Everyone has owned at least one at some point. Troll Dolls. They were a favorite gift item from an aunt who had no clue what you were interested in or a grandparent going on vacation and bringing back a souvenir. Some folks collected them but for most of us it was one of those “oooh thanks” gifts that you feign interest in for a few minutes and then set on a shelf in your room that was reserved for “collectibles” IE those toys that were meant for show rather than play that you hated. Often they wore some kind of clothes promoting a vacation spot or they were decked out in apparel that the gift giver thought you enjoyed like a baseball uniform. The most basic of them were nude and just had the patented long colored hair as their only real play feature as they lacked any articulation at all.
So what is a Troll Doll for the uninitiated? It’s a small plastic troll looking creature meant to be cute with big eyes, big ears, a big nose, and they are kind of chubby. The defining characteristic has always been the long colored hair that stands straight up. Back in the early 1990’s there was a resurgence in the popularity of those whacky and unusual Troll dolls. I’ll be up front with you here. I had no idea that Trolls have been in production for as long as they have been until I began researching them for this post. Apparently these things were invented in 1959 and have been dominating the souvenir shops worldwide for decades. Well before I was born they experienced surges in popularity in the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Although I remember receiving and owning them before they suddenly became popular again in the 90’s I never thought much of them. People gave them to me, I stuck them on a shelf, and that was the extent of my involvement with these strange creatures.
In late 1992 the fad began seemingly out of nowhere. The standard nude Troll with no apparel was updated to include a small plastic faux gem where the belly button would typically be. Marketing dubbed them “wish stones” and the story was that if you rubbed the stone on this doll and made a wish it would come true. Big deal right? Somehow, improbably, this small change created an explosion in popularity among these unusual figurines. Suddenly it was imperative that everyone of any significance own a Treasure Troll overnight lest they be dubbed a social outcast. Despite having no prior interest in these toys before I was not immune to the blitz and forced my mom to take me to the local Walgreens at 7:00 PM to buy one. After all this was an urgent matter that needed to be addressed immediately. Fortunately my mom either really loved me or understood how these things worked and I had a Treasure Troll in my backpack in time for school the next morning. A couple of weeks later it was on the shelf with the rest of the “old trolls” as I played with better toys. Although most boys moved on from the fad pretty quickly it seemed like the girls in school still used troll pencil toppers or kept these things in their desks for good luck for quite awhile.
Since Treasure Trolls were manufactured for quite awhile and were available at a low price these things can be found cheap and plentifully on the secondary market. You can buy them boxed and sealed for around 5 bucks and loose for $1 or less. Although I don’t personally know anyone that collects these things apparently there is a large following for them, especially in Europe, and a movie is slated for release in the not too distant future. Sounds like an Academy Award winner.