Ballpark Estimate: $500 to $6.25 million
Walk into any toy store and the variety of dolls for sale is sure to amaze you. Today, there is a doll for almost every child’s taste and style, from tiny figures small enough to fit in your palm of your hands to larger-than-life toy babies and children with realistic features and hair that are sure to keep your children entertained. There are even dolls that talk, walk, swim and eat, but surprisingly, some of the most expensive doll varieties don’t do much of anything at all except perhaps look exceptionally pretty.
A Long-Standing Tradition
Most little girls love playing with dolls, and many young boys enjoy action figures and stuffed animals that challenge their imagination. In fact, the tradition of giving children dolls and similar playthings stems back to ancient times. The earliest dolls were modeled after religious figures and adults, but in the mid 1800s, historians say that some of the most popular dolls that were manufactured in France began to look more like children. Over the years, in addition to realistic (and not so realistic) dolls that have been created, there are also a variety of unusual doll styles, action figures and stuffed animals on the market that have been designed to appeal to children of all ages. The price of such items varies greatly, from just a few dollars on up to a few thousand, or even a few million, dollars.
Collectible Dolls and Playthings
Here is a list of the most expensive dolls and related toys on the market today. If you can afford to splurge like this, remember that while these items may look like children’s playthings, most are collectibles and should therefore be stored safely away from eager little hands, which could easily damage them. Items like these should be carefully displayed to preserve their value and beauty.
10. Ghostface Doll
Not all dolls are delicate, pretty little things and not all are meant for young children, either. A popular rap group called Wu Tang Clan markets an action figure called The Ghostface Doll, which is just 9 inches tall and wears a red-velvet robe and a Yankees cap. The doll, which is a limited edition collector’s item, also wears a wristband and medallion that are both made of 14-karat gold. It sells for $499.99, which comes out to about $56 an inch.
Boys who love action-packed movies may be captivated by a line of figurines that are called “Cinemaquettes” and are based on characters from some of the most popular titles. Some of the recent figures include the Godfather and the Predator. All are museum quality, and are finished in such realistic minute detail that they even feature strands of human hair stitched onto the head. These editions, which are released in very small numbers, are made to look at, not to play with, since they retail for between $1,000 and $1,500 each.
8. Beanie Baby
While the collectible Beanie Baby figures aren’t actually dolls, these soft stuffed animals appeal to girls, and even adults, in the same way. Each Beanie Baby is based on a different animal and they have been produced in fairly limited editions by manufacturer Ty Warner. The most valuable Beanie Baby to date is the royal blue elephant named Peanut. While the elephant was scheduled to be made in a light blue, an error in the production process resulted in a small batch being run in a darker shade. Stuffed animals from this mis-run batch have been valued as high as $5,000 today.
7. Twin Hilda JDK
For someone who loves more classic style baby dolls, the antique twin Hilda JDK, Kestner Dolls might be the perfect gift. These beautiful baby dolls have angelic features painted on and eyes that open and close. Each baby is also dressed in exquisite clothes. The twins are currently listed on Ebay, selling for a buy-it-now price of $7,500.
6. Original Barbie
When you think of a Mattel Barbie doll, you probably think of the molded plastic figures that now sell for between $10 and $20 and are available sporting a variety of stylish outfits. But in fact the original Barbie, which was released in 1959 and is No. 1 in a very long line, comes with quite a bit higher price tag these days. In fact, in mint condition, this collector’s item sells for about $8,000.
5. Diamond Teddy Bear
Most children today own at least one cuddly teddy bear, but chances are these stuffed animals can’t compare to a limited edition bear that was created by a German company to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the teddy bear. The special bear, which is the most expensive one ever made, has a mouth formed by out a piece of solid gold and eyes out of diamonds and sapphires. The price tag for these bears goes as high as $193,000.
4. Diamond Barbie
A diamond is forever, even when it is worn by doll. That’s why diamond manufacturer De Beers partnered with Mattel in 1999 to create Diamond Barbie as a way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this popular doll. This special edition toy is decked out in a gown featuring 160 diamonds. This well-dressed doll retails for $85,000.
3. Original G.I. Joe
When Hasbro created its military action figure G.I. Joe back in the 1970s, they couldn’t have predicted what a hit this toy would be with boys from all walks of life. The original 12-inch figure is now the most expensive action figure ever made, with a value today $200,000. This prototype is owned by a private collector, who currently has it on display at the Geppi Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
2. Madame Alexander Eloise
For a doll collector who will settle for nothing but the best (or for a very, very lucky little girl), you may want to explore Madame Alexander’s five hand-made one-of-a-kind Eloise dolls, which were created especially to benefit several charities back in 2000. These dolls were the result of collaboration among a handful of high-end designers, featuring nine carats of diamonds provided by Harry Winston, furs by Oscar de la Renta for Alixandre Furs, clothes by Christian Dior and Swarovski crystal accessories by Kathrine Baumann. The dolls sold at auction for $5 million.
The most expensive doll in existence is called L’Oiseleur, which means the Bird Trainer. This is a four-foot tall automated figure dressed in renaissance clothing that plays the flute and also carries a sword and holds a pair of birds that sing. What adds to the doll’s value is the fact that it doesn’t need batteries or motors but works by a system of cogs and gears. It is worth noting that this doll took more than 15,000 hours to build out of 2,340 polished steel parts. The price for this unusual item is $6.25 million.
Dollhouses and Accessories
If you invest in a collectible doll, it is likely that you will also want to provide it with a nice place to live. Therefore, you might want to consider investing in the world’s most expensive doll house, which measures 7 feet by 5 feet, is a miniature version of a private palace in London called Spencer House. The real Spencer House was built in the 1750s for the first Earl Spencer, an ancestor of Princess Diana of Wales. The replica of this landmark comes complete with carpeting and lighting and is extravagantly furnished, with a value at close to $400,000, which is more than many people spend on their own homes.
And why stop there? To ensure that your doll is also attired in the highest style, you may also want to purchase a toy sewing machine that you can keep in your new doll house. Such a miniature sewing machine recently sold at an auction in London for the high price of $13,600.