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Noel Cruz: Improving Dolls. One Face At A Time.

Above: artist Noel Cruz repaints the Keira Knightly doll so now it actually resembles the actress

Most likely the majority of you are not doll shopping. And you probably can't name the last celebrity doll or action figure you purchased (unless, of course, you have a tween female at home for whom you've bought the Hannah Montana or Hilary Duff dolls).

Personally, I don't own any dolls, but that doesn't mean I'm not aware of what's out there, nor am I ignorant about how often the likenesses to celebrities fail to impress. Below are a few dolls on the market from Mattel, Play Along, and more that are made in celebrity likenesses. Most of them, not all.. look nothing like the celebrity:

Above top: Mattel's Barbie and Hilary Duff doll (they look pretty similar to me...I can't tell them apart) Above bottom: 2007 Cher doll by Mattel, a pretty good likeness

Above: the 1999 Britney Spears Doll and the new Hannah Montana Doll by Play Along

Above: The Ashley Tisdale Doll, released just last month (pre or post nose job, I can't even tell)

Initially, I intended to blog about the limited edition Karl Lagerfeld doll (already sold out at the ultra hip french store Colette) when I came upon the work of Noel Cruz.

Above: the limited edition Karl Lagerfeld doll

Above: Also found by accident but worth a mention is this hilarous, one-of-a-kind, Britney "Shears" doll that sold on ebay for $182.00

Now, quite by accident- which is the way I find many of my most interesting posts, I came upon Noel's gallery on Deviant Art that showed off his amazing repainted doll faces. I simply couldn't get enough as I saw how he immensely improved upon such popular tween idols as Kiera Knightly and more. His ability to turn an unrecognizable cast doll face into a celebrity likeness that is unmistakable is really compelling and impressive.

An artist, he also has many graphite portraits, but these are not nearly as impressive as his repainted doll faces.

above: a self portrait by the artist.


Some examples of his work on pop culture and actor dolls:

above: repainted Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman Doll

above: repainted Kirsten Dunst Doll

above: repainted Uma Turman Doll

above: repainted Nicole Kidman Doll

above: repainted Tobey Maguire Doll

Clearly I'm not the only one who thinks his dolls are impressive, they sell for an average of $650 a piece on ebay.

The text below is from Noel's own site:
An artist who thoroughly appreciates the beauty of faces, Noel Cruz started doing portraits at a very young age. Self-taught for several years, he studied the works of numerous artists in his native country, the Philippines.

Gradually overtime, his natural talent grew and developed. He began taking commissions at 16, and has done countless portraits since. Charcoal, graphite, pastel, and acrylics are his media of choice.

Noel holds a degree in Communications with emphasis on video editing and digital imaging, and has shot and edited documentaries for California State University Bakersfield, where he graduated.

Repainting dolls happened by accident when he was looking for a Gene doll to add to his wife's collection. He stumbled upon several Gene dolls repainted to resemble different likenesses. This became an inspiration for him to project his painting talents onto Gene, which became the beginning of another facet of artistic outlet for him. Much to his delight, he discovered that painting a doll's face is very much like painting on canvas or paper, but with the extra challenge of working on a three-dimensional surface as well as a different surface texture.

Noel has naturally transmitted onto his repaints his love of celebrities, many of which he has painted or drawn before. In addition, he constantly strives to add diversity to his work by working on other comparable-size dolls such as Tyler, Sydney, Franklin Mint dolls, etc.

Below are some of his repainted musician dolls:

above: repainted Madonna Doll

above: repainted Christina Aguilera Doll

above: repainted Cher Doll

As a seller on ebay withover 400 transactions to date, Noel's ebay profile reads:

My wife has been a passionate doll collector for years now. While scouring the internet for dolls to add to my wife's collection, we accidentally stumbled upon repainted Gene dolls by different artists. I was awe-stricken! As an artist myself, I became inspired and challenged to give this fresh form of art a try. I have been involved in illustrated arts and painting portraits for many years and I thought maybe this would be a unique experience for me. At first I was hesitant to "deface" her dolls. But as it turned out, as I drew from my years of drawing and painting faces, and with my wife's encouragement, new personalities were created out of her dolls, and of course the rest is history.

With my long appreciation of celebrities, I enjoy repainting dolls. When I first started repainting in 2001, I mostly repainted Gene dolls. As the market became more diverse and other 16-inch fashion dolls were introduced, I slowly branched out into repainting these dolls, specifically the 16-inch dolls produced by Robert Tonner. It always amazes me how these dolls serve as a three-dimensional canvas in bringing to life faces of different personalities and character. Occasionally, I would repaint Gene and the Tonner dolls from my own imagination and ideal of beauty. Both are very satisfying for me.
I am therefore happy to offer here my one-of-a-kind creations that I sincerely hope you can enjoy and appreciate.

above: repainted Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara Doll

above: repainted Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins Doll

Visit the artists site.

or contact him here:

•OR, If you like dolls, but also are a serious fashionista about Mooqla here.

A little background on celebrity dolls courtesy of
Why Do People Collect Celebrity Dolls?

People collect celebrity dolls for a variety of reasons. Some collectors are drawn to the dolls because they are fans of the celebrity the doll portrays or of the television show or movie that featured the person. For instance, some collectors of Wizard of Oz memorabilia collect Judy Garland dolls (although they do not collect any other type of doll). Some doll collectors specialize in the many versions of the Shirley Temple doll throughout the years (often because they were a fan of Shirley and her movies as a child). Other collectors of celebrity dolls aren't doll collectors at all, but collectors of movie memorabilia including movie-related celebrity dolls. Finally, doll collectors may simply like a doll, and collect the doll although they are not particularly drawn to the celebrity that the doll represents (for instance, a collector of composition dolls from the 1930s would most likely have some Shirley Temple dolls in their collection, even if they are not a "fan" of Shirley Temple).

How Long Have Celebrity Dolls Been Produced?

Celebrity dolls have been in production for a very long time. In the 1840s, several famous ballerinas were featured as paper dolls. Also in the 1800s, various military heroes were portrayed as dolls/figures. Things really heated up in the early 1900s with the advent of the silent films. The John Bunny doll (a silent film star) was one of the first produced in 1914 by Louis Amberg & Sons. The first Charlie Chaplin doll was produced in 1915. The composition Baby Peggy doll was a HUGE success in 1923, also produced by the Amberg company. The Shirley Temple doll by Ideal was a phenomena in the 1930s--first produced in 1934, millions of the composition Shirley dolls were produced (and, variations of the Shirley doll are being produced to this day, generally in porcelain or vinyl). After Shirley, companies like Madame Alexander and Ideal produced MANY different celebrity dolls, including Sonja Henie, Jane Withers and Deanna Durbin.
Other relevant links:
Tonner Doll Company
Gene Dolls Marshall Collection/Ashton Drake
Gene Dolls UK
Tyler Wentworth dolls
Joe's List
Play Along dolls

Books on Celebrity Dolls:
• The Encyclopedia of Celebrity Dolls by John Axe. Cumberland, Md.: Hobby House Press, Inc., 1983. This book is out-of print
• Collectors Guide to Celebrity Doll by David Spurgeon (Paperback)
• Celebrity Dolls Price Guideby Michele Kart (Paperback published November 2001)

Books That Include Information on Celebrity Dolls:
• Kids' Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood by Gary Cross: Harvard University Press, 1997.
• A Celebration of American Dolls: From the Collections of the Strong Museumby Dorothy McGonagle: Hobby House Press, Inc., 1997.
• Collector's Encyclopedia of American Composition Dolls, 1900-1950 by Ursula Mertz.: Collector Books, 1999.
• Shirley Temple Dolls and Fashions: A Collector's Guide to the World's Darling by Edward R. Pardella: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1992.
• Shirley Temple Dolls and Collectibles by Patricia R.Smith.: Collector Books, 1977.

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