Oakland, California resident Kirsten Seymour has had 12 Blythe dolls, worth roughly $20,000, stolen from her home.
Blythe dolls were put on the market in the U.S. in 1972 to compete with Mattel’s Barbie, except these dolls were inspired by the cartoon character Betty Boop and Margaret Keane’s “Big Eyes” paintings. The results give the dolls distinctive disproportionately large heads and huge glassy eyes. These features, while endearing to some, were deemed too disturbing for children and they were discontinued a year later.
The Blythe dolls have exaggerated- and possibly unnerving- features have gained them a cult following among adults, especially artists like Seymour. She says “They are very unique, they are about as tall as a Barbie doll, but they have a big head with unique eyes that really have a lot of emotion and character.”
Seymour is so dedicated to her Blythe dolls that she even has an Instagram account just for them. During the pandemic, she began to create “photographic novels,” which are tiny, detailed scenes that she makes and photographs. These scenes are not only meticulously designed, they also tell a full-on story, with characters and plot lines. “It’s sort of like how kids would imagine living on their own,” she continues. “I take it through the mind and eyes of a child.” So far she has created about 100 of these photographic novels for her followers.
The thief occurred while Seymour and her husband were in the process of moving. They left the home briefly to grab a rental truck, by the time they got back they had been robbed. While taking inventory of their belongings “I stood back and I counted my suitcases and one was missing,” she says. She quickly realized this was the suitcase that contained her beloved Blythe dolls. “And that’s when I was super upset.”
The reported the theft to the Oakland Police Department but have also taken matters into their own hands and offered a $5,000 reward for the return of the Blythe dolls. “The dolls have this whole life in suitcases and now they’ve been stolen; it’s like they’ve been kidnapped and please somebody, no questions asked, return them,” Seymour pleaded.