One of the great things about our Tonner collector family is that we have such knowledgeable and devoted fans. We love hearing from them their perspective on our dolls and figures, so we asked Sheilah to write an introduction to Cami for those who have not yet been introduced to her. Enjoy Sheilah’s view of Cami, and let her take you on journey into what makes Cami special. If you don’t know Cami, be sure to get to know our Cami and Jon Collection
You can find Sheilah’s blog Cynthia’s Expectations here.
Cami 101, Part 1: Her History, Her Persona, and Her Storyline
by Sheilah R. Craft
Like many Tonnerites, I have been collecting dolls for many years; my mother bought me my first doll when I was a newborn, and I still have that doll. Many dozens of dolls have joined her over the course of my life. Each doll I have is special in some way. I am often asked a question that many collectors I know have difficulty answering: What is your favorite doll? I answer instantly and with certainty; my favorite doll is undeniably Tonner’s Cami, and she has been since February 2010 when I got the first Cami.
When Delight Cami arrived, she joined a collection that included—like many doll collections—a number of Mattel fashion dolls: Barbie, Skipper, and my favorite Mattel doll, Francie (below). Recently Robert Tonner spoke about his own Barbie connection and how an early interest in Barbie led to the natural evolution of his iconic 16” fashion model, Tyler Wentworth. If Tyler is the Tonner counterpart of Barbie, then Cami is the Tonner equivalent of Francie, Barbie’s pretty, hip, mod cousin. Is it any coincidence that Francie was my favorite childhood doll, with that sweet face and those fabulous fashions, and that Cami is my all-time favorite doll?
Though there is a similarity to Francie, Cami’s more immediate genesis lies in two previous and hugely popular Tonner dolls: the 2006 Cinderella and the 2009 Antoinette. The lovely Cinderella sculpt was an instant success, attracting a large and devoted following.
That sculpt was used several times over the following years, culminating with that first Cami doll which debuted on January 31, 2010 at IDEX. Her long crimped blonde hair was refreshingly different. So was her body; whereas the Cinderella doll used the curvier Tyler body, Cami used the more recent and modern Antoinette body. As Robert Tonner himself explained when Antoinette debuted at the 2009 IDEX, that body was leaner, softer, and inspired by the thinner runway models of today. Anoinette is the prototypical high fashion/couture doll.
The merging of the Antoinette body and the resized Cinderella head sculpt resulted in a doll unlike any other. Cami Malone burst onto the scene in a lace teddy in early 2010 and instantly gained her own devoted collectors. Cami is the quintessential 21st century young woman, whose fictional life is, in many ways, mirrored by many women every day. Cami is a single, young professional, a woman who knew what she wanted and set out to accomplish her dreams.
Like any great fictional heroine, Cami has a history, a background, a full and rich life story. Cami was born and raised near the beaches of Long Island, which influenced her formative years. Cami loves all things nautical, including lighthouses and scuba diving in the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. A Disney fan, Cami also enjoys fashion, books, romantic comedies, food, and indie, pop, and reggae music. She supports breast cancer research, as well. Like most young professionals, Cami has her own Facebook page, where she keeps in touch with her friends and fans; her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This modern young woman moved to Manhattan after high school, where she attended the American Culinary Institute of Manhattan, pursuing her dream of becoming a chef. That she did, too, when she opened her own catering business, Rare Fare. Cami is known as “the most innovative caterer in the greater New York area,” though she rarely works alone. Of course, she has her own team of employees, but more important are her two closest friends. Jon Parker is an equally hip and cool florist; Andy Mills is the best event planner in New York. Together, Cami, Jon, and Andy organize and manage major social events with style and panache. Their most elaborate and noteworthy event to date was the Young New York luncheon at the May 2011 Tonner Doll Company 20th Anniversary Convention. The color scheme—gold, black, and white—the décor, and the food, as well as special appearances by Cami, Jon, and Andy themselves, made this a very memorable luncheon indeed (below).
Cami appeals to collectors for many varying reasons: her face sculpt, her body design, her young, hip persona, or her ability to live up to the Tonner credo: “Believe in the Power of Play.” Yes, Cami, like Tyler and Barbie before her, has a back story and a personality, but—like Barbie in 1959—she can become who or what the collector wants her to become. She can transform into a new character with a new name, personality, likes, and background. Cami is the contemporary fashion doll who allows collectors of all ages to indulge their imaginations, their fondness for dolls and fashion, and to rekindle that childlike joy in fun and play.
Cami, in fact, has taken on different names and personalities within my collection. I actually purchased two Delight Cami dolls in early 2010, one of whom instantly became my companion doll, Cythna. Cythna is younger than Cami, at 16, and is a student of art and literature; her favorite poet is Percy Bysshe Shelley, and her closest friends are Andrew Robert Mills and Ariel Shelley.
Like Cami, Cythna likes music; her favorite performer is Elvis Presley: Cythna allows me to be as creative as I want to be, including doing the perennially popular 365 Project, in which I take a different picture of her every day; those pictures are posted on Cythna’s Facebook page, an idea we did admittedly borrow from Cami herself.
Another Cami, a Basic Blonde 2010, became the perfect doll for me to transform into a portrait doll of my 22nd great-grandmother, Joan, a doll based on a portrait I obtained of Joan: When I received this portrait last year, I knew instantly that Cami was the ideal doll to do Joan justice, so I changed Cami’s eye color to match Joan’s and recreated Joan’s ensemble and sofa: That I was able to recreate the portrait of my ancestor using my beloved Cami doll as the canvas filled me with such immense happiness. That Robert Tonner created a doll that so closely resembles my 22nd great-grandmother continues to awe and amaze me.
Although I collect many different dolls and enjoy them all, I have never been as devoted to one doll as much as I am to Cami. I am smitten with her, and I purchase each Cami doll as it is released. To date, I have each Cami doll produced (although the elusive and rare Chestnut Cami will not officially join my collection until Christmas Day 2011) and I treasure each one:
I never tire of looking at them, holding them, and admiring their beauty:
In fact, in my next blog post, I will talk about the Cami dolls that have been released to date, a task which I know I shall relish—and which I hope you enjoy!