While Ann Estelle was my first Tonner doll and the one I fell in love with, she wasn’t Robert’s first vinyl ten-inch child doll. That honor belongs to Linda McCall. She was based on the two-year-old character in the Betsy McCall paper dolls introduced in April 1952. Please note that Betsy was identified as being only 5 or 6 years old while in our minds our dolls can be any age we wish.
In her first appearance, Linda McCall, '"An American in Paris" was shown at the UFDC's 49th National Convention "A French Tapestry" held in New Orleans, Louisiana, August 11, 1998 in a limited edition of 325. She was paired at this event with her older cousin Betsy wearing coordinated navy outfits.
Her straight leg body was used for Ann Estelle who was introduced in 1999. You can even find a tiny “LM” on the inside upper part of both legs indicating that the same molds were used for both dolls. In late 2006 the bodies were forever changed to hard plastic to make the new bendy knees possible.
Ann Estelle and her friends in the Mary Engelbreit Collection (Sophie, Georgia, Gracie, Michael and Lilah) ended as part of the regular line in 2009 after an impressive ten-year run. Along the way, Robert created other collections using the ten-inch child body including Petite Filles, Small World, Half-Pint, Dr. Seuss and the extremely successful Patsy.
However, it was Ann Estelle who made the last bow for our ten-inch sweeties at Robert’s 25th Anniversary convention at a special event with Mary Engelbreit held on June 4, 2016 in Columbus Ohio. She was titled “A Bit Younger” and had the very latest body with articulated wrists, elbows and knees. She had a limited edition of only 200, but sometimes you can find her on eBay.
So that is the very brief story of the first and last of the incredibly cute Tonner ten-inch vinyl child dolls during their 18 year run.