Still Believing in the Power of Play

A few days before Christmas, Robert Tonner announced that he was refocusing his creative talents and collaborating with a new company, Phyn & Aero to produce at least three new doll lines in 2017. He will continue to do licensed products like characters from DC and Gone with the Wind. Sadly, Robert discontinued his proprietary lines. There will be no new Déjà Vu dolls. It’s also an end of Tyler and Marley Wentworth—just when I decided I really liked the Chic body. But for me, the biggest loss is that of my beloved Ellowyne Wilde and her friends. I’m so disappointed that we’ll never get to see characters mentioned in Ellowyne’s journal entries, like little brother Freddy or her new friend Hazel. There will never be a painted eye Penn—the poor guy never got a last name, nor a basic Rufus with inset eyes. And we won’t get more ethnic diversity in Ellowyne’s world. I had hoped against hope that we’d get a couple of Asian characters or an African-American male. But. Not. Going. To. Happen.

I am disappointed that Ellowyne’s tenth anniversary didn’t merit a grand celebration. Instead, she went out with a whisper rather than a brass band. Of course, I realize that it likely would have been a financial burden, perhaps one too great for Tonner/Wilde Imagination to bear. But I feel her many fans deserved to see her off in style.

I don’t want to spew platitudes like there always is always a secondary market, where we can find dolls who might not be new but they’re new to us. We know that already. Nor do I want to be a Pollyanna and refuse to deal with the end of these beloved dolls and smile when in fact we want to bawl like babies.

Still, it isn’t easy to be in a consumer-driven hobby when there is nothing new to collect.

So, what do we do? Some collectors might sell off their Tonner/Wilde Imagination dolls. Others might decide to collect different dolls. Still others will love Ellowyne regardless. Whether you are dismayed or disappointed, if you decide to sell, buy, or diversify your collection, it’s up to you. The fashion doll police will not (and should not) condemn you for your decisions.

In graduate school, I learned about the theories of subjectivism, a theory that holds that people create their own meanings, and thus we co-create what we perceive. An example of this is how people perceive art. The artist has put him/herself into the creation of a piece. But the other part of this is that the viewer of the art has a reaction to the art. Does the viewer see the work as aesthetically pleasing or as a mishmash a five-year-old could do? Is the art provocative and make the viewer think? Or does it leave the viewer puzzled, even disgusted? Thus, the artist has put out his/her art but we interpret it as appealing or not, as edgy or as junk. In that sense, we become co-creators of that piece of art.

In this vein, while Robert Tonner has worked magic for us in the creation of Ellowyne and her friends, we co-create our realities of what those dolls mean and how we perceive them. For example, when I started collecting the Ellowyne line, I swore I would never get Rufus. Once I saw him customized, I embraced his unconventional appearance and co-created his character as a slightly awkward, scary smart nerd. And now, Rufus is my favorite character in the Wilde world.

Indeed it is disappointing to think about no new Ellowyne line dolls. I had so hoped for Freddy, Asian and African American friends—not to mention my vision of the “ultimate” Rufus. I wrote earlier that I wasn’t about to emulate Pollyanna and maintain that we put on our happy faces despite the loss of something that mattered in our lives. It’s up to us as collectors to continue to love our dolls even though they’re discontinued. We can sew, make jewelry, create dioramas, take photographs, re-paint faces, and write poems and stories. It all boils down to the Power of Play. Regardless of how we play and when we play, we strengthen our love for our dolls and spark our creativity. There will be no more Ellowyne dolls but no one can take away our passion.

Again, I feel it necessary to apologize for not updating my blog for a while. It took me much longer to recover from the health issues I had last summer. I haven’t felt much like writing for quite some time.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back soon.

3 thoughts on “Still Believing in the Power of Play

  1. You’re right. We have created Prudence, Ellowyne, Rufus, Lizette & Amber as much as anyone and through our imagination-fueled play…they live on and grow. Just the end of production. Not the end of the world.


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