As many of you know, I love troll dolls. I have been collecting them since I was 3 years old and now I have a collection of over 300 of them featuring trolls of all different sizes and colors. With that said, today I thought I’d write a blog on the history of troll dolls. According to a 2011 Time magazine article on the 100 greatest toys of all time, troll dolls were invented by Danish woodworker, Thomas Dam, who made the first troll doll, which he said had magical powers and loved to make people happy, in 1959 as a present for his daughter Lila. The first was made of wood and have glass eyes, but soon after Lila’s friends begun asking for their own trolls Dam had to come up with the way to mass produce and sell them. The solution was to make trolls out of natural rubber and then eventually to make them from vinyl, which many trolls are still made from today.
Throughout the early 1960’s, the troll doll gained international popularity as imitation troll dolls made of plastic popped up in America. These trolls were allowed to be made because Dam was an artist and not a business man. Therefore, he did not think to copyright the troll doll. Although Dam took many companies who copied his design to court throughout his life, he would never see anything come of his efforts.
According to a Youtube video on the history of trolls, the troll doll was first voted toy of the year by the American Toy Association in 1963. Sadly, even after being voted toy of the year that, as the 60s faded out, the popularity of trolls did as well. However, trolls became popular again in the 1990s after the troll doll was once again voted toy of the year by the American Toy Association in 1991. By 1992 the sale of troll dolls and related merchandise had swelled to about 700 million dollars which is the equivalent of approximately 1.2 billion dollars today. By the end of the ’90s the troll craze had once ended, but they were still beloved by many collectors such as myself.
The 2000’s brought about some changes for trolls. In 2003, the Dam finally was awarded rightful ownership of the copyright on the original troll doll. In 2010, the family decided to partner with DreamWorks Animation Studios to produce an animated movie and related television series about trolls. Three years later, the Dam family and their company, Dam Things Establishments, gave up their rights to trolls and related merchandise to DreamWorks for an undisclosed amount. In 2016 the movie Trolls was finally released, followed by a holiday themed episode of the related television series, entitled Trolls Holiday in 2017. A movie sequel entitled Trolls : The Beat Goes On is expected to hit theaters in 2019. Whether you’ve recently discovered trolls or you are a seasoned collector like me, you can probably agree that the future of trolls is very bright.