FEATURE: The fantastic FaBi DaBi Dolls – the ultimate theatre gift
If you’re a theatre lover then you’ve probably seen the fantastically detailed FaBi DaBi Dolls popping up all over social media. The biggest stars and the biggest shows have been recreated in the most marvellous miniature detail.
Based in Scotland it’s time to shout about the wonderful talent we have here on our doorstep. I’ll hand over the blog to Tom one of the talented duo behind FaBi DaBi Dolls to tell us more:
“I never thought in a million years I’d be making a living creating collectible peg dolls, but with over 1000 dolls made in the last year there it is. Both my partner Chris & I have worked in the performing arts world for about a decade, Chris working in various performing and Marketing roles over the years, myself working as an artist and in marketing design. As a real life couple we found over the years we began working on more and more joint projects until our company FaBi Artworks was born a few years ago (FaBi being a blending of both our surnames Farrell and Birrell) creating Illustrations, artworks, Children’s books and marketing for various productions, Then out of the blue on Christmas 2014 we were contacted by a performer friend who asked if we would be able to create some sort of doll based on the Book of Mormon characters that he could gift to a friend in the Broadway cast at the time – after about a months playing around with various ideas and a LOT of trial and error we found a process that worked, Peg dolls – a craft creation loved and created prominently in the USA, but one that we could easily adapt to make unique dolls and we did – and we loved making it – so 2 months later FaBi DaBi Dolls was born.
A year on we have created/ are selling over 150 different characters including over 50 musical theatre characters (we refer to as our stage door dollies) and currently have dolls accompanying performers in several west end dressing rooms, a fair few on tour buses around the UK and now even some on Broadway.
Although we now sell worldwide and to all markets from the cult market with our Dr Who, Game of Thrones and TV characters, to music icons, film and book characters to simply capturing customers themselves as our dolls within the last 6 months FaBi DaBi Dolls has been embraced by the theatre community (performers, workers and fans alike) in a way we could never have dreamed of.
I think our success in this particular field has shown not only how much people just adore musical theatre, but how much of a gap there was in the market for musical theatre merchandise, be it fans looking for mementos of their favorite characters/roles or looking for stage door gifts for their favourite performers to the performers themselves looking to capture roles they have done, to gifts for themselves or fellow actors.
From the stars of Miss Saigon, Memphis, Beautiful, Phantom, Jersey Boys to performers such as Kerry Ellis, Sabrina Alouche, Ashleigh Gray, Kieran Brown, Tim McArthur and Michelle Pentecost, we have been lucky enough to have many great performers tweet us their admiration and love for the dolls they have received be it commissioned, from a fan or from us.
Our first proper exposure in the theatre world though was due to the incredible support and promotion we gained from two of our favorite West-Enders – West End and cabaret star Kieran Brown and West End blogger (and creator of the #stagey tote) West End Wilma. Both discovered our dolls and promoted us within their circles more than we could have wished for which not only gained us the attention of theatre fans but many theatre performers too. No matter whose attention we gain over the years their support will never be forgotten.
As big fans of musical theatre ourselves it is those characters by far we most enjoy creating, especially as with many of the dolls you are not only capturing a character or moment in a show but often a particular performer.
Other characters we choose simply to capture exactly that – the character. Elphaba is perhaps the best example of that – by far one of our most loved and requested dolls, we currently create 2 versions – Defying Gravity and Wizard and I – and we have a new one about to be unveiled, but every few days we get a message requesting not just Elphaba but Idina as Elphaba, Kerry as Elphaba, Eden, Ashleigh, Alexia, Louise as Elphaba and the same goes for the Galindas – so we decided early on to create the characters themselves and not recreate an actor in that role.
Same with our creations such as the Cats when so many different versions of one character are created you just have to choose the look you want to create and stick with it.
The best thing about creating musical characters is the list of potential creations is never ending – although we currently create characters from shows such as Gypsy, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Rent, Cats, Phantom, Millie, Cabaret, Chicago, Little Shop, Rocky Horror, Mormon, Beautiful, Evita, Memphis, Matilda, Sweeney Todd and an entire range of Wicked dolls, it is only the start.
We currently have a list of over 50 more characters coming in the next few months including Norma Desmond, Into the Woods, A full Les Miserables cast, Mama Mia and our most requested characters by far – Hairspray, including the soon to be launched FaBi DaBi Divas – Think Streisand, Garland, Midler, Madonna, Bassey and Paige.
We do get some strange looks from people when we told them we make dolls for a living, even stranger looks when we shelved our other endeavors to focus on making dolls full time but the truth is the response to our dolls far outweighs the any negative attitudes we’ve faced. Another question we are often asked is do we not get bored simply making dolls every day but the answer is simply no as each doll is hand designed, created and worked out by us both, and every new doll brings new challenges, techniques – plus making the dolls is only a fraction of the process, from the promotion, marketing, dealing with various forms of clients and customers, expanding and growing the brand. Even designing and hand making the very boxes each doll comes in – there is so much more to the process than simply making a doll – it never gets boring.
The last few months we have been working on some exciting, special projects, from creating a set of dolls for stage and TV star Samantha Womack to capture her various roles to stage sensation Michael Xavier commissioning dolls of his entire cast of Assassins at the Chocolate Menier Factory as parting gifts.
Now thanks to the Ashleigh Gray fan club we have also created a range of dolls for Cool rider Live which are quickly becoming some of our most talked about creations.
More recent still was getting commissioned to create the Stars of Broadway Chicago Jennifer Nettles & Carly Hughes so now the Dolls are even on the Great White Way.
As well as some even bigger and better projects which we are currently working on – all due to be revealed in the upcoming months, The Dolls will also be branching out soon with a range of Doll inspired designs on artworks, totes and T-Shirts all going on sale to accompany the dolls themselves.
And next year the dolls are taking a leaf out of the performers books too and going on tour, early next year we will turning the dolls in to artworks themselves as we take DOLLIES an exhibition of over 200 dolls, sets, staging and special creations recreating many famous scenes, faces and moments around the UK.
So watch out these Guys and their Dolls are coming to a town, site, shop and bookcase near you soon
For all the information on our dolls – new and old creations, commissions, merchandise, tours and whos getting the peg treatment check out our twitter, facebook and buy our dolls now at our Etsy store”.
Twitter – @totallyFabi
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fabidabidolls