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.  

The transformation of Tonner Dolls and a new company: Phyn And Aero

Yesterday Rober Tonner e-mailed registered Tonner Doll members the following letter:

Tonner’s 25th Anniversary Year re-cap:
2016 has been, perhaps, the most momentous year of my life. Celebrating 25 years of creating dolls and accessories was really kind of humbling. Culling through photographs of past events and seeing the faces of people getting so much joy out of the dolls and events we’ve produced was truly heartwarming. It reminds me yet again of how lucky I’ve been to enjoy a hobby that turned into a career and a business.
I’ve frequently been asked what have been the greatest accomplishments of my last 25 years in this business and there are definitely some standouts:
-My first New York Toyfair, sitting at a single table in our tiny booth and selling out everything I brought in the first few hours.
-The first Tyler Wentworth dolls arriving at our warehouse and eventually shipping to retailers.
-The Betsy McCall and Mary Engelbreit licensed products that were so cherished and charming.
-Being the only company to produce Harry Potter dolls for six years.
-Ellowyne Wilde and the creation of Wilde Imagination, which allowed me to move in an entirely new direction.
-All of the employees who have supported me along the way, whether they believed in what I was doing, or not!
Currently, I’m spending a great deal of time learning (and hopefully mastering) some very new computer sculpting programs that, combined with state-of-the-art production capabilities, provide an entirely new method of creating dolls. I call it the “New Art of Doll Making™” and I’m really excited about what we’ll be doing in 2017 and beyond. It’s also awakened a pioneering spirit in me again and I’ve decided it’s time to completely re-think what we offer to collectors. Therefore, although Tonner will continue to make all of our established licensed products such as DC, Gone with the Wind, Outlander, etc., all of our proprietary lines, as well as those of Effanbee and Wilde Imagination, are being discontinued.
A new company is being launched and it’s called Phyn & Aero. We will be introducing three new lines in 2017 in collaboration with innovative (and incredibly talented) new designers. I really feel it’s time to broaden our perspectives and see what some fascinating (and younger!) designers create for our collectors. I believe the collector market needs a major shake-up and I’m quite sure this will be it!
As always, I’m so grateful for all the love and support you’ve shown to me over the years. I am also terrifically excited about the direction we’re heading in and hope you will join us along the way in this new, incredibly exciting adventure!

It looks like the company we knew and loved is no more. It will continue to produce only the licensed dolls (who know for how long, until the licences expire? And will we finally see Empire dolls?) but no more fashion dolls, no more Tyler Wentworth, Marley or any other fashion doll line. It is quite an unceremonious end for Tyler and family and it makes me feel sad as she was one of my first, if not the very first fashion doll I got. The new company, Phyn and Aero, will probably have new fashion dolls, so I am curious to see how that goes. 

Tyler Wentworth's 15th anniversary

My own Signature Style Tyler Wentworth, dressed in a Gene Marshall outfit.
Photo by Stratos Bacalis

Dressed to the nines. As Tyler Wentworth should always be. Ready to celebrate her 15th anniversary. as dear Tommy Courtney (who spend a decade with her, making her look glamorous and fantastic through his photographs for Tonner Doll) kindly reminds us in his lovely commemorative article. On the 14th of December 1999, the first Tyler Wentworth dolls shipped to retailers. And thus begun a dream story, with a core idea so simple, yet so powerful: The power of play.

A version of Tyler that became a classic throughout her career - and embodied her "life" and story more than any other is the Signature Style Tyler. The first one, in 1999 (above), had some problems at first, but quickly became the darling of collectors. And while the doll progressed through the years. the style became a staple that kept on being re-released as a basic dressed doll version of Tyler - and a great entry doll for those seeking to discover Tyler's world. Fashion designer extraordinaire. She even got her own design desk and atelier accessories. I hope I will be able to find a set one day for my signature style Tyler. Yes, my one and only Tyler Wentworth doll is a BW (bending wrist) Signature Style with raven hair from 2004.

Signature Style Tyler through the years

Of course through the years she came with a magnificent wardrobe, lots of accessories, many friends (and a boyfriend, who finally married her) and furniture - even a piano! She even got released in a resin BJD version (with inset eyes even). She got to wear some of the best designs Tonner has ever released, from suits to gowns to casual wear, from pret-a-porter to haute couture - even goth! I am a proud owner of some, even one from the first ever collection in 1999: the Central Park Benefit Luncheon suit, exquisitely made.

Central Park Benefit Luncheon, outfit only, 1999

Even her body evolved. From the original one with articulation only at the shoulders, hips and knees, she gradually became articulated at the elbows, waist, wrists, bust and even got interchangeable feet: high heeled, flat and even ballet arched ones. She even got a new sculpt in 2007, with a slightly more angular face. The power of play indeed. 

Fifteen Years Dressed Doll, 2014

Fashion Design Weekly  Awards, outfit only, 1999

Chicago Sophisticate LE 500
United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC) "Fin du Millenaire" Convention

Standing Ovation Gold - Special Edition
Tonner Doll 10th Anniversary Celebration Convention, May 2001

Papillion, 2002

Cinema Satins Tyler Centerpiece
Special Edition, Collector's United, 2003

Anniversary Gala, 2004
I'm a lucky owner of this amazing outfit

Red Hot
Tonner Doll Company Convention 2004

Grand Tour. 2004
One of a Kind
Tonner Doll Company Convention; Auctioned for Children Affected by AIDS Foundation

Femme en Noir, 2004
Cherished Friends Exclusive

Toscano, 2005

Ski Retreat, 2005

Wild Spice, 2006

High Style Grand Finale, 2006
Reverie Publishing Exclusive Edition
First Tyler doll with applied eyelashes

Winter Fantasy Centerpiece, 2006
Boston Winter Fantasy Extravaganza

Casino Jade, 2007

Autumn Gold, 2007
Wigged doll

Versailles & Versailles Courtier
Paris Fashion Doll Festival, 2007

Au milieu de l’hiver, 2008
Special Tyler exclusive for Kathy Moreau’s Boutique Museum in Paris, France

Mademoiselle à la Mode, 2008
Paris Fashion Doll Festival

Ultra-Basic Goth, 2008
Tonner Doll Nightmares Halloween Convention
Shown wearing the table favor set

A Perfect Ten, 2009
Tonner Direct Exclusive, 10th anniversary

Tyler's wedding to Matt O'Neil, Sydney and Marley are bridesmaids
Tonner Doll Collector's Convention - On Film 2009

2010 Ultra Basic - Raven, 2010
Tonner Direct Exclusive
I think this is the first pale Tyler, Lily skintone

Signature Statement, 2011

Fire Opal, 2011

A Whole Nu Mood, 2012
IDEX Event Website Exclusive
There were only basic Tyler dolls in 2012

Classic Elegance, 2013

All photos (except the first one) courtesy of Tonner Doll

Tonner Doll Fall/Holiday 2013 release - part 2: Tyler Wentworth, Precarious and Théâtre de la Mode

The Tyler Wentworth collection gets two additions, both with the same sculpt: Chase model #5, here called Shauna. There is a basic doll and a dressed one.

Warm-up Basic Shauna
LE 500
Shipping TBA - Pre-Order Now!
Basic doll

The Chase Model#5 head sculpt is on a 16" Tyler bending wrist body with the cameo skin tone. She has brown painted eyes and flame and chestnut blended rooted saran hair. She comes in a pale pink Lycra bodysuit with a coordinating chiffon belt, nude pantyhose and matching faux leather shoes. Again a basic doll without a stand. Meh. She looks a lot like a Greek singer, Helena Paparizou (photo below).

City Tweed
LE 300
Shipping TBA - Pre-Order Now!
Dressed doll

Look what a different face make up and wig can do! This is again the Chase Model#5 head sculpt on a 16" Tyler bending wrist body, with the Tyler skin tone. She has blue painted eyes and mink non-removable saran wigged hair. Her outfit consists of a grey/black and white tweed coat dress, with a black cotton net petticoat, black faux leather gloves, black faux leather tights, rhinestone and beads necklace and black faux leather shoes. She has a stand. This one looks like a tame Siouxsie Sioux (photo below).

Precarious Bright White Basic
LE 500
Shipping TBA - Pre-Order Now!
Basic doll

This is the sole addition to the line. Another basic doll without a stand. The Precarious™ head sculpt is on a 16" Antoinette™ body with the cameo skin tone. She has blue painted eyes with applied eyelashes and a  black removable wig of saran hair. She is wearing a white cotton knit dress, white stretch knit panties, white sunglasses and white elastic platform shoes. She looks interesting but add $10 for a stand.

Théâtre de la Mode
Elegance #93
LE 300
Shipping TBA Pre-Order Now!
Dressed doll

Two dolls were added to the Théâtre de la Mode collection. The first one has the Gina head sculpt on a 16" Antoinette™ body with the Tyler skin tone. She has green painted eyes and chestnut rooted saran hair with faux flower decoration. She is wearing a dusty rose satin dress with faux flowers (which to me look huge for this scale, but have not seen any photos of the corresponding outfit in the original collection) which has a petticoat. She comes with white Lycra opera length gloves, a rhinestone necklace, rhinestone earrings, a rhinestone bracelet and matching satin shoes. She has nude pantyhose with attached panties and comes with a stand. Très jolie!

Théâtre de la Mode
Glamorous #75
LE 300
Buy Now! Ships 10/25
Dressed doll

The second doll also uses the Gina head sculpt on a 16" Antoinette™ body with the Tyler skin tone. This one has also green painted eyes but sports darkest brown rooted saran hair. She is wearing a black chiffon dress with rhinestone decoration on the bodice, a black velvet hat with rhinestone decoration and veil, rhinestone earrings, nude pantyhose and black faux leather shoes. She comes with a stand.

All photos and information © 2013 Tonner® Doll Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Age of Innocence - Tonner 2013 Convention - the dolls!

The Tonner 2013 convention was held form the 16th till the 19th of May in Chicago. The title was Age Of Innocence. At first I thought that the theme would be centred around the Edith Wharton novel and/or the Martin Scorcese film of it but it seems the scope was broader - "Let’s explore times past both real and imaginary, from whimsical childlike innocence to sophisticated elegance" was the tag line from Tonner. If you want to read more about it, you can check the company blog here. Let's see the fashion dolls on offer there (there were a lot more dolls but from lines I do not consider as fashion dolls).

Gatsby themed dolls were one of the groups - it comprised of four dolls. First one up is Zelda (Fitzgerald's wife, not in the novel), a centrepiece doll. She is a limited edition of 200 dolls (sold out now), priced at  $165. She has the Cami head sculpt and the 16" Antoinette™ body with the Cameo skin tone. She has painted brown eyes and a classic red saran removable wig. She is wearing a pale yellow crinkle chiffon dress with lace bodice and rhinestone buckle decoration at the waist, accessorized with a matching hat with ribbon trim, a pale yellow crinkle chiffon scarf with ribbon, nude pantyhose and faux leather matching shoes. I think she is the best doll at the convention by far. I love the dress and the doll looks beautiful, even though I am not a fan of the Cami sculpt. If she had a more mature sculpt, I might have bought her.

The souvenir doll of the Gtasby evening was Daisy, from the novel's main female protagonist. She has again the Cami head sculpt and the 16" Antoinette™ body with the Cameo skin tone. She has painted blue eyes and a summer blonde saran removable wig.  Her mauve dress has a mauve and silver embroidered lace overlay and is finished off with a silver and mauve headband with rhinestone and feather decoration, a matching faux fur stole with a bow, a beaded necklace, nude pantyhose and faux leather matching shoes. She is a limited edition of 250 with a price of $165 (sold out). Great outfit and accessories. Lovely doll.

Jay of course is the novel's protagonist, Jay Gatsby. The doll (centrepiece) has the new Matt head sculpt and the 17" Matt O’Neill™ body with the Tyler skin tone, painted blue eyes and wheat blonde rooted saran hair. He is wearing a purple and white stripe cotton shirt under a natural linen vest and natural linen pants. He sports a tan twill hat, a mauve tie, off white socks and brown molded plastic shoes. He is a limited edition of 150 dolls and had a price of $165 (sold out). He looks more like the teen version of Gtasby than a grown adult. Maybe it is the oversize hat and huge buttons or the linen pants which look too sturdy in this scale. A softer fabric for the pants and vest and more well scaled accessories would make him look so much better. The horrid plastic molded shoes are something that Gatsby would never wear. Why not some suede ones at this price point?

Myrtle is the last Gatsby doll from the convention, a centrepiece as well. She has the Jon head sculpt and the 16" Antoinette™ body with the Honey skin tone, painted brown eyes and a golden brown saran removable wig. She is wearing a lavender crinkle chiffon dress with faux flowers trim, a lavender hat with ribbon and faux flowers trim, a matching crinkle chiffon capelet with faux flower, nude pantyhose, a faux pearl necklace and faux leather matching shoes. She is a limited edition of 150 dolls, her price is $165 and is not sold out yet. Why pick Myrtle instead of Jordan is anyone's guess - just imagine how striking a flapper beaded dress-wearing Jordan doll would have been. Missed opportunity. She looks a bit plain for that price point too.

The Carousel ball was the even with a theme closer to the Age Of Innocence novel and film, or at least the dolls look a bit closer to that era (but more Gibson Girl than late Victorian). There were four centrepiece dolls and one souvenir doll. First centrepiece is Lady Emily (above). She has the Daphne#2 head sculpt on a 16" Antoinette™ body with the Cameo skin tone, painted blue eyes and mink (darkest brown) rooted saran hair. She is wearing a white bodysuit with lace trim and faux pearl buttons under a red shantung bolero with navy blue and gold trim and a navy blue and red skirt with gold trim. She has a matching navy blue taffeta hat with red tulle and feather decoration, nude pantyhose, faux pearl earrings and navy blue taffeta shoes. She is a limited edition of 100 dolls at $199 and there are still a few left (as well as the rest of the dolls of this group) here. Impressive doll but the outfit is too loud for my taste. Something closer to the clothes worn in the Age Of Innocence film would look so much better IMHO.

Lady Catherine is the second centrepiece doll from the Carousel ball (all centrepiece dolls were placed on carousel horses, making for an impressive setting on the tables). She has the Antoinette™ head sculpt on a 16" Antoinette™ body with the Cameo skin tone, painted brown eyes and pale blonde rooted saran hair. Her outfit is a purple satin and chiffon dress with bows and a gold lace bodice overlay, with nude gauntlets, purple satin and tulle hat, nude pantyhose and purple satin shoes. Limited edition of 100 dolls. $199. She looks great but the bottom part of the dress looks like a last minute addition. It should have been fuller, with more fabric and draping, and maybe some tulle under layer to make it stand better.

Third centrepiece is Lady Ann. She has the Precarious™ head sculpt on a 16" Antoinette™ body with the Cameo skin tone, painted green eyes and black rooted saran hair. She is wearing a pink shantung dress with chiffon collar and a black lace trim, flower appliqué, and an attached blue satin belt. Her accessories include blue lycra gloves, a Pink hat with faux flowers and feather decoration, nude pantyhose and matching shoes. Limited edition of 100 at $199. If this was in subtle, era-appropriate colours I would have got it.

Final centrepiece of the Carousel Ball is Lady Agnes. She has the Duchess head sculpt on a 16" Antoinette™ body with the Cameo skin tone, painted blue eyes and  strawberry rooted saran hair. She is wearing a burgundy iridescent gold, and black poly taffeta and velveteen corset with cream lace collar and sleeves and bow accents over a burgundy iridescent and black poly taffeta and velveteen skirt with black cotton lace trim. Her accessories include a black horse hair hat with faux flowers and bow decoration, black bead stud earrings, nude pantyhose and matching burgundy iridescent shoes. She is a limited edition of 100 dolls at $199. I think this one looks much better than the rest of the centrepiece carousel dolls. There is no studio photograph of her and the one up on the company website is not flattering for the doll so I picked a photo of her from the company blog. Very tempted to buy this but the price is forbidding.

The souvenir doll is Lady Grace. She has the Cami head sculpt on a 16" Antoinette™ body with the Cameo skin tone, painted green eyes and chestnut blended with strawberry rooted saran hair. She is wearing a cream lace and chiffon dress under a matching jacket with faux pearl closure and faux flower decoration. She has a cream hat with faux flower decoration, nude pantyhose and cream satin shoes. She is a limited edition of 300 dolls at $199. Lovely colours but the outfit and sculpt are not favourites.

Another theme was 60's mod (Mad Men anyone?) and a 60's luncheon to go with it. The souvenir doll was the beautiful Sydney Chase A Go Go doll above, a limited edition of 125 dolls, not available on the company website. She has a silver dress with a lame bust connected to a micro-sequinned skirt with metal rings. Matching boots and a lovely era-appropriate hairstyle and make up finish her off to perfection.

Mod-Tyler is one of the two centrepiece dolls. She has the Tyler head sculpt on the 16" Tyler bending wrist body with the Tyler skin tone, painted blue eyes with applied eyelashes and golden brown rooted saran hair. She is wearing a blue sequinned dress with a blue glitter canvas headband, nude pantyhose with attached panties and blue glitter canvas boots. She is a limited edition of 125 dolls at $150 and is still available. No match for Sydney though.

The second centrepiece doll was Mod Ava. She has the Model-JV head sculpt on a 16" Tyler bending wrist body with the Honey skin tone, painted brown eyes with applied eyelashes and mink blended with golden brown rooted saran hair. She is wearing a purple sequined dress with bell sleeves, a purple glitter canvas headband, nude pantyhose with attached panties and purple glitter canvas boots. She is a limited edition of 75 dolls at $150 and still available. I do not like this sculpt but the outfit would be perfect if it had the same type of sequinned fabric Sydney's has.

All doll photos courtesy of Tonner Doll Company, Inc.