Götz Overview and History
The German doll company Götz Puppenmanufaktur (Götz Dollmanufacturer) makes a huge variety of dolls and has been doing so since 1950. Götz is a family-run business, founded by Franz and Marianne Götz and now run by the next generation, Anke Götz-Beyer and Uwe Beyer. A short history of the doll company can be found at the company website. Even narrowing the focus down to 16" - 23" vinyl child dolls (the main focus of Just Magic), the number and types of the dolls is still very large. But there is one thing that all Götz dolls have in common -- wonderful quality.
If you collect Magic Attic or American Girl-type dolls you will love Götz. Still, it helps to understand the types and classifications of Götz dolls so that you can be sure what to look for.
Götz classifies its doll into three broad categories:
Artist Dolls, as you'd expect, are attributed to a particular doll artist and are the highest quality (and most expensive) dolls the company manufactures. Artists that sculpt or have sculpted for Götz include Sasha Morgenthaler (their first artist dolls), Sissel Skille, Hildegard Günzel, Joke Grobben and many more. Artist dolls tend to be larger (25" or greater for child dolls), fixed or painted eye, all are wigged, and their bodies and clothing are made of the highest-quality materials. All of the dolls are limited editions (the molds are destroyed after making a pre-determined number of dolls, such as 500) or they are limited to one production year. Most artist dolls are highly realistic.
Handcrafted Dolls are primarily meant for collectors or as heirloom dolls for children (meant to be saved for future generations). The child dolls are generally medium sized (18" - 23") and are made of high-quality materials like Kanekalon fiber wigs or excellent rooted hair, fairly elaborate costumes, high quality vinyl, and so on. They usually have fixed eyes or painted eyes. Details are usually hand-painted on these dolls and they come with a Götz bracelet and certificate to identify them. Some of them are limited edition.
Play Dolls are just that: dolls meant for play by children. The dolls tend to be smaller (16.5" - 19.5"), they generally have rooted hair (which the company believes stands up better to play), and their clothing and parts, such as vinyl and eyes, are lesser quality than the handcrafted or artist dolls though still generally very good. These dolls are mass produced so there is little or no hand-detailing.
For handcrafted and play dolls, the doll artist who sculpted the doll is generally not acknowledged.
In the past, all three types of dolls were made in the company's German factory. In the late 1980's and early 1990's, some production was also done in New York, USA (including assembling the American Girl dolls which Götz manufactured for Pleasant Company) and in Budapest, Hungary. At some point in time, manufacturing (especially for play dolls) was partly moved to China. In 2003, the company was experiencing difficulty and issued a press release stating that they would be ceasing operation. Fortunately for doll collectors, a business relationship was worked out with another company called International Playthings and that did not happen. However, since then, all manufacturing has been moved to China.
Within and sometimes across the categories of artist, handcrafted and play dolls are various collections. Examples of these doll collections include:
Often, the unifying theme of a collection is the clothing. For instance, Pampolina is a well-known German children's clothing manufacturer and the Pampolina by Götz collection features dolls dressed in Pampolina outfits. The Beatrix Potter collection features dolls dressed in pastels embellished with Beatrix Potter characters like Peter Rabbit. Other collections, like Precious Day and Kinderland, are more for marketing purposes where a collection of dolls and separately packed outfits and accessories are marketed to toy stores.
For the most part, within a collection you will find a variety of sizes and body types across the dolls. There may be baby dolls and child dolls, boys and girls, soft body and all vinyl.
Götz uses some precise terminology to describe its different doll types. This terminology refers to the body style that the dolls possess. For child dolls, the primary doll types are:
Articulated soft body standing dolls are what we collectors refer to as "American Girl-type" because this is the Götz body type that the 18" American Girls have. For the last five years or so, most dolls produced by Götz using this body type have been 18" though there are older dolls that are bigger or smaller. These dolls have a cloth torso and vinyl head, arms and legs. The arms and legs are jointed at the top (articulated) so they can hold a pose. On the right you can see Leela, a Götz doll by Starshine Dolls, who is an articulated soft body standing doll.
Soft body standing dolls also have a cloth torso and vinyl head and limbs, but they have cloth, non-articulated, upper legs so they can't stand without the aid of a doll stand. Götz has several different versions of this body type which they do not distinguish in their catalogs (they call them all soft body standing dolls). The dolls could have cloth upper arms so they are not poseable, such as Caitlin, the doll on the left. Caitlin is 17.5" and dolls of this body style are often found in 17.5" and in 19" size.
A "soft body standing doll" could also have a vinyl breastplate with articulated arms, like this handcrafted doll named Vivien on the right (standing next to an early, American Girl Kirsten). These handcrafted dolls are 17.5" in size. Vivien and her sisters look a little odd when undressed but their breastplates and all-vinyl arms make them look good in a variety of fashions, such as low necklines and short sleeves.
There is a similar body style used for some 21.5" Principessa artist dolls (also described as "soft body standing") except those dolls have molded upper arms, a short cloth section, and then vinyl for the remainder of the arm. The cloth section has an internal armature so the arms are slightly poseable.
Articulated hard body standing dolls are completely vinyl. There are a variety of different sizes and body molds, but the most common for child dolls are 16.5", 19.5" and 23". The Sylvia Natterer child dolls are all of this type and they are most commonly found in 15", 17.5" and 19.5".
Götz As a Supplier
Götz makes, or has made, dolls for a number of other companies, sometimes acknowledged and sometimes not. The dolls are not always marked "Götz" on the back of the neck. Examples of companies that Götz has manufactured dolls for include Pleasant Company (American Girl and Bitty Baby), Starshine Dolls, Martha Pullen (Dress Me Dolls, Martha's Friends and Lilith), Vision Forum (Beautiful Girlhood Jubilee and Liberty) and Kid Galaxy (Little Sisters and Li'l Punkin).
A popular Götz face mold might be used for dolls produced for other companies or across many Götz collections -- from a $50 play doll to a $350 Limited Edition handcrafted doll. A face mold might also be used for many different doll types with drastically different body styles. For example, you can find older Götz dolls with the American Girl face mold but they are usually 18" articulated hard body standing dolls. It's impossible to tell what kind of doll you're looking at from the face mold alone. If you only like certain body styles, make sure you ask a lot of questions of your doll seller or examine the doll in person before you buy her.
Götz dolls are some of the best vinyl play dolls on the market. The variety can be confusing but it is also refreshing since, in real life, all kids don't have the same smile, the same shape or the same height. Let your doll collection reflect the world and invite some Götz dolls to come and play.
Text Copyright © 2002-2006 Maria Greene All Rights Reserved
This page was last updated 10/09/06