeous repaint off eBay. She was a fresh-faced young woman who had begun life as Tonner’s Cinderella. Her artist sprinkled freckles across her face and chest, gave her nose and eyebrow rings, and painted an understated rose tattoo above her right breast. Her crowning glory was a fabulous head of variegated brown dreadlocks, which hung past her shoulders and down her back. Yes, she had the stereotypical hipster vibe, but she preserved the look of a young innocent and hesitant adventurer. I fell in love with her at first sight, checked my dolly budget, and eagerly clicked the “buy” button.

Her artist, the talent behind “Bordello Dolls,” promptly shipped the doll—christened “Kristen”—and sent me her tracking information. A few days later, I received a USPS notice on my front door advising me that Kristen’s delivery had been attempted. I work out of the house full-time, so I signed the slip, asking the postman to leave the doll at my door. I waited three days for Kristen’s redelivery, but she did not arrive.

I contacted the post office, which swore the doll was delivered per my instructions. I then contacted the artist, who also contacted her post office, and she got the same reply. The front desk worker at my post office produced my signed slip and said they had done their job. The slip indicated that I authorized delivery without a signature, so they were not responsible for the doll once it was redelivered at my front door.

I had never had a package stolen before, and I live in a low-crime neighborhood. I feared I was out both the lovely Kristen and my $300, but the artist kindly offered to paint me another doll, which was more than nice of her, as she was not the one at fault. I knew, however, that there was only one Kristen.

It was the next day or so after my doll disappeared that I was casually browsing my typical haunts on eBay, and I saw Kristen again offered for sale. This time the seller was not Bordello Dolls, but one completely unknown to me. The auction was a carbon copy of the artist’s original one, complete with her photos and description.

WTF?

Was this seller my thief? Or was it another rip-off artist trying to sell a doll he/she did not have, making this a very weird coincidence?

In my confusion, I sought advice from the established online Doll Authorities—my favorite doll community board (in my case, Prego).

The Pregoites immediately swung into action–as I knew they would–doing the background checks and homework that I didn’t have time to do with my hectic work schedule and small child. In no time, they had shut down the criminal’s eBay account (these were the days in which eBay was actually responsive to their customers’ needs). Other Pregoites researched the seller’s background and soon identified him as a well-known con artist in the doll world—although his “real” name was unknown.

By now, conversation about Kristen and her whereabouts dominated the board’s discussion on a daily basis. Theories were put forward, allegations were made, and the most die-hard sleuths remained committed to identifying the thief by name. The biggest mystery, of course, was how this random member of an online doll community manage to identify me as the buyer of this specific doll, get my address, stalk my postman, and then steal the doll from my front door. The unlikelihood of it all seemed to propel my amateur detective friends on in their quest to solve the mystery.

In the meantime, I contacted my local police station to report the theft and enlist their help. As I related my unlikely tale to officers whose job it is to track down stolen goods, I could sense their incredulity in the silence on the other end of the phone line. And when I told them the stolen item was a doll purchased off eBay for $300, I actually heard a chuckle. At which point I slammed down the phone and muttered obscenities about the uselessness of my local taxpayer-funded police force.

But the real detectives wouldn’t give up. Finally, one day I heard from a Pregoite who had not only identified the thief, but also had his street address.

He lived within a ten-minute drive of my house.

After more digging, it was discovered that this individual was a member of Prego himself. He apparently saw a previous post in which I announced my purchase of Kristen, located my address, stalked my postman, stole the doll, and then listed her on eBay.

WTF?

Prego is an international board, but its membership is relatively small. The entire fashion doll community is small—estimated to be no more than several thousand. The fact that someone in my neighborhood was a Prego member, managed to identify a specific doll I had purchased off eBay, tracked down my address, found out exactly when that doll was being delivered, and then stole that doll from me to repost it on eBay strained belief. A few people even hinted that I had staged the whole thing. I almost couldn’t blame them.

With a physical address, Prego really sprang into action. They had a name and an address, and they did everything in their power to shame this person into returning the doll. They also knew his personal email address and they knew that he was on Prego, so they peppered him with threats if he did not return the stolen merchandise. They threatened everything from legal action to a good house egging. I could not help but to sit back and enjoy this rallying to Kristen’s defense.

And now comes the most unbelievable chapter of this unlikely tale of dolly theft. One evening in the midst of this drama I couldn’t sleep and went downstairs into my kitchen to get a glass of milk. It was probably around midnight. I was startled by some scuffling close to my house, and I peered out the kitchen window. I saw nothing. I attributed the noise to some random animal and went back to bed.

The next morning, when I opened my front door to go to work, I tripped over a Tonner-sized box. Kristen had come home.

KristenNews of the doll’s return brought much joy to the Prego community. My dolly friends had accomplished what the post office and police refused to—and they did it with far fewer resources. I learned that day to never, ever fuck with the doll community or one of its own. They will take you down.

Hell hath no fury like a doll collector scorned.