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INTERVIEW: We Chat with CWC’s Junko Wong

Plastic and Plush chats with Junko Wong, the founder President of CWC, about the reemergence and rejuvenation of the Blythe Doll.  Blythe was originally created by Kenner in 1972 and was only produced for one year due to poor sales.  She made her comeback in 2000 in photos by Gina Garan and Parco's Christmas campaign produced by CWC in Japan.   The first neo-Blythe, Parco Limited, was produced by CWC and manufactured by Takara, with permission of Hasbro was released in June 2001. There are a number of new Blythe dolls available and an entire website devoted to this special little doll.

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Were you a fan of the original Blythe dolls, which were released by Kenner in 1972?

No, I was already a teenager in '72 and interested mostly in boys!

Was it the photography work of Gina Garan that really turned you on to these figures?

It was in Gina's photos that I first saw Blythe. In the picture, I saw a beautiful doll that I thought the women in Japan would fall in love with and could sense the potential of the product as a cultural icon.  I also simply saw a beautiful photograph that the talented photographer Gina Garan took.

What is the relationship between CWC and Hasbro?

Hasbro is the owner of the copyright of Blythe. We are the official
representative of that copyright in all of Asia, plus Australia and New
Zealand.  We also direct the grass roots promotion of Blythe in the USA
for Hasbro for Blythe.  We are also the creative directors and
designers of all the neo dolls, its fashion, concept and packaging as
well as the style guides.  We are also the marketing directors for
Blythe in Asia and organizers of all of the events and exhibitions and
promotions for Blythe.

How many neo Blythes and petite Blythes have been produced to date?

About 48 neo and more to come and 83 petites and more to come.

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Who is responsible for designing the current dolls?

CWC is responsible for the designing of the current dolls. We also
have a few collaboration dolls with designers such as the Roxy doll,
Milk doll and coming soon the Tommy February Doll. However, we
supervise the direction and help develop the product closely with the
guest designer.

Are they completely new character designs or based on the original line?

Most of all the designs are new. However we have made several
inspired by '72 original dolls such as Lounging Lovely or Pinnafore
Purple. All of the packaging are original however.

Is there anything different between the Blythes of today and those of the 70’s?

Well the mold is different. And the designs, the fashion, the hair. Everything is different.

If you had to choose your favorite Blythe doll, which would it be?

My own. I have customized my own doll. Her name is Crystal and she
has white blond mohair hair. I colored my own eye lens and she has the
most amazing pink eyes that shine. I think she is very very very very
pretty.

If I had to choose my favorite neo it would be Cinema Princess. She
has an aura about her. Totally stunning. I loved making up the story
for the concept and am very proud of this one.

 

You recently began the Behind Blythe
exhibition at Rotofugi in Chicago, are there plans on bringing this
show to any other cities in the US?

Yes, the next show will be at Just Be Complex in Portland, Oregon,
opening on November 3. Then it will travel to Robot Love in Minneapolis.

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What other work is Cross World Connections doing in the toy and art worlds?

We have a gallery attached to our store Junie Moon called Gallery
LELE. We will feature some toy designers from abroad at the gallery
starting next year such as Nathan Cabrera, Nathan Jurevicious and
Tristan Eaton. We are also working on creating a line of our own urban
vinyl toys.

Is there any other news or events we should be on the lookout for?

Our website blythedoll.com
is in English now. Which means anyone can come and visit and become a
member. We send out email magazines once a month and we have an art
forum at the members salon for the Blythe fans to upload their photos,
illustrations and other creations to communicate visually (with space
for some text). We feel a picture speaks a thousand words.

Also all of our contests and events are open internationally now and
we hope more and more people will take part.  Finally 2006 is the 5th
anniversary of the resurrection of Blythe and birth of neo Blythe. Stay
tuned for the events news.

Thanks to BlytheDoll.com and Gina Garan for the use of the photos.  This fall, look for Hasbro's website to carry Blythe Dolls for US consumers.

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