Gene Marshall took the doll industry by storm with her introduction in 1995. Designed by artist and illustrator Mel Odom, Gene was an exciting release for fashion doll collectors.
She was the first larger (than Barbie) fashion doll to have an extensive wardrobe of clothing. The majority of her clothes have a vintage feel—generally from the 1930s through the 1950s era—and she is known for her elegant style.
Gene's backstory is that she is an actress, so theatrical costumes are also available from different eras. Separate accessories and even furniture have also been made for Gene.
Gene is 15 1/2 inches tall. She is the doll that started the modern larger sized fashion doll craze which includes Gene, Tyler, Alexandra Fairchild Ford, Clea Bella, and many others.
Years of Production
The first three Gene dolls (Red Venus, Monaco, and Premiere) were produced in 1995 by Ashton Drake Galleries. From 2005 through 2010, Gene was produced by Jason Wu for Integrity Toys.
In 2013, JAMIEshow Dolls USA gave Gene new life, reintroducing her as a resin doll along with a number of interesting and collectible character variations. Gene is due to retire once again in 2018.
There are additional characters in the Gene Series. The most popular of these are Madra Lord (who joined Gene in 2000), Trent Osborn (16 inches; joined Gene in 2001), and Violet Waters, an African-American singer.
Towards the end of the Ashton Drake production of Gene dolls in 2004, most of the doll sets that were created and sold were dressed. Over the years, Gene Dolls have been produced as limited edition dressed dolls and as "Simply Genes" ready to dress. Numerous outfits have also been produced for Gene.
Material and Characteristics
With the exception of the JAMIEshow dolls, which are resin, Gene dolls were made from a hard vinyl that has a porcelain-like feel. The early dolls only have joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips. Later dolls also have knee, elbow, and waist joints, making them easier to pose. Gene dolls have painted eyes, applied eyelashes, and rooted hair.
Gene has inspired many collectors to repaint and otherwise redo Gene and other fashion dolls into their own creations.
Gene has had two books written about her: "Gene" by Carolyn Cook and "Gene Marshall: Girl Star" by Mel Odom. Both books are wonderful for anyone who collects Gene or is thinking of collecting her. Ms. Cook's book is more practical, with a straightforward look at the collection. Mr. Odom's book has outstanding photography of the dolls and outfits as well as the "true" story of Gene's background.
Many collectors who collect Gene also collect other similar-sized, larger fashion dolls. However, the dolls have differently shaped bodies and the outfits cannot always be shared.
Secondary market prices for most Ashton Drake Gene dolls are at or below retail because of overproduction for a few years. However, certain items are scarce and command premium prices. These include convention dolls, certain early dolls that are hard to find, and some Gene dolls produced in very limited editions.