So here’s a little thing that started as a fad in the 60’s, then made flash comebacks each decade after that. The first troll doll was created in 1959 when a Danish fisherman and woodcutter named Thomas Dam couldn’t afford a Christmas gift for his young daughter Lila so he carved a doll from his imagination. When other kids in town wanted them too, the company “Dam Things” was formed and the rest, as they say, is history.
When I was a kid these things were often one of the prizes at amusement parks, could be fished out of the arcade’s Skill Crane Game, or purchased as a pencil topper. The last was the most fun, not only for the miniature size, but because you could smooth the hair up to a point and then spin the pencil between your palms as fast as you could to create the worst hair day ever for the hideously cute little thing. For some reason, that escapes me now, this was perfectly hilarious and never got old.
I don’t think I’d ever requested a troll doll, but the “Dam Things” were so prevalent that it was nearly impossible not to end up with a tiny one at some point. They weren’t always naked and genderless, as they also came in various outfits or people made different outfits for them. But I didn’t like the ones with outfits as they felt like dolls to me, and the naked ones just felt like toys. A distinction that only a psychiatrist could explain properly.
But never fear, if you missed out on these guys, Dreamworks bought the license and will be giving us a Trolls movie later this year. Again, something you may have never asked for, but apparently that’s just how these trolls work. They sort of force their way into your life like that. Unlike Smurfs, though, these guys were always just inanimate objects for me and that was part of the charm I think. If one started talking, I might feel weird jabbing a pencil up its butt and spinning it ’til its hair explodes! That would just spoil all of the fun.
About the Doodlewash
M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Blue, Gamboge, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal.
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Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!