A Troll Doll 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 alternatively gonk trolls in the United Kingdom.
The dolls were originally created in 1959 and became one of the United States' biggest toy fads in the early 1960s. They became fads again in brief periods from 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 their United States copyrights, stopping unlicensed production. In 2005, the brand was modernized under the name Trollz, but it failed in the marketplace.
In 2010, it was announced that DreamWorks Animation were making a feature film based on the dolls, which was released in 2016. On April 11, 2013, DreamWorks Animation announced that they had purchased the Troll doll brand outright from the Dam company.
Troll dolls were originally 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 troll doll and wanted one. Dam's company Dam Things began producing the dolls in plastic under the name Good Luck Trolls. The dolls 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 their 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. The E.F.S. Marketing Associates, Inc was one of the few corporations which was 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 (R) Trolls, with the 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 1994, 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.
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 videogames
A platform video game simply titled Trolls was released in 1993 for Amiga, DOS, and C64. Other games were released for the NES and SNES (Super Troll Islands). This fad also saw a 1994 re-release of the game Dudes with Attitude simply modified into Trolls on Treasure Island.
The 1990s troll doll fad also included The Trollies Radio Show, which was a direct-to-video musical with trolls singing hits such as "Kokomo", "Woolly Bully", and "Doo Wah Diddy", as well as some original songs.
A Troll doll with pink hair and a blue bathing suit had a minor role in the 1995 Disney/Pixar animated film Toy Story, in the 1999 sequel Toy Story 2 and in the 2010 sequel Toy Story 3. Another appearance was made by a Troll doll in Marvel Studios 2014 production of "Guardians of the Galaxy (film)" where it appeared as a relic from Peter Quill's childhood and later is substituted for the infinity stone.
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 everday aspects of teenage life.
On 11 April 2013, DreamWorks Animation announced that it has acquired the intellectual property for the Trolls franchise from the Dam Family and Dam Things. DreamWorks Animation has "big plans for the franchise" and has become the exclusive worldwide licensor of the merchandise rights, except for Scandinavia, where Dam Things remains the licensor. DreamWorks Animation has produced a computer-animated musical comedy film based on the Troll dolls, Trolls, released on 4 November 2016. It was directed by Mike Mitchell and co-directed by Walt Dohrn, with Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake providing the voices.
- "DreamWorks Animation to Bring Trolls Out of Hiding". DreamWorks Animation. June 23, 2010. 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.
- "DreamWorks Animation Acquires IP For Trolls With Plans To Take Iconic Dolls' Brand (And Hair) To New Heights". DreamWorks Animation. April 11, 2013. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- "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.
- "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.
- 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.