Collecting dolls on a theme

by Alison Rasmussen

This article is dedicated to CaliVali, to help her endeavor in defining her doll collection.

How do you deal with organizing your collection and your ever-growing wish list of dolls? I've developed the Theme Method.

Themes organize your dolls and narrow your collection. Themes can help you shop for items that fit your collection, and help justify those purchases more easily. For example, “This doll will fit in perfectly with my Alice in Wonderland collection. I need her."

How do you decide which themes will be in your collection? Here are some ideas from my collection’s current themes:
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Historical fashion
  • Peak's Woods BJDs
  • American BJDs
Other ideas:
  • Dolls with unusually colored hair
  • Wigged dolls
  • Couture dolls
  • Agnes sculpts
  • Japanese dolls
  • Dolls wearing red
  • Dolls modeling Dressmaker Details items
  • OOAK or limited edition dolls
  • Really expensive dolls that I couldn't afford but had to have
  • Fairytale dolls
  • Doll with large breasts/long legs/abnormally large eyes/elf ears, etc.
  • etc.
The problem then becomes when you discover a doll you want to add her to your collection, but she doesn't "fit." There are several options:
  1. Change a theme. For example, I had to change my theme "Historical fashion" to "Historical fashion, authentic and reimagined" to fit in the Tonner Convention doll centerpiece Sydney, Madame et le Citron. And now, I have the option to buy several DollHeart outfits that are almost historical, but not quite.
  2. Add a theme. When I found an adorable, well-loved vintage 1975 PJ at the thrift store, I realized I had an unbelievable attraction to vintage Barbies. I had to quickly add a theme in order to to capture how quickly these girls multiplied.
  3. Buy the doll and redress her. If the doll doesn't fit now, and I have an extra Alice costume or an extra historical costume that will fit her, then she will fit. I can save her outfit for later. Or tell those hovering over my doll collection that she is a project doll, and I'm still looking for that perfect historical gown to fit her. (That can sometimes can take a while. Like years.) Buying her nude is also an option, but frankly, I like extra outfits.
  4. The Holy Grail rule. Doll collectors are allowed this special exception. If she's your grail doll, she doesn't have to fit in your collection. She's special. And when you find your next grail, use one of the above rules to make her fit in (I'd suggest the third).
The best part is, that while your doll collection may look under control with the Theme Method, you can still pretty much buy whichever doll strikes your fancy and justify its purchase by setting up a new theme. [Insert evil laugh here...]