Please read Part 2 of the interview before reading Part 3
Experiencing the Doll Making Process
So what was it like for Tonner to work and design the dolls with DC Comics and Marvel? The man loves working with DC and Marvel. “They have amazing characters and they’re fun to work with. I do know the people at DC better, but I really think they like how we handle their characters—it’s a real partnership.” When it comes to doing the work itself, there is “no set schedule.” Why you might ask? “Seems like we are always working on some part of character, but we’ve never had the luxury of working on just one at a time. Plus we do many more dolls, and they have to get done too!” Even though there is work to be done for projects at Tonner Doll Company, there is a challenge in the doll making process. “I think the hardest part of working on the dolls is the sculpting. Everyone “reads” the look of a character a bit differently—so that can be frustrating.”
Since Tonner had so many career successes, I wondered if the concept of money had ever crossed his mind. Some people work for money, while others work for the pure enjoyment. So, is there more to being the doll maker in the relationships then just getting your work done and getting paid? You bet there is ☺ “For me, it’s much more about producing something you can have fun working on and enjoy in the end—these characters are my art form. I couldn’t do it just for the money. In fact, in the past, we’ve turned down projects where I had no interest in the character.”
With Tonner’s many years of experience in the fashion and doll industry, he probably learned a lot that helped him in his career path. For some individuals, maybe there is that one very important learning experience, but for others there may not be. Maybe there are other reasons to one’s success. According to Tonner, “My background in the fashion industry hasn’t really helped in our comic book relationships—in other words, I worked in the fashion business—big deal. It’s the look our dolls and figures that help me in the comic book world.” So, do you want to work in the doll industry? Here’s an important advice from Tonner: “It’s the old saying, practice, practice, practice. Also, a great doll maker may not be able to run a successful company. You have to know and understand your limitations and get to know the business side of things.”
© 2009 Linda Thai
All DC Comics characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics.
TONNER 459 Hurley Avenue, Hurley, NY 12443.
©Tonner Doll Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Photographs supplied by Storm Photo, Kingston, NY.
Thank you Storm Photo for letting me use their photographs! Stay tune for Part 4 of the Robert Tonner interview!