Artist Studio Collection

Also known as: 
Middleton Doll
Lee Middleton Original Dolls
Middleton Doll Company
Year of introduction: 
1978
About the brand: 
 

Middleton Doll captured the beauty and innocence of childhood more than 30 years ago, and the company's commitment to quality continues today. Starting with the unique artistry of its founder, Lee Middleton, the company is recognized by doll enthusiasts as the industry leader of vinyl collectible baby dolls. Every year, Middleton Doll introduces more than 100 new dolls in various skin tones, eye colors, hair colors, and sizes. Designed to look like real babies, each doll by Middleton Doll is sculpted by an award-winning doll artist who incorporates incredible detail into every crease, fold, and curve. Dolls by Middleton Doll set the standard for excellence.

Lee Middleton sculpted her first dolls to look like her own two children, and soon, relatives and friends asked Lee to sculpt dolls that looked like their children. Word spread quickly about Lee's talent and she soon found herself in charge of an unexpected "cottage industry." Supply and demand forced Lee to continuously find larger locations for production. In 1989, Lee opened a manufacturing facility in Belpre, Ohio. The facility produced more baby dolls a year than any other manufacturer in America, and the Mayor of Belpre declared the city to be "The Baby Doll Capital of the World."

In 1985, the doll community not only embraced Lee's creations, but also nominated her unique work for national awards. Doll Reader Magazine nominated Lee's first vinyl baby doll, "First Moments," for a "Doll of the Year" award. This honor helped establish vinyl as a collectible medium. Soon, sales expanded to new venues and Middleton Doll released new dolls that looked even more realistic, thus creating tales of mistaken identity. Concerned adults who saw "babies" trapped inside hot cars called rescue squads and shoppers would scold parents for leaving their "babies" on store counters.

Middleton Doll continued to lead the vinyl doll industry for more than a decade, but in 1997 an unexpected shock forced employees to examine the future of the company. Lee suddenly died of a heart attack. Company officials had little time to mourn Lee's death. They had to find another doll artist who could create the lifelike faces that made Lee's dolls tops in the industry.

Be it divine intervention, or a just a stroke of good luck, a little known Canadian doll artist would soon take Middleton Doll in a whole new direction. In 1998, a death in the family almost kept Canadian doll artist Reva Schick from showing her dolls at the International Toy Fair in New York. Fortunately for Middleton Doll, Reva's sisters-in-law recognized her talent and insisted that they show the dolls for her. At Toy Fair, several companies expressed interest in Reva's work, but only Middleton Doll was a perfect fit for Reva. Just like Lee, Reva has a strong religious background and credits her artistic talents to God. Lee always tucked a tiny Bible into each doll box, and Reva wanted to be the one to continue that tradition. Eva Helland, Jane Pinkstaff, Michelle Fagan, Pat Moulton as well as many others joined the Middleton Doll family of artists and continued developmening incredibly life-like dolls, that create intense emotional bonds between collector and doll, or child and doll.

Newborn Nursery® was launched in 2000 and is now featured in independent retail stores nationwide, as well as available online. In the retail experience, the boutiques are designed to look like a real hospital nursery. The Newborn Nursery experience lets children go through a fun baby doll adoption process before bringing their new bundles of joy home. Newborn Nursery dolls are also featured at FAO Schwarz in New York City.

Middleton PlayBabies have been specially designed to reflect the stages of a young girl's physical and character development. Little girls will learn how to love and nurture these incredible life-like PlayBabies. With over thirty models all in various hair, eye and skin tone combinations, Middleton Doll will be ready for any stage of play with a doll that is just right for any aged "mommy."

Middleton NOW is a collection of collector-quality dolls that has been safety tested for children aged three and up. Your little girl will love to play, share secrets and memorable times with her new special friends. And when she's grown out of playing with her dolls, she can cherish her childhood friends as the start of a collection to treasure for generations.

In 2010, The Middleton Doll Company was purchased by The Alexander Doll Company, ensuring its continued vibrancy into the future. Most operations, including design and production management, were moved from Ohio to New York. Middleton Dolls is in good hands, as is evidenced by the wonderful collection of dolls offered on this website. We look forward to an exciting future of continued innovation and creativity at The Middleton Doll Company!

Details
Doll types: 
Play dolls
Heirloom play dolls
Display/shelf dolls
Artist dolls
Hair type: 
Wigged
Eye type: 
Fixed/Inset acrylic
Doll ages: 
Baby dolls
Toddler dolls
Child dolls
Adult dolls
Target age (of owner): 
0
to: 
103
This page is part of a community-edited doll Collector's Guide. It is not guaranteed to be complete or 100% accurate but you can help make it so. Dollation is not associated with any doll manufacturer. The images shown on this page are copyright by the company indicated unless otherwise specified. Images are for reference by collectors to help identify dolls and doll items. Read the full explanation of copyright ownership.