Designing Action Dolls.

 nissa7Way back when I working on my horse pattern, I was virtually obsessed with one doll idea:  an action-figure type of doll that would have extra appeal for boys, although I would create them for both boys and girls.  This small, thin doll would be designed for active play and work well for children who want big kids or even teen or adult characters in their fantasies.  Preclothed, it would be more for rough-and-tumble adventure rather than fashion play.  I had ninjas and superheroes in my head along with fairies and princesses when I started Nissa, and I’ve decided to definitely do a couple of fellows next.

Here are the criteria I considered:


*Colored body. A bodysuit body works under extras like capes or skirts but is also fine for wearing alone.  Even if your child doesn’t like to keep up with doll clothing, these dolls are always dressed for venturing forth.  Perfect for wearing costumes on top, like capes and fairy wings.

*Covered feet.  Extra advantages of covered feet include the fact that darker colors will show less dirt from all that adventuring play, and there are no shoes to get lost along the way.  Black socks, they never get dirty….

*Minimize hair. Reduce bulk of hair to make it easier to handle and care for the doll.

*New roles in play.  Thin child doll makes a good schoolchild, teen, or even adult in games.  For some children, this is a good alternative to plastic fashion dolls and action figures.

*Magnetic hands and props? My first protoype action doll (before Nissa) has extra-strong magnets in her hands. I really like the magnets because she wraps her arms around things (like Starhorses’ necks!) and can hang on lamps and climb the refrigerator like Spiderman. In our tests, this is so fun!  They are also able to hold magnetized toys and props that can be securely lets them engage in new kinds of play. How about a little guitar? (*Nissa doesn’t have magnetic hands. See note about the materials below.)nissa8

*Highly moveable limbs.  –for action! Sits easily.


*Use the same natural materials and basic techniques that are traditional for Waldorf dolls. Keep it simple.

*Incorporate reused fabrics.  I’ve always wanted to make better use of my upcycling fabric stash.  I don’t want to compromise quality so I am very selective and use clean cotton knits.  For durability, most of these bodysuit fabrics are used in two layers.

*Magnets? These are the same as magnets used in magnetic building toys, but are invisible because they are enclosed. In test dolls, I stitched them in their own pouch which is them also stitched inside the dolls’ hands.  They can be a safety hazard.  How can I  insure they are as safe as possible?

My son started me on the path to create an action figure type of doll a couple of years ago when he created a super hero.  He wrote many stories about and planned the costume for Felinian, a yellow and black feline character with catlike superpowers.