Doll Digest

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The Tiny World of Dawn

In 1970 a new fashion doll appeared on the scene that had been dominated by Mattel’s 12" Barbie for over a decade. But Topper’s Dawn was not just another mod era foot-high diva. She had one big thing going for her…she was tiny. At six inches tall, she was the perfect doll for little hands to hold, dress and play with. Her many outfits were glamorous, glitzy, sexy and fun. There were no "Babysitter", "Picnic" or "Nurse" outfits for this supermodel. Here career of choice was modeling. Her world was populated with other gal pals who were also runway beauties. Indeed, one of the collections was even called "Model Agency". Granted, she did have one friend Jessica who was a stewardess (but a hip one) and later in the line the dolls appeared as Majorettes. But most of the time she lived and worked and played in the sensational world of high fashion. The men in her life, like Barbie’s Ken, were nothing more than accessories in her glamorous life. Yes, they could dance…but only when Dawn wanted them to.

With the release of the new Dawn dolls and friends by Checkerboard Toys has come a renewed interest in these highly collectible dolls. Women are remembering the doll they had as a child and re-discovering her wonderful world through collecting. Glori Lori (aka Lori …Glori was her first Dawn doll) has been collecting Dawn and her friends for quite a while. She is the editor of the online publication Dawn Digest Magazine (DDM) which puts her in the center of the Dawn information circuit. She was happy to share some of her Dawn collecting insights with us.

MC: How did you first become interested in Dawn dolls?

GL: I had just the Dawn doll Beauty pageant when I was a child. I had a friend that had a lot of the original stuff. I remember I always wanted to play Dawn's at her house.

Back in March of 1999 I logged into eBay and had a great time looking up all kinds of things. Then a few months later I did that magical thing and typed in Dawn dolls. I was so excited to see them listed. I bid right away, and planned on getting just one of each doll. Then I became addicted and had to have more.

MC: What are some of the things you enjoy most about your Dawn collecting?

GL: I like the memories of childhood, the innocent and carefree times that these dolls represent. I like getting a new doll or outfit and leaving it out on my coffee table for a few days so I can really enjoy it. I enjoy making scenarios in my display cabinet. Most of the display is set up like an apartment with miniature furniture. The next best thing is the people I've met through Dawn. Very nice people are into these dolls and some have become dear friends.

MC: Where do you find Dawn dolls and items to add to your collection?

GL: Ebay has been the biggest resource for me since my discovery. I've also bought directly from other collectors that sell their duplicates. I like to go to doll shows and look for Dawn. If I don't find Dawn, sometimes I can find minitures for her display.

MC: As a collector, what do you look for when deciding to make a purchase?

GL: The first thing I ask myself is how badly do I want this item. Is it just an upgrade of something I have already or is it a harder to find item. This can be with dolls or the clothing. If this is just going to be an upgrade for my collection, then I consider the price. I don't have a set limit, I usually ask myself if I'm really willing to spend that amount at that moment.

MC: What do you consider the hardest items to locate?

GL: That would be the outfits that were produced at the end of the line. There are some outfits that were never produced. Knitty Midi, In the Swim, Here Comes The Bride are a few that are out there but harder. There is also a few stock outfits that are hard to come by too. Examples are Angie's blue diamond mini, or Dawn's pink dancing mini with plaid skirt. I'm lucky to have these two, and they aren't in mint condition. The variation Glori dolls are harder to find too. Like Glori with side-part straight hair, or center-part no bangs or ponytail Glori. I have the first two and I love them. Friends have the rare ponytail Glori, so I know there are some out there.

MC: Do you have any favorite items in your own collection? Do you have any photos you would like to share with the readers?

GL: I have so many favorites, I love each doll I have because they are so different. This is why I have a hard time selling my extras. I do have a very pretty Dawn and an Angie that are my favorites. They have thick hair and lashes and really stand out. I have a lot of photos of my dolls on my pages at Topper Towers.

MC: What advice can you offer to new folks interested in starting a collection of Dawn dolls? Any pitfalls to watch out for?

GL: Sure, first thing you should do is get yourself a Dawn guide book. There are great books out there by Benita Swartz and Joedi Johnson. This will help you identify items on Ebay or at doll shows. If you're unsure of a price-hold off. Common things come around often and you can get bargains if you have patience. I have no patience and have overspent on a lot of things I could have waited for. Be warned: Dawn doll collecting is very addictive! I've heard many times "I just wanted one of each doll". We have all been there. Then you see another doll and she is different and you have to have her. Buy what you love and what makes you feel good. You'll enjoy your collection more that way.

MC: Has the Internet changed the way you collect? How so?

GL: The Internet is what started this all for me! Without it I never would have rediscovered Dawn. I didn't go to my first doll show until after I started collecting. The Internet has also given me the opportunity to meet some great friends. I'm also able to share my collection with people that truly love this doll.

MC: Has the release of the new replica Dawn dolls had an impact on the hobby?

GL: The new dolls from Checkerboard Toys have made more people remember Dawn. We've met a few new friends that rediscovered Dawn because of the new dolls. After getting the Anniversary Dawn they went looking for the vintage Topper dolls. Moving through the same channels most of the collectors have, Ebay, websites and the alt.collecting.topper-dawn newsgroup. The new dolls have caused the vintage doll prices to go up some. It is now tapering off a bit. It's exciting to see someone producing new outfits for these dolls. But I'm very partial to the vintage dolls and clothing. I would love to see Checkerboard produce things that were never made for Dawn. Like the harder to find outfits but in a variation of the original colors. This way they aren't mistaken for originals. It would also be great to see an apartment or dollhouse that is much more Dawn size. The original was a horrid color and didn't compliment Dawn.

MC: Tell us a bit about DDM, the terrific online Dawn newsletter you publish.

GL: DDM - Dawn Digest Magazine is an online publication. Current issues are sent via an email listing. Our website holds all the archives of previous issues. It's easy to sign up and it's free. I have a great staff that works hard each month to bring our readers worthy Dawn news. We share contests and trades that are held among the collectors, where to find Dawn dolls, what's new from Checkerboard, doll show findings and upcoming events. It's a magazine for the Dawn doll collector created by Dawn collectors. You can visit our magazine's website to find out how to sign up or to preview the archives.