The end of an era: Tonner Doll company shuts down

I was expecting to begin the new year with happier news, but unfortunately that is not the case. Robert Tonner announced in an email that Tonner Doll shut down with the end of 2018. Of course it was to be expected, after the restructuring of his business and his focus on Phyn & Aero, which left Tonner Doll only with licensed product, which was obviously not as commercial as it should. Licensing has the fees sucking out most of the profits, and if a company deals only with such a sector, it needs to have mass production and a wide array of product to be sust, something Tonner Doll had not. I’ll always cherish the Tonner dolls I own, and hopefully will acquire some more in the future. From now own, doll collectors will follow his endeavours with his other company, Phyn & Aero. Below is his letter. 


 My Dear Friends,

I was lucky enough to start Tonner Doll at a point when it seemed that everyone was collecting, making, buying or selling dolls.  At the same time, the Far East was willing and eager to produce whatever we wanted at a price that couldn’t be beat.    High demand and inexpensive, quality production led to the golden age of collectible dolls and great success for Tonner Doll.

It’s often said that the only thing you can count on is change; I whole heartedly agree with that statement.  I could go on and on about the changes in the collectible doll industry, but in short, the business model that I used to build Tonner Doll is no longer viable or sustainable.  Therefore, Tonner Doll Company (including the Tonner Doll web site, doll hospital, phones and emails) was closed as of December 31, 2018.


“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.”
― Jenna Evans Welch, Love & Gelato

I’m very excited that Phyn & Areo will continue with a brand-new business model, one that addresses some of the changes mentioned above and we will be exploring new ways of doing business.  Through Phyn and Aero, I’ll be working directly with our favorite retailers to create unique and exclusive dolls (look for the first Ellowyne out this Spring).  I will continue to design for and attend events throughout the year (Dollology, Shaker Doll Club, Doll Circle and UFDC to name a few).  At Phyn and Aero I will also continue to develop new product; we’ll be doing small batch, design driven products.  Rayne, a new character with unique (and I mean unique) accessories will debut around Toy Fair.  In addition, I am working on design projects with other companies (I just did a huge amount of work for FAO; that was both a challenge and a delight).  I think it’s going to be a very busy, very exciting 2019!

Over these past 28 years I have had to honor to meet, work with and befriend some of the most wonderful people there are—doll collectors, doll lovers and doll retailers.  I want you to know how deeply I’ve appreciated our journey together—and here’s to a bright, exciting, shiny, new future!


P.S.  Starting today, please visit our website at or call us at 845-802-5552.  You can also reach us through


All photos courtesy of Tonner Doll.  

Tonner's Layne Reese - Basic Black version

2007 saw a new addition to the basic body in Tonner dolls. The Basic Black dolls had an extra articulation feature: changeable feet. They come with two different sets of feet that can be changed to give a different look and pose ability to the doll, not to mention more outfit options. Fashion feet (aka high heeled arched feet) and flat feet. It is very easy to change them and the articulation is borrowed from action figures. They are an edition of 1500 pieces per character.

Basic Black Layne is part of that line, comprising of four basic dolls. Her face sculpt is the original Mameha sculpt, first used in the Memoirs of A Geisha line. She comes with a black one-piece swimsuit, with a semi-transparent panel on the front, all lined in flesh colored fabric inside. A pair of sunglasses, and two pairs of shoes complete the outfit. One pair is high heeled plastic mules, the other is flat rubber sandals with a fabric strap. Here's Layne in high heels:

And here she is in flat feet:

Her hair is auburn. It could have been a bit more dense, as it can be difficult to change the hairstyle a bit due to the quantity of hair plugs she has on her head. She has an elastic hairband too. Her face screen is nice but a bit bland for a red head. I think she needed stronger eye and brow color. Lips are painted a generic red, which could also have been a bit more adventurous. Here is a close up:

The flat feet articulation is not that good looking or functional. She cannot stretch the foot to become a straight line with the rest of the leg, as she should. She can stand on her own with them though. That makes her stand redundant. It is the worst stand I have ever encountered on a Tonner doll. If she has her arched feet on, the metal circle of the stand cannot reach her waist - she's too tall for it. If she has the flat feet on, she can stand by herself. Plus it is a cheep looking stand, with a clear plastic base that is not the solid one most Tonner dolls usually get, but a hollow one that is not heavy enough to support a doll properly. And of course it cannot be used with full skirts or gowns. Utterly useless. Here is the flat foot detail.

She is versatile enough to provide lots of fun re-dressing and photographs nicely. I like the Mameha sculpt a lot - Asian ladies are so beautiful. They could have made the ethnic characteristics more pronounced though - it would have been so much more interesting to see that in the Geisha line too. But I guess it is all a matter of marketing.

Layne has also been released as a dressed doll, which we will see in the next post. Here is a photo of Layne seated:

And one in her sunglasses-star material for sure!

The earrings on this photo shoot are courtesy of Toni Brown from Bordello Dolls.