Dream Doll Designer

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The Dream Doll Designer (DDD) dolls were introduced into the Just Pretend catalog in 1999. They have the same, 18.5", all-vinyl body as the Stardust Classics which had been introduced in 1997. Some of the dolls have the same face as the Stardust Classics, designed by Vernon Thornblad. New faces were also sculpted by doll artist Jill Nemirow-Nelson. iDolls took over the DDD doll line in late 1999 when the parent, Kid Galaxy, Inc., decided it wanted to try something new with technology and doll marketing.

Custom Dolls

The DDD dolls were unique because you could design them yourself using a CD-ROM distributed free by the company or using the company website, iDolls.com. From within the program you could select from six different face molds, numerous hairstyles, hair colors, skin tones, eye colors, etc. Even several different styles of freckles. The company literature claimed there were over 69 billion combinations!

Once the customer created her doll, she could dress her interactively, choosing from hundreds of pieces of doll clothes, and then order the outfits and the doll. Because each doll was created specially and air-shipped from the factory in China (taking 2-3 weeks to arrive), the custom dolls were quite expensive for the time at $84.95 (though competitive with American Girl dolls). The clothing was fairly reasonably priced and was quite sophisticated for dolls who were supposed to represent 10 year old girls.

According to an article titled "Of Dolls and Online Dollars", published in The New York Times business pages in November, 1999, the DDD program was developed by Dmitri Gurevich.

This is the beginning of an attempt to create a whole new set of options for girls,'' said Mr. Gurevich, who immigrated from Russia in 1990 and founded his company, Double Decker Studios, three years later. ''This is not a set piece. This is a revolutionary thing.''

Double Decker Studios was a South Boston company hired by iDolls to develop the software.

Although not the first doll Web site, iDolls is a mold-breaker, using technology to overturn conventional marketing notions in the industry. Mike Collins, president of iDolls, noted that dollmakers like Mattel have spent millions of dollars developing and promoting specific doll characters like the Barbie and Friends line or the American Girl historical figures made by the Pleasant Company, a Mattel subsidiary in Middleton, Wis.

Mr. Collins contended that iDolls' approach, with its huge range of possible designs and no set characters, represents ''the future of doll play.''

Although Mr. Collins was overly optimistic, the DDD program is still fun to play with, especially for girls with large DDD clothing collections since you can easily try different outfits on the dolls like virtual paper dolls. Here is a screen shot from the program:

Showcase Dolls

iDolls.com also introduced named "Showcase Dolls" and named complete outfits in addition to the design-your-own DDD dolls and outfits that Just Pretend offered.

There were 13 Showcase Dolls that were available through the web site and the iDolls.com catalog. The company kept a stock of these on hand. They were $84.95, like the custom dolls. The DDD Showcase Dolls came dressed in either of these simple starter outfits shown below. All DDD dolls (custom and Showcase) came packed in these yellow and white checkerboard boxes.

DDD Clothing

The Dream Doll Designer dolls had a very extensive clothing collection that was unique because the pieces were all available separately: shirts, pants, skirts, shoes, etc. The clothing was grouped into five different clothing lines by style: Now, Summer Sizzle, Monterey, Pansy and Urban Chic. You could mix and match separates which were available in multiple fabrics and colors, or you could buy complete outfits: 10 complete outfits per clothing line for a total of 50. DDD also had furniture, doll care accessories, storage trunks and jewelry and other accessories.

The Market

Unfortunately, the dolls did not sell well enough at the $84.94 price point and iDolls was forced to offer them at below cost ($49.95) in order to try to stimulate interest in the dolls, which never materialized. Since then, other companies have experimented with the concept with more success, such as My Twinn. The My BFF Dolls (introduced by My Twinn in 2011) are almost exactly the same concept though with fewer options.

While the DDD line was a creative and fun idea, it was short-lived and never a money-maker. The company invested a lot in development, infrastructure and customer service but the market wouldn't bear the price. Even though the dolls were priced similarly with American Girl, that doll line had the advantage of Mattel's marketing and existing name recognition.

18.50 in
Doll types: 
Play dolls
18 inch vinyl play dolls
MAC/Carpatina clothing compatible
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Fixed/Inset acrylic
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Child dolls
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