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.


Win a Rainbow Pony!

Giveaway Horse!

Ziggy is made of hand-dyed dark gray velveteen with wool stuffing and handspun sparkly rainbow hair.

It’s a giveaway!  This week I am celebrating my new name with a drawing to win little Ziggy, my first ever 9″ Starhorse, with glittery sparkles in his rainbow hair, waiting to go home with one random winner.  To enter to win him, you should like my Facebook page and make a comment below this post.  Entries close Friday May 4 at midnight EST.  Winner will be chosen at random on Saturday May 5.

I am fortunate to have met and worked with some of the kindest, most appreciative customers I could imagine.  Thank you!


Welcome to Star Village Toys!

Star Village is the magical place where my very special dolls and animals are born and play together.   As I create my village and its little villagers I always think of what we learn from imaginative play as children:  We learn to make meaning and to be the creators of the future.  With our dolls we practice priceless things like being friends and caring for one another, imagining the feelings of others, and solving problems together.   I create in order to add beauty to our lives, and I make each doll or toy a unique work of touchable art.130115horses2

THE STARHORSE DESIGN STORY: The Starhorses were the first toy design I developed fully. The idea began with a folk art horse my children adored, which I crossed with my observation that there were a lot of dolls out there who would love to have a horse to ride.  That big horse was stiff and tall rather than soft and cuddly.  What, I wondered, made him so compelling? He was certainly big and strong, and the dolls really could sit on him. Most of the toy horses didn’t have those qualities. I asked myself what qualities would make my horses good for riding as well and among the results were narrow bodies and leg engineering that insured that the legs would never splay outward when supporting dolls.  (This is common in homemade stuffed animals.)  My children’s beloved horse was made with synthetic stuffing and yarn with plastic eyes but my Starhorses would be made with natural fibers.   A woven fabric would be sturdier than a knit, so I searched for the perfect material and discovered cotton velveteen.  Unfortunately this fabric is only available in a few solid colors, and I envisioned a rainbow of colored horses, which led me to learning various LWI dye processes.  Everything gets finished off by hand with carefully stuffed hooves, embroidered faces, and just the right amount of fluffy woolen hair.   I improve my pattern and process on an ongoing basis, such as the nip-and-tuck darts that improved the legs and stance (by countering the inward curve caused by the fabric bias) in 2011 and 2012 design adjustments.  There are a lot of details, but when the horses come out just right, it feels worth it.

I sell my creations in my Etsy shop at and I offer custom colors by request and I also offer occasional giveaways.  Blogging is completely new to me!  I plan to use this blog for giveaways and to share practical information about options, pricing, and shop updates as well as other more playful goodies and inspirations.