Thimble and Doll on TV!!

Back in September 21, I was invited to take part in a new documentary, called Scouting for Toys, which being filmed by the BBC for a show on Yesterday.

Eek!! Me?! On TV?!


After finding out more, I decided that I was up for stepping out of my comfort zone and we got to talking details…The show was based around Vectis Auction house, the world's largest toy auction, based up in Stockton on Tees and it would be featuring toy collectors as well as toy makers – including me!

In talks with the production team, I discovered that they wanted to come film me at my place of work… oh shit – that meant tidying the office (argh) We got a date set and I managed to get it looking presentable enough for filming! Obviously, I was nervous – I’m much more comfortable behind the camera but I was quickly put at ease and encouraged throughout!


I initially thought that would be my section of the show, completed… until I was later invited, along with my son, to visit Vectis itself for more filming as they had a big doll auction happening the following month. It would mean an overnight stay and a day off school, for E - educational purposes obvs ;-)

I jumped at the opportunity and Elijah and I hopped on the train up north to Stockton – and even managed to squeeze in a visit to Platform 9 ¾ at Kinds Cross Station before our train left London.


I wasn’t too sure what to expect as I’d never been to an auction in real life.. the closest I’d ever come, was watching Homes under the Hammer on TV – so this was super exciting for the geek in me!

Auction day was an early start and we had to do a little filming before the auctions started, but when we got inside - I was floored! It was HUGE! Aisles and aisles of tables laid out with boxed filled with the different Lots. Not just dolls, but teddies, matchbox cars, dolls houses, and so many 80’s toys that really took me on a walk down memory lane.

There was also a very cool looking Steiff bear, styled after Karl Largerfeld that was up for auction with a guide price of £2500!!!


As you can imagine, I made a beeline for the dolls – so many different types, retro 80’s Sindys, Porcelain dolls that looked like they were from the 50’s.

There were quite a few 80’s Barbies up for auction and, if I’m honest I was quite surprised.. I had no idea that between 1980 and 2014 Matel produced a Barbie range called the "Dolls of the World Collection", which had dolls of different nationalities dressed in traditional cultural attire. Even though those dolls were part of a limited edition collection, (only 2 or 3 dolls were released per year) It was cool to see other cultures and nationalities being represented in some way - especially as, somewhere along the line, there seemed to be a decline in the production of non white dolls, from the major toy companies.


I also wasn’t expecting to see as many Black “friends of” Barbie and Ken as I did, either! Who knew?!

I found Steven, a friend of Ken’s, who I’d never heard of before and then in another of the boxes, Lot 434, found 2 of the 3 “Beach Dazzle Shani” dolls, called Nichelle and Asha and I had to have them!

I later found out – after doing some digging, that they were part of the “Marvellous World of Shani” line of Black dolls, designed by Kitty Black Perkins and that they were created as a sister brand doll line, to Barbie.


Elijah and I had more filming to do and he got to try his hand at being a cameraman for a bit, while the auctioneers worked their way through the Lots. I kept my ear out, for when it was getting closer to the dolls I had my eye on. They came up a little later, on in the day, after we’d had a chance to look around the auction house at some of the other toys and discoverd fabrics and toymaking tools that had been put up for sale. We even found a retro Spiderman toy - it was bound to happen!


As time got on We were ready to put a bid in on Lot 434 which had a guide of £5.. it was very exciting and my heart was racing as the bidding started but I got lucky and managed to put in the winning bid and I snapped them up, for a bargain price of £15!!

I’m now the proud owner of Nichelle and Asha, my first Black Barbie dolls and they have pride of place in my office ( still in their original boxes though)!



Filming with the BBC and getting to visit Vectis was such a great experience, not just for me, but for Elijah too and I’m grateful to have been invited and given the opportunity to talk about my doll making journey as part of the show.

Who knows.. one day maybe doll collectors could be bidding on MY dolls at Vectis, in the future!


You’ll be able to catch Scouting For Toys, Thursdays at 9pm on Yesterday ( Virgin 129, Sky 537, Freeview 27 and UKTV Play) and will be able to watch me and Elijah make our TV debut, in Episode 3 which airs on April 14th!


I hope you’ll tune in! let me know what you think!


Lisha x



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