Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thinking About Dolls

Imagination plays a big part of growing up. Children are fascinated by “acting out” what it would be like to be grown up. Toys play a vital part of this process. Almost anything can be a toy. From sticks and rocks to old socks, if it can be imagined, it can become a toy. I suppose dolls have been around since before written history. Traditionally a toy that girls have used for centuries, dolls have played a vital part in the growing-up process. From learning how to care for a baby to becoming a jet-setting executive, dolls have helped young ladies dream about the future. Just like the children who play with them, dolls come in all shapes, colors, ages and sizes. There are Barbie, Ken, Cabbage Patch, My Little Pony, American Girl and Bratz Dolls, just to name a few. They can be as simple as paper cut-out dolls and as complex, and expensive, as detailed porcelain dolls. For the boys out there, let’s not forget GI Joe and all those “action figures” (come on guys, admit it, they really are dolls, too!). As varied as the types of dolls, so are the materials that make them. Early dolls were made of wood and, later, paper-mache. The finest dolls had china heads and sometimes hands with wooden-jointed bodies. In the early days of the United States many dolls were made at home. Sew a few old rags together, and you have a new playmate. Of course, nowadays dolls are not just for kids. Doll collecting has become a very popular hobby among adults as well as children. There are many categories of collections. Some focus on the ubiquitous Barbie, especially early and now rare editions. Others choose antique dolls, or dolls specific to a period of time. Still other collectors focus on a single manufacturer, country or style of doll. If you do not desire to dig and research, there are many special or collector’s editions of dolls produced today. No discussion of dolls would be complete without a look at the growing hobby of dollhouses and miniatures. This has become a hobby unto itself. Once more, materials and types are as varied as the dolls they shelter. A dollhouse can be made by a child from a simple cardboard box. Dollhouses can also range to exact scale replicas of homes with exact scale furnishings, and even full lighting. Those with limited space may chose to do a “shadow box” that meticulously details one room of a house. It would not surprise me if somewhere some stickler for detail builds a dollhouse with full working plumbing! So, whether Barbie is jet setting all over the world, or GI Joe is saving the world, if you just want to “play” or construct an exact scale model of the White House, dolls and their accessories can take you wherever your imagination can go. They can make a rainy day go by faster, or allow an over-stressed adult a creative outlet. Anyway you look at it, dolls are cool.

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