Dolls You May Like--For All Ages

Here are some of my favorite dolls that I think you may like, too. Because the last several years have brought troubles to doll companies, many are no longer available in retail.
Photo Doll Company Composition Opinion/Review Price Point Link(s)
Adora Doll Vinyl I have only one Adora doll, Katrina from the Sandy's Adora-ble Friends line. Unfortunately, due to allergies and because they perfume/scent their dolls, my doll is kept far away from me! That is the only drawback I've discovered so far in these 8" dolls. Adora Dolls scents all of their dolls, which come in many sizes. The Sandy line is about a young present-day girl who travels the world, meeting new friends. Each doll comes with a mini educational story. There are a few face molds, which is nice for people who want to collect more than one doll. Low to moderate
American Girl Vinyl and cloth It's with very mixed feelings that American Girl is even listed here, sadly. When I was young, there were three dolls with static product lines, and I knew that if I saved and saved, items would still be around when I could afford them. Like other longtime collectors, I've been disappointed at the direction this company has been headed in, such as lowering quality standards (examples: converting many things to plastic, moving production from Germany to China, and releasing haphazard non-inclusive catalogs) and retiring popular products since its buyout. So why do I recommend the historical line? Because American Girl gave me a keen interest in American history. I learned a lot from their books--a six-book series belongs to each character--and they try to make history fun. Let's hope the company remembers its original purpose was to be different from other doll lines. [For eagle-eyed AG fans who recognize Felicity at left: That's a homemade version of the outfit.] Moderate to high
Berenguer Vinyl (may or may not also have cloth) Berenguer has a wide line of modern dolls, from adult collectibles all the way down to dolls for the very young. They also have dolls of all sizes--from a few inches to large, and the prices are as low as a few dollars. The 5" one at left is especially sweet in conjunction with the book Itty Bitty Babies, which uses crochet thread to make them adorable little outfits. The one limit is that the dolls are mostly babies; there are very few toddler dolls. My mother uses her Berenguer baby in a retirement home to cheer up the residents there. The silly faces on the baby dolls are a big pick-me-up. In 2008 she had a 100 year old threaten to steal hers. As a special note to those with allergies, all Berenguer dolls are scented. Very low to exclusive
Best Pals Cloth Two siblings from the famous Lennon Sisters singers from the Lawrence Welk show teamed together to bring back reproductions of the dolls they enjoyed as children. The dolls come in two sizes--mini (5") and normal (16")--and in several different skintones. They hope to bring back the enjoyment of playing with something without any bells and whistles. Aside from being a wonderful message for girls, the dolls are also a welcome sight to women who like to decorate with vintage looking items. I keep mine on a chair upholstered with '30s fabric. The sisters will also sign the dolls for an extra fee. Very low to low
None available yet Bleuette Including reproductions, Bleuette dolls can be made of one or more of the following; composition, bisque, resin. . . . The least expensive that is easily found is a modern resin edition. If you like antique dolls, multiple eras, frilly clothes, and enjoy sewing by hand, Bleuette is a must. This charming, small (under 12") doll was offered beginning in 1905 exclusively to girls in France who subscribed to a magazine. Her patterns began being published in the magazine in the 1900s and were offered until 1960, always detailing the latest styles of the day in a country known for its sense of style. What a treasure trove for anyone who prefers many eras--authentic Bleuette patterns are available in decades of styles. Though the patterns are in French, some have been translated, some are easy to understand just by looking at the pattern pieces, and others you can translate yourself with an online language translator (tip: it helps to translate only a few words at a time). Exclusive Free patterns in the original French (some are translated) are available from: If you have a 29 cm doll, pay attention most to patterns from 1933 and on.
Faith and Friends Vinyl These are modern dolls that don't have a story or name . . . girls were encouraged to create them, as well as to add on to the wardrobe of the doll. While I never like the theme of getting girls to buy more and more accessories, the dolls themselves were an absolute steal for the quality, especially considering their manufacturer (A Life of Faith/Mission City Press). I turned my Color Me Purple doll into a miniature Millie (based on a doll in their larger doll line). The dolls are also ball jointed, which means they're extra poseable (they can have a tilted head, for example)--though not at the knees, ankles, elbows, etc. Each one in the line has a different face mold, which makes them fun for those who like variety. Low Their old website: Sadly, production ceased in October 2009.
Gail Wilson Designs Cloth, papier mache, and wood (Varies by doll) It is very rare that you will meet a doll designer who cares a lot about her customers. Gail Wilson even keeps mailing lists where she is an active participant who is willing to answer questions from her customers. Her dolls are available ready-made as well as in patterns or kits. These reproduction and vintage-look dolls are for adults (and perhaps responsible older children) only; they are more decorative than for play. I ran across her site many times when looking for doll supplies, yet found the dolls to be scary-looking--until I really stayed for a while and read the stories about the dolls and appreciated their historical value. Now I am a huge fan of this doll company. One of her dolls even made a cameo in the Disney movie Tuck Everlasting. If you like supporting small U.S. companies, stop by here, even if you don't have a sewing machine. You can always sew one quietly by hand (It just takes a lot of good old-fashioned patience. I sewed both her New York and Hitty dolls by hand--it's possible, and she includes tips.) Low to exclusive (depending on doll and whether a kit or finished doll is purchased)
Ginger Brook Hollow Vinyl Step into a magical community and get taken back to the Victorian era. In the town, there's an orphanage full of seven distinct orphans who have an older friend they call Grandma Sunday. This doll line is unique in that it's intended to encourage pre-teens through older women to share together. It's a small company and they do an amazing job of making you feel like a member of a community, with a free joining process. There are two sizes of dolls (8" and 17"), with the large ones being more poseable (8" Louisa is pictured at left). It's amazing how much detail is in these items for the size--snaps and mini buttons on the clothes, for example, and lining in the orphan jumper. Generous, fun activities and contests are introduced seasonally, making this a fun doll line to keep up with. The message spread in this company's books, mailings, and website is about us making the effort to connect on a deeper level than society generally does. Grab a friend, mother, or daughter and enjoy the positive messages and pretty Victorian-themed line together. Low to exclusive
Ginny (Vogue Dolls) Hard plastic As a child, I received a doll from my mom, and was almost horrified by the doll. She had rooted hair and was soft plastic. My mom remembered the Ginny of her youth, and hoped that I would find the doll as lovely as she did--though we both ended up being horrified by the "new" Ginny. Thankfully, since then, Vogue Dolls has taken on the doll line and reinvigorated it, adding a vintage Ginny line that brings back the Ginny look from around the '50s, and they've even introduced a mini Ginny, which makes a nice Ginny doll for your larger dolls. I have one of their remade modern ones--having thought I was purchasing the vintage Ginny! Despite my faux pas, the quality is much improved. Do be aware that some of the dolls have rooted hair. Mine has been wigged due to having rooted hair originally. Low to high
Gotz/Goetz Vinyl (may have cloth) The doll pictured is a Gotz Katie, purchased from a store for only $20. This is a real steal, considering that Gotz created the original American Girl face sculpt and some of the dolls are crafted similarly. When I was in a doll group, members purchased the dolls in order to create their own American Girl-like storylines. My doll originally began life as an Irish step dancer but ended up being Anne of Green Gables, as seen at left. Very low to exclusive
Groovy Girls Cloth I have one Groovy Girl and got it when these dolls first came out and didn't yet have purple and pink hair! The dolls themselves are quite cute and inexpensive for dolls, but some modifications may be made to make them look less modern, "groovy," or "trendy." For example, they can fit in some Faith and Friends clothing (as pictured), so less trendy items (or longer skirts!) may be put on the dolls. They're nice, basic, inexpensive cloth dolls in a world where most dolls for young girls are plastic or vinyl. Very low
Kathe Kruse Waldorf Dolls Cotton cloth with wool stuffing and perhaps sand stuffing For anyone who likes natural products, Kathe Kruse's Waldorf dolls are a must-see. I have one of the smaller dolls and am amazed at how well handcrafted the doll is--this is coming from someone who sews dolls! They're cute as a button with their simple features, allowing children's imaginations to fly. I highly recommend checking the company Magic Cabin frequently for Kathe Kruse dolls. They offer seasonal ones at a discount once the season has passed, and a simple change of the doll's clothing will take care of that. Very low to exclusive
Life of Faith (Mission City Press) Vinyl These lovely dolls combined history and faith into optimistic role models. The first dolls from the line were based on books by Martha Finley, who was a popular author in the 1800s. They rewrote the books and added two characters (Laylie and Kathleen) to the line. I have Elsie. The dolls were somewhat similar to the American Girl line, though they were higher-end and full vinyl. The clothing was far superior. They were a nice alternative for families who wanted their daughters' dolls to also be positive faith role models. There were a few different face sculpts. High to very high Their old website can be viewed at: Sadly, production ceased in October 2009.
Magic Cabin Cotton cloth and wool stuffing Magic Cabin offers kits and patterns for making your very own Waldorf style dolls, as well as pre-made ones. Waldorf style dolls use only natural materials, a welcome sight considering the dangers found in children's toys as of late. I have made several Waldorf dolls in several sizes from their kits and patterns, and have always been quite pleased with them. Sadly, they have discontinued one of their sweetest patterns, which made mini dolls nice for dollhouses and seasonal decorations. Very low to very high
Marie Osmond Dolls Vinyl, porcelain, cloth (depending on the doll) My one and only Marie Osmond doll was one of her older style Adora Belles (this doll has since been resculpted) on vast clearance (while it's nice to get dolls for deals, it's also sad because it clearly shows how dolls are not selling as well). You'll marvel at all of the details of the dolls and the little extras. You can catch Ms. Osmond on QVC and have fun seeing her doll line and also watching women get a little silly over their hobby. Very low to exclusive
Mochimochi Land Wool with polyester or wool stuffing While these may not technically be dolls (are they works of art, instead?) these knitting patterns deserve to be mentioned because they're only a few dollars each, with some free ones on the site as well. They're incredibly funny, innovative, and cute, such as a chick that reverses to an egg! Very low
Morrissey Dolls Cloth or yarn or both Want to sew for your dolls, or sew cloth dolls? This company (run by two very creative women) has to be mentioned in my doll section . . . their simple patterns taught me how to sew. Their sewing instructions are much more easily understood than the ones available in fabric stores, and also in smaller format so they're easier to handle. I highly recommend the patterns, especially to people new to sewing or for children. Very low (Free crafts from Morrissey Dolls)
My Twinn Vinyl and cloth This company uses some pre-set face sculpts and creates a doll fashioned after you (as a child) or your child! I got a personalized My Twinn doll many years ago, and later got my mom one. She has gone full force with hers, creating miniatures of what she had as a little girl, and always being on the lookout for them. At the left is her doll, dressed in a period Brownie outfit. The dolls are incredibly fun and give young and old an important feeling of being special and unique. For those who are do-it-yourselfers, you can also buy a "My Twinn Friend" (a non-personalized doll) and fix it up if it's not to your liking. I got one with a badly cut brunette wig, for example, and turned the doll into a freckled redhead. My Twinn Toddlers is also a fun line. My Twinn dolls have armatures inside, making them highly poseable. A drawback to this is that it does limit the clothing they can wear that will cover the cloth body. As a special warning to those who buy used dolls, they used to offer dolls that didn't have this poseable armature. High to exclusive
One of a Kind (OOAK/OAK) From paper to polymer clay to fabric, and anything in between Who says you have to buy a doll, or even a pattern for one? Try coming up with your own, from scratch! One of a kind dolls are all the rage. For beginners, try making a paper doll. At left are two dolls I made. The wooden Pinocchio (clothing made by my mom) uses an artist mannequin for the arms and legs! The panda bear is needle felted (a dangerous craft which is not for kids). You might even try to make something from things you already have in the home. You'll have something special and unique, like no doll anyone else has! Very low to exclusive Your own imagination
Only Hearts Club Plastic and cloth These are excellent Barbie-alternative dolls to donate to charities since they're inexpensive and the clothing is mostly wholesome. The doll line encourages girls to make correct choices and be good friends to one another. Back when they first came out, I created a fan site at to talk about them. There are now more dolls than those on that fan site. These dolls do have rooted hair, and their largely-cloth bodies limit clothing selection (long sleeves and long pants look best). Very low
Play Along Club Flocked vinyl (fuzzy) and cloth I first read about these dolls in Doll Reader. The dolls brought fuzzy memories to me, and it was only with a lot of research that I happened upon a site that talked about them and their creator (you can see that website at right). It turns out the reason I was drawn to the dolls was because I own little figurines made by the same toy designer, purchased as a child during a trip to Canada. With their pug noses and bright eyes, they bring back memories of fun and childhood. The creator hoped to encourage girls to play with toys that didn't have any batteries. My doll at left was modified to have a shorter, full head of hair (wig). The original dolls had yarn hair on their heads in strategic places to make it look as if they had full heads of hair. It's a real shame that these dolls didn't make it. The creator had nice plans for the doll line. You may be able to find them on resale sites. Very low (The history behind the dolls, written by their creator.)
Pottery Barn Kids Cloth and yarn/knitted Pottery Barn Kids has dolls and stuffed animals. There are some basic dolls, with additional stuffed animals and dolls and outfits in various sizes changing seasonally. I have one of the bears, in chamois and stuffed with polyfil and PVC pellets, as well as an additional costume (dragon). They're excellent quality and very cute, and as a bonus, some of the stuffed toys are intended for boys as well. Type "toys" or "dolls" in the search box on their site if you wish to see them. The toys are decent deals when they go on clearance. Very low to exclusive
Secrist Dolls Vinyl and cloth Have you ever seen a photo that looks like a real baby . . . until you look a little closer? Welcome to the world of reborn dolls. Some people find them a fascinating art form. Others find them creepy. You'll have to look for yourself to see what type of reaction you have! One thing is for certain, if you want one that is already made, it will cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Many amateur artisans are finding an answer: making their own. You can see the doll I made at left. It's a combination of Secrist Dolls products (including the "Zoe" sculpt) and tutorials at Angels Unawares. Unfortunately, the cost of making these dolls the right and permanent way is somewhat prohibitive, and unless you're expecting to make them as a business, are extremely talented at painting, or do not mind spending a lot on an experiment, it may be unrealistic to invest in all of the supplies. I saved by purchasing items I could get locally on sale, but it was still an expensive experiment. The completed dolls are only for adult collectors. Reborn dolls have rooted hair--and this is one of the most challenging (and potentially dangerous) features of making the doll. It's not a craft for kids! High to exclusive (Free tutorials)
Senger Animal Dolls Natural products (like wool, mohair, and cotton) These German-made dolls are a cross between humans and animals. That sounds scary--but it just means that they're anthropomorphised animals that wear clothing and stand upright. They're incredibly cute and also extremely well made. You can occasionally find them for clearance on various websites, which is a real deal since they are a higher end item. The dolls are intended for children and adults. Moderate and up (Click on "English," then "animal dolls")
Sewing Stores Cloth If you enjoy sewing, there's a wealth of possibilities available to you! While commercial patterns generally run $15 or so, making them impractical when sewing only one doll, sewing stores often have sales or offer coupons. Jo-Ann Fabrics, for example, has sales where patterns sell for as little as 99 cents. The patterns available cover a large range and change frequently. You may find fabric remakes of old favorites, like Kewpie and Betsy McCall, new dolls made to look historical, contemporary dolls, and generic versions of popular dolls. There are also many free patterns available online. If you're somewhat comfortable with modifying patterns, you can also use them to make custom dolls. At left is a doll that I modified from a pattern to resemble Laura Ingalls, with two outfits and an apron similar to items mentioned in her books. There are a lot of opportunities to be creative and have fun! In order to find the best deals, check pattern websites (links are at right) frequently and write down the numbers of patterns you're interested in, or look in the catalogs available at sewing stores. If you save these numbers for when there are sales, you can get a doll for an excellent price . . . plus the ability to make extras for friends! Very low and up, depending on fabrics and notions, whether coupons are used, etc.
Price Point Key
$0-25 Very low
$26-50 Low
$51-76 Moderate
77-102 High
$103-128 Very high
$129+ Exclusive

Written July 25, 2008; last updated October 3, 2009.

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