Guest Post by Jason Wright
Intro to OOAK
At no other time in history have we had so many so choices for entertainment. At any given moment, all over the world someone is either streaming music, video, or reading that book they’ve been putting off. We have hundreds of channels on our cable boxes and we don’t even have to leave home to rent a movie anymore. As collectors of pop culture our choices are wide and varied too. Collectibles businesses are churning out all kinds of memorabilia. No matter how popular or obscure, somebody, somewhere, is a devoted fan. But there’s a downside to that–it’s impossible for any manufacturer to cover all the bases and create every character out there. This is where ooak doll artists come into play because they fill an important niche in our hobby.
OOAK is short for a “one of a kind” doll created by a doll artist. Sometimes called a “repaint”, it’s a process where the factory paint is gently removed and the artist uses the blank doll as a canvas to create whatever character, celebrity, or portrait they want. In some cases the original hair is removed and is either rerooted or left bald for a wig to be attached. Depending upon the project, facial features are slightly resculpted to achieve the desired result. Clothing is sometimes custom made depending upon the need and once finished, each doll is an individual work of art.
As doll collectors we’ve been blessed to have several very talented doll artists in our community. I love to visit Facebook pages, websites, message boards and Ebay to see the new and amazing creations these artists come up with. Shannon Craven from Flutterwing Designs is one of them and she’s the artist behind Dazzler!
Originally conceptualized by Marvel as “The Disco Queen” and later renamed “Dazzler” she was to be a cross promotional character with Casablanca records who would hire a band and a singer to act out the persona created by Marvel. Alongside the comic book there was a proposed animated film with some of the celebrities under contract with Casablanca who would lend their voices to the project with Donna Summer as one of the standout stars. A movie was proposed at one point with Bo Derek interested as playing the lead but internal trouble and management shake-ups killed the project and left Marvel with a highly publicized character with nowhere to go. Needless to say but they forged ahead and introduced her to the Marvel Universe in Uncanny X-Men #130.
Dazzler is the stage name for Alison Blaire, born with the ability to transform sound into all forms of light. She’s a singer and in this early incarnation her stage gimmick was using her powers during her perfomance. She put on a light show that changed and adapted to her mood while she sang and sometimes rolled around on her roller skates.
She was a young lady trying to make her way in the world by following her dream but it went against her Father’s wish for her to become a lawyer.
There’s only one thing though–her story was set against the backdrop of the Marvel Universe. Guest stars galore popped up in her series every month and she was friends with the X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man among others. Her series was a perfect blend of soap opera and superheroics.
She never considered herself a hero, but she was constantly getting into conflict with everyone from crooked concert promoters to the biggest and baddest super-villiams Marvel had at the time.
While not as “iconic” as Spider-Man or the Hulk, she does have a unique place in comics history. At the time, (circa 1980) comic books could still be found in almost every convenience store, gas station, newstand, drug store, you name it. You didn’t have to locate a comics specialty shop or a book store that carried them. Marvel bypassed the regular newstand distribution system and presold copies of her first issue directly to comic book stores eliminating the need to overprint and accept returns for unsold copies. It proved a success with 400,000 copies hitting comic book stores in a time 200,000 copies was the average. It set the stage for how today’s comics are sold and distributed.
My personal milestone with her was my very first introduction to the X-Men who fought alongside her in issue #2 and later accompanied her to an audition. The Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man are along for the ride.
Now that my long background info is over, let’s take a look at the doll!
Shannon used a Mrs. Coulter from Tonner’s Golden Compass series and did a total repaint. She captured the look of Dazzler’s butterfly/KISS make-up perfectly! I especially like how she painted her eyes with glossy paint. You can’t tell from the my photos but her eyes sparkle and look almost real. It’s a small touch that makes a big difference. She’s also a wigged doll, and her hairstyle matches how she wore her hair back in the day!
Custom jewelry was made especially for her. Her trademark disco ball necklace is strung with a stiff silver string that keeps it in place. I much prefer this to a chain and I’m not fond of them for doll jewelry because if the length isn’t just right it tends to fall into places it shouldn’t. I’m very happy with how it turned out, as well as the custom disco ball earrings and her armband. They give just the right amount of sparkle!
Dazzler can’t perform to a stadium of fans wihout her microphone and Shannon made her one from scratch. I’m not sure how she did it, but it looks great, especially in the her right hand that she heated and bent so she can hold it. She also made her bracelets with small silver plastic plates strung together individually on a band of elastic. The fit is perfect.
Her outfit is also custom made and a supple, shimery silver fabric was chosen. I love it and it allows for freedom of movement for her to pose. Her disco collar and plunging neckline are replicated exactly like the comic and she has a zipper in the back to keep it all in place.
Now we get to her rollerskates! Shannon customized a pair of Galadriel boots and repainted them with silver glitter and added new laces.
The best part about the skates are that they aren’t functional. The wheels were glued to the sides instead of mounted underneath and I think this was an inventive way to go. I was afraid I’d have a doll rolling all over the place that could only be posed with a stand and I was pleasantly surprised when she previewed her.
I’m so happy that Shannon decided to make her and I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to buy her. She’ll be a permanent piece in my collection alongside the other few ooak dolls I own. She has a special place in my childhood because she was first introduced right around the time I first discovered comic books, and I’ve been collecting for almost 32 years now!
Everytime I see Dazzler in her disco phase it takes me right back to that time. Lots of great memories!
Thanks to Jason for this wonder and detailed introduction to OOAK repaints through Shannon’s Marvel Dazzler. You can find many more Tonner Doll photos and re-stylings on our Doll Duels site from collectors and repaint artists alike. Discover the world of Tonner Doll collection.
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