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The Fall and Rise of Blythe and a New Beginning


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In 1972 Blythe doll was born, she was about 11 inches tall and the magnificent creation of Allison Katzman within the walls of the Marvin Glass and Associates Company.

Upon creation she was to be marketed in the USA by Kenner Company.

The most unique feature of the dolls were their amazing eyes, that changed color just by the pull of a string.

Kenner felt sure that this marketing feature would capture young girls imaginations and make it a sure fire hit, but alas it was not to be...


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Their plans were thwarted because Blythe's big head and eyes turned the doll into a horror among girls. As a result the doll was only sold for one year then sales were closed and the doll was yanked of the shelf and the plight of the doll seemed to have ended there...

Until...

Blythe met the acquaintance of Gina Garan in 1997. Gina was an avid doll collector and a photographer-to-be who moved to Manhattan, New York with her collection of dolls from the 60s and 70s.

The story of Blythe was later told to her by her friend and this sparked her curiosity. She was shocked to find out that not even in her doll collection was a single one that resembled Blythe.

Using descriptions given to her by her friend, she embarked on a hunt to search for the elusive doll in all the possible places, even the internet.

Eventually she struck gold on E-bay, where else? When she found a yet to be sold Blythe fashion doll. From then she bought more and more of the dolls until she had about 200 of them in her collection.

She was so fascinated by them that she was astonished its popularity had died 25 years ago. Her love for photography saw her use her dolls to pose in her amateur pictures wherever she went.

She later introduced Blythe to CWC's Junko Wong who took the creation before Takara, a Japanese based toy company.

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Blythe's fame was slowly coming back to life...

Her first step to fame was through an animated Christmas commercial in Japan in which she was featured. She was even presented in a Christmas snow globe, an idea Gina's husband Asa Somers came up with.

The success behind the commercial and the snow globes campaign was unbelievable, and so Blythe reborn into the 21 century in Japan.

Takara saw the profit that was to be realized and began producing the dolls under the permission of Hasbro Company. Surprisingly enough, Hasbro had no idea they had inherited ownership of the line after buying the Kenner Company in the 70s.

The Blythe Doll became a favorite among thousands of kids in Asia. Doll collectors eagerly waited for the production of a new doll each year. But the phenomenon remained an Asian craze for many years.

It was Gina Garan who broke the ice in the global market, by putting together her collection of pictures into one single chronicle dubbed 'This is Blythe' which came out in 2000.

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On release the compilation sold a staggering 100,000 copies and is even in print today at double price.

In 2004, the spread of Blythe's popularity globally saw Takara giving Ashton Galleries the go ahead to sell the doll in the USA.

The doll earned a name in the US market and curved a niche among adult collectors. Then in 2009 Alexander McQueen, a fashion designer, launched a line for the Target Corporation, a large retail company, using Blythe dolls for the campaign.

Since then she has continued to grow in popularity among adult collectors as well as kids. Each year a Blythe Charity Fashion show is held in Tokyo where numerous designers showcase their work using Blythe Dolls.

Blythe is now a household name among distinguished designers like Gucci, Prada, Versace, and John Galliano among others. Blythe has also been the subject of advertisements for Sony Europe, Nordstrom's department stores and has been blown to a 7 foot mannequin in the windows of Bloomingdales cloth stores.

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Gina even documented Blythe designs in a monthly full-page section of the Vogue Nippon back in 2002. She has also gone further to produce more books based on her looks, clothes and accessories also Gina's photos continue to sell in shows in Tokyo, Melbourne, Seoul, and London among other several group shows.

The story of Gina and Blythe has been published in established newspapers like the New York Times, The Times, The Women's Wear Daily, The Village Voice, the Miami Herald and the Dallas Morning News. Anyone who recalls the VH1 special called 'I love the 70s' produced in 1972 will definitely remember Gina's passionate talk about her collection.

Gina has continued being instrumental about dolls and has collaborated in the production of the Gina Girls doll line which were sold mainly in Japan.

She has even co-produced another doll line dubbed Bendel's Girls found in Christmastime, one of the branch stores of Henri Bendel departmental stores in New York.



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