American Girl added Kit (Depression Era) to the line-up in 2000. In 2002, Kaya (Native American, pre-contact) was launched. In 2007, Julie (1970s) was released, followed by Rebecca (1914/Silent Movie era) in 2009. In 2006, the American Girl Today line was renamed Just Like You. In 2010, it was renamed again, this time My American Girl. The Girl of the Year line of contemporary characters only sold for one year was launched in 2001/2002 with Lindsey. After an initial slow start, from 2005 (Marisol) on, a new GOTY was issued every year.
Carpatina Dolls started out in 2002 as another manufacturer of 18″ play dolls.
Mondrian – the first NeoBlythe
In 1997, New York TV and video producer Gina Garan was given a 1972 Kenner Blythe by a friend and began using it to practice her photographic skills. She began taking her Blythe everywhere with her and took hundreds of photos. In 2000, Gina published her first book of Blythe photography, This is Blythe, and Blythe was used in an advertising campaign by Parco, the fashion branch of Seibu Department Stores in Japan and was an instant hit. In 2001, Hasbro (the current trademark and license owner) gave Takara a license to produce the New Edition of Blythe (Neo Blythe). These proved to be popular with adult collectors, and eventually, a different reproduction by Ashton Drake was sold in the USA in 2004. Takara added a line of 4″ miniature Blythes called Petite Blythe. In 2010, Hasbro added similar mini Blythes in their Littlest Pet Shop line.
In 2000, Mattel offered their own big-headed doll, the interactive Diva Starz. By using small metal contacts in the snap-on clothing and on the body, the doll “knows” which garment it is wearing, and will respond accordingly. Alexa, for example, replies with statements like “You have a great sense of style. I love my pink evening gown. Do you think it makes my eyes look bluer?”
After the success of the debut model, Mattel released the Diva Starz Fashion Dolls. While generally identical to the original line, these dolls have clothing made of fabric, and were thinner and had more accurate proportions. Also, the dolls will speak recorded phrases when a button on the top of their heads is pushed. With the introduction of the fashion doll, the robot dolls fell drastically in popularity, and Mattel discontinued them. After a few successful seasons with the fashion dolls, they to began to drop in popularity. In the end, Diva Starz soon became discontinued altogether, and Mattel went on to improving Barbie dolls and creating MyScene dolls.
In 1999, the Japanese company Volks created the Super Dollfie line of ball-jointed dolls. The first Super Dollfie were 57 cm tall, strung with elastic, ball-jointed, and made of polyurethane resin; similar to garage kits, which were Volks main product at the time. Super Dollfie were made to be highly customizable and to find a female market for Volks products. Around 2002–2003, South Korean companies started creating and producing BJDs. Customhouse and Cerberus Project were among the first Korean BJDs companies, and since then the Korean market has expanded with many more. The earliest Chinese produced BJDs were knockoffs. The first Chinese company to release their own original BJD sculpts was Dollzone. Their dolls hit the market in 2006. Since then, several other Chinese companies followed suit, putting their own BJD creations on the international market. The first American company to produce a BJD with more of an American aesthetic influence was Goodreau Doll in 2007. While BJDs are targeted more towards an adult collectors´ market, they have influenced the play doll market as well with their features of customizability and poseability as well as with their aesthetic. Among the play dolls influenced by BJDs are LIV dolls and Moxie Teenz.
Likewise for adult collectors were the Living Dead Dolls, first offered in 2000, and the Silkstone Barbie line of vintage-styled dolls, that debuted in the same year.
In 2000, Disney Princess was established as a franchise. The original line-up consisted of princesses Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tinker Bell, although Tink didn´t really fit in and was quickly removed. It was an immediate huge success.
Kim Possible (2002 – 2007) was one of several Disney Channel series that were also successful as dolls.
The Star Wars frenzy that had started with Episode I was fed with Episode II (2002) and III (2005). But it was the animated spinoff Clone Wars (2003-2005; 2008-2014) that was really popular among kids and sold (and still sells) the action figures. There were fewer Padme dolls than there had been for Episode I.
The Olsen Twins were still popular with the sitcom So little time and a series of movies. Their dolls, first sold in 1999, were popular in various variations until 2005.
Probably the biggest franchise of the 2000s debuted in 2001 with the movie adaptation of the first Harry Potter novel. There were Harry Potter dolls, action figures, and merchandise galore. A new movie debuted almost every year, and the actors (and their figures) grew up along with their characters.
Card Captor Sakura was shown on US TV as Cardcaptors and there were dolls available.
Dora the Explorer was first shown in 2000 and was a huge success, also for the toy industry.
2001 also saw the debut of Uglydolls and the line that would become Barbie´s biggest rival to date: MGA´s Bratz.
In 2002, Mattel answered the challenge from Bratz with the introduction of their own line with oversized, anime-styled heads and exchangeable shoe-feet: My Scene. The first waves included a blonde doll named Barbie but in 2006, this Barbie was renamed Kennedy. The line was eventually phased out in 2011.
What´s her face was a quirky doll with a blank and bald face that could be customized with pens and wigs. She was available from 2001 – 2003.
In 2002, the Strawberry Shortcake franchise was revived with a different, modernized look.(picture from nevergrowupdollguide.com)
Another successful 80s franchise that was revamped in the 2000s was My Little Pony. The new style of pony (known as Generation 3) was hugely popular (2003 – 2008).
A second line of goth-themed collectors´ dolls debuted in 2003:Bleeding Edge Goths, or Begoths. Various characters were available as 12″ dolls and 8″ figurines before the line was eventually discontinued in 2011.
The first Pullip dolls debuted in 2003. They would become popular as a lower-priced alternative to ball-jointed dolls in the following years. A smaller version similar to Petite Blythe was introduced in 2005 (Litle Pullip).
In 2003, Mattel released the Flavas line in another attempt to compete with Bratz. The dolls were supposed to represent urban street-style and hip hop culture.
The Sunshine/Heart Family concept was revived in the Happy Family line (2003 -2004). This time, it was Barbie´s friends Alan and Midge who were presented as a young married couple with kids (well, there was some initial controversy over pregnant Midge not wearing a wedding ring—).
Meanwhile, Barbie´s sister Stacie was enlarged and got her own (short-lived) line of 8″ dolls in 2004, We Three Friends. There was also a 6″ Kelly. Both looked like their Barbie-scale counterparts but were considerably larger.
2004 also saw the introduction of the ModelMuse body in the collectible Barbie line – a slim, stylized body that would later be used for the Barbie Basics in the playline. Speaking of which, the Fashion Fever line was introduced that same year and proved to be very popular until 2008.
Winx Club and W.I.T.C.H. were two Italian magical girl series that enjoyed international success in 2004. Both were also marketed with dolls.
Winx Club – Tecna
Teen Trends (2005-2006) were a line of 16″ dolls that were probably Mattel´s umpteenth attempt to compete with Bratz. They used a revised version of the Hopscotch Hill dolls body with different face sculpts. The Hopscotch Hill line of dolls was produced by American Girl between 2003 and 2006.
Launched in 2005, Pixel Chix are interactive electronic games based on teenage girls, very similar to Tamagotchi but based in a miniature house with a lounge, kitchen and dining area and steps leading upstairs. There are four different types of houses and four different pixel girls in each house. In the game, two or more houses can be connected, allowing the characters (the Pixel Chix) to visit one another. These characters can be controlled in ways similar to other hand-held games, such as Tamagotchi.
Around 2006, MGA introduced the Yummi-Land series which lasted until 2010. Versions included Ice Cream Pop, Soda Pop, Flower Pop, Snow Cone Pop, and Candy Pop girls.
Also in 2006, Hasbro relaunched the Baby Alive line with more sophisticated dolls with various functions and a revised design.
Several Disney Channel productions were huge successes that were also marketed as dolls: Hannah Montana (2006-2011), Wizards of Waverly Place (2007-2012), High School Musical (2006, with several follow-ups) were the most important ones.
Robert Tonner introduced Ellowyne Wilde in 2006. His subsidiary company, Wilde Imagination,would go on to focus on goth-themed adult collectors dolls such as Maudelynne Macabre, Evangeline Ghastly, or Sad Sally.
Another important franchise of the late 2000s was Twilight. Both Barbie dolls and 16″ collectible dolls by Robert Tonner were produced marketing the movies from 2008 on. People were either “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”.
In 2008, Dora got the spinoff Go, Diego, Go and in 2009 Dora and Friends followed, featured the main characters in a slightly older (preteen) version.
Launched in 2009, S.I.S. So in Style was a line of AA fashion dolls independent of, but similar to the Barbie franchise (similar to the Shani line before). And like the Shani line, by the early 2010s the line was merged into the Barbie line.
After Mattel had sued MGA Entertainment for alleged copyright infringement in the case of the Bratz, a case which MGA eventually won, the line started to struggle but still exists in 2014.Meanwhile, in 2009 MGA launched another line featuring somewhat younger characters – Moxie Girlz.
BFC Ink. was a line of 18″ dolls also introduced in 2009, with 10″ fashion dolls added somewhat later. Both lines were discontinued in 2012.
2009 saw a growing popularity in 18″ play dolls with several new lines added to the market. There was Sonja Hartmann´s Kidz and Cats, the Princess and Me Disney line, and in 2010 Toys R Us launched their own brand, the Journey Girls.
2009 saw another fad in the shape of Zhu Zhu Pets, plush-covered robotic hamsters. They were a huge craze in the year of their introduction and are still around in 2014.
The Liv dolls, produced 2009 – 2012, were a line of highly poseable dolls with exchangeable wigs and inset eyes.
Mattel introduced two new lines in 2009: Barbie Fashionistas & Barbie Basics. The Fashionistas replaced the earlier Fashion Fever line. There were 6 different styles, and the dolls had the highly poseable pivotal body that had been introduced in the collectibles line in 2007. Later editions even had exchangeable heads (a feature which had not been done for safety reasons since the 1980s). The Basics had the ModelMuse body.
MGA´s Lalaloopsy dolls, introduced in 2010, proved to be one of the biggest successes of the early decade.
They were outdone, however, by Monster High – also introduced in 2010 and still going strong.
My Little Pony also received a makeover in 2010 and started the new decade with the hugely successful Friendship is Magic line.
Around this time, Bandai introduced their Harumika line of mannequins for little girls to make dresses for. While they resemble vintage sewing mannequins, they have slits into which the girls can tuck the fabric so they can play but do not need to sew.
Another line that debuted in 2010 was Hearts4Hearts dolls.
Moxie Teenz were introduced in 2010. They were highly poseable 15″ dolls with inset eyes and changeable wigs. The line faded away around 2013.
In 2011, American Girl introduced its new historical characters: Marie-Grace & Cecile (1853 New Orleans). Caroline (War of 1812) followed in 2012. The historical character line was renamed Beforever in 2014.
In 2012, Hasbro changed the design of the LPS Blythe and the doll now sold as Blythe as part of the franchise has nothing in common with “that” Blythe any more.
2012 MGA introduced two more lines: Bratzillaz are slightly larger,more articulated “cousins” of Bratz, and to cash in on the Harry Potter/Monster High success, they are all witches. Probably discontinued by 2014. NoviStars were cute little alien characters.
Another successful franchise of the early 2010s was Hunger Games. Dolls were made starting with the first movie (2012).
Ever After High had its debut in 2013. In this companion line to Monster High, the characters are based upon characters fairy tales and fantasy stories.
2013 also saw an (even more) anthropomorphic version of MLP:FiM – Equestria Girls.
Probably the biggest success of 2014 was Disney´s Frozen. Anna, Elsa and Olaf dolls were everywhere!