December 9, 2023
May 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 5
Dolls: Käthe Kruse's Melena
Cool Clothing Would Rock This Ragdoll
This month, Dolls Roundtable participants took a look at Melena — a Käthe Kruse rag doll by Europlay. Though it’s part of Käthe Kruse’s play line, the children and their parents considered Melena more of a specialty item than a play doll. However, a young visitor from Madagascar was enthralled by Melena’s long, black, stylable hair. The adult collectors, including the Roundtable editor, appreciated the doll’s high quality and design.
| “It reminds me of my Raggedy Ann doll from my childhood.” — Brenda Oxford, collector
Roundtable participants included Ruth Mandt with her granddaughters Paige (6) and Brielle (10); grandmother Barbara Smith; Amanda Forrest with her daughters Sydney (7) and Savannah (6); Kim Hobbs, owner of Hobbs House of Dolls in Marietta, Ga.; and doll collector Brenda Oxford.
“The doll was sweet,” began Ruth Mandt, a grandmother and schoolteacher, who gave it 3 stars. She objected, though, to Melena’s old-fashioned outfit. “African-American children want to play with dolls that look like them,” she said. “They like the mod clothing of today.”
“They didn't like the clothing at all," Amanda Forrest said of her own three girls. Forrest rated the doll a 3.
Patty Soderdahl, a child visiting from Madagascar, however, “liked the doll and was amazed by its long dark hair,” continued Mandt. “I think [my grandchildren] might have liked it, had it been dressed differently."
Collector Brenda Oxford agreed with Patty and didn’t object to the old-fashioned clothes: “I loved the long soft hair on this doll, and it reminds me of my Raggedy Ann doll from my childhood.” She gave the doll 5 stars.
Retailer Kim Hobbs didn’t think Melena’s subtle facial features would appeal to young children. She also suspected the long hair might become matted or make its way into little mouths. She gave it 3 stars.
“I know the history of the Käthe Kruse doll, and they are highly sought-after dolls,” stated Oxford.
In 1905, Käthe Kruse made her first doll for her 3-year-old daughter, Maria. Later, she made another for her daughter Sophie. In 1912, Kruse opened a shop in Bad Kosen, Germany. The dolls made from 1912 to 1952 were 17" cloth dolls that were stuffed with deer hair and had jointed legs and sewn-on arms.
Today, the Käthe Kruse Company is split into collector and play lines. The collector line is still made in the same way as the older dolls.
“Patty said the doll is exactly like what they have in her home country of Madagascar,” commented Mandt.
“I think children in this country can benefit from playing with this doll because it teaches about the culture of other countries, and how children dress in that country," Oxford continued.
The reviewers objected to the plain cardboard box Melena came in. Grandmother Barbara Smith felt the doll would need to be repackaged if given as a gift, and awarded Melena only 1 star. Hobbs also noted that the nose on her doll was loose, which might be hazardous for young children.
Everyone but Patty and Oxford mentioned they’d like to see the doll in a more flattering modern outfit that would appeal to today’s kids.
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