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History of Blythe Dolls

If you are a doll lover, you have probably heard of Blythe dolls.

These babies are among the most popular items of its kind due to specific body features, in particular, its enormous head and eyes that can change color. They are usually around 28 centimeters or 11 inches long.

Blythe dolls were first manufactured and sold by Kenner company. They were first released in 1972 and were initially sold for only one year and only in several countries. The production began anew in 2001. However, the company producing them was Takara, a famous Japanese doll company.

Like most other dolls, it is possible to customize your Blythe. Enthusiasts love experimenting with them, changing their outfits and so on. Of course, given that this is a vibrant community, there are also lots of photographers who love using them for their works.

Early beginnings

Although Kenner was the first company to manufacture these babies, they didn’t invent them. Instead, they were a creation of Alisson Katzman, an up-and-coming designer who worked at Marvin Glass and Associates.

As previously mentioned, the line was sold for one year. During this time, you could purchase it in the USA, Japan, Australia, and the UK. All of them were produced in Hong Kong. While the initial run wasn’t that successful (which is obvious by the fact that the company stopped making them), Blythe dolls soon gained a cult following. They were different from anything else that was on the market making them highly collectible items. Anyway, Kenner didn’t last for too long. In 1991, the company was acquired by Hasbro who also took all their intellectual property including Blythe dolls.

These products became popular for the first time during the late 90s. We can attribute this popularity to one person – Gina Garan. Gina, who worked at New York TV as a video producer, started having fun with the doll and taking pictures of it. This soon turned into an obsession as she would take Blythe dolls everywhere.

After year 1999

In 1999, she met Junko Wong from CWC. Soon after, in 2001 to be precise, Hasbro who had full rights over the dolls gave a license to Takara and CWC. So, they started manufacturing a new line called Neo Blythe. The dolls were an instant hit in Japan as they looked like something out of a manga. They were used by Parco, a fashion branch of Seibu Department Stores. Their popularity grew to enormous proportions and soon, everyone wanted to get their hands on a Blythe.

But Blythe dolls also became popular in the western world. In 2003, VH1 created a TV special explaining what they are.

Due to their instant popularity, more and more companies started inquiring about the license.

In 2004, Hasbro gave Ashton-Drake Galleries a license allowing them to create and sell Blythe dolls on US soil. Given that Ashton-Drake Galleries were already a big name in North America, it wasn’t that hard to promote them. At one point, even Alexander McQueen used them for promoting a fashion line. In 2009, they were used for an ad campaign.

Conclusion

Like most other dolls of this kind, Blythe babies are quite collectible.

While the original line made by Kenner is decently popular, there are lots of new Blythe dolls being created each year. Besides online shops, you can also buy them during fan conventions and other special events.

Similar to other dolls, they are highly customizable and can be used for various art and photography projects. What makes them different from most other modern dolls is that their body features are overemphasized. They stray away from realism but are still insanely cute!


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