For awhile now I’ve been toying with the idea of writing about some of my collections. Collecting is a big hobby of mine and I find a lot of joy in it – if you follow me over on Instagram you’ll probably already be quite familiar with some of the things I covet and hoard because I’m forever posting photos. But for some reason I’ve remained relatively quiet about them on my blog. I guess I didn’t think many people would be interested but as this is such a big passion of mine I thought it would be fun to write about (and photograph!) And when it’s all said and done this is my little space on the internet, I really have to stay true to myself!
So today I’m going to give you a little glimpse in to my Kitsch, Kawaii and Retro collections. I can’t show you everything as I’d be here all day! But I’ll show you some of my favourite pieces and explain why I love them so!
This post was inspired by a fun Instagram post shared by the company Retro Kids (but is not sponsored by or affiliated with Retro Kids!) You can find that post (and more) @retrokids on Instagram!
I’ve been a collector my whole life. Even as a child I’d raid the bootsale stalls for Enid Blyton books and anything mouse-related, and I think everyone of a similar age went through that Pokemon card phase. I guess it’s just something I never really grew out of; I could never live a minimalist life – I just love stuff so much! For me the biggest joy in collecting comes from the chase. I find it really exciting when you’ve been hunting for a certain piece for months and then you finally find it – it’s even more thrilling when you’re able to grab a bargain in the process! But I also like taking photos of my collection, displaying them in my home and just enjoying them.
I spend a lot of time on eBay, perusing the listings for the best deals. I also check Depop and selling groups on Facebook for harder-to-find pieces. A couple of the things I collect are sold quite readily online and a handful of shops stock them too so if I can go to a store in person I always will. Anyway, I’m rambling on now. Let me show you some of the things I collect!
Side note: I can’t show you every single piece in my collection as I’d be here forever, so the images will just show you a very small selection.
Kewpie Dolls, Woodland Dolls and Tumble Dolls
So I’m going to start with the Kewpies as I think this will give a bit of background for what I’m going to talk about later. Kewpies are basically little angel babies and are characterised by the wings on their back, their three little tufts of hair and large eyes framed with long eyelashes. Kewpies are a vintage toy and are often made of a soft rubber/vinyl material. Out of all of my collections I would say the Kewpie is the most iconic and well-known. I personally find them super cute and as a lover of all things vintage, adore them. I don’t have many in my collection right now but of the three I do have two of those are true vintage (and the third looks to be relatively new/a reproduction.) I actually have a Kewpie inspired tattoo and would love to get a couple more. I am really in to the imagery of them – peruse the hashtag #Kewpie on Instagram for all the cool vintage feels.
I’m lumping Woodland Dolls in to this collection too because like the Kewpies, they are dolls and as such they are displayed together on my dresser. The Woodland Dolls are reproductions based on a vintage doll – and they are absolutely adorable! They do actually remind me of Kewpies in a way, and there’s something incredibly retro about them. Personally I think these make a sweet addition to any room and they always brighten my day.
And finally in this collection are the Tumble Dolls. I only have two of these so alone they don’t really make a collection but as I say, I consider these to be a part of a larger collection of retro and vintage dolls and I would definitely like to get more! My favourite is the bee as it’s just so adorable. These tumble dolls are reproductions but again, based on a real vintage toy that started life out in Soviet Russia.
I really love retro and vintage toys because I find them so magical and enchanting (not to mention cute!) I really feel like they make perfect home decor pieces and add a touch of charm to a room. A lot of people probably find it strange that I would collect toys but in all honesty I’m obsessed with vintage/retro and cute things and they make me happy – so that’s more than enough justification for me!
Start your own collection: You can buy real vintage Kewpies on Etsy, Ebay and vintage shops (if you’re lucky!) Woodland Dolls can be purchased from Lapin & Me which you’ll find here! And you’ll find Tumble Dolls at Retro Kids which is here!
Now I’ve explained what a Kewpie doll is it’s time to talk Sonny Angels. Sonny Angel is an updated version of a Kewpie doll – and is a small mini figure that comes from Japan. They aren’t as popular over here as they are there but what fan-base there is is pretty die-hard. These figures are very collectable with certain designs selling for in excess of £500 pounds on eBay. You may be thinking £500 for a tiny doll, outrageous ?! But if you start collecting these you’ll soon get sucked in and price tags like that seem slightly more justifiable.
Sonny Angel has been around for 14 years now and there are many regular series to collect (such as fruit, vegetable, animal etc) plus limited edition seasonal releases – think Christmas, Valentines and Easter. They are all sold in blind boxes so you’ll not be able to tell what you’re getting or what you’ve got until you have opened it. There’s also a chance of opening a super rare Angel (or his friend Robby) if you’re very lucky. These are worth a lot of money. I have been collecting for around two years now and have around 300 odd Sonny Angels in my collection, including some very rare ones.
My favourites are the Bee (just look at how kawaii it is!) the chipmunk, and the photographer. The latter was won in a photography competition and there are only 70 odd in the whole world. I was so shocked and surprised when I won the competition but completely over the moon!
Because the Angels are pocket sized it means they are easy to carry around. If I’m going out for the day I’ll quite often have a Sonny stashed away in my bag ready to whip out for photos. Lots of collectors take cute photos of their Sonny Angels and Instagram them – I do this partly because I am a Sonny Angel photographer (and my images are sometimes used for promotional purposes) and partly because I just find them insanely adorable and the images make me happy.
There is honestly no better feeling for me than opening a blind box and finding something rare inside. I know it’s completely childish but again, I’m really not bothered! Life is for living and if something is enjoyable I will enjoy it! Sonny Angel is my biggest collection by far and also my favourite.
Start your own collection: You can purchase Sonny Angel blind boxes from the indie shops Didi Inspired and Retro Kids. If this post inspires you to do so, please let them know and give a girl a shout out. Again not affiliated or sponsored by either company (just a fan!)
Blythe Dolls are another collection of mine with roots in vintage design. In the 70s toy company Kenner produced ‘Blythe’ – a big headed doll with colour changing eyes. She wasn’t very popular though as children and adults alike generally deemed her scary (poor Blythe!) so after two years production of the doll stopped.
Much later Japanese company Takara took over the production of Blythe and re-released her. She became massively popular with adult collectors and went from strength to strength. You won’t find her in any shops in the UK though, if you want one you have to buy one online from Japan. The popularity of these dolls means that the price tag is hefty – at a starting price of around £120 for a doll rising up to £500 + these are definitely considered a collectors item and not a toy. And because of the price tag of Blythe it’s meant that my collection is nowhere near as large as I would like it to be. I have eight Blythes in total, with my most expensive one costing around the £400 mark (Miss Sally Rice, a very rare and coveted Blythe.)
The great thing about Blythe is that Etsy is full of sellers creating wonderful clothes, shoes, costumes and accessories for Blythe so you can really dress them / change their look to create something you really like. People also customise the dolls by carving their faces, repainting them and re-rooting their hair. I love displaying mine as I think they look really retro and cool. I’m off to Blythecon in October to chat to other collectors and drool over dolls because you know, big kid at heart over here!
Start your own collection: For custom Blythes Etsy is your go-to. For stock Blythes (real Blythes in full outfits/box) you can buy from CC Toys and Junie Moon!
I would say those are the main things I collect but honestly I do have so many little collections. Basically whenever I see anything cute I have to pick it up! So my house is absolutely scattered with knick knacks and interesting little pieces.
Do you have any collections? Do we share any of the same collections? And would you like to start a collection? – if so, what? I absolutely love to hear from other collectors so please feel free to drop me a comment below!