Yesterday, while doing my weekend reading, I discovered that “My Twinn” had closed it’s doors in January 2016. It was a shock to say the least, but given the circumstances it was to be expected.
So what the heck is/was “My Twinn”?
The premise behind My Twinn dolls was that you could order a doll that looked like your child. There were basic face molds, hair and eye colours and styles, and up to 5 skin tones. They could also be individually customised by artists employed by the company and sales took off like a rocket. However, not all was good in My Twinn Land….
My own association with the company and it’s products started in 2003 when I had the urge to continue with a project that I had originally started in 2001: Adventures of a Hollow Headed Girl. Back then digital photography in South Africa was in it’s overpriced infancy, and I used an extremely basic camera and small porcelain doll to create the stories that I wrote. It was more of an attempt at recreating the old “Photo Picture Library” genre than anything else, with a possibility of seeing whether a kiddies book was feasible. Unfortunately stories dried up and my own circumstances forced me to close down the project, until 2003.
By then I had a whole wodge of new ideas and wanted to restart the project, I had a better camera (which turned out to be a lousy camera) but really needed a more adaptable main character. The original porcelain doll had a wire framed cloth body and was rigid so posing was impossible. However the internet provided me with two possible replacements, The first being an “American Girl” doll and the second a “My Twinn”. The Twinns really won hands down, they were a bit more pricey, more agile, larger and did not have teeth! (One of mine acquired a chainsaw, but that’s another story).
I ordered my original custom doll in 2003, and tentatively named her Caitlyn. But, things were already wobbly at My Twinn as it shut up shop shortly after I ordered her. I was fortunate enough though that she was completed and I collected her while on holiday in the USA in 2004.
The rest is history as my collection grew so did their associated luggage, props and pets (and that chainsaw I was telling you about). I was also fortunate enough to find a like minded friend in the USA who really fed my collection and we collaborated in most of the stories that still exist on my website.
I eventually dropped out of the story business as my own ideas dried up once again, and my interest waned. By then I had over 25 dolls but they were not as much fun as when I had 4. The My Twinn company however was also battling with its own problems, quality was always an issue, and complaints were rife. The prices of dolls had been high on the auction sites when the company was closed, and now the prices plummeted, although the prices for some of the rare face molds was hard to believe. I cannot really tell all the history of the company, but there is a website that can. The one part that always disturbed me was that the company rarely seemed to listen to the community and its customers, and even though I was no longer getting dolls from them I had plenty of friends that were.
I was however not watching what was going on any more, I had enough problems as it was with retrenchments in 2007 and 2011, and I ended up jobless once again. Sadly my collection of girls ended up having to be sold but fortunately most ended up with the same collector and they really were the biggest collection of Twinns in Africa.
At some point production of the 23″ dolls ceased and the company reverted to a smaller 18″ version which really fell in with what American Girl, Kidz ‘n’ Cats, Gotz and other company were offering. The 23″ dolls were really unique though, they were probably amongst the largest playdolls available at the time and their individuality made them even more special, often created to resemble their owners. Caitlyn was not based on anybody, but more on a look that appeals to me.
4 Of my girls are with me in the UK and I have another one back in South Africa and 2 of my former dolls now belong to a friend. They were unique and I had a lot of fun playing with them all. Each had their own personality, and each time I opened a new box I was in awe of them. They were beautiful and individuals, and so much nicer than the horrors that are called “fashion dolls”. Do girls like dolls anymore? I do not think that they are as popular as when I was young, but I occasionally see a well loved doll or bear clutched to their owner, and I think that just maybe dolls will make a comeback one day.
The loss of My Twinn will have sent ripples around the doll community, after all there are only so many Twinns in the world, and consequently as those little girls grow up their dolls will hopefully end up with collectors, and prices will rise once again. However, no more Twinns will be built and frankly that is a shame.
and the chainsaw?
© DRW 2016-2018. Created 16/08/2016. American Girl, Kidz ‘n’ Cats, Gotz and My Twinn are copyright to their respective copyright holders.