A doll is a model of a human being, often used as a toy for children. Dolls have traditionally been used in magic and religious rituals throughout the world, and traditional dolls made of materials such as clay and wood are found in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe.
- Po: Whoa, the Furious Five! You're so much bigger than your action figures! Except for you, Mantis. You're about the same.
- Narrated 'Aisha: I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.)
- In this connection we may refer to fornicatory acts effected with artificial imitations of the human body, or of individual parts of that body. There exist true Vaucansons in this province of pornographic technology, clever mechanics who, from rubber and other plastic materials, prepare entire male or female bodies, which, as hommes or dames de voyage, subserve fornicatory purposes. More especially are the genital organs represented in a manner true to nature. Even the secretion of Bartholin's glans is imitated, by means of a "pneumatic tube" filled with oil. Similarly, by means of fluid and suitable apparatus, the ejaculation of the semen is imitated. Such artificial human beings are actually offered for sale in the catalogue of certain manufacturers of "Parisian rubber articles."
- We find in the story of the Sand-Man the other theme on which Jentsch lays stress, of a doll which appears to be alive. Jentsch believes that a particularly favourable condition for awakening uncanny feelings is created when there is intellectual uncertainty whether an object is alive or not, and when an inanimate object becomes too much like an animate one. Now, dolls are of course rather closely connected with childhood life. We remember that in their early games children do not distinguish at all sharply between living and inanimate objects, and that they are especially fond of treating their dolls like live people. In fact, I have occasionally heard a woman patient declare that even at the age of eight she had still been convinced that her dolls would be certain to come to life if she were to look at them in a particular, extremely concentrated, way. So that here, too, it is not difficult to discover a factor from childhood. But, curiously enough, while the Sand-Man story deals with the arousing of an early childhood fear, the idea of a ‘living doll’ excites no fear at all; children have no fear of their dolls coming to life, they may even desire it. The source of uncanny feelings would not, therefore, be an infantile fear in this case, but rather an infantile wish or even merely an infantile belief. There seems to be a contradiction here; but perhaps it is only a complication, which may be helpful to us later on.
- The Toy Story movies are true to the toys they represent, as we learn from the movies the kind of lessons we learn in life, and work though emotionally and intellectually with action figures: learning our place in the scheme of the world through self-knowledge, the choice between protecting our hearts by isolating ourselves emotionally from others or risking heart-break, accepting abandonment, old age and death. My own realization of growing up came when I realized that my huge Lego diorama, much like the one the dad has in The Lego Movies was not something adults had, and that in growing up I would have to give it up.
But in the modern world the toys we play with are not faceless dolls.
The toys are G.I. Joe and Barbie, Pokemon, Batman and Superman, The X-Men and Spiderman and The Hulk, all owned by a handful of megacorporations. For man Americans childhood imitations are not of weddings and festivals, but of things seen on screens, TV shows and movies, things also owned by that same handful of mega-corporations. The blockbuster film industry, with its endless parade of nostalgic heroes from childhood and an attendant emotional maturity, is the playground for 35-year-old- ticket buyers who are told they never have to leave these things behind.
- Geoff Klock, ""Seeing into the life of things": Toy Story, The Lego Movie and the Wordsworthian Imagination", in "Articulating the Action Figure: Essays on the Toys and Their Messages", edited by Jonathan Alexandratos, pp. 94-95.
- Wordsworth's child plays with his toys in a world unconcerned with brand power, and he tells his own stories, using public domain situations. Star Wars was not designed to sell toys, but Lucas was smart enough to keep the merchandising rights, and, with help from Kenner, a toy empire was founded. The story came first, but the merchandising threatened to takeover. In the case of Transformers, the action figures were absolutely primary, the show was made to drive toy sales. But as the generation raised on Star Wars and Transformers became filmmakers in their own right, the primary-secondary relationship became blurry. In an interview with filmmaker Kevin Smith, Paul Dini, who created the cartoon Young Justice among other, talked about a problem he had with the executives at the Cartoon Network. They cancelled his show, Tower Prep even though his audience was on the rise. The reason: the audience numbers were on the rise because girls were watching the show and that's a problem because girls don't buy the toys, and the money comes from the toys. Because the relationship between action figures and movies and television are symbiotic it is hard to know if this is a case of the tail wagging the dog.
When a 37-year-old director, whose childhood bedroom was littered with Transformers and Star Wars figures, steps up to direct the latest feature from Marvel, to what extend is he simply playing with action figures on a gigantic budget? To what extent is Chris Pratt a very expensive action figure, to be posed and moved around with the other toys?
- Ibid, p.95.
- Before Barbie, dolls were babies, to be fed and burped and bathed and wheeled around in prams and put down for naps.
- As Kozinski would write in his opinion in Mattel v. MGA, it’s possible to make dolls that don’t look like porn stars but “there’s not a big market for fashion dolls that look like Patty and Selma Bouvier”—a reference to Lisa Simpson’s big-nosed, wide-waisted, thick-ankled aunts.
- Empowerment feminism is a cynical sham. As Margaret Talbot once noted in these pages, “To change a Bratz doll’s shoes, you have to snap off its feet at the ankles.” That is pretty much what girlhood feels like. In a 2014 study, girls between four and seven were asked about possible careers for boys and girls after playing with either Fashion Barbie, Doctor Barbie, or, as a control, Mrs. Potato Head. The girls who had played with Mrs. Potato Head were significantly more likely to answer yes to the question “Could you do this job when you grow up?” when shown a picture of the workplaces of a construction worker, a firefighter, a pilot, a doctor, and a police officer. The study had a tiny sample size, and, like most slightly nutty research in the field of social psychology, has never been replicated, or scaled up, except that, since nearly all American girls own a Barbie, the population of American girls has been the subject of the scaled-up version of that experiment for nearly six decades.
- It’s no accident that #Metoo started in the entertainment and television-news businesses, where women are required to look as much like Barbie and Bratz dolls as possible, with the help of personal trainers, makeup artists, hair stylists, personal shoppers, and surgeons.
- Jill Lepore, "When Barbie Went to War with Bratz", The New Yorker, (January 22, 2018).
- In Shinto, everything has a soul. Even if you don't want the dolls anymore, you can’t abandon them. There is a special ceremony that is performed for them at a shrine. It’s like a ceremony for a dead person. Since dolls have a human form, they must be treated as such.
- It is a common belief in Japan that dolls are mirrors. The dolls show their owner’s true self.
- Shin Takagi, as qtd. in Roc Morin, "Can Child Dolls Keep Pedophiles from Offending?", The Atlantic, (Jan 11, 2016).
- Competition from video and mobile games has diminished the interest in action figures, allow a child to fantasise about taking on the role of a heroic character. Video and mobile games greatly enhance that ability. The age appeal of action figures has been declining for decades due to the rise of video games.
- In 2000, only two films in the top 10 US box office hits would have been likely to generate a licensed character toy, X-Men and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, perhaps Mission: Impossible II. But in 2017, nine out of the 10 top films had licensed characters associated with them, from Star Wars to Beauty and the Beast to Wonder Woman to Thor. So, consumers are spending about the same amount of money on toys in total, but now they have far more choices to spend it on. The battle is over the share of a parent’s pocketbook.
- Gene del Vecchio in "Lights, camera but no action figures: are movie toys going out of fashion?", by Anna Smith. The Guardian, (5 Apr 2018).
- From my experience, kids are most interested in movie merchandise from about three to eight years old,” says Lisa Wragg, who worked in children’s licensing for many years. “At about eight, it tends to wane as they get more into music, artists and social media.
- Lisa Wragg in "Lights, camera but no action figures: are movie toys going out of fashion?", by Anna Smith. The Guardian, (5 Apr 2018).
- How exactly, in the last half decade, has the "action figure", in all of its myriad cross-marketed incarnations, captured the imaginations of children and adults? What "discrepancy" of scale, schema, sex, and spirit thus makes miniaturized men, women, and monsters of resin, plastic, lead, rubber, or wood so functionally prevalent in global commerce and individual fantasy?
In Sherry Turkle's view, "evocative objects" such as action figures "bring philosophy down to Earth. When we focus on objects, physicians and philosophers, psychologists and designers, artists and engineers are able to find common ground in everyday experience" (Turkle 8). Applying Levi-Strauss' notion of the brinocoleur, or a "practioner of the science of the concrete" who"manipulates a closed set of materials to develop new thoughts" out of "bricolage" in tandem with Piaget's assessment of instructive play rooted in "close to the object thinking" meant to heighten awareness of the "number, space, time, causality, and life" of things, Turkle provides a profoundly simple perspective on how "object play-for adults as well as children-engaged the heart as well as the mind" (Turkle 308-309). How can we examine our unique attraction to miniature plastic effigies and their contexts?
- Daniel F. Yezbick, Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Action Figure: Part One, in "Articulating the Action Figure: Essays on the Toys and Their Messages", edited by Jonathan Alexandratos, pp. 13-14
- To start, the most abject Happy Meal toy lost in the deepest layers of the toy bin still signifies the epitome of polysemic postmodern participatory commodity culture. At the same time, the expertly-graded, mint-in-blisterpack Star Wars rebel of Ideal Posin' Supergirl cocooned for eternity within its EcoStar PC50 Recycled PET acryllic clam shell against all possible risk, play, or abuse can command thousands of dollars on the collector/investor/speculator market. From garage sales and Goodwill fodder to certified collectibles and international Internet auction houses, the action figure circulates through complex aesthetic, psychological, and socio-economic conditions of unusual scope and power.
Its defining characteristics seem obvious enough. An action figure is generally a manufactured personality or character built to a diminished scale. It is usually, though not necessarily humanoid, and often designed to encourage manipulation, posing, or play including movable body parts, interchanging costumes, accessories, weapons, prosthetics, and related apparatus. At times, these accoutrements can expand to include elaborate vehicles, carrying cases, and playsets so ingeniously and engineered that they are sometimes more engaging in their miniaturized discrepancy than the figured body or character itself. Certain bases, expanded worlds, and microcosmic mock-ups tend to develop their own specialized mythologies. Iconic examples include Shredder and Krang's Technodrome of mechanized evil from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and G.I. Joe's remarkably Space Shuttle Defiant. From the figures themselves to the gear, couture, and conveyances that enable and transport them, the action figure always signifies a larger spectacle well beyond its tiny idealized body.
- Ibid, p.14