One of the most cherished memories from my tenure as a designer at the Madame Alexander Doll Company revolves around my interactions with the legendary Greta Schrader. Greta, who held one of the longest tenures and supervised the doll hospital, stands out in my recollections. Occasionally, she would grace my office with her presence, extending warm greetings and inquiring about my progress. During these moments, she would meticulously inspect the dolls and tenderly advise me, “Remember, these dolls should look up!” I readily concurred as she delicately adjusted their heads. Those words left an indelible mark on me, morphing into a metaphor for life’s perspective.
Segueing into the topic of today’s discourse, my fascination with Blythe dolls ignited during my childhood when I first encountered them on television. These dolls, distinguished by their sizable heads, concealed a mechanism enabling their eyes to change color by tugging a string at the back of their heads. However, despite my captivation, these dolls were short-lived in production, discontinued by their creator Kenner merely a year after their 1972 introduction.
Zooming to 2001, the Japanese toy company Takara revived the Blythe doll line. This revival incited a fervent following, with the doll evolving into a prized collectible that persists today. Yet, a notable void existed within the product range: the absence of Black representation. Fueled by determination, a soulful remedy surfaced as customized dolls by artists such as Kai Lynn of My Delicious Bliss who crafted diverse custom Blythe dolls, kindling hope for a more inclusive lineup from the manufacturer.
Remarkably, two decades passed before an official black Blythe doll finally materialized to commemorate the 20th Anniversary as an exclusive by CWC, Cross World Connections Co.,Ltd. However, factory-made Blythe dolls in tan and “super black” tones had been accessible for several years. This brings us to the present moment. Within my collection, six factory Blythe dolls find their place, each having undergone my personal touch. While my affection for them is unwavering, I’ve noticed that their gaze tends to be downward, a detail that might not meet Greta’s approval.
Driven by the pursuit of a solution, I stumbled upon a video by Blythe artist Beth Ramsden. In this video, she showcased a 3D-printed neck joint she designed to allow these dolls to look upwards, toward the stars. Eagerly, I placed an order, anticipating its arrival from the United Kingdom. Once the package arrived, I meticulously followed the steps outlined in Beth’s YouTube tutorial. The outcome has left me thoroughly content; my dolls can now gaze upwards, seemingly catching the benevolent presence of Greta in their line of sight.
With this transformative enhancement, I’m motivated to acquire more of these innovative neck joints, extending this newfound ability to all of my Blythe dolls. As they cast their eyes upward, they’ll find solace in the notion that Greta’s smiling countenance is watching over them.