Thursday, December 29, 2016

Saying Farewell to Tonner Doll Company, say Hello to Phyn & Aero!

I have held off writing about Robert Tonner's email that came in on my email
on December 22nd, simply because like most of his customers, I believe his timing was way off. 

I mean, c'mon Robert. It was three days before Christmas. And you're telling your fans ...your loyal fans and customers for over 25 years- No more Ellowyne. No more Evangeline Ghastly,Deja Vu,  no more Tiny Kitty, no more Tyler Wentworth. 

Instead, there will be a new game in town...wait for it...Phyn & Aero! 

I don't think that made the fans feel any better. There weren't any sneaks of what is to come, to get them excited, no words of comfort. I don't collect Ellowyne exclusively- (I only have one doll in my collection) but I felt tearful for those collectors upon reading the email. 

And so here it is. 

Tonner’s 25th Anniversary Year re-cap: 
2016 has been, perhaps, the most momentous year of my life. Celebrating 25 years of creating dolls and accessories was really kind of humbling. Culling through photographs of past events and seeing the faces of people getting so much joy out of the dolls and events we’ve produced was truly heartwarming. It reminds me yet again of how lucky I’ve been to enjoy a hobby that turned into a career and a business.
I’ve frequently been asked what have been the greatest accomplishments of my last 25 years in this business and there are definitely some standouts: 
-My first New York Toyfair, sitting at a single table in our tiny booth and selling out everything I brought in the first few hours. 
-The first Tyler Wentworth dolls arriving at our warehouse and eventually shipping to retailers. 
-The Betsy McCall and Mary Engelbreit licensed products that were so cherished and charming. 
-Being the only company to produce Harry Potter dolls for six years. 
-Ellowyne Wilde and the creation of Wilde Imagination, which allowed me to move in an entirely new direction. 
-All of the employees who have supported me along the way, whether they believed in what I was doing, or not! 
Currently, I’m spending a great deal of time learning (and hopefully mastering) some very new computer sculpting programs that, combined with state-of-the-art production capabilities, provide an entirely new method of creating dolls. I call it the “New Art of Doll Making™” and I’m really excited about what we’ll be doing in 2017 and beyond. It’s also awakened a pioneering spirit in me again and I’ve decided it’s time to completely re-think what we offer to collectors. Therefore, although Tonner will continue to make all of our established licensed products such as DC, Gone with the Wind, Outlander, etc., all of our proprietary lines, as well as those of Effanbee and Wilde Imagination, are being discontinued. 
A new company is being launched and it’s called Phyn & Aero. We will be introducing three new lines in 2017 in collaboration with innovative (and incredibly talented) new designers. I really feel it’s time to broaden our perspectives and see what some fascinating (and younger!) designers create for our collectors. I believe the collector market needs a major shake-up and I’m quite sure this will be it! 
As always, I’m so grateful for all the love and support you’ve shown to me over the years. I am also terrifically excited about the direction we’re heading in and hope you will join us along the way in this new, incredibly exciting adventure!

In all fairness, I myself understand a company needs new vision, new lines and new direction. But I feel the tone of this letter could have been handled with more tact to the paying customers and with a little more finesse. It's almost like this company doesn't care what their customers think and I suspect that they are going to not only compete with such doll companies as Kingdom doll and the bjd companies but smaller companies such as Integrity toys as well.

If so, Tonner better step up his game on articulation and customer service. I am hoping for the best for this company but this letter gives me mixed feelings on their haphazard new direction. This is just my personal opinion. I have loved their dolls and have a few in my personal collection.

Here's looking forward to new things from Phyn & Aero in 2017.....


Barb the Evil Genius said...

You've managed to express very well some of the same thoughts I had when I saw this. I'm also disappointed and confused, because when I was at the Tonner Convention this summer, I got the impression Robert was going to be working with Mary Englebreit again to produce more Ann Estelle dolls. Now even that body type won't be produced again. There was also no indication about any kind of shakeup, on this level, in the future.

I also wish there would have been some sort of indication or sneak peek as to what Phyn and Aero will be about. I wonder if 3D printing is going to be involved?

Farrah Lily said...

Thanks for sharing, Lisa..I'm not a huge Tonner collector, but I do have 4 doll and I'm sad that this phase of the company has ended. I guess I better browse and grab what I want now that is still available!

Lisa Neault said...

To be truthfully honest, I myself feel that Tonner has hosed his customers. Why not wait until the new year with this announcement, or if not , make this a marketing campaign with the unveiling of a new doll? Surely that would add some comfort or a little cushion to the blow of those that collect his lines and now- poof- no more Ellowyne, no more Deja Vu, no more Tyler, no mre Evangeline...some of these collectors from those boards- they are not just devasted, they are broken hearted. I really feel for them.

I was also myself, getting into collecting Ellowyne again. I am still going to troop on and collect what I can of her on Ebay. But I won't be having a huge collection of her now.

For me, when he debuted a merge with One World dolls, then an announcement with the collaboration of creating the dolls from the TV show Empire, and those dolls never appeared, I knew something was up. I have always hated that TV show to begin with, it's violent and not my cup of tea. The fashions on the dolls would be nice, but that's about it. Maybe he is going for more of the articulation and resin look that Kingdom doll and Integrity has, is the only thing I can figure out. If so, he has a ways to go.

3D technology would be a cheaper way for him, and it would be quite cool. Integrity has done it with decal eyes,and they look like the real deal.

I'm hoping to see good things out of the new company, better than how he broke the news to the public.