I first discovered Jozef Szekeres way back in my early days as a fashion doll collector. I was then fascinated by larger scale dolls only (Barbie was too playline for me even then) and somewhere on-line I got my first glimpse of Elisabet Bizelle and her sister Kotalin in their incredibly glamorous style and poise. They were nothing like all the other fashion dolls I was familiar with - the beautiful but rigid Gene, the just-got-articulated Tyler and so on. These were glamazons, looked like the 90s models I loved and had the body to prove it. Mind you not as articulated as I wanted, but they'd do. But they were limited editions and not easy to get a hold of... so I never managed to get one. The line ended at some point and I was left wanting. No other large scale fashion doll looked like these, even after I became familiar with more exotic beauties of the realm. I got to meet Jozef through social media and chat frequently about our common passion with him. And now I have the pleasure to feature in this blog, through the kind permission of Tommydoll (who did the interview and first published it here) and with a nod to Roger Corbeau of Dutch Fashion Doll World (who posted it here), Jozef's first interview and preview of his new line of large scale fashion dolls, GlamourOz!
Szekeres is a 2-D artist and sculptor – he has a pronounced experience in Australia as a Disney animator, primarily the Disney Princesses (so what’s there not to like?). Read the full interview with Jozef Szekeres by an Australian colleague – click here). In the late 90s/early 2000, he designed, sculpted and produced the Elizabet Bizelle fixed-pose fashion dolls of haunting and unique beauty. This was just at the dawn of the articulation movement, which made for some lovely posing – however, with every joint you add, you remove an element of beauty to the lines of the human form. His dolls were true to that, making them display perfect…and ripe for photography. They sold well, but were highly limited. For all the dolls in the 16” movement following Gene Marshall in 1996, and before the rise of Tyler Wentworth in 1999 – Szekeres’ Elizabet (and sister, Kotalin) Bizelle were the most unique looking and styled fashion doll – featuring a body sculpt that was mesmerising in its idealised beauty. The Bizelle Sisters beckoned to be re-fashioned into poseable ladies of exaggerated style and sumptuousness. Raising his own money over a decade would usher him closer to his dream – cash everything out, and make the sacrifice to make the molds.
Tommydoll (TD): I love how you draw inspiration from Indigenous Australian themes and marry that with your own family – it’s reminiscent of Robert Tonner, but also very unique. How did Australia inspire you in characters, sculpts, and those wonderful 60s-inspired (yet very up-to-date) fashions from Stephen Moor – more specifically, how did you piece it all together into the exotic, glamorous and dangerous world of the Bizelle Sisters?
Jozef Szekeres (JS): Thank you Tommy, I appreciate you taking this time to interview me, and introduce my new line of GlamourOz Dolls to the Fashion Doll Collectors around the world. Now to your first question (I hope they’re not all this complex, well then again… bring it on!), I’d like to begin by paying my respects to all the Indigenous Australians, the traditional custodians of my homeland. Launching a new line of Australian Fashion Dolls born from Oz could only be complete with its inclusion of the very first Indigenous Australian Fashion Doll character (that I know of). My father, an accomplished artist in his life with his day job as a house painter, was an avid art collector, and on occasion would do his trade literally for the trade of art. As a child, I remember one hallway of my parents’ home had the most amazing Indigenous Australian artwork hanging on both sides that my father acquired in this way, and it’s still there today. So he instilled early in me a great respect for all art, whether tribal, western, and even sculptural.
I had the opportunity in my early adult years to visit the Thankakali Broken Hill Indigenous Community, and do a comic book workshop for and with the children and adults there. The elders were excited to show their own art, and describe that beyond the visual aesthetics, all the art elements had great symbolic meaning, and showed how it can be read sequentially… A visual arts language, their own ancient “comic book” language. I’ve seen Indigenous Australian dolls before, but only as baby, child, or adult souvenir dolls from my youth. I even have an Australian Barbie Club convention souvenir doll using an African-American Shani doll as an Indigenous Australian stand in. But to my memory, I’ve not yet seen a sculpt created specifically to be an Indigenous Australian Fashion Doll, as we understand Fashion Dolls to be. So when creating the head-sculpts in preparation for my new doll line, with intention I created one to be an Indigenous Australian, looking to the Australian supermodel scene as my inspiration to respectfully capture their distinct features and beauty. Being Australian, I wanted all of my characters from my first release of my new line to be of and from Australia. From inspirations of Elle “The Body” Macpherson, to the gorgeousness of proportions and beauty of Olivia Newton John’s Sandy (from “Grease”) and that of our beloved songbird Kylie Minogue (a favourite of my father’s). However growing up in Australia, media focused primarily on Western-looking personalities. Thankfully that is changing and Asian-Australians are rightfully represented in media today too, and therefore my line would not be complete without its own Asian Australian Catwalk Model.
Three of my character head-sculpts have their names taken from my family members. My sister is Elizabet Kotalin, and our mother is Lucille. Bindi is a traditional name from the Sydney Darug Tribe, meaning “beautiful butterfly” or “beautiful girl“, depending on which tribe’s dialect is used. Also, Bindi Irwin has recently brought that name to international prominence, and as a nation, we’re all very proud of our “Dancing With The Stars” winning girl. Stephen Moor’s artwork entered my life when my sister married his son. I was in my mid teens, and I guess he saw I had some artistic aptitude and leanings, and he took me under his artistic wing. I knew of his fashion sketches rather early, but only later realised that though he was a nationally successful Who’s Who of Australian artists, he had never published or seen his fashion works from the 60s – 70s realised. When he gave me his folder of fashion sketches, he urged me to look into entering fashion, saying he hoped his fashions could help me or inspire me, and that I could use them if I wanted or needed to. At the time, I had already established my own artistic career path as a young Disney 2D animator, so though deeply touched, his fashions sketches were only shared within the family. However, I knew on an instinctive level that this 80 strong fashion sketch collection needed to be kept whole and complete, and was significant to Australian fashion history.
I’ve always visualised that I’d do my own line of dolls, even when at school and told one of the teachers, who sarcastically said “As if” and “Dream on“… and I took that backhanded advice, and did dream on. I at first thought I had fulfilled that dream wish when I did my first Elizabet Bizelle line in 2003. But my passion for dolls has only grown stronger over time, and somehow, everything in my artistic experience seemed to funnel down and compress into this singularity that has become my new GlamourOz Dolls line. It’s my own personal Big Bang!
Elizabet Bizelle Woman In Red doll, 2006
TD: It’s interesting that many of the world’s countries have their own spin on ‘era fashion’ – such as the 1960s – what is Australia’s take on the colors, clothes and textures then?
JS: Australian fashion was built on (or maybe from) the backs of Merino Sheep. Wool, and earthy colours are quintessentially Australian. Though the Mod fashions were emulated in Australia, the Aussie take focused on geometric yet deceptively simple classic shapes. That’s why I think Stephen Moor’s fashions are so iconically 60s Australian, yet also look ever so modern today.
Stephen Moor fashion
TD: Describe the relationship between the sisters – do we have Elsa and Anna, or do we have Cinderella and Drizella?
JS: Ahh, Disney either way! You can’t go wrong with either choice. However, with edition titles like “Double-Cross Cover-Up”, “Secret Garden-Path”, and “Ribbon Reveal”, you know there’s “something” going down!
TD: How do we see the characters in Moor’s clothing designs…I get the fashions are for all the dolls, but who is more likely to wear what…and why?
JS: Elizabet is my lead girl, so I see her comfortably in anything. She wears Double-Cross Cover-Up, because it’s cheeky, sexy and fun, the 60s mini skirt of the line. I created the jacket design to go with the mini dress, originally as a value add, but now they are inseparable to me. She’s a blonde that has “more fun” in the mainline of this garment set. In the limited variant, she’s a fiery redhead, not to be toyed with lest you get burned. Secret Garden-Path Elizabet – softly glamorous in a statement 60s young-green evening spiral path gown. Her copper red hairstyle revisits her signature hair design originally worn in her 2003 release, “Dangerous Discovery“!
Ribbon Reveal Kotalin – high class all the way. Sexy high in its reveal-through panel detailing, married to a classy silhouette. For some reason I get Marilyn Monroe in “Niagara” when I see her in this garment, especially from behind… for that full minute walk. Blonde for the mainline, and long and Ginger with a 60s bump for the limited variant edition. For this garment, the bridal white sketch has been transformed into a beautiful warm salmon pink.
Glittering Gala Kotalin – silvery in a gun metal sequence gown, once again emphasises her high glamour. Her brownette hair design inspired by Stephen Moors fashion sketches, with length added at the back for fun hair play (I’m thinking of you, Darko!).
Bjeran Bindi (Cool Begins) – from the Nyoongar Indigenous Australian calendar, describes the beginning of Winter. With beautiful lines, shapes and textures that embody the bush edged Australian outback, this jacket keeps her warm in the desert cool beginning nights of winter.
Yawkyawk Billabong Bindi (Mermaid Pool) – Yawkyawk is a word from the Aboriginal Kunwinjku/Kunwok language, meaning ‘young woman’ and ‘young woman spirit being’. Sometimes compared to the European notion of mermaids, Yawkyawks are usually depicted with the tails of fish. They have long hair, associated with trailing blooms of algae, typically found in Arnhem Land streams and rock pools.
Lucille wears Yum Cha Cha-Cha – which embodies her classy sophisticated lady, and “Anything Goes” toe tapping nature, ready to star in a musical opening number… Think Willie Scott, from Temple of Doom.
Executive Day to Night Lucille, is power play in the boardroom, and power player of the night.
TD: Do the Bizelle sisters actually live in Australia…or are they children of the world at large like James Bond?
JS: Australian born, but children of the world at large. For their character’s histories and behind the Catwalk Supermodel scenes, I definitely see a blend of Bond for the classy international intrigue and suspense, Indiana Jones for the arcane mystic mysteries, and Charlie’s Angels in their hair flippery fun, and for their fashion forward fraternal sisterhood, this Supermodel band of “Pussycat Dolls” call themselves GODs (GlamourOz Dolls)! So… why not bring part of Australian culture back to your home with our GODs.
TD: How many Elizabet and Kotalin dolls were originally made? How was the decision made to not continue with them…money, saturation…both?
JS: 840 dolls in total were made, spread out in 3 main editions, and 2 IDEX editions of 20 each. The rise of articulation in the 16″ fashion doll world changed them from display dolls into play dolls for adults. My initial production was created within the means I could muster at that time, and also when articulation in 16″ dolls was established as limited, going full articulation was well beyond what I could afford. Just getting to my first and only USA IDEX (with my wonderfully supportive mother in tow) was a huge cost and big deal for me, and this is where I met you for the first time. It was heartbreaking to see my doll passed over because her articulation was limited. Collectors kindly complimented the sculpt, but saying on the boards, “I’d buy her if she was articulated” further depressed the issue. I wanted to say… If only you’d support her now, then in the future, full articulation would be possible, like Gene and Tyler’s eventual and (in Tyler’s case), gradual articulation. But once articulation took hold of the collectors’ focus, anything other than full articulation was seen as less-than. As a consequence, sales dropped, and that basically ended the line there.
Original 16″ Elizabet next to 22″prototype sculpt wearing lingerie by Doug James – The prototype was Sculpted in a larger scale for 3-D scanning and printing to preserve detail.
TD: Has it been difficult compromising body beauty for articulation? How did you resolve the marriage of the two?
JS: Once I saw the new articulation movement in both Resin and Hard Plastic dolls, I could see where it worked and where it didn’t. My engineer side of my brain took over and guided the sculpt. Having 13 years of 2D Disney animation behind me focusing on the Disney Princesses, gave me an appreciation and understanding of the flow of form and pose, which I brought into my sculpting. I wanted every body part to have grace not just in and of itself, but also in how it connected to each other… to ensure this sculpt was also sinuously tall, and elegantly graceful from head to toe, so the finished articulated sculpt would look whole, rather then an assembly of parts. I returned to my own 2003 established aesthetic and in 2006 started a sculpt of a new doll at 22″ so as not to be influenced by any other dolls or trends (which I brought with me to the 2007 New York Comic Con, and while there I got to show Madame Alexander in New York, but they already had their Alex doll, so weren’t interested, then I took the sculpt to Philadelphia showing Ed Ferry of “Happily Ever After” when attending his in-store doll club gathering). I shelved the unfinished sculpt (like Edward Scissorhands, she lacked hands), till I could afford to continue. Once I was ready to self finance, I revived and completed the sculpt in 2015. The factory got involved in early 2016 and the doll was resized down to fit into the 16″ world, where I got to see her for the first time at her final height size.
Kotalin Bizelle, Dangerous Discovery, 2003
TD: Was it a decision to expand the diversity and story to add the two new characters – or was it necessary to break even on development/production costs?
JS: With the initial 22″ inch sculpt in SuperSculpy, Elizabet was the first head-sculpt in 2006, then in 2015, I retooled the Elizabet head-sculpt, and added Bindi, Lucille, with Kotalin as the last completed, thus rounding out this first line up. So I started with just the one head-sculpt, but once I started to seriously see that this could be realised, I expanded the head-sculpt range knowing that the minimum run would be 3000 units. As a collector myself, I knew 3000 of just one character would not be as interesting as four.
TD: You are using every resource in your savings and personal worth for these – isn’t it scary?
JS: Indeed it is. I know it’s a risk, but it’s not a fatuous one. As a career artist, I need to trust in what I create is to the best of my own ability and standards and the needs and standards of the paying client, and that hopefully will resonate with those people it’s targeted to reach. If I couldn’t do this, I wouldn’t have a job. This time around, my own collector self is that client. I feel if I can appeal to my own needs and wants with this new doll that I’m not currently finding in the 16″ Fashion Doll market, then I’m being true to my art, vision and voice, and hopefully that will resonate with the Fashion Doll collectors need and want, too.
TD: What are you eating now you are factory development poor?
JS: Hopefully, not my words.
TD: In all your sacrifices, is there something you miss more than others?
JS: Prior to the factory involvement, the body sculpt and additional heads took about 6-8 months to complete till I felt it was ready, for I knew it had to be as right as I understand that to be, because of the financial investment it would entail. In 2016 working with the factory has been full time on this, earning not a cent while shelling out more money that I’ve ever seen move through my hands. Spread over the year working with the factory, I’ll have spent more then 6 months working directly on premises with the factory in China, so I have missed my partner Todd, my family, and close friends… who have all been so very supportive. I’m currently in China working with the factory, and will even miss Christmas 2016 and the 2017 New Year at home. But I’ve a new baby on board right now, and I’m heavy with that pregnancy and responsibility that this new life to be born must take first priority.I’m working to complete the production samples, which will be followed by the official photography of the line, then the official launch! Estimated production times will mean release dates will fall in the 4th quarter of 2017.
TD: Few people understand what it’s like to put your life saving on the line for something of which you have tremendous passion. How would you explain this level of commitment to one of your collectors that may take plastic/vinyl for granted.
JS: I’d only ask them, if you like what an artist does, be that patron of the arts and the artist who’s work you want to see more of, and support their releases, so they can do more and create more for you to enjoy. My commitment and passion for dolls and the creation of them drives me to want to do more. My hope with sales is that I can remove the financial burden over my home that I’m using as collateral to create these dolls, and have enough left over to live, eat and cover my bills and expenses, and hopefully earn enough to do it all again next year. I’d love this to be my job and career path from herein.
I’ve certainly not taken the creation of these dolls in plastic for granted, their expense to create them has driven that home. As a child looking at Barbie and the shameful knockoffs, I could see back then that a budget $10 plastic doll has the similar mold value as a collectable, but it’s usually the sculpt and engineering quality that separates whether one is cheap and the other is of value. I thought then… if only they had gotten a better sculptor…, and that fuelled my young mind with interest and the possibilities, to want to know more about how toys were made before they appeared magically finished at the toy store. I remember the Jem dolls of the 80’s, and never asked my mum to buy me one, because they just didn’t look as beautifully realised as their box art, even though the dolls themselves were well engineered. So Barbie remained my Fashion Doll of choice (thanks to my mother who would buy them for me, with Beauty Secrets Barbie being my favourite, as she had more mobility and poseability over her sister contemporaries). To me, for a Fashion Doll, I’ve always felt that what was of greater value was the quality of the sculptural art coupled with top quality engineering, and not the medium that should be valued.
TD: Your original Bizelle sisters were in resin, making you a pioneer of resin casting in fashion dolls of our genre. How would you communicate your desire to see your art translated in a material that many see as ‘cheap’ or inferior to the wide-spread perceived value of resin?
JS: The original 2003 Bizelle sisters were in resin, only because that’s what I could afford, with not even a thought of pioneering anything. When on occasion the doll fell down the stairs or some other similar mishap occurred, my heart would jump in my throat till I saw what damage had been sustained. If I’d see that the doll had a broken finger or some other part. I’d glue it back, but it forever felt broken, no longer whole. It literally felt like damaged goods, almost repulsive, I’d then be reticent of touching it, fearing it’s structural integrity was compromised and it would break again. I want to enjoy my dolls, with quality sculpts, engineering and durability. I want my dolls to be beautiful on display, and resilient in play, and then stuff them in my backpack if I want her as a travel doll, and know that when I take her out.. with a flip of her hair, she’ll still be beautiful and whole. Plastic for me is the perfect medium to realise all of that.
From left to right: Integrity Toys FR16, GlamourOz, Tonner Doll Tyler body
TD: Why not begin them in 12”, instead…it’s a much larger market. Was this a personal passion for the scale – or a need to fill a huge gap in the 16” plastic/vinyl fashion doll world (compared to the rise of Gene and Tyler – who thought we would ever be asking this question?)?
JS: My passion has been with the 16″ dolls since Mel Odom introduced his glorious Gene Marshall doll in 1995. My thanks always goes out to Mel, for without his brave vision, there’d be no 16″ dolls in the wake of Gene’s creation for us to enjoy. I do collect 12″ dolls, and love them, and maybe one day I’ll explore that scale as well. Though it’s a much larger market to explore and appeal to, I also think it’s saturated with product, by companies and producers with deep financial pockets to back them, and therefore a harder market to enter as a solo doll artist/producer. Moving forward beyond this first year’s mainline release focusing on Stephen Moor’s designs, and then releasing a new GODs line with these sculpts, using my own fashion designs for the next year, I’d like to explore a new sculpt variant of the female GODs body, releasing that with its own range of new character head-sculpts. Beyond that, I’d like to start the new sculpt of my own male doll companion to my female GODs, as she’s as tall or taller then most of the 17″ male dolls already in the Fashion Doll market. My goal has always been to have a companion set of female and male fully articulated body sculpts that fit into the 16″ scale Fashion Doll world, that work together stylistically and aesthetically.
TD: The clothing is amazingly detailed…how are the prototypes varying from production samples – what can the collector expect?
JS: The history of the garment factory I’m working with is… impressive, as is their internal quality control. I will also be overseeing aspects of this production, and do my own quality control. The collector can expect to see garments created at the very best of market quality. Now having established this fantastic working relationship with this garment factory, and seeing how beautifully they are realising Stephen Moor’s designs… I can see that they’ll be more then able to realise my own designs that will be the focus of the next future mainline release.
Elizabet and Kotalin wearing FR16 outfits by Integrity Toys
TD: Your price points are much higher than the perceived standard of Tonner and Integrity hard plastic (and given how widely discounted they are, even more so) – but more on range in price, quality and appearance of Superdoll. How does price factor into your collection?
JS: As a start up, all the expenses are my own: the time I devoted to the Super Sculpy original 22″ sculpt and its eventual factory scanning, the 3D work to resize to 16″ scale, the physical 3D prototyping, the mold making, the face stencil mold making, the hair fibre purchases in various c.g, the flights to and from China, the accommodation and personal travel insurance. The cost to produce the entire run… Everything, the production costs included are way higher then I thought they would be. And add to that, its eventual shipping. All these things add up, and I don’t have corporate financial backing. I think for a start up solo creator of a line of vinyl/hard plastic new Fashion Dolls, and the quality delivered, USD$300 for a complete boxed 16″ doll is a pretty good deal, especially when I currently see this similar price point for 12″ dolls by independent Fashion Doll producers. So if collectors like what they see, and want to see more, then please do show your support in buying the products I’ve made.
TD: Staining from dyes onto vinyl is a reality – how are you addressing the issue?
JS: With plastic wraps where needed, protecting the vinyl.
TD: You’re including a certificate of authenticity…really? It’s an added cost…why not just let the markings on the doll suffice? Is there more to the certificate that a critic like me is missing?
JS: I personally have never cared for certificates to identify a dolls’ authenticity, nor taken much notice of the actual numbering of the dolls I’ve collected, because I’ve never intended to resell them once they’ve become mine. Some certificates I keep because they’re nicely designed, most get trashed with the box as space is limited these days. But I do know that some collectors do like them, and it is good to have on it information for clarity about the total number produced in the limited edition run.
TD: Tell us more about your sales rollout – will it be pre-orders…dolls ready to ship…combo of both?
JS: It’ll probably be a combo of both, as their pre-sales will go straight to the factory to help offset some of the production costs. Last time around, I took no pre-orders, just notes of interest. And I’ve learned collectors can be fickle (as we all can be), and easily distracted unless they’ve made a financial commitment. There are commitments on both sides that need to be in place, respected and valued, for what they bring to each other.
TD: What is your plan to offset the high cost of shipping to places outside Australia?
JS: As a collector of mostly American Fashion Dolls, added shipping per doll is usually about USD$50 to $70 for each doll I purchase. So I understand that shipping will factor in price for some collectors. I will be looking into having a choice of delivery suppliers that may offer different delivery options and price points.
TD: Are you currently talking to any retailers with whom you may come to an exclusive distribution arrangement outside Australia?
JS: I’ve had discussions with a few retailers, but nothing conclusive about exclusive distribution arrangements. With the economy climate as it is, most retailers have said they’d want to see a demonstrated demand, before committing to a new doll line, which is a catch 22, and then only with orders in the low to mid 2 digit numbers. So my start up focus will be to sell direct from my online store.
Wearing Nigel Chia
TD: Tell us your concept of the ‘Basic Doll’…will there be one…or only dressed dolls and clothing?
JS: For the mainline of 8 dolls and 2 limited variants, all of them will be released as dressed dolls. I imagine a basic doll would be in either a swimsuit, lingerie or simple outfit, however there will be no basics or separate clothing this time around, that’ll have to wait to follow in the future. The gravy that comes after securing survival. Thankfully, the GlamourOz dolls wear most of the competitor garments with ease and comfort, even elevating them to a catwalk presentation. Catalogue models are beautiful, but do we remember their names? Supermodels are known by name! I like to see my girls as Catwalk Supermodels. I could see as an extension of the mainline if there’s popular demand, releasing garment sets inspired by the fashion designs of Stephen Moor, or even future dressed dolls too… some of which will appear on the box art to celebrate his 60s fashions. They are all such amazing fashion designs, I’d love to honour his incredible work and see each of them realised eventually.
Stephen Moor fashion
TD: What has been your biggest business challenge in developing a marketing plan with social media being the hungriest attention whores out there?
JS: Thankfully, I was accepted into the Australian government funded MTC NEIS program nearing the end of 2015, where I did a fully funded business course over a 6 week period, where I got the grounding information I’d need to launch and sustain my startup business and marketing strategies. The greatest asset of the NEIS program’s commitment to the startup businesses is to have a business mentor available for them for 12 months. It has been good to have someone with business knowledge to bounce off and share some of the hardships with, who can also offer real guidance. I think the biggest marketing challenge thus far has been deciding when is the best time to release information, as I know new news gets stale quickly on the net these days, especially when the reader isn’t privy to the reasons why there may be delays or time slips. But now I feel is the right time, and with your extensive industry history and experience, and with the respect and wisdom that comes with that, you and your blog is the right person and place… Including your blog flow on partners.
TD: Are you going to have a ‘club’ (please say, ‘no’)?
JS: I’m a member of a couple company toy clubs, and I do love the ease of assuring certain releases, without having to chase them down. This helps greatly being an international member. And it’s also a place where brand loyal collectors can congregate and share their mutual love. So, knowing how company collector clubs have helped me,… I’m not opposed to it, but I’m not yet ready to set up one of my own just now.
Wearing Superdoll of London
TD: Hopes/Plans/Expectations for your first doll event?
JS: There’s a strong, but small Fashion Doll collector base in Australia, with me being one of these collectors. Most of the Fashion Dolls we collect seem to come from America, and we often feel our island country’s isolation, or distance from the main doll events. I hope to launch my dolls first to the Australian Fashion doll collector base, and grow it from there to an international audience. I’d love to see a yearly GODs Fashion Doll convention based in Australia to be added to the international must -attend events. In 2017, I’d like to attend the main Fashion Doll conventions in America, Europe, and other international locations, to introduce my new doll line, and meet the collectors.
TD: Collectors like to meet and greet the creator…think Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Will you Howard Hughes it…or go on a world-wide Rainbow Tour? I think we’d be happy to Crowd Fund your tour.
JS: I’d love to meet and greet with collectors all over the world. So I’ll definitely make myself available to do so. Certainly it would be an honour to be the recipient of a funded convention or tour visit.
TD: Seriously, though…you must be scared – doll collectors are so fickle – you’re placing a great deal of risk in their confidence. I hope you also market to the Action Figure folks because of the ‘Spy’ storyline.
JS: I’m a Fashion Doll collector, so I know I can be fickle at times, too – a pretty new thing can certainly get my attention over an equally pretty older item, causing me to miss out on the older item and then have to seek it out as a more expensive grail item. But I’m also very brand loyal and supportive of those brands I love and collect. My hope is that my dolls and brand will attract its own loyal collectors, that will want what I do now and in the future. Most action figure products are licensed pop culture, rather then original fare – like He-Man, She-Ra, Jem and Transformers – the toys are released concurrently with their own pop culture vehicle (in these cases, animated TV series) to anchor their products to. Most action figure collectors will buy an action figure, even a bad one, with a character they already recognise or have a pop culture connection with, over a well made action figure of a character they don’t yet know. What’s different about fashion dolls, that I love, is they can survive entirely on their own merits without an established pop culture reference. And the Fashion Doll collector thrives on discovering something new… A new story, new fashion, new face, new body, new characters. I’m sure there is some crossover, but they seem to come from different ends of the spectrum.
Birthday Bash Kotalin Bizelle, 2006
My two 2006 releases, “Woman in Red” Elizabet Bizelle, and “Birthday Bash” Kotalin Bizelle, were inspired by The Matrix film. Describing it thus to a fashion doll collector, they got the concept straight up… “Inspired by fashions”, and if they liked it, they bought it. But when these same dolls were placed in action figure stores, the action figure collectors there would ask “Who are they?” I’d say they’re fashion dolls inspired by The Matrix, and the collector’s response would be, “Nicely made, but if it’s not Trinity or a character or exact fashion I recognise from the film… then I’m not interested”. Lessons learnt.
TD: Plans for accessory sets…where will you go with this? Will there be guns?
JS: No plans as yet for accessory sets of this nature. But who knows what the future will bring.
TD: What is your direct message to the people who would just look at the doll and say, ‘It’s not my thing.’ Knowing it’s because it’s plastic, a fashion doll, 16”, or otherwise competes with one of their faves like Ellowyne, Gene, Superdoll, et al?
JS: I’ve never been a fan of big headed dolls, so I’ve never collected Ellowyne, but I have and still collect Tonner Fashion Dolls that I love that speak to my aesthetic. Gene is a Fashion Doll icon, in all her incarnations, and she holds a special place in my heart and collection. The Superdoll Sybarites are incomparably the Fashion Doll Divas, and always will be in the Fashion Doll world at large and within my own collection. The Fashion Royalty 16″ (FR16) dolls by Integrity Toys are my favourite body sculpt currently on the market. Some of my favourite and loved dolls that I own aren’t 16″ fashion dolls, but their aesthetic and fashion sense and quality of sculpt resonates with me, like the beautiful dolls by New Zealand doll creator Jan MacLean. And there are other dolls that I love and have yet purchased, but intend to in the future, like “First Love” male Fashion Dolls by Joey Versaw. I won’t stop collecting the dolls out there by other brands and creators I love and support just because I’ve created my own doll, and I don’t expect other collectors to do that either if they start collecting mine. There is room in the Fashion Doll world to love many brands. What I’m offering is a new doll and brand to love amongst your other established Fashion Doll loves.
As to the nay-sayers, and the haters of plastic, 16″, or Fashion Dolls… I’ve had friends tell me I’m wasting my time and talent, and that my dolls look no different from the pack. I’ve had these same friends tell me that my doll’s body is offensive to them, and that they’re just not even interested to know more…. A simple “good luck” from these friends would have sufficed. But I understand each persons’ personal path informs them of what is of value to them, and these friends are not my target audience, and will never see what I see or am trying to achieve. If I can take this from friends, I’m well prepared to take similar from strangers. I’d rather invest my energy into impressing the supporting friends and collectors who love my dolls. As RuPaul has said, “I’m too busy loving the people who love me“. I’ve created what I’ve wanted and needed in the Fashion Doll world that I felt was not there for me already as a collector. My hope is that others will resonate with that same want and need, whether it’s been there for a while, or newly discovered when they see my GlamourOz dolls for the first time.
...I added one more question for Jozef, after seeing reactions from a couple of people online...
Stratos Bacalis: There have been a couple of collectors that have commented that your doll body resembles another company's 16" doll vinyl body. How do you respond to that?
JS: I don’t follow trends, I like to think, I create them. I create what I like to see in a doll, and hope that collectors will like it. I actually hand sculpted my original Sculpy GlamourOz doll sculpt at 22″, starting that sculpt in 2006, so as not to be influenced at all by any other 16″ doll trends, whether resin or hard plastic/vinyl. The GlamourOz Dolls 22" Sculpy doll sculpt was only resized to her current height of 17" after scanning the 22" parts. When you compare my previous Elizabet Bizelle doll release from 2003 to my current GlamourOz Dolls, you’ll see that the details and aesthetic I’ve followed and developed on... and applied to my GlamourOz Dolls' body, is my own.
The reason I originally sculpted and created my original 2003 Elizabet Bizelle doll was to create a doll sculpt that embodied the elongated grace of my own art and sculptural aesthetics, with the illusion of movement sculptural pose, at a time when the contemporary dolls had a static and robotic stance. My first Elizabet doll's body from 2003, which incommensurately stands apart from its then contemporaries because of these differences, has providence in the torso and elongated look: the neck, shoulders, bosom, ribs, tummy and hip detailing and elongated grace from head to toe, and even through to its fingertips, that predates by about seven years the aesthetics other doll companies (which I'm sure these collectors are referring to) are now similarly exploring for their own lines. Granted 2003 is a while ago now, some collectors may not have seen nor heard of my first Elizabet Bizelle doll, as only a few hundred were produced. Though the timeline is there (check out a photo album here).
I'm flattered that my earlier doll work and sculptural details and aesthetic have made an impact, to some later released dolls within the Fashion Doll world, both within 12" and 16". Though however lovely they have been with some of these shared aesthetics, they still have not captured nor satisfied the wants and needs I still craved as a collector, or as a doll sculptor/creator. My GlamourOz Dolls are at least, that answer for me that satisfies my needs and wants in an articulated Fashion Doll. My hope is that collectors will resonate with the differences I bring to my GODs with my own sculptural aesthetics, and share that same want and need, too.
New and Original 2003 Comparisons
If you’d like to know more, or be added to Jozef's mailing list, please contact him via his website: www.glamourozdolls.com
Note: all photos and art © Jozef Szekeres. Original interview by permission of Tommydoll. GlamourOz dolls are prototypes only