For more Dam troll pictures, go to my Flickr page !

Monday, September 28, 2009

Vintage Tailed Trolls

Dam's rare 1960's Tailed trolls came in 3 different sizes. The most common is the largest size, 6 inches (7 inches to the tops of his large ears). More rare is the smallest, 2.5 inches, and the most rare is the middle size, 3.5 inches. They all originally had long mohair, and mohair on the end of their tails. It is very common to find a vintage tailed troll that no longer has his mohair on his tail. For the large and medium sizes, I have only seen amber eyes, but for the smallest, he came in a variety of eye colors (mine has blue eyes :-) ). A very distinctive characteristic of a tailed troll is that they have detailed fingernails on both their hands and their feet (except for the medium size - for some reason he doesn't!). The only other troll to have fingernails is the rare and highly sought after Monkey troll.

The large and medium size originally came dressed in a burlap outfit with string belt. Charms were strung on the belt, the most common being a red, felt "fig leaf." The small size came au naturel.

(Neat advertisement showing all three sizes of Tailed troll when they first came out)

Foot imprints:
(click on image to see larger)

Does rehairing my troll lower its value?

A lot of collectors come across trolls that wear their age and mistreatment on their sleeve, so to speak. And the question inevitably arises: Will it lower the value of the troll as a collectible if parts of it are replaced?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, a troll with its original hair, eyes, and outfit is more valuable than a troll who does not have their original pieces. On the flip side, if they are a hot mess (like my first tailed troll, that I have pictured above) that decreases their value. You can only improve a troll's value by fixing it back up again.

Also, how much a troll is worth is very dependent on the collector and their preferences. Some collectors prefer their trolls to be original, and others may go for trolls that have been redone. I personally love original trolls that are pristine, but I love remaking 3 inchers into my Little Ladies :-)

My first tailed troll was an absolute mess when he first arrived to me. I was so sad! I finally had my first tailed troll, and he was, well, ugly. (Now most non-troll collectors would think its ugly anyway, but I think tailed trolls have the most wonderful character, and are some of the most handsome). I sent him off to Timm (this was before I was doing my own fixer uppers) for some TLC (rehairing and a slight clean up). When he arrived back home again, I was AMAZED at his transformation! It was like he was a completely different troll! Timm had even gone out of his way to replace one of his eyes that had rusted with another vintage one that he happened to have laying around (that was just so nice of him!). He went from disgusting to gorgeous. If I were to resell him (which I never would - he's still my favorite tailed troll, even though he's the least original of the bunch), I would get much more for him than if I were to have left him the way he was.

It all boils down to one essential thing...the very root of any sort of collecting: its what ever makes YOU happy. That's what collecting is all about :-)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Elusive Alligator Trolls

You can't talk about troll collecting without mentioning the elusive Alligator trolls. They have only ever really been seen in photos, and only one of each size is in known existence. There are two sizes (6 inch and 3 inch), and are thought to have been made in Florida (for the Gators). The above photo is one I have framed above my computer desk in my Studio - it is a photo insert (well, mine is a copy that I bought of the photo ;-) ) that was the background of a magnetic dartboard found at Pat's Pub (I'm not sure where the pub is located...). Not much is known about these awesome trolls, and the owner is rather secretive of his identity. The photos below were two common photos of the alligator trolls that made their rounds through excited emails. They are considered to be one of the "Holy Grails" of the troll collecting world.

(aren't they neat? :-) )

Friday, September 25, 2009

Foot Pillow

Lol, Kitty was hanging out with my Big Boy after I had taken his picture - and had her head on his foot. Kitty seems to like him (she likes his outstretched hands - they're good for face rubbins). Usually, I keep him out of reach of the kitties, but this was just so cute I had to take a photo of it. Then of course she lifted her head as soon as the flash went off. Shoot... ;-)

Dam troll size comparison

What was an attempt to show the differences in sizes for Dam trolls ended up being a fun project for my new banner :-). I'm posting the regular photo so you can zoom in and see the smaller trolls more easily. I didn't include the vintage Dams (they will be another photo), but since I turned it into my banner, now I wish I had! Oh well.

The sizes quoted hereafter are from the ground, to the top of the forehead. I find this is the best universal measurement, since some trolls have coneheads, some have flat heads, and some have heads that are hollow. They are also approximate - there is slight variation in troll sizes due to the warping of vinyl caused by age (or by something like being left out in the heat ;-) ). The names included are the names of trolls in their original felt clothing. There were quite a few characters made (and each character had a name), so in the interest of space, I'm going to stick generally with the originals, and a few others. The names of the originals are also associated with a specific face and body type, whereas the characters could be any troll. Articulated = they are made to pivot/move.

Info on the sizes:

1) Largest Dam ever made! He was originally created to stand in store windows holding other trolls. I love his large, upturned hands :-). He originally came with a shirt, which I haven't remade for him yet...
  • size: 19"-20"
  • foot engraving #: 800
  • body: head and both arms and legs are articulated
2) Largest Dam currently being made.
  • size: 16"
  • foot engraving #: 806
  • body: head and both arms and legs are articulated
  • in this category: Livvy, Henry, Greta
3) Larger Grandparents
  • size: 13"
  • foot engraving #: none
  • body: head and both arms and legs are articulated, Grandpa does not have distinctive toes, but Grandma does
  • in this category: Grandma, Grandpa, Grandma Claus, Grandpa Claus
4) 10"
  • foot engraving #: 243
  • body: head and both arms and legs are articulated, feet do not have distinctive toes, bigger arms and hands than ususal
  • in this category: George, Georgette, Erik, Erika
5) 8.5"-9"
  • foot engraving #: 604
  • body: head and only one arm are articulated
  • in this category: Ivan, Olga, Lars, Heather, Ingrid, Hector
6) 8"
  • foot engraving #: none
  • body: head and both arms and legs articulated, on the bottom of their feet there is an indention between the balls of their feet and their heels
  • in this category: newer "troll babies," Norfin "kids," Bubby, Zeyda
7) 7"
  • foot engraving #: 24-4
  • body: nothing is articulated, feet do not have distinctive toes, feet and legs are textured and painted to look like they have leggings on
  • in this category: Hans, Hanna
8) 6.5"
  • foot engraving #: none
  • body: nothing is articulated
  • in this category: Sven, Inge, Hilda, Thor
9) 6"
  • foot engraving #: 725
  • body: only head is articulated, in walking pose
  • in this category: Lingenberry trolls
10) 4.5"-5"
  • foot engraving #: none
  • body: nothing is articulated
  • in this category: Playmates
11) 3.25"
  • foot engraving #: none
  • body: nothing is articulated, arms out in front
  • in this category: Little Tykes (their eyes look up)
12) 2.75"-3"
  • foot engraving #: none
  • body: nothing is articulated
  • in this category: Tiny Ones
(oops, not pictured): 2.5"
  • foot engraving #: none
  • body: same as Little Tykes, just smaller
  • in this category: Norfette, Christmas ornaments
13) 1"
  • foot engraving #: none
  • body: nothing is articulated
  • in this category: Pencil toppers, pins

To see photos of the trolls listed above, click HERE to go to my post, "Names to go with faces."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

European & American Giraffe trolls

Yay! My first European giraffe just arrived from England! He is just too neat - he is in the middle, accompanied by two of my American giraffes.

European trolls are interesting - though similar to trolls produced in America, they tend to be slightly different than their American counterparts, and some (like the giraffe and small horse) are more difficult to find (and hence, are more expensive). A good give-away on whether it is a Euro troll or not is that they are made of "squishier" vinyl than those made in America. They also sometimes look a little different in their air brushing. For instance, the Euro giraffe is a bit more brown, and has a more distinct diamond pattern, and tends to be the larger size of giraffe. American giraffes came in two different sizes: I have him flanked by the 12.5 inch American giraffe, and the smaller sized 11.5 inch American giraffe (my sweet girl with replaced pink hair with black tips ;-) ). I have also only seen Euro giraffes with black or brown hair, whereas the American giraffes came in several different colors (peach, white, brown, black).

He's such a big, handsome boy, though his old mohair is delicate. I can't brush it without damaging it, so he'll just have to have the perpetual just-got-out-of-bed-look (that's fashionable anyway, right?)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Little Lady Fairy Starla

I have been experimenting with fairies in my Little Lady line, and I am extremely happy with how Starla came out! I suppose the results that are most worth it in life are always the most difficult to achieve...or so I kept telling myself while putting her together. Though she had many annoying setbacks, she is such a lovely happy ending to my frustrated tale of woe ;-). I would really like to recreate her to sell; its just such a shame she's so expensive to make!

Playmates (or Little Brothers/Sisters)

Playmates are Dam trolls that are about 5 inches. They have been made since the late 1960's, and have had a large variety of faces. For older Playmates, they even had different body types.

When it comes to collecting, it can sometimes be a little confusing to know when a certain Playmate was made. Dates are funny - the date listed on trolls is the date the mold for the troll was made, not necessarily the troll itself. For Dam trolls in general, you can sometimes even have two different dates on a troll (one for the head, and the other for the body), though this is not the case for Playmates.

You can usually tell around when a Playmate (all Dam trolls really, but I find especially with the 5 inch Playmates) was made by what type of stamp is on the bottom of their foot. One example I posted shows 4 generations of the same faced Playmate, and how the stamp changed for each one. On the example I wrote out what each stamp says since it was outrageously hard to get my camera to take a legible photo of them :-/.

1)Made in the 1960's/70's : they tend to have a foot stamp with the date obliterated by another round, deeper stamp that I suppose was supposed to have the date on it. If you can read the deeper, circular stamp, it appears to be backwards.

2)Made in the 1980's/90's.

3)Made after the year 2001, but not for very long.

4)Made after 2005.

Another way to tell when the Playmate was made is how their body is constructed. I made another example showing an older version (bigger hands that often turn out or in, and often one hand will be held out, and stockier legs) vs a more newer version (arms always stick straight out, slightly thinner arms and legs). The older Playmates are also made of softer vinyl, whereas their newer counterparts are harder.

Little Sisters and Brothers

The older Playmates are also called Little Sisters and Brothers. I personally love them - there are some faces they did not continue to make, which is such a shame! They are so full of character! Long Standing Goal: collect every older Playmate face :-). They also came in felt outfits with rivets holding them together in the front. Unlike their descendants (who are very common), the Little Sisters and Brothers are not as easy to find (especially still clothed in their distinctive, riveted original outfits). Also unlike later Playmates, they came in two genders (later Playmates came only in little, non-riveted dresses).

Here are two clips from an ordering magazine showing the variety of faces and body types they came in:

Common troll repair questions

I have found that there are very common troll repair questions that every troll lover tends to come across, so a while ago I made a list compiled of my own knowledge, and the (copy and pasted) suggestions from members of the Yahoo Damthings group:

Cleaning & Repair
  • Vender for Icelandic mohair and a variety of replacement eyes (including spiral):
    • Timm Zitz:
      • He also will do the repairs for you for a very reasonable charge.
  • Cleaning dirty mohair and vinyl (suggestions from several members)
    • If the mohair is very dirty I found that using CLEAN & CLEAR Oil Free Foaming Facial Cleanser from Johnson + Johnson gets that dark residue that keeps in their hair. Shampoo won’t remove it for some reason. Now if you just want to wash the hair to make it fresh and there is not silt, dust or dirt staining use a standard shampoo. I like Suave daily clarifying shampoo. Next rinse well with warm water (not too warm you don't want to loosen the wig). Ring out the dripping water and apply conditioner. I've tried several, the best one I've seen work is Pantene Pro-V Ice Shine Brillo Glacial Condition Twice The Shine. Let it sit for a few minutes then rinse with cold water. Dont completely rinse but don't leave too much.
    • I discovered the Twin Pines of Maine products (see or call (800) 770-3655) for products specifically designed to clean and restore vinyl dolls and action figures. I have used three of their products, and have them on hand at all times. Formula 9-1-1 is the basic cleaner, which can be diluted, as can the Perk, so goes a long way, then Perk which though formulated for doll clothes cleans mohair wigs exceptionally
      well and removes smells.
    • I use an orange oil type cleaner and it tends to get those dirty place cleaned right up. Avoid using any mineral oil or petroleum products, as this can melt the vinyl.
    • I use mild dish detergent for the hair - be careful not to pull on hair - rinse thoroughly and either air dry (comes out a bit wavy) or gently blow dry. Do not comb the hair for a couple days though, to allow the leather part to dry thoroughly. Not much you can do with the felt clothes though- if they are very dirty, I would recommend removing them and use the old clothes as patterns for the new ones. I've used carpet tacks to simulate the grommets and they look great!
  • Cleaning dirty felt clothing
    o If they are very dirty, I would recommend removing them and use the old clothes as patterns for the new ones. I've used carpet tacks to simulate the grommets and they look great!
    o Quite often on the older trolls the clothes were held in place with rivets. I have found no way of opening these and re-using the clothes and original rivets. I have removed and repaired old clothes, given them new snap fasteners and put them back on the troll. When I have done that, I also usually remove the old rivet from the body of the troll. It must be done with great care though and sometimes it is better to leave it in place.
    o I have also had great success carefully washing felt outfits either on or off the troll. Wash with Woolite in cold water paying attention to stains. Rinse carefully and gently squeeze out then reshape and place on kitchen roll to dry. Iron on low heat. If washing on the troll, take very great care if the outfit is two different colors, the color's may run. If I do this with two colors, I squeeze out excess water using kitchen roll, reshape the outfit and separate it with a wad of paper towel. Never do this with red felt, red is the worst dye to fix and will always run into another color.
    o If an outfit is just dusty, brush it up, wipe over with a damp cloth and you can remove light soiling with carpet spot cleaner on kitchen paper. Freshen with Febreeze to remove musty odors.
  • Rewigging trolls
  • Replacing tail mohair on little horses
    • Cut the old mohair at the tail, very close to the base, and then with the mohair already removed from the head, you can use a small screw driver put into the head cavity and pull the mohair tail out from the inside by grabbing the pelt of it with the screwdriver and inching it out. You can soften the vinyl before hand by putting the troll in the oven on a towel. Set the oven to 180 degrees and leave the troll in there for about 10 minutes. That way you can easily remove heads, eyes and insert mohair from the outside.
  • Cracked eyes
    • Many older trolls and banks have cracked plastic eyes - this occurred as the vinyl shrunk over time and the company did not allow space for this and thus the eyes - being hollowed out- cracked. You can get replacement eyes either by contacting Timm (see above), or they sometimes sell them on eBay.
      • 5mm or 6mm fit 3” trolls
      • 8mm fit 6” trolls
      • 10mm fit 6” Dam Cheerleaders & Vikings
      • 12mm fit Banks/Large Dams
      • 14mm fit Dam Animal trolls
      • 15mm fit 8” trolls
      • 16mm fit larger 8” Dams
      • 20mm fit Iggys
      • 24mm fit 16-18” Dams and Euro Iggys
  • Removing the head on bank trolls
    • Heat your oven to 180, and place the troll on a towel and leave in for 10 min. Remove the troll and the head will pull off quite easily. Be careful not to grab the hair too much, since the glue is softer as well. When you need to replace her head, just heat up the head and it will easily go on the harder, cooler body.
  • Removing ink stains
    • 1) Purchase some 10% benzoyl peroxide acne cream or gel. It does not matter if the product is name brand or generic, but it must contain AT LEAST 10% benzoyl peroxide.
      2) Make sure you have a safe place (away from pets or small children) that allows you full access to natural sunlight.
      3) Before beginning, clean all inked areas off with alcohol-soaked cotton balls to remove any residue that may interfere with treatment.
      4) Apply a light coat of the peroxide cream/gel to the marked areas of the doll and put the troll, inked side up, under DIRECT SUNLIGHT.
      5) Every morning - wash the old benzoyl cream/gel off, apply a new coat of peroxide and place the doll back in the sun.
      6) Repeat this process until the markings have completely oxidized.
    • This can sometimes take up to 2 weeks. The harder the plastic, the more time it can take to fade away.
  • Types of glue to use to re-glue mohair (some preferences from members):
    • Scotch adhesive (a little goes a long way, dries fast, and wig never comes off)
    • E6000 (its thick and it sticks)
    • Dolly Hair Glue (it says on the bottle "Ideal for gluing wigs or hair onto vinyl dolls, porcelain doll, wood dolls, or fabric doll heads.")
    • Fabri-tac
  • Removing a strong smell