A Troll Doll (Danish: Gjøltrold) is a type of plastic doll with furry up-combed hair depicting a troll, also known as a Dam doll after their creator Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam. The toys are also known as good luck trolls, or gonk trolls in the United Kingdom.
The dolls were first created in 1959 and became one of the United States' biggest toy fads in the early 1960s. They became briefly popular again during the 1970s through the 1990s and were copied by several manufacturers under different names. During the 1990s, several video games and a video show were created based on troll dolls. In 2003, the Dam company restored the United States copyrights for this brand, stopping unlicensed production. In 2005, the Dam company modernized the brand under the name Trollz, but it failed in the marketplace.
Troll dolls were created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam. Dam could not afford a Christmas gift for his young daughter Lila and carved the doll from his imagination. Other children in the Danish town of Gjøl saw the doll and wanted one. Dam's company Dam Things began producing the dolls in plastic under the name Good Luck Trolls. It became popular in several European countries during the early 1960s, shortly before they were introduced in the United States. They became one of the United States' biggest toy fads from the autumn of 1963 to 1965. The originals were of the highest quality, also called Dam dolls and featuring sheep wool hair and glass eyes. Their sudden popularity, along with an error in the copyright notice of Thomas Dam's original product, resulted in cheaper imitations.
The Dam company never stopped its production of trolls in Denmark, where they were always a popular item. In the late 1980s, the Dam trolls started making another comeback in North America. E.F.S. Marketing Associates, Inc. was one of the few corporations granted permission to import and market the Thomas Dam trolls for resale in the United States. These Dam Trolls were marketed under the trade name of Norfin Trolls, with an "Adopt A Norfin Troll" logo on the tags.
During the period of popularity in the early to mid-1990s, several attempts were made to market the troll dolls to young boys. This included action figure lines such as The Original Battle Trolls from Hasbro, the Stone Protectors franchise, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Trolls. The popular Mighty Max line also had a series named Hairy Heads, also known as Dread Heads.
In 2003, the Dam copyright was restored by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. The Uneeda Doll Company, a company that made millions of US dollars by manufacturing troll dolls in the U.S., challenged the restoration. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the lower court's preliminary injunction, enjoining Uneeda from manufacturing, distributing, or selling "Wish-nik" troll dolls. The Toy Industry Association named troll dolls in its Century of Toys List, a list of the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the 20th century.
In 2005, the troll brand was licensed to DIC Entertainment, and products such as fashion dolls and fashion accessories were sold under the Trollz name. The new Trollz campaign was not successful. In 2007, the Danish company filed a lawsuit against DIC Entertainment claiming that the company financially misrepresented its ability to create and market a modern troll doll toy campaign and destroyed the image and goodwill of the doll.
Television, film and video games
The Magic Trolls And The Troll Warriors was a 1991 cartoon special made to promote the Troll doll toys, featuring Trolls battling against King Nolaf and his Troll Warriors. There was also a 30-minute DIC cartoon special in 1992 called Magical Super Trolls which featured an evil troll named Craven.
A platform video game simply titled Trolls was released in 1993 for Amiga, DOS, and C64. Other games were released for the NES (Trolls on Treasure Island (a modified re-release of Dudes with Attitude) and The Trolls in Crazyland (a localized version of Doki! Doki! Yūenchi: Crazy Land Daisakusen) and SNES (Super Troll Islands).
The 1990s troll doll fad also included The Trollies Radio Show, which was a direct-to-video musical with puppet trolls singing hits such as "Kokomo", "Woolly Bully", and "Do Wah Diddy", as well as some original songs.
The 2005 DIC Entertainment range included an animated series called Trollz. The series stars five trolls who live in a magical world of ogres, gnomes and dragons, but experience everyday aspects of teenage life.
On April 11, 2013, DreamWorks Animation announced that it had acquired the intellectual property for the Trolls franchise from the Dam Family and Dam Things and become the exclusive worldwide licensor of the merchandise rights, except for Scandinavia, where Dam Things remains the licensor. DreamWorks produced a 3D computer-animated musical comedy film based on the Troll dolls, Trolls, released on November 4, 2016. It was directed by Mike Mitchell and co-directed by Walt Dohrn, with Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake providing the voices. A sequel, Trolls World Tour, was announced in early 2017, scheduled for theatrical release on April 10, 2020 in North America. The film was originally planned to be released theatrically in the United States on this day. However, on March 17, Universal Pictures announced that the film would be released simultaneously in drive-in theaters, as regular movie theaters closed due to the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and through Premium VOD in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Korea and Italy. This affected the number of projections and the box office performance of the film. As the pandemic receded, the film was released back in regular theatres.
- "DreamWorks Animation Acquires IP For Trolls With Plans To Take Iconic Dolls' Brand (And Hair) To New Heights". DreamWorks Animation. April 11, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
- "DreamWorks Animation to Bring Trolls Out of Hiding". DreamWorks Animation. June 23, 2010. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- Chitwood, Adam (May 16, 2013). "DreamWorks Animation Moves B.O.O. Release Up to June 5, 2015 and TROLLS to November 4, 2016; Fox Dates ANUBIS and FERDINAND". Collider.com. Retrieved July 15, 2014.
- "www.goodlucktrolls.com". www.goodlucktrolls.com. Archived from the original on February 13, 2009.
- BNA's patent, trademark & copyright journal Bureau of National Affairs (Arlington, Va.) - 2002 "In the 1950s, Danish woodcarver Thomas Dam created a plastic mould to shape a doll that he began producing as the “Good Luck Trolls.” Dam's company, Dam Things from Denmark, holds valid Danish copyrights in the trolls"
- Troll Company v. Uneeda Doll Company, 483 F.3d 150 (2d Cir. April 13, 2007). Retrieved October 25, 2011.
- "Toy Industry Association Announces Its Century of Toys List". Business Wire, 21 January 2003. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-22. Retrieved 2012-07-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Lawsuit Charges Fraud In Deals for Iconic Troll Doll; DIC Entertainment Cynically Concealed´´ Financial Woes - 31/10/07 - 305539". elEconomista.es. 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2010-06-23.
- The Magic Trolls and the Troll Warriors
- Super Trolls Syndication
- Trolls 1993 Computer game at MobyGames
- DreamWorks Animation SKG (June 23, 2010). "DreamWorks Animation to Bring Trolls Out of Hiding" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
- Lieberman, David (September 15, 2015). "Justin Timberlake To Add His Voice To DreamWorks Animation's 'Trolls'". Deadline. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
- Fuster, Jeremy (March 16, 2020). "Universal to Release 'Trolls World Tour' for Digital Rental on Same Day as Theatrical Release". TheWrap. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
- Rubin, Rebecca (April 9, 2020). "'Trolls World Tour' Straight to Streaming — Sign of the Times or the New Normal?". Variety. Retrieved April 9, 2020.