The sheer variety of dolls out there is astounding, and although I’m more focused on play dolls I’m very aware of the various limited edition collectors dolls available, hand-scuplted by talented doll designers, usually in small quantities and with a price tag to match. One of the most unusual doll ranges is the Zwergnase dolls, created by Nicole Marschollek Menzer. Her dolls have odd, yet appealing faces, rather fey in look, or cheeky faces with freckles or buck teeth, wild hair – once you’ve seen one you won’t forget them. Nicole studied design and toy creation in her native Germany and founded the Zwergnase company in Sonneberg in 1994, with a range of dolls of varying sizes and prices released each year. I love the way she seems to capture the essence of a child in each sculpt, a moment in time or in a life, that really draws the attention and the heart.
Lckily for me, Nicole also has a range of play dolls, the Zwergnase Junior collection, with new designs each year both 50cm and 35cm tall, with the outfits available separately.
Which leads me to Jessie, who is a 50cm Zwergnase Junior Dorte doll from the 2011 collection. She has the instantly recognisable unique little face, in the this case with red hair and freckles and a curious expression. Her hair is shoulder length, with two braids, and though good quality doesn’t easily lend itself to styling.
Jessie has jointed arms and legs and a very poseable head joint, and is slightly taller than the other play dolls. The height is mainly in the legs, she has long legs and the body shape of an older child, with a slender waist and alittle pot belly, though she can share clothes with the other 18″ dolls, apart from them occasionally being too short in the legs. Her arms are long and graceful.
Her original outfit consists of a long, sleeveless cotton dress with a bold print in dark red, purple, blue and brown, with a dark red net underskirt designed to show below the hem of the dress. Included are a pair of soft beige knickers and beige suede lace up boots with white socks. I love the look of the Zwergnase Junior clothes but the quality of this particular outfit didn’t seem quite as good as what I’ve come to expect from the Kidz n Cats dolls, which has put me off getting any of the other outfits thus far. She arrived in a cloth bag rather than tied into a box, which is unusual but pleasing as a packing option.
Unlike most dolls available, the Zwergnase Junior dolls do not have glass eyes but rather hand painted ones. Now sometimes this can look rather dead and unnerving (the eyes on the Sigikid Die Puppe dolls sometimes have this fault), but as you can see with Jessie, her eyes are lively and interesting, great care has clearly been taken with the paintbrush to ensure the eyes add to her character.
Jessie is one of those dolls who looks very different depending on what she is wearing, and her expression gives great scope to the imagination. She looks quite the mature young lady in the above image, wearing an outfit from an Ebay designer which you might recognise from the post about Alice. In the first image below, she’s wearing a white broderie sun dress with matching shoes from Frilly Lily, contrasted with the next shot of her in a boyish outfit from the Argos Design-a-Friend range.
The dolls are more expensive than the Kidz n Cats and the lower ranges of Gotz dolls, on a par with Gotz Classic Kidz however, and I think are definitely worth the extra price for the unusual look – I think quirky is the best word to describe them, and any of the Junior dolls would make a good friend for a slightly older child, Jessie is certainly one of my favourites and I’m sure there will be another in the range joining my collection at some point.
Thus far in the UK the only supplier I know of is Trisha at KR Bears & Dolls, who has many of the Junior dolls in stock, and can easily order past dolls and outfits. I note she has an exclusive limited edition Junior doll being made specially, which is sure to be worth a look. She also stocks the collector dolls from various years as well as the current range, well worth browsing, if you can resist the temptation that is!
Image of Dorte in original outfit © Zwergnase