Though toys covered by Toy Wizards tend to skew more towards the comic book, TV, film, and video game realms, 2023 marks 100 years of Madame Alexander dolls, and that anniversary, one that few toy companies ever see, assigns a certain importance to their collectibles. Their history is rich. According to their Fact Sheet, Madame Beatrice Alexander Behrman began in New York City in 1923. Behrman was the daughter of immigrants, and grew up to be a powerful businesswoman at a time when that path was especially difficult. Cloth components on dolls, licensing literary and entertainment tie-ins, faces whose eyes can close, and the plastic head mold were just some of the innovations Madame Alexander brought to the toy world. These features are so commonplace now that it may be hard to visualize a time when they were innovative, but all manufactured, everyday aspects of modern life once were!
These ready-for-Halloween dolls echo the popular Madame Alexander design that combines collectability with play value.
These mainline dolls are also stylistically aligned with Madame Alexander’s history, and are forthcoming in 2023 and 2024.
I was particularly taken with these dolls, though, that, in my opinion, had somewhat of a ’90s throwback feel, especially in the typeface on the boxes. I also agree with the general sentiment of this doll’s jersey.
These are other dolls in the “It’s All Me!” line. Madame Alexander makes products for adult collectors, teens, and young children.
Noteworthy young children’s dolls include these soft baby dolls. Madame Alexander pays special attention to manufacturing a variety of skin tones.
These baby dolls showcase the company’s diversity in that they feature three unique skin tones and looks.
These baby dolls feature headpieces that can be pulled down to convert the dolls into plush animals, and then lifted up to reveal the baby within.
While it’s these international looks that many associate with Madame Alexander, possibly stemming from their wildly successful collaborations with McDonald’s via their Happy Meals, the company offers such a wide range of products. One of the best reasons to explore toy history, regardless of one’s own personal fandom and tastes, is to appreciate the people who created these products, in this case, a century ago. We do not often pause to appreciate what toy making would have looked like during this time, but Madame Alexander provides a powerful reminder. Much of what we take for granted today started with one woman in 1923.
Jonathan Alexandratos is a NYC-based toy writer. They explore toys, pop culture, and the intersection of both.