Tonner Doll Company
|Industry||High End Fashion Doll Design, Production, Marketing and Distribution|
|Headquarters||Kingston, New York, U.S.|
Tonner Doll Company, Inc. is a collectible doll design and distribution company located in Kingston, New York. Founded by Robert Tonner in 1991, Tonner Doll designs and markets original doll lines as well as a number of licensed dolls for movies such as Harry Potter, Spider-Man 3, and Twilight. Its original products include the Tyler Wentworth, Kitty Collier and Antoinette series.
Tonner Doll Company, Inc. was founded in 1991 by Robert Tonner under the original name Robert Tonner Doll Designs (RTDD). Originally the company had only three employees: Tonner, his partner Harris Safier, and a part-time seamstress. In February 1991, RTDD made its public debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. Multi-jointed porcelain fashion dolls and jointed porcelain child dolls were displayed at the fair in limited editions ranging in price from $650 to $1500.
Through the marketing of Safier, newly hired publicist Rebecca Plasker, along with Robert Tonner's quality of designs, RTDD saw exponential growth in its first year. By the end of 1992 RTDD was well on its way to becoming a prosperous enterprise. However, the massive demand would be overwhelming for the very small RTDD and only a fraction of the original orders would be filled.
In 1995, Tonner Doll gained licensing rights for the recreation of the 1950s paper doll Betsy McCall, for reintroduction to the collectors market. To keep the cost down, Tonner decided to produce the doll in China. Made from vinyl, the Betsy McCall license was one of the initial mainstream commercial successes of the company.
Over the coming years, RTDD began to grow the size of its staff to accommodate the rising demand. This growth would lead the company to be renamed the Tonner Doll Company; a move that Tonner felt reflected the growth of an independent artist driven company to what was becoming a professional business. By the year 2000, Tonner Doll employed 24 people including designers, marketers, and various sales and administrative staff.
Tonner Doll has the licensing rights to design and develop dolls based on many American television, cinema, comic book, and video game franchises.
Since the 1995 issue of the Betsy McCall doll, Tonner Doll has gained the rights and recreated doll designs for movies such as 1997's Titanic (Kate Winslet), and 1999's Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (Natalie Portman). In 2006, Tonner Doll gained licensing rights to recreate the cast of the Harry Potter series, as well as Memoirs of a Geisha.
Tonner Doll has licensed comic book heroes and villains from DC Comics for their DC STARS Collection. The line includes 13, 17, and 22 inch dolls, including various versions of Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Black Canary, Catwoman, Donna Troy, Dove, Green Lantern, Harley Quinn, Hawkwoman, Huntress, Joker, Lois Lane, Mera, Poison Ivy, Power Girl, Raven, Starfire, Supergirl (Linda Danvers), Superman, Wonder Woman (Diana Prince), and Zatanna.
In the company's history, Tonner Doll has also licensed the Twilight Saga, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: Legend, Chicago, Dreamgirls, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Golden Compass, Mary Engelbreit's Ann Estelle, Fancy Nancy, Thèâtre de la Mode, Dick Tracy, Get Smart, Disney Princesses, Mary Poppins, Davy Crockett, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ava Gardner, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Miss Piggy, Miss America and characters from the comic strip, For Better Or For Worse by Lynn Johnston. New licenses in the works include Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, Disney's Prince of Persia, and Disney Princess Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog, Disney's first African-American Princess.
In 2002 Tonner Doll purchased the Effanbee Doll Company, Inc. to obtain the rights to several classic characters from the company's century-old history. They gained exclusive rights to Bernard Lipfert's 1928 Patsy doll, Patsyette. Effanbee also had the rights to reproduce fashion dolls licensed by Tribune Media like the Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter series, and the comic strip, Little Orphan Annie.
For the first few years after the buyout the Effanbee remained an independent subsidiary of Tonner Doll, however today the two have become a conglomerate run under a singular management. The Effanbee doll lines, while are designed, produced, marketed, and distributed by Tonner Doll, retain the Effanbee name.
- "DC STARS Character Figure Collection". Tonner Doll. Retrieved 2011-12-26.
- Robert Tonner Inspirations: A personal guided tour through the culture that shaped the acclaimed doll designers career and creations. Reverie Publishing Company 2006
- The Robert Tonner Story: Dreams and Dolls. By Stephanie Finnegan. Portfolio Press 2000
- Company Website