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Kleenex, Titanic, eBay, Princess Diana and The Franklin Mint

  • Sunday, September 02 2007 @ 07:55 MDT
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The Tickle Trunk The costuming thing started with a doll, actually. Franklin Mint makes what they have branded Vinyl Portrait Dolls of famous movie characters, royalty, public figures etc. Their appeal is that you can dress them up in different costumes and outfits. Basically they’re grown-up Barbie dolls. For the record, Bust magazine did an article a few years ago highlighting the “return to the inner child” of women in stressful jobs who have used playing with dolls as a great tension reliever. It might be weird, but I’m not alone. As I’m sure you’ve already guessed I have the Titanic Rose doll. She has the benefit of only having 13 different costumes in the movie which makes her one of the cheaper dolls to own. God forbid you have Scarlett O’Hara; you’d need an 8000 foot freight train to haul all of her costumes. I completed most of my collection on eBay which is where I discovered that there are seamstresses who also make full-size costumes.

As it turns out, most people who are into costuming are also into these dolls. Dress me, dress my dolly. Go figure. While perusing the various costuming sites (great resources for a beginning seamstress like me) I discovered that if you want costumes specific to another doll but not actually that doll, most of these costumes will fit the doll you have. In particular, Princess Diana dresses will fit the Rose doll (unlike Barbie, they’re both kinda hippy).

I was six when Princess Diana was wed to Prince –not-so-charming-Charles. No offence to the future King, but even at the age of six I just didn’t see it as a good match. He just seemed so much older than her. At any rate, my British Auntie Helen had stocked me up with all sorts of magazines and books on the subject of the Royal Wedding and I got up very early the day of to watch. For weeks afterward, I spent copious amounts of time trying to make the famous dress from Kleenex and cannibalized doll clothing parts.

Well, good news, no more Kleenex. Thanks to the Franklin Mint I can now dress up my dolly in a copy of “the” dress. The weird bit is that I can’t say I think that Princess Diana’s wedding dress was really the bomb but I’m sure I did when I was six and it’s fun to visit the moment when having that dress for one of my dolls would have been sooooooo cool. The dress is also a great example of everything the 80s had to offer when it came to fashion. It’s a little too much of everything. Ivory coloured with bows, lace, ruffles, huge crinolined bell skirt and let’s not forget the 25 foot train. All it really needed to be complete for its era was one of those stupid veil headbands that came to a point in the middle of the forehead and had a big pouf on the back. Although, I’m guessing when you have access to the crown jewels of Britain, headpiece shopping is probably the last thing on your mind.

I picked up the dress on eBay and it’s a good example of rules to follow when eBaying. Whenever I find something I want, I dump it into my “Watched” list for about month and keep adding the same item as I find it up for bid. It gives me a good idea of the average price that an item goes for. If it says “rare” it probably isn’t, I watched this item for quite awhile and saw several of the same thing come up for bid. Companies like Franklin Mint and Bradford Exchange make millions of copies of stuff like this so there is usually a large supply of it kicking around. I checked the Franklin Mint website and found out that they still sell this item for about $90 US. I got mine for much lower than that but I have seen the same dress listed for over $500 (rare, of course). Checking the website before bidding gave me an idea of what my maximum bid would be. I always ask sellers about shipping and handling before bidding. There can be a huge difference in price once the S & H has been added even if two identical items sold for an identical price.

In the end, I think that my Rose doll looks pretty neato in the wedding gown. I may have to pick up one or two more non-titanic dresses for her to wear. After all, I wouldn’t want my dolly’s wardrobe to become passé. Of course, then I’ll need another trunk to store the dresses. I might need that 8000 foot freight after all. Fortunately, I think I know where I can find one.


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