Doll Repair Tutorial – My Life as a Doll Doctor





As promised…..Jennifer and I have put together 3 very brief videos to answer some of our most commonly asked questions. Naturally…..I asked her to do the actual hands-on fixing as I had the very hard job of holding the video camera…(actually her hands look much better!)  Anyway….the first video shows how easy it is to assemble and re-assemble the newer Evangeline Ghastly bodies..did I mention how much we love these bodies?? Anyway…you will see how she pops that torso on and off so easily…(err–well not too easy if you are weak as a kitten)–but if you keep on trying–you will have success! Not only can you replace the upper part…torso…and lower legs–but the hands, arms, etc…now if I were made like her–my problems would be over!

The second video will show eyelash repair on our Tonner Antoinette “Intriguing” Fashion Doll. Actually, the smushed–(I hope that’s a real word) eyelash issue happens to Evangeline more often than Antoinette…but the process is exactly the same. I think Jennifer did a super job..and it only took seconds. Now…should the lash be off or hanging, you will need a bit of clear drying tacky glue. Many collectors say good old Elmers when used correctly and in the smallest amounts also works well. You will need to take a toothpick and apply a very thin line to the lash…not the vinyl or resin…but the lash edge. Then…taking a clean toopick–just push lash right back on eyelid and it will hold in a few seconds!

And for our last video….this issue rarely happens during transit–but the headswappers have asked for our help with this very same thing many times. In this case….poor Scarlett arrived with her head rolling around in the box.  It was not something simple like her head was not fully seated over the button during manufacturing . Oh no…….it was on her neck button alright–but the whole dang button assembly was not in her neck…it was completely in her head. Jennifer will show you how warm and squishy..(again, I hope that’s a real word) the head must be to fix this!

Since I am always in the Antique to vintage dolly hospital and naturally offer insight on those types of repair…we thought it may be nice to show the Tonner and Wilde Imagination Collectors out there a few things that they may find helpful. I am hoping that the videos work well as I would love to have some Doll Doctoring tutorials in the future….Once again–let me hear from you. Leave a comment on things you would like to see..(within reason–we do not tap dance or sing –but we do repair dolls!!)

You can ask Dr. Noreen a question about doll care or repair:


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About Dr. Noreen

Dr. Noreen Morris is chief of staff at the state of the art Tonner Doll Hospital located in Kingston, N.Y. She has over 20 years experience in the repair and restoration of antique bisque head dolls right on up through modern dolls of today. She is often referred to as the "Plastic Surgeon"..but operates on vinyl, composition, hard plastic and bisque dolls too.

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There are currently 10 Comments on Doll Repair Tutorial – My Life as a Doll Doctor. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. Thanks Noreen and Jennifer for these great instructions. I am a bit confused about the Scarlett whose head is off: If the button assembly has come away from the body and is with the head, and you get it out of the head, as you show, then wouldn’t someone “at home” be in the situation where the button assembly would have to go back into/onto the neck body before one smushed the head back onto it?? Does one get the button back into the body/neck with the same heating/stretching idea (or is the body/neck plastic instead of vinyl and thus rigid … sorry I’m only familiar with the 10″ child body dolls!) Thanks again. Roberta

    • Hi Roberta,
      Yes…you are correct in that you will need to push the ball part of that button directly into neck. You should not attempt to warm up that neck as plastic….if warmed too much can warp. In most instances…take the ball part of neck button and push firmly and quickly back down into neck. If there is too much resistance…use a tiny bit of petroleum oil around ball and try again. We have sucess with this method about 80% of the time. Due to lack of time and upload speeds…we had to keep each video pretty short. In the 20% of cases where that ball just will not go back in the neck….call us for more help!
      The Doc

  2. Hey, Dr Noreen! Martie’s legs are very loose at the hips–she’s a Tonner Rapunzel.How can I get the leg joints tighter? Thanks, dear! <3

    • Hi Charlie!
      Tell Martie….slow down with all that dancing! Only kidding….sometimes if you lay her down flat on a table–press those hips in as hard as you can… to make certain they are fully seated in the rotational hip socket. I let my sweet little Granddaughter play with one of my Ellowynes…..and now she has the leg wobble! If you can not get those legs to be tight again…contact Jennifer as your Martie may need a new low body!

      • Martie lives to dance, what can I say? ;D

        I’ll try that! If it doesn’t work, I’ll let y’all know. Her tushy is signed by Robert, so I’d rather keep her intact if I can!

  3. I had glass eyes installed into Woefully Rich. Jim Dandy made a gorgeous job as usual (he installs eyes through the neck of the doll). However, when I used her the first time in a photo shoot, suddenly her head separated from her body. My daughter tried to put the head back (she successfully did replace 7 Patsy bodies), but it was impossible. The head separated from the body immediately and she concluded that the hole in the head was too large for the pin to fit. Is there a way to fix this by adding a bit of vinyl to the rim inside the head in order to stop the pin to come out again?
    Thank you kindly for any help or suggestion you can give.

  4. my daughter has a doll a heavy plastic that has a ripped socket so I took her arm out and did a two part apoxy but did not seem to repair the rip. Now I have a doll that I can’t seem to repair, missing her limb and sad daughter missing her favorite doll, help!!!!!

    • Hi Emily,
      I hope I answered this already…but I do know a little about those blow-molded plastic bodies! Many a Patty Playpal type had flange vinyl arms that went into those lightweight plastic bodies. The only thing that I have ever seen work when those bodies split– is Liquid nails…used with muslin cloth. You have to put thin layers of the liquid nails over the splits…press the cloth firmly over that…then another layer of liquid nails and another layer of cloth. You must let dry 24 hours between each layer for the proper hardness and strength. Make certain the cloth has 4 to 5 inches all around the splits or breaks. It may still break when trying to put that arm back in…..
      The best thing to do is warm up the vinyl flange of arm..(Not Body) then grease with a little Vaseline. Gently turn and see if arm can be re-inserted.
      This does not always work…and is a bit unsightly..but I have had it work for me a few times.

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