Friday, November 27, 2015

Smiling vs Closed Mouth Dolls

My grandma had a lot of dolls in many shapes and sizes and my experience in collecting dolls has been that most of them have closed mouth expressions. It wasn't until AG that I was aware of an open mouth smile. (Except for Barbie).

Consider the antique dolls from Germany and Paris circa 1880, or Ideal and Revlon 20" Fashion dolls, Madame Alexander, even Kewpie dolls all have closed mouths. In fact the majority of doll brands (economy or premium) HAVE closed mouth expressions today. A small list includes:
Here is a gallery of dolls with closed mouth expressions. 

Closed mouth dolls are popular in the European play doll market. (Kidz n Cats, Sasha, A Girl for All Time, Bonnie and Pearl, etc).

Kids n Cats and A Girl for All Time are fully articulated which offer much pose-ability when taking photos, whereas the USA market consistently produces only five pints of articulation, (per the above list). 

Vinyl and cloth play dolls mean just that. The dolls are meant to be played with, positioned, posed and won't "break". Collectible dolls (porcelain, bisque, antique, paper mache, etc) are just that - on the shelf pretty to look at.

Check your collection for the comparison then post a comment with the percentage in favor of closed or open mouth smile. I'm curious to how the numbers turn out.  


  1. I prefer closed-mouthed dolls because sometimes open-mouthed dolls can look buck-toothed.

  2. American Girl Kaya also has a closed mouth smile.

  3. I have seventeen dolls in my "big playline doll" category. Seven have closed mouths, for a grand total of 41%. More than I thought, in other words.

  4. I always thought I was a closed mouth doll person, but I noticed a majority of my dolls are open mouth, including a older special edition of Kidz n Cats. That doll has open inlets on both sides of her two front teeth.

  5. The closed mouth dolls shown are beautiful. I have many more open mouth dolls. I wish AG would make some closed mouth dolls. Madelon

  6. I knew that Kaya was 'different', but hadn't realized why until we went to the AG Scottsdale Store last Friday. Everyone was so nice and it was such a fun experience! In speaking with one assistant there, we learned that Kaya is close mouthed because in her culture it was considered an 'aggressive' look to have your teeth showing. My husband has American Indian heritage and reasoned that it would be like a wolf that was growling/aggressive. So, Madelon, there's a closed-mouth doll for you!!! ;~)

  7. I have a Heidi Ott doll (Ellie) with an open mouth smile. when I first spotted her at the thrift store I thought or was an AG because that was the only other brand I've seen with teeth. I prefer the closed mouth, but sometimes they can look a little sad. I think journey girls do a good job of showing a happy smile with no teeth.

  8. I have 20 dolls (not counting small ones or porcelain ones), and 7 of them have closed mouths, so 35%. If I count the porcelain ones, I have 27 dolls, and 14 with closed mouths, which is about 52%. I much prefer American Girl to most other brands, but in general I don't like other open-mouth smiles (I never really thought about it much though).

  9. While I dearly love my family of AG girls (and their other 18" friends), I think one of the things that attracted me to the GFAT dolls from England was their sweet, closed mouth smiles. I also collect antique dolls; I started with German porcelain dolls with open mouths and visible teeth... Lately I have been collecting closed mouth German porcelain dolls. In general, guess I favor the closed mouth dolls!

  10. Generally I like closed mouth smile faces like the Journey Girls line. I would love to see more AG facemolds come out with closed mouth smiles just for some variety. In the 12 in world I much more prefer closed mouth smiles as well!

    1. I agree. YES! Marie Grace face mold and WHY NOT KAYA???????

  11. I'm a bit late to the party, but I thought this was an interesting comparison. I grew up with closed mouth dolls here in the UK and I find open mouths a bit chipmunk-y and for me they tend to force the doll's expression into a more limited range of emotion.

    The single Kidz and Cats open mouth face mould is a bit odd looking and I don't think it was that successful (it's not used in any of the more recent dolls). Our Generation have one current open mouthed doll, Alejandra, though I think in the past they had more.

    It's much harder, I think, for manufacturers to do a good open mouth face mould. I think the AG Wellie Wishers pull it off best - I presume AG decided to do open mouths so they would look more like the full size dolls. Aside from the cost (they are really expensive here in the UK) the open mouth smiles put me off from getting an AG.