When you start building your barbie collection you inadvertently run across a world of barbie enthusiasts you had no idea existed.
There are thousands, seriously, thousands upon thousands of adults who love dolls and especially love dolls like barbies.
The adult enthusiasts fall into several broad categories:
- NIB Collectors – these are the collectors who leave all dolls in their boxes. They never open them and they display them in their boxes. They call them “New in Box” (NIB), “Never Removed from Box” (NRFB) or “Mint in Box” (MIB) so I dub them the NIB Collectors for short.
- Stand Collectors – these are the collectors who carefully remove them from their boxes and display them carefully on shelves or in cabinets. Collector Barbies always come with plastic stands and Stand Collectors use the stands to help their dolls stand up.
- Adult Players – these are the adults who don’t leave the dolls in their boxes and don’t try to preserve them perfectly. They play with the dolls in various ways. Players might change clothes and shoes, cut and style hair or even pull off the heads and put them onto other bodies.
Adult Players are the most interesting to me because I have the most in common with them and I learn a lot from them regarding how to change dolls, repair dolls and basically get or make what I need or want for Leah’s Barbieland.
Adult Players also tend to fall into some general categories. Of course some people fall into several categories and others don’t fit in any cateogry at all. Even with this in mind, I hope the classifications prove somewhat helpful.
Fashion Designers – the players who design and make clothes for their barbies.
Fashion Stylists – the players who artfully combine clothes, shoes, other accessories and hairstyles to bring a “look” together.
Fashion Photographers – the players who are able to take shots of their barbies (after styling) that have the look and feel of human fashion photography. These photographers often combine lighting, props and backgrounds to create a look. They also often carefully pose to dolls to achieve an expressive look and take care with stray hairs and focus.
Interior Decorators – the players who create intricate dioramas, most often of indoor settings. They combine wall coverings, furniture, textiles and props to make realistic settings. These players often combine manufactured items with homemade items and a variety of materials used creatively to achieve a realistic setting.
Set Designers – these players take Interior Decoration activities to the next level by imposing boundaries on themselves that require even more ingenuity and tenacity than that of the average Interior Decorator. By choosing specific time periods, specific cultures or imagining inhabitants with highly developed personalities, they create challenges for themselves that require not just coming up with say, a couch for a room, but a couch that would be period appropriate and reflects the “taste” of the inhabitants.
Illustrators – these are the players who use dolls and props to illustrate ideas. These ideas may be simple or they may be complex. They may convey ideas in a single frame or they may use a short series of frames. They may narrate the frame or sequence and may even include a few lines of dialog.
Storytellers – these are the players that take their storytelling to a much more complex level by creating a long series of storyboards that convey a detailed story usually with extended dialog.
Filmmakers – these are the players that create video – not through a progression of stills but through well placed (or not so well placed) manipulations of dolls while a camera “rolls”. You can find hundreds of these on You Tube. Many seem like teens coming up with a crazy idea and executing it sloppily while others are extremely well executed and showcase advanced videography and post-production skills.
OOAKers – these are the players that remove doll makeup and paint completely new faces. Their creations are referred to as One-of-A-Kind or OOAKs. They cut off the hair and change it dramatically. Some of them also design clothing and enter the dolls in contests. Some of them create celebrity look-alikes. Others use the OOAK dolls in Illustrative sculptures. Still others sell their creations at a profit. Many of them have websites set up to showcase their work. Some offer online tutorials and at least one I’ve seen offers instructional DVDs.
Crafties – these are the players who dabble in just about every aspect of the miniature world. If the can’t get what they want, they’ll try to make it themselves. From furniture, to clothes to food. Since they enjoy being creative, they try making just about everything at one point or another. Others stick to a single craft – like furniture or food and get very good at it.
Trollers – these are the players who never stop thinking in miniature and see potential barbie items where ever they go. I was a Troller and a Crafty as a teen and I remember my mom opening a pizza box and seeing a plastic device meant to keep the pizza box from collapsing in the middle, “End Table!!!” Trollers see potential in dollhouse scale items (“that large light for a dollhouse living room could be a small light in my Barbieland”) as well as children’s toys (“that novelty eraser would make a great flower vase!”)
So those are the groups I have noticed so far. My plan is to start profiling some of the more interesting players I have met through eBay, Flickr and Facebook and try to share some of their insights and tips. I would think these tips would be especially helpful to pre-teens and teens who want to continue playing with their collections but are starting to feel pressured about being “too old” for “playing with dolls.”
This blog should provide proof that real world skills can be developed through so-called play as well as evidence that many well-adjusted adults participate in barbie-related creative activities and derive the usual satisfaction from it that most hobbies bring.