Goodbye! Barbie... Hello! Annabelle

By: Tonya from When It Was Cool (@wiwcool, facebook.com/TonyasDiner)

 Photo courtesy of   Adopt a Creepy Doll

Photo courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

DOLLS! What is it about dolls?

A doll is a small version of a human without actually being human. They have features like a human making them look real without actually being real. To many, this is what makes dolls so creepy. It’s the uncanny valley vibe that one gets from a doll that brings them an eerie creep factor.

 From Tonya’s  When It Was Cool  collection

From Tonya’s When It Was Cool collection

This is the age of the “creepy” doll. These are not the type of dolls you give to children. Unlike Barbie they are not known for their beauty. They do not look like they welcome cuddles or love such as the faces of Cabbage Patch Kids nor do they come with swanky (most popular girl in school accessories) such as the American Girl dolls (unless by swanky you mean a murder weapon, a crucifix, or a tiny coffin).

Thanks to Annabelle’s first appearance in The Conjuring and then two movie releases under her own name, more today than ever before, the most sought after dolls are the oldest, creepiest, macabre looking dolls you can find. Many doll collectors have stopped looking for dolls on a store shelf and now search them out at estate sales, thrift shops, yard sales, flea markets, and last but definitely not least social media and online custom doll shops.

As I’ve been researching people’s fascination with dolls I have came across numerous groups and pages on Facebook and the internet titled “haunted dolls for sale” and many doll shops with catchy names that customize one of a kind dolls. A lot of these dolls are just basic looking dolls listed as “haunted”. However, many come with more than just a custom face or a creepy presence, many come with a creepy price tag as well. Some of these dolls are being listed for sale for hundreds up to thousands of dollars. So, if you want a creepy looking or supposedly “haunted” doll in your collection be prepared to pay.

 From Tonya’s When It Was Cool collection

From Tonya’s When It Was Cool collection

There are some doll artists out there that do amazing work and have very reasonable prices. Not to mention some of these amazing doll artists donate their proceeds to wonderful causes. I came across one such lady on Facebook. She’s an amateur artist based in West Seattle, WA. Her Facebook page is called Adopt a Creepy Doll and her dolls are available in her Etsy Shop. Her work is absolutely amazing and proceeds go to rescue horses at The Red Barn Equine Rescue. Please go like and follow that page as well as her Adopt a Creepy Doll Facebook page, Instagram, and Etsy store..

People that have seen my dolls wonder why I want such ugly things in my home. My fascination with dolls goes back before Annabelle and even further back than Child’s Play’s Chucky. I was intrigued by the dolls in the Puppet Master movies as well as the Zuni fetish warrior doll in the old school 1975 movie Trilogy of Terror. I also loved the Chucky doll in Child’s Play (the good guy version). To me he was even more creepy than when he transformed into Chucky (the bad guy). I loved that this was a very large doll. I’m still searching for one life-sized as well as Annabelle (whom I’m obsessed with) in life-size.

 Zuni fetish warrior from trilogy of terror

Zuni fetish warrior from trilogy of terror

So what is this fascination with creepy dolls? First, I should make mention that there are two types of dolls that I would say most people would agree fit into the creepy doll category . You have your old antique dolls that have aged naturally from time and everyday wear and tear by being played with. One example is the old composition dolls. A composition doll is a doll made partially or wholly out of composition, a composite material composed of sawdust, glue, and other materials such as cornstarch, resin, and wood flour. The first composition dolls were made in the 19th century. They were marketed as unbreakable, compared to earlier more fragile dolls. Unbreakable? Yes, uncrackable? No.

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

As you can see in the photos I have posted of mine the materials they were made from cracked over time. Giving them an eerie look. This is probably why many people label them as creepy. These days there is also a market for “reborn dolls”, or “one of a kind dolls”. These are dolls that someone seeks out at thrift stores, yard sales, or anywhere an abandoned doll may be found. The individual then takes the dolls home and recreates them if you will. Kind of like Frankenstein and his monster. They may alter their faces and bodies with putty, molding them into something entirely different. They may paint them, maybe re-root their hair, give them new clothes, maybe even give them a creepy accessory. They can be made to look dead, or made bloody and gory. I’ve seen zombie dolls, vampire dolls, creepy clowns, monsters and many more creepy themed dolls.

 Doll from Tonya’s when it was cool collection

Doll from Tonya’s when it was cool collection

I can’t speak for others as to why they are drawn to these dolls but as for myself there’s something about the dark side of them that really pulls me in. Having struggled with mental illness my whole life I am definitely in touch with my dark side as well as my vibrant one. To me these dolls are not ugly nor creepy. They’re beautiful in their own unique way. They tell a story.

In my personal opinion we humans are the same. Unique and beautiful in our own way. Different. We all have two sides, we all have a story behind our own eyes. My favorite dolls to find are really old ones. When I find an old doll that looks creepy as well as being antique it’s like finding a treasure to me.

While the reborn one of a kind dolls are awesome the old dolls found at the estate sales, the ones who may have sat in an attic for years, those have a presence. And while it may not be inhabited by a spirit, they still have life all the same. A 100 year old doll has probably seen a lot of stuff. Has probably been played with a million times. Has probably been loved unconditionally by someone and loved none by another. Maybe the doll has been lost, stolen, abandoned, who knows? But when I look into their eyes I see and feel a whole lot of life and it’s captivating. And That’s why I adore them.

  Little miss no name doll  from tonya’s when it was cool collection.

Little miss no name doll from tonya’s when it was cool collection.

While the earliest Barbie may have appeared on the market in 1959, dolls date way farther back than that. According to a 2017 Newsweek article archaeologists had uncovered a prehistoric child’s grave in Siberia containing some of the oldest toys known to exist anywhere in the world. One of those toys? A doll head with “carefully worked out facial features” carved from soapstone being around 4500 years old.

My point is that dolls have been around for a long time, but why? Earlier I mentioned these “creepy” dolls are not dolls you give to children. But I really find myself asking “why not?” I have found that the importance of a doll for a child may possibly be to learn to nurture. So, do we trick children at a small age into believing everyone is a princess and have a tiny waist like Barbie? Do we set that standard as far back as the nursery? If so, shame on us!

  little miss no name doll  from tonya’s when it was cool collection

little miss no name doll from tonya’s when it was cool collection

The world already has enough American Girls, Barbies and princess’s and, with just a glance, anyone can love them. I say buy a creepy doll for your infant and see if she/he discriminates. I would bet they wouldn’t. As a matter of fact, I can prove they wouldn’t. True story - my two very old cracked faced composition dolls were sitting in a chair in our living room and my step Daughter brings our grand-baby over to pick something up. Our Granddaughter is ten months old at the time and she sees the two old dolls in the chair and happily starts pointing and proclaiming “baby!” My step Daughters response to the grand-baby was “those are ugly babies!”

It starts with us. We are not all Kardashian’s and the dolls of today are not all Barbie. A valuable lesson can be taught with something as simple as a doll. A lesson to last a lifetime. A lesson that says no matter how different one looks on the outside doesn’t mean (whether doll or human) that they do not deserve love. So, the next time you have a child’s birthday party to attend I say gift them a creepy doll! Only one of two things may happen, either the child will have nightmares OR learn to love unconditionally! Happy doll hunting ! Peace.

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

 courtesy of  Adopt a Creepy Doll

courtesy of Adopt a Creepy Doll

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