Are doll conventions worth attending?

by Alison Rasmussen


Force of Nature Agnes

Most definitely! I'm sure you wouldn't expect any other answer from the Fashion Doll Review. Why should you attend a convention, and which one should you attend? First and foremost:

Attend the convention of the company whose dolls you love the most.

There's no question. If you aren't a big Barbie fan, don't attend that convention, even if you think you might be able to make a profit. Even if the Integrity Toys convention is on the opposite coast, if those are your favorite dolls, attend! Have you heard that Tonner's convention dolls don't sell for double the price, unlike some convention dolls? That's OK--if Tonner is your favorite company, go anyway!

You'll be sure to find collectors of like mind, and you'll enjoy yourself and the dolls. That's the most important part of a convention, anyway.

What if you collect many types of dolls? I'd suggest a convention like IFDC or MDCC, where several different doll manufacturers are represented.
  • Barbie convention usually registers close to 800 attendees. This is a fairly large convention. In addition to room shopping, count on the sales room--public day--being a bit crazy. If you like lots of people, this convention is for you. The shopping alone is worth it! Surprisingly to me, these are usually hosted by and put on by the local doll group, and sponsored by dealers, vendors, and Mattel, but not actually hosted by Mattel, so they are different and unique each year. It makes them fun, entertaining, and exciting!
  • Tonner Doll convention is a bit more intimate - usually less than 300 attendees, and closer to 250. It's fun, and the pace is a little more reasonable. There seemed to be a lot of cliques at this convention--though it might just be where I was sitting (or that my hair was purple at the time). The staff is amazing. I really enjoyed getting to know them!
  • Integrity Toys convention is usually limited to around 500 attendees--I found it way more low key than I expected, especially for the number of attendees. So many more people were just happy to spend time talking dolls rather than cutting in line. I was shocked and delighted. If you'd like to get to talk to some doll designers, come to this convention! The food was to die for at this event.
  • IFDC is limited to 250 people, and it's the most affordable convention of them all. It's atmosphere is really fun and laid back. I really enjoy this convention because of how friendly the people who attend are--though again, since so many people already know each other, it can be off-putting at first. The raffle room is really amazing at this event, and the workshops are terrific. Dress up and put yourself out there!
  • European doll conventions, such as the Paris Fashion Doll Festival, the Italian Doll Convention in Milan, and the Madrid Fashion Doll Show are amazing opportunities for shopping and have fantastic convention dolls. I would love to attend one of these someday. I've had a friend attend the convention in Milan, and it was one of the best doll experiences she's had so far. For me, it would be a dream come true! They are usually quite small--limited to around 100 attendees--which makes them quite intimate and wonderful, and you'll be able to find some amazing treasures.
  • MDCC is limited to 200 and I haven't (yet) attended this event. It's very affordable, and what's really cool is that it changes locations every year, so sometime it's going to be close to you. Also, you know what is included in your registration fee, and now, you can "Bring a Buddy," which allows you to bring a friend who doesn't really want the convention doll. The breakout events feature amazing OOAK artists and exclusive dolls, and those are available on an individual basis. I've heard that you can usually see the doll before you buy it, also, which is a plus.
  • Local BJD Conventions--If there is a BJD Convention on your coast or in your state, and you're at all interested in these amazing dolls, do whatever you can to attend. These are really great ways to see lots of dolls in person, plus you can save a lot of money on shipping if you plan to buy a doll. Of course, don't forget to save money up front, since you'll want to save in advance. Sometimes these conventions will have vendors who accept trades for their products as well, which you usually won't find anywhere else--I attended one convention where I saw this, and had never seen this before. It's fantastic!
  • UFDC also puts on a yearly convention. 2014 will be in San Antonio, TX. I've never attended the convention, but I have been to the sales room, which was huge.
What if you're not overly fond of large groups of people? Start out small--and try IFDC or a local BJD Convention first.