Noel Cruz: Improving Dolls. One Face At A Time.

celebrity dolls by Noel Cruz
Artist Noel Cruz repaints the Keira Knightly doll so now it actually resembles the actress

Most likely the majority of you are not doll shopping. And you probably can’t name the last celebrity doll or action figure you purchased (unless, of course, you have a tween female at home for whom you’ve bought one recently). But before purchasing your next one, be sure to see the Custom Celebrity Dolls by Noel Cruz.

Custom Celebrity Dolls by Noel Cruz

Personally, I don’t own any Celebrity dolls, but that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of what’s out there, nor am I ignorant about how often their likenesses to celebrities fail to impress.

Mattel's Barbie and Hilary Duff doll
Mattel’s Barbie and Hilary Duff doll (they look pretty similar to me – I can’t tell them apart);  above right: The 2007 Cher doll by Mattel, a pretty good likeness

Below are a few dolls on the market from Mattel, Play Along, and more that are made in celebrity likenesses. Most of them look nothing like the celebrity they are supposed to be, as you can see from the examples below.

hannah montana doll
above left: the 1999 Britney Spears Doll ; above right: the new Hannah Montana Doll by Play Along

Initially, I’d intended to blog about the limited edition Karl Lagerfeld doll (which sold out in hours at the ultra hip french boutique Colette) when I came upon the celebrity dolls by Noel Cruz.

the limited edition Karl Lagerfeld doll
the limited edition Karl Lagerfeld doll
Found by accident but worth a mention is this hilarious, one-of-a-kind, Britney “Shears” doll that sold on ebay for $182.00

Now, quite by accident- which is the way I find many of my most interesting posts, I came upon Noel’s gallery on Deviant Art that showed off his amazing repainted doll faces. I simply couldn’t get enough as I saw how he immensely improved upon such popular actresses as Kiera Knightly and more. His ability to turn an unrecognizable cast doll face into a celebrity likeness that is unmistakable is really compelling and impressive.

An artist, he also has many graphite portraits, but these are not nearly as impressive as his repainted doll faces. .Just take a look

Celebrity Dolls by Noel Cruz
repainted Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman Doll
celebrity dolls by Noel cruz
repainted Kirsten Dunst Doll
repainted Uma Turman Doll
repainted Uma Turman Doll
repainted Nicole Kidman Doll
repainted Nicole Kidman Doll
repainted Tobey Maguire Doll
repainted Tobey Maguire Doll

I’m not the only one who thinks his dolls are impressive. At the time of this post, they sell for an average of $650 a piece on ebay.

repainted madonna doll
above: repainted Madonna Doll

custom painted dolls
above: repainted Christina Aguilera Doll

repainted Cher Doll
repainted Cher Doll

The text below is from Noel’s own site:
An artist who thoroughly appreciates the beauty of faces, Noel Cruz started doing portraits at a very young age. Self-taught for several years, he studied the works of numerous artists in his native country, the Philippines.

Gradually overtime, his natural talent grew and developed. He began taking commissions at 16, and has done countless portraits since. Charcoal, graphite, pastel, and acrylics are his media of choice.

Noel holds a degree in Communications with emphasis on video editing and digital imaging, and has shot and edited documentaries for California State University Bakersfield, where he graduated.

Repainting dolls happened by accident when he was looking for a Gene doll to add to his wife’s collection. He stumbled upon several Gene dolls repainted to resemble different likenesses. This became an inspiration for him to project his painting talents onto Gene, which became the beginning of another facet of artistic outlet for him. Much to his delight, he discovered that painting a doll’s face is very much like painting on canvas or paper, but with the extra challenge of working on a three-dimensional surface as well as a different surface texture.

Noel has naturally transmitted onto his repaints his love of celebrities, many of which he has painted or drawn before. In addition, he constantly strives to add diversity to his work by working on other comparable-size dolls such as Tyler, Sydney, Franklin Mint dolls, etc.

As a seller on ebay with over 400 transactions to date, Noel’s ebay profile reads:

My wife has been a passionate doll collector for years now. While scouring the internet for dolls to add to my wife’s collection, we accidentally stumbled upon repainted Gene dolls by different artists. I was awe-stricken! As an artist myself, I became inspired and challenged to give this fresh form of art a try. I have been involved in illustrated arts and painting portraits for many years and I thought maybe this would be a unique experience for me. At first I was hesitant to “deface” her dolls. But as it turned out, as I drew from my years of drawing and painting faces, and with my wife’s encouragement, new personalities were created out of her dolls, and of course the rest is history.

With my long appreciation of celebrities, I enjoy repainting dolls. When I first started repainting in 2001, I mostly repainted Gene dolls. As the market became more diverse and other 16-inch fashion dolls were introduced, I slowly branched out into repainting these dolls, specifically the 16-inch dolls produced by Robert Tonner. It always amazes me how these dolls serve as a three-dimensional canvas in bringing to life faces of different personalities and character. Occasionally, I would repaint Gene and the Tonner dolls from my own imagination and ideal of beauty. Both are very satisfying for me. I am therefore happy to offer here my one-of-a-kind creations that I sincerely hope you can enjoy and appreciate.

repainted Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara Doll
repainted Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara Doll
repainted Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins Doll
repainted Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins Doll

above: a self portrait by the artist.

Visit the artists site.
A little background on celebrity dolls courtesy of
Why Do People Collect Celebrity Dolls?

People collect celebrity dolls for a variety of reasons. Some collectors are drawn to the dolls because they are fans of the celebrity the doll portrays or of the television show or movie that featured the person. For instance, some collectors of Wizard of Oz memorabilia collect Judy Garland dolls (although they do not collect any other type of doll). Some doll collectors specialize in the many versions of the Shirley Temple doll throughout the years (often because they were a fan of Shirley and her movies as a child). Other collectors of celebrity dolls aren’t doll collectors at all, but collectors of movie memorabilia including movie-related celebrity dolls. Finally, doll collectors may simply like a doll, and collect the doll although they are not particularly drawn to the celebrity that the doll represents (for instance, a collector of composition dolls from the 1930s would most likely have some Shirley Temple dolls in their collection, even if they are not a “fan” of Shirley Temple).

How Long Have Celebrity Dolls Been Produced?

Celebrity dolls have been in production for a very long time. In the 1840s, several famous ballerinas were featured as paper dolls. Also in the 1800s, various military heroes were portrayed as dolls/figures. Things really heated up in the early 1900s with the advent of the silent films. The John Bunny doll (a silent film star) was one of the first produced in 1914 by Louis Amberg & Sons. The first Charlie Chaplin doll was produced in 1915. The composition Baby Peggy doll was a HUGE success in 1923, also produced by the Amberg company. The Shirley Temple doll by Ideal was a phenomena in the 1930s–first produced in 1934, millions of the composition Shirley dolls were produced (and, variations of the Shirley doll are being produced to this day, generally in porcelain or vinyl). After Shirley, companies like Madame Alexander and Ideal produced MANY different celebrity dolls, including Sonja Henie, Jane Withers and Deanna Durbin.

Books on Celebrity Dolls:
• The Encyclopedia of Celebrity Dolls by John Axe. Cumberland, Md.: Hobby House Press, Inc., 1983. This book is out-of print
Collectors Guide to Celebrity Doll by David Spurgeon (Paperback)
• Celebrity Dolls Price Guide by Michele Kart (Paperback published November 2001)

Books That Include Information on Celebrity Dolls:
• Kids’ Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood by Gary Cross: Harvard University Press, 1997.
• A Celebration of American Dolls: From the Collections of the Strong Museumby Dorothy McGonagle: Hobby House Press, Inc., 1997.
• Collector’s Encyclopedia of American Composition Dolls, 1900-1950 by Ursula Mertz.: Collector Books, 1999.
• Shirley Temple Dolls and Fashions: A Collector’s Guide to the World’s Darling by Edward R. Pardella: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1992.
• Shirley Temple Dolls and Collectibles by Patricia R.Smith.: Collector Books, 1977.