Questions for the Doll Doctor Answered! – Doll Repair and Restoration





First…I want to wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Joyous New Year! It’s hard to believe that 2012 is behind us and we have a New Year to look forward to. I came back to the Doll Hospital today and guess what I found when I opened my email?? QUESTIONS…yes–questions from my loyal, faithful and really cool blog readers.

First…. B.V. asks  “Do you have any suggestions on how to remove stains caused by the dye from clothing?” 

Yes B.V., I have an answer! I know from personal experience whenever I remove the dark or brightly colored clothing on any of my vinyl dolls….chances are pretty good I might find some stains. The best product I have used is “Remove-Zit” made by Twin Pines of Maine. It works by lifting out the stains over time…(usually 2 weeks or more) so you must have a bit a patience and give it time to do its magic. Many collectors swear by OXY 10 applied and left on for several days at a time. I have not personally tried that-but I always recommend whatever you try–test first on a tiny area…just in case. The Remove-zit comes with instructions that you must read and follow to protect your doll from damage.

Now…L.W. asks “My Matt got his foot stepped on. What is the best kind of glue to put him back together?”

This one is a bit tougher to answer as Matt has a pivot type joint with small plastic parts inside that ankle. To glue the break would prevent any movement of the foot so putting shoes on would be nearly impossible with a foot glued in place. Remember…Matt bodies are a combination of plastic and vinyl…and it is usually the brittle plastic joint that breaks. My suggestion would be to purchase a replacement body..or possibly just the lower half–so your Matt can walk and pose like he pleases!!

Another question from L.W. is “What is it we use on our fashion doll hair that makes the curls so hard?”

Oh…we call that crunchy here and those crunchy curls are held during that long ocean trip to our warehouse by using a non-alcohol strong hold hair gel. I agree–seems like curls of steel….but start scrunching and squeezing those curls for a few minutes and the crunch is gone–but curls are still there.

Another question “When you seal the face paint–what type of sealer do you use Brush on…or Spray on?”

OK…here I paint antique compo dolls with acrylics and usually seal with a matt sealer. When I paint resin–I always use Mr. Super Clear Matt and never seal a doll unless eyes are covered (in the case of inset). When sealing painted eyes…I use acrylic gloss sealers. I have had several questions come to me this week about the new vinyl Evangeline Ghastly bodies. The new vinyl and HP bodies are no longer strung—but rather on a neck button like Ellowyne and the Tonner gals. These bodies are the bomb!!! Did I mention how much I love them? I can tell you nearly all parts can be swapped out should you have a problem or issue, so no more hours in surgery for her!  The one thing I can do to answer so many questions about this body is to show it. Yes T.C –you can see how the hands can be replaced when pup starts teething again…

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56 responses to “Questions for the Doll Doctor Answered! – Doll Repair and Restoration

  1. Really appreciate the pictures! will the knee joints on plastic Evangeline bend less than 90 degrees? I know some other bjd resins can just about sit on their heels with similar appearing jellybean knee joints but didnt think EG was quite there yet.

    and i just got a vinyl EG on the secondary market and saw the join at the ankle. is her foot supposed to rotate or is this only a manufacturing type join that is not intended to be at all mobile?

    1. Hi Frankie,
      You are correct in that the new Evangeline knee joints do not go much farther than 90 degrees–but I can tell you that if you over bend a bit–the knee joint will pop out rather than break! (not unlike my knees) This new feature cuts down on issues and problems from hyper-extending the joints and I absolutely love them!!
      The older vinyl EG body you describe has a seam at the ankle which is Not supposed to rotate. Unfortunately….it was a bit confusing and some feet actually snapped off when rotated. These newer bodies allow for so much posing without any kickiness, jumping, or moving due to elastic.
      I did have a few Tonner collectors ask whose body this is…and I apologize for not making it clear. This body is on the newer Evangeline Ghastly’s sold directly through Wilde Imagination–
      We also carry them here at the Tonner Company Store!
      Thanks for asking!!

  2. Hi, I really enjoy reading all the questions you receive and have learned alot from your answers. My question is about a 1950’s 19″ Ideal Toni doll. I purchased her on Ebay and she is lovely. I have cleaned her from top to toe and removed the ratty old wig, I bought a replacement Toni wig but do not want to put it on until I can restring her. I have never done this before but I have read several instuctions and seen some tutorials on the internet. I just do not know how to order the stringing cord or what size to use. Thanks for any help you can give me. Lois

    1. Hi Lois,
      How wonderful you have a vintage Toni! The usual size is the P-90 which is only 14″…so you have a large version. We purchase elastic from a few different sources…but if you do a Google search for Doll supplies, you will find a few in your own area. Some shops sell an assortment of sizes packaged together as a lot and others will allow you to purchase just a few yards of the size you need. Don’t forget your local craft store as many now carry quite an array of doll products and supplies. When ordering…make sure you mention the height of doll as that is what determines how thick the stringing elastic needs to be. I recommend the 1/8 full which should be plenty strong enough. Here is a link which shows size comparisons :
      I hope this helps!!

  3. I have recently obtained a vintage MA Cissy doll. Someone glued her wig with an orange colored hard glue and got it all over her temporal area, one of her ears (badly) and her neck. I used Carol’s doll solvent which normally removes a lot of stains. She actually had her eyebrows drawn on with black magic marker and it took it right off!, I tried goo be gone but it did not even touch the glue. What can I use to remove this hard glue?

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      Oh my…the goo-be-gone should have removed it! I am guessing this is an old permanent glue that has bonded with the plastic. Can you take the edge of a razor blade and carefully scrape to see if it will lift off? Do this in an area covered by wig…just in case. If all else fails–you may have to try sanding it off with the finest sandpaper you can find. A perfectly matching acrylic paint should then finish the job! So sorry I did not see this question sooner.

  4. Greetings..I have a Effanbee Dy-Dee baby doll…it was purchased about 1946…needing new arms and legs..and top of head..she was one that you could give a bottle to and she would wet the diaper…I am wonderinf if I could purchase the limbs ? Or if I can send it in would you give me and idea of the cost? I am a senior trying to survive on SS ..thinking since my Bonnie has made it this far perhaps i can fix it up for my granddaughter.
    thank you for your help… phone is 518-608-6205

    again..thank you

    1. Hi Kathleen,
      I sent an answer to your email address covering all of your options. Due to the fragile nature of these rubber bodies–when they become brittle and start to crumble–a donor body is the only way to go!! I have been wishing a nice vinyl body with a neck and flange will become available for all those gorgeous Dy-Dee heads sitting in boxes somewhere. Since a perfect vinyl match has yet to be found–you will need a donor Dy-Dee rubber body that is still in great shape. The head can then be attached easily.
      The Doc

  5. I just talked to you about my patti playpal getting cleaned and hair done, if you could send me the forms that would be great thanks cherie

    1. Hi Pat,
      Yes…the head should be fine. To remove the neck knob from inside the head…..first warm up head for about 15 minutes in a heating pad. It should be very squishy. Then…take a small pair of pliers and grasp the stem of neck knob…(Will be a button on the end inside the head and a ball on other end that you can see). You need to grasp the stem in between. Then just pull out firmly. If it does not come out easily….it means head was not warm enough.
      Now some collectors have had luck pushing the neck ball back into the body—but I have never been able to do this without splitting the neck so I would recommend giving Jennifer a call at (845) 339-2960. She has upper bodies for sale!
      Good Luck, Dr. Noreen

  6. Hello there! I have a question about my daughters Diney “Priness & me” doll. Her head has popped off and it seems the elastic is broken! I was wondering how I can fix this because she has been devastateda nd it has been months since it has happened. I came across your website and am hoping you can help somehow

  7. Hi,
    You do beautiful work on the facial art work of your sample photos (as well as the body repairs).
    I have a set of weighted, tin sleepy eyes that need new iris’s. I cannot find much info online as to sources, specific dimensions or procedures for replacement iris’s. I caught a hint, though, that hand blown glass eyes might be used, although they look totally different. How would those be connected to the existing open/close mechanism? They look (mechanically) different than the metal eyes.

    1. Hi John,
      If indeed these are the tin weighted sleep eyes…they should be decal eyes and in that case can be re-painted. I am guessing perhaps these are glassine eyes? The best place to find old vintage eyes is actually Ebay!
      If unsure which type of eyes these are…please send me a picture at my email…

  8. I have a collection of black bisque japan 4inch dolls two that I just bought are in bad shape I need to paint them but scared too. I don’t no what color or brand that’s best I was told acrylic drk brown but what the best to keep the value of the dolls.

    thank you in advance

    1. Hi Lateasha,
      First….do you know if the original bisque has the finish fired in…or does it appear to be painted on? If paint has flaked off and white bisque is showing….an acrylic should be used. It is best to purchase a few shades of brown and mix to match the shade exactly. To get a smooth finish use a very soft sable brush when touching up and blend in. To retain value…the less you do the better!

    1. Hi Faye,
      What a great question! Ellowynes hands can be pulled straight out by grasping the hand and while holding the forearm…pull straight out. You will notice a threaded or grooved plastic peg. When she is dressed–just push that hand all the way back in and she will be ready to go!
      Warmest, Noreen

  9. Hello:

    I have a question about a Cissy from the 1950’s. One of the eyes is a bright blue and the other is brown. I’ve heard that the eyes can turn dark when around smoke for long periods. That doesn’t explain why the other would stay blue! Anyway, the question is if you know of anything that can bring the brown eye back to it’s beautiful blue color.

    Thank you for your help. This is a great site!

    1. Hi Marsha,
      Hmmmmmmm…unless the eyes have faded–not sure what would cause this. Are you sure both eyes were blue when purchased? I have seen cases where dolls were sold with 2 different color eyes. If they were both initially blue…perhaps moisture could have caused the backing of these eyes to change, but it should appear hazy in comparison to the other. You mentioned smoking…and yes–the smoke can put a sticky tar haze over the eyes–but it would surely adhere to both!
      If you would like to email me a picture–please use my direct email at

  10. Hello,

    Is it possible to remove a dolls feet? I have the Judy as Basic Dorothy doll, and would like to change the shape of the foot to less of a high arch.
    Thank you


    1. Hi Dan,
      I think I may have answered this to your regular email…but here goes! Only those dolls with a peg type foot have feet that can be changed. Those with just the hinge type joint allows the foot to flex a little up and down—but feet can not be removed.
      I hope this helps!!

  11. Dear Dr Noreen!
    I would like to know if Sydney head from 16´ doll with Small bust body type fits on Antoinette body. I want to change body. Thank you.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      I think I may have answered you directly through your email so forgive me for answering twice!
      Although I have never done this type of swap–many collectors have. I can tell you that the depth of the neck hole can create the look of a very long neck on some bodies….but collectors have sent me pictures showing that this type of head swap can be accomplished! I usually prefer to keep Tyler, Syd type dolls on Tyler bodies and Antoinette/Cami on those bods….but I have actually seen a Lara Croft head on both a Tyler bod and Antoinette bod!!
      Good Luck, Noreen

  12. I have many composition dolls some of them I restore if they’re really bad but after I paint them what do I seal them with I like using enamel because the original paint on the dolls are enamel paint Amen Mattsealer doesn’t make the dolls shiny like they used to be when they were newI do not use acrylic paints on the old composition dolls because enamel was used back in the day so should I spray a clearenamel and now, after I finish or a clear lacquerI onlyrestore cheeks lips and knees I am NOT good at restoring eyelashes painted or otherwise

    1. Hi Susann,
      I have never heard of using enamels…so probably do not have much advice for sealants for them. What I have used for touch-ups on compo is acrylics along with either a matte or shiny sealant depending on what the original finish was. For a doll so bad that a complete repaint is necessary…an airbrush must be used to get a flawless finish. Then….a spray sealant depending on what the original finish was.
      Thanks so much for the comments!

  13. Hello Dr.Noreen! I love your site and visit often for new tips ( : My question is: I have a around 6 broken A&M bisque doll heads that are all damaged that I want to repair. Would I use something like Bisque fix and acrylic paint to repair them? Thank you so much and have a great day!

    1. Hi Margie,
      yes…but depending on where the breaks are–you may still see them. The hardest part is to match a fired in finish when using the acrylics. You must use and airbrush for the best results…but again…a fired finish will look beautifully translucent in comparison to the painted surface.

  14. Hi Dr.Noreen,
    I am interested in purchasing the new Tonner Ms. Marvel figure but I not sure if the new superhero bodies are strung or are they jointed similar to Hot Toys figures? I am new to Tonner figures. Thanks. Kevin

    1. Hi Becky,
      I am guessing this doll has matted hair?
      First…since she is rooted–check to make certain hair is not breaking off or falling out. If it is pretty sturdy—you will need to clean and condition first. Twin Pines makes a wonderful shampoo and conditioner for synthetic doll hair…but in a pinch–use mild sudsy water to wash…and some fabric softener diluted in water to detangle and condition. Using a wide tooth comb or pick—start at very bottom in small sections and work your way up to the top. Let air dry..never use a blow dryer on synthetic hair!
      Good Luck, Noreen

  15. Hi How do you stop a plastic doll from going brittle. The arms have already broken out of the body and i have had it fixed. Can i oil it or put moisturer on it. The doll is about 50 years old now.

    1. Hi Desley,
      I think I may have answered you directly already…but if not–here goes! Usually when the hard plastics….or even certain hard vinyls start to get brittle…it is difficult to stop. Please email me directly at with a photo of the doll and I should be better able to advise!

  16. Hello Dr. Noreen,

    I just received my first Tonner Evangeline Ghastly, “Gothic Mist”; She is GORGEOUS!! She is 18″ vinyl; However, I was told that all the 18″ vinyl E.G. dolls have removable hands, for ease with sleeves, when dressing them. I have tried and tried to get her hands to come off…I’ve tried twisting, pulling….ANY suggestions for me? I’m sure they come off, I’m just at my wits-end on how to do it, LOL! ;D

    Thanks for your time and any help.


    1. Hi Valerie,
      You must grasp firmly at hand and forearm and pull straight out!. It may take a bit of strength…but you can do it!!
      Let me know if you need my help, Noreen

    1. Hi Niamah,
      I may be able to help…but without actually seeing the’s hard to tell. Although we no longer operate the full service doll hospital here…you can find me at where there is a link for emailing me pictures!
      Thanks so much, Dr. Noreen

  17. Hi Dr Noreen, i have another question about Evangeline’s ankles and knees (newest plastic body as pictured). The feet barely move out of their high heel pose and i’m afraid to push much for fear of breaking the calves. one of my acquaintances on FB says she mods the ankle and knee so there’s room for the foot to bend more and the calf to bend more at the knee. Do these joints pop apart easily to do that? (I’m a scaredycat when it comes to popping expensive dolls apart…)

    1. Hi Frankie,
      no…I would not advise modding the ankles as damage can happen easily. These ankles only flex slightly…so if you feel resistance–do not attempt to force as ankles will surely break. As you can see from the photos above…these bodies are incredible when it comes to posing. My absolute favorite–but changing, removing feet, or modifications can and do result in unexpected damages.

  18. Hello
    I have purchased some Antoinette doll heads and would like to know if you sell their bodies, and if so, how much are they?
    Many thanks

  19. Doctor: can you help I have a Doll she is Yesterdays Child, I ordered her from ebay when I received her , her left leg was snapped off at the top of her anklet. Can you advise me on the type of glue to use. I tried to find a Company to just purchase a new leg, but I have exhausted that., Can you help???

  20. I have a older doll I am not sure if it hard vinyl doll. She is missing a finger
    how can I fix her? I also have a composion doll needs a body and repainted
    and fix some cracks on her head and legs and arms how can I fix her also.
    I am looking forward to hear from you.

    Thank you,

  21. Hi,
    My son found a Patty PlayPal doll on the side of the road and is hoping I can fix it for my grand daughter.

    It’s head is detached and the heels on her foot are split.
    I have cleaned her up nicely but am wondering how to attach the head. There is a metal plate inside the body neck cavity with a string attached and a little prong sticking up in the middle.
    The head has a metal plate in the neck with some prongs on the sides and a square hole in the center. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  22. I have just bought a 22″ American model 50’s basic as I am doing 1/3 scale historic costumes using historic references. Though it am really pleased with the doll I think her breasts are too big and would like to reshape them to an earlier era …….clothes will be flatter and easier to make without such big breasts. They will also look more natural.
    Are the breast moulds solid? If not how thick is the mold?
    If I sand back the shape with suitable sandpaper will there be a different colour under the skin.
    I look forward to some feedback as I don’t want to wreck her. She cost me a lot of money as the Australian dollar is so very poor at present

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