Sunday, September 13, 2009

Getting to Know: Robert Tonner and Comic Book Collectible Dolls Part 1


I present to you the founder of Tonner Doll Company, Robert Tonner. He was born in 1952 and in 1957 he received his first fashion doll, Horsman Cindy. Then in 1973, Tonner enrolls into Parsons School of Design and after graduation he joined Bill Blass in the fashion field. Later, he became one of the company’s top designers. However, he had a long time interest in dolls that led him to be a doll collector, sculptor and designer and became the founder of his company in 1991. Today, the company is still flourishing and has moved into other areas of doll making, namely comic book characters.

Tonner Doll Company, Inc. and Comic Dolls

According to the company website: “In 2007, Tonner will team with Marvel Comics to introduce licensed likenesses from the film, Spiderman 3, in a complete character figure collection.” Before this interview, I did not have any knowledge when it came to the doll industry. As a result, I had no idea what the phrase “licensed likeness” meant and how it dealt with the relationship with DC Comics and Marvel. Tonner was kind enough to give me a vocabulary lesson. “‘Licensed likeness’ means that we would have the right to copy an actor’s likeness—in the case of Spiderman, the actor was Toby Maguire. In other words, we had the rights to work from the movie—not the comic book. With DC, we don’t have the rights to work from the movies—just the comics.”

So, how did the Tonner Doll Company develop a relationship with comic book characters? In regards to DC Comics, it began in 1997 with a porcelain project of DC comic book characters. Tonner worked with DC Comics to produce Superman, Lois Lane and Wonder Woman in porcelain. “I had always loved the characters and I really, really wanted to make these dolls. DC was great to work with on the project.” Even after the completion of the project, Tonner “was able to keep in touch with them through Warner Brothers,” which is their parent company. In regards to Marvel, Tonner was a fan of Spiderman and X Men. As a result from being a fan, the company contacted Marvel around the time of the second movie. “And of course, the reason to develop a relationship with the two companies was so that we could produce likenesses of their characters.”
© 2009 Linda Thai

All DC Comics characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics.
TONNER 459 Hurley Avenue, Hurley, NY 1
©Tonner Doll Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Photographs supplied by Storm Photo, Kingston, NY.

Thank you Storm Photo and Tonner Doll Company for letting me use their logos! Stay tune for Part 2 of the Robert Tonner interview!

No comments: