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2402 W Rd
Bennington, VT, 05201
United States

802-447-7072

A behind-the-scenes look at the R. John Wright Dolls Design Studio in Bennington, Vermont. Written by R. John Wright, hear in his own words how the creative design process unfolds and how the world-renowned RJW dolls and animal characters are readied for production. 

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News & Updates

A behind-the-scenes look at the R. John Wright Dolls Design Studio in Bennington, Vermont. Written by R. John Wright, hear in his own words how the creative design process unfolds and how the world-renowned RJW dolls and animal characters are readied for production. 

What We Did & Where We Are Going by R. John Wright

John Wright

What We Did

We began 2015 with the Fairy Tale Mice collection. This series was a chance for us to interpret the characters of well-loved, classic fairy tales as mice! Each of the mice had his/her challenges - either with the mouse itself (mermaid!) or with clothing and the tiny handmade accessories which included crystal slippers, a magic lamp, and miniature gingerbread cookies. There were 6 different fairy tales represented: Little Red Riding Hood, Tom Thumb, Cinderella, Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Hansel & Gretel.

 

We hadn't done a new addition to our Palmer Cox Brownies collection since 2014's 'Brownie Jockey' so collectors were very happy to see the 'Englishman Brownie' added to the group. He joined his previously-released comrades, the Scotchman and the Irishman to fully represent the British Isles in Brownie Style!

The Apple Blossom Fairies were very complicated to develop as we wanted to have the 2 sisters seated in a flowering branch - just as they appeared in the lovely Mary Cicely Barker illustration. This latest addition to the Flower Fairies collection was eagerly awaited for a few years before we were able to see it finally fully realized in 2015.

Our history with Antoine de Saint Exupery's The Little Prince goes back to the beginning of our first child dolls in the early 1980s. We were excited to design a small 'petite' size of this beloved character. Le Petit Prince and his friend the Desert Fox were mid-year introductions in 2015.

Collectors ask continually for new additions to our ongoing Wizard of Oz collection. All the figures in this series are enormously challenging to design and produce and none so much as the Tin Man. We brought him to life in our studio with great fanfare! And he has already joined the Top Ten club - the 10 favorite dolls of R. John Wright!

Since we are long-time admirers of the original illustrations in the Alice books, we couldn't resist doing a commemorative edition to mark their 150th anniversary in 2015. Alice in Wonderland came holding her flamingo and was produced in a charming new 'cabinet size' for collectors.

Our final 2 productions of 2015 included a hugely popular bear named Digby - a sweet white polar bear cub holding a detailed all-felt poinsettia blossom. Digby sold out in less than 24hrs.

The other 'doll' issue for the Christmas season was the enchanting 'Celestial Musician' from our Hummel series.  The doll featured a new downcast face mold as well as a meticulously crafted wood violin made right here in our studio. For many this was the favorite of our pieces made to date based on the art of Sister Maria Innocentia.


Where We Are Going

For 2016 we have a lot of exciting new dolls and animals planned! We are working now on the finishing touches to the Cowardly Lion which will complete the main characters from the Wizard of Oz series. Look for the first photos to appear soon of this wonderful, iconic character.

The Cowboy Brownie is another piece which is eagerly awaited by collectors. He is the most American of all the Brownies and in fact was recommended by none other than President Theodore Roosevelt! Famed author and illustrator Palmer Cox obliged by creating this delightful character and it gives us great pleasure to bring him to life in the felt medium. The Brownie Cowboy will make his appearance early this year.

The adorable Bonzo dog dates from his heyday in the 20's and 30's but is immediately recognizable today. We are thrilled to be producing this droll little character under license. Bonzo will join the RJW menagerie in 2016. 

This is a vintage postcard featuring an original George Studdy Bonzo illustration.

We have been slowly developing the Where the Wild Things Are series in between other projects. It's a big undertaking but we are determined to introduce it this year. Keep your fingers crossed and we will see Max and his fearsome companions before the year is through!

Don't worry, we haven't forgotten the fans of our mice! This year we are happy to announce a new series of costumed mice based the classic motion picture Gone With the Wind! Further details are forthcoming - keep an eye on our Web site for the latest news on this exciting collection.

There are also a few extra surprises in store for 2016. PLUS, in addition to all the above will be the exciting event pieces and souvenirs from our 40th anniversary convention!


'About The Bears': Bear Q & A with R. John Wright

John Wright

These questions were part of an interview for Teddy Bear Times which will appear in a feature article in their next issue, we hope you enjoy this sneak peek of the article. The Teddy bear Times article includes production photos, so it is not to miss. Enjoy!

1. Do you have a favorite bear that you’ve created, either recently or in the past?

RJW: It's difficult to narrow it down because we've done several iconic bears that are very important such as Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington, the Clifford Berryman Bear, etc.

Pooh and His Favorite Chair

Pooh and His Favorite Chair

But I think I would single out our "Baby Bear" series. That was a collection of 5 cubs with realistic details made in 2003.

The Baby Bear Collection

The Baby Bear Collection

Of that group, “Pep” - the black bear - is my favorite.

2. What are your favorite materials to work with when creating your bears?

RJW: I would say that my favorite material to work with is alpaca plush, but another favorite is a wool/mohair blend. Both of these tend to have a denser pile than most mohair plushes. But every project is different and depending on the desired effect, the best materials will vary.

The Toddler Bears

The Toddler Bears

3. Where do you get the inspiration for a new creation?

RJW: Some artists are most comfortable creating their own concepts which they conjure from their own imaginations. That may work best for them, but for us we generally prefer having a strong source material to work from. So we often look for inspiration in illustrative art and our challenge becomes bringing the charm of the 2-dimensional images into 3-dimensions. Another ongoing source of inspiration is simply the world of nature. Real bear cubs never cease to amaze us with their unparalleled cuteness! The trick there is to avoid a 'taxidermy' effect by evoking real animals a little too closely. Our goal is always to keep the 'toy' in everything that we do.

Enjoy some more RJW bears below!

This adorable little redhead named "Isabelle" is the fifth issue in the new "Toddler Bears" series of cubs dressed in vintage-style children's clothing.

This adorable little redhead named "Isabelle" is the fifth issue in the new "Toddler Bears" series of cubs dressed in vintage-style children's clothing.

The Three Bears - part of the Goldilocks & the Three Bears collection produced in 2008.

The Three Bears - part of the Goldilocks & the Three Bears collection produced in 2008.

Among the new releases on display in the R.John Wright Dolls booth at the New York International Toy Fair in 2005 were two impressively large (20") bears named "Duncan" and "Fiona."

Among the new releases on display in the R.John Wright Dolls booth at the New York International Toy Fair in 2005 were two impressively large (20") bears named "Duncan" and "Fiona."

The "The Café Bears" were a pair of irresistible cubs made in 2010 exclusively for a RJW Retailer in the UK. Referencing their favorite coffee drink, the bears were named Café au Lait and Café Espresso.

The "The Café Bears" were a pair of irresistible cubs made in 2010 exclusively for a RJW Retailer in the UK. Referencing their favorite coffee drink, the bears were named Café au Lait and Café Espresso.

Café au Lait is a warm, light brown alpaca plush with a dark brown nose and paw pads with delicate airbrushed coloration.

Café au Lait is a warm, light brown alpaca plush with a dark brown nose and paw pads with delicate airbrushed coloration.

Café Espresso, is made of a corresponding rich dark brown alpaca with a beige nose and paw pads with delicate airbrushed coloration.

Café Espresso, is made of a corresponding rich dark brown alpaca with a beige nose and paw pads with delicate airbrushed coloration.

The Bear Captain, from the RJW BEARS-AT-SEA Collection was released in 2006. Measuring 22" standing, he is fully jointed and made of the finest custom-made grey alpaca plush.


The Bear Captain, from the RJW BEARS-AT-SEA Collection was released in 2006. Measuring 22" standing, he is fully jointed and made of the finest custom-made grey alpaca plush.

The formidal Pirate King, joined the BEARS-AT-SEA in 2007. Measuring an impressive 23" standing. he is fully jointed and made of the finest lustrous black alpaca plush with detailed shading. His felt paw pads and individually inserted resin claws give the Pirate King a menacing realism. His wonderful character face features striking blue glass pupil eyes and a molded leather nose.

The formidal Pirate King, joined the BEARS-AT-SEA in 2007. Measuring an impressive 23" standing. he is fully jointed and made of the finest lustrous black alpaca plush with detailed shading. His felt paw pads and individually inserted resin claws give the Pirate King a menacing realism. His wonderful character face features striking blue glass pupil eyes and a molded leather nose.

RJW Collector Spotlight

John Wright

One of the best things about collecting is making your collection your own. How people like to collect is up to them and taking a peek inside a collection of a passionate person is one of our favorite things. Recently, we had the chance to meet Michael Maskery. He is passionate about the Wizard of Oz and his vast collection and ways of displaying it are just as whimsical and fun as the movie. Meet our RJW Collector of the month, Michael Maskery!

 

RJW Editor: Where did you first learn about R. John Wright and what was your first piece? Do you remember what it was like opening that first box?

MM: If memory serves me correctly I think in first discovered the R.J. Wright Oz dolls in 2014 during the 75th anniversary year! I was familiar with R.J. Wright having been a doll collector for years and previously working for companies like FAO Schwarz and The Franklin Mint. I always dabbled in the "doll world". I became a R.J. Wright collector when I was doing some research on the 75th Anniversary collectibles and saw the amazing Dorothy Doll! She was my first R.J. Wright acquisition and I couldn't wait to get her!!!! When I opened the box it was like Dorothy opening the door from the sepia toned Kansas to the colorful world of Oz! Magical!!!!

                                                                                     Michael Maskery standing in front of his Wizard of Oz Collection.

RJW Editor: What character from the Wizard of Oz do you identify with the most?

MM: That's a really tough question!! I think at certain times I identify with certain characters! I think like the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion we all have a brain, heart and courage, sometimes we just need a little reminder that we possess all of those qualities! And Dorothy too, we all want a home and family that loves us. If your fortunate to have those things then what else do you need?!?!.... I think if I had to pick just one I'd have to say the Tin Man. "Remember my sentimental friend.. That a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others."

I have been a long time Oz collector. My collection began with a coloring book (pictured) which I received as a birthday gift when I was either 4 or 5 yrs old.. As you can see I still have it. I believe it’s from 1939!
I have been very fortune to have built up quite an extensive collection over the years, which includes, autographs of the principle players as well as many of the Munchkins!! I was fortunate enough to speak with Margaret Pellegrini (one of the original Munchkins) on the telephone after sending her a letter!
I feel very fortunate to have been able to see these treasures in person and up close!! I’ve included a few pictures for you to enjoy from these auctions.
Throughout my years of collecting I have also been fortunate to attend a few Hollywood Memorabilia auctions, most notably the recent TCM auctions held at Bonham’s in NYC.
I have met so many wonderful people who share my passion and joy, including John Fricke, who is the leading authority on all things Oz and Judy Garland. He has written several books on each subject. I also had the good fortune to meet Willard Carroll who is the owner of one of if not the largest Oz collection in the world! He owns the original Witch’s Hourglass, one of Judy’s test dresses and Jerry Maren’s original “Lollipop Guild” costume!!
My collection also includes many books, (some first edition “Oz” books, the RJW Scarecrow just happens to be sitting on a few), magazines, photographs and dolls!
Of all the dolls in my collection I must say that the R. John Wright Dolls are the absolute pinnacle and the real standouts of my collection!! They are unbelievably crafted and so highly detailed that Adrian himself would be proud!!
Acquiring the RJW Dolls has definitely renewed my passion for collecting Oz memorabilia, these characters hold a very special place in my heart and each time I acquire a new piece or that signature green RJW Box shows up on my doorstep it’s like being reunited with an old friend!!
These amazing collectibles have also sparked my creative side and inspired me to create an “Emerald City” display case for the mice.
...and my next project will be a shadow box to house and display Dorothy’s Basket and Ruby Slippers!
I can’t wait to add the Tin Man and Lion!! I’m so excited at the potential for more Oz characters and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Glinda as I know if you create her she will be absolutely breathtaking!!!! (If the little mouse is any indication of what a large scale Glinda will be, I’ll be in seventh heaven!!!)
I want to thank you for this wonderful opportunity and for continuing to inspire us to believe in a land “somewhere over the rainbow, where the dreams you dare to dream really do come true!!
I thank you for your passion and wonderful creativity in crafting these amazing dolls and collectibles!
Mr. Wright - as you can see, your creations are the highlights of my collection.
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RJW Editor: If you could ask R. John Wright a question, what would it be?

Michael Maskery: I think I would ask Mr. Wright what inspires him day in and day out to keep creating and how does he go about beginning the creative process?

R. John Wright: "Being naturally creative, what I do has become so much a part of me that it is hard to imagine not doing it! And I know Susan feels the same way. We have projects on the 'back burner' for years - sometimes decades! - before we move them front and center. Among these are such things as the Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, Hans Christian Andersen, etc. The list is endless as we are always finding new things that inspire us. I suppose the creative process begins when we put a project on our list because it is then that we begin to envision it as made by us. Once we set a project in motion it compels us to reach our goal of having it turn out as close as we can to that vision. A friend told me years ago that I was the most 'goal-oriented' person she had ever known and I think I know what she meant! Susan and I are our own worst critics so it sometimes takes longer than we would like to realize our ambitions."

Michael's wish to R. John Wright:


Are you a passionate collector? If you would like to be interviewed for a collector spotlight, please email us!