It was at Marie Gardyne's The Brass Horse that Dolldom first met Sydney Chase. In her "Focus on Fashion" iteration (issued for a special event hosted by UFDC), Ms. Chase was a revelation to a dollector already in love with the Tyler Wentworth Collection. A highly detailed head sculpt was artistically illuminated by an inspired face-up that, despite being a mass-produced doll, was hand painted. As much as Dolldom loved Tyler's early looks - the simplicity of her face paint allowed the sculpt to play with the light - Sydney redefined our preferences in 5-seconds flat.
As Dolldom got to know Ms. Chase more, in her "Sydney Chase" iteration with raven-black, pulled back hair, purple eye shadow, and brown eyes surrounded by black-rimmed glasses - not sunglasses - the thought occurred that this woman was not meant to be in any way an individual of perceived perfection. In a way, Dolldom wondered if Sydney, as a secondary character, was meant not to be an idealized beauty but rather a personalized portrayal of a human face. Perhaps, Robert Tonner thought of Tyler as Greek sculpture and Sydney as her Roman counterpart. To begin: Sydney Chase was issued wearing prescription lenses. Was this because she made the decision not to wear contact lenses? To add more layers to her character, early issues of the doll (perhaps due to the degree of convexity of the eyeball sculpt) had eyes that were not aligned properly - leading one to believe that Sydney Chase had Strabismus (not unlike other famous beauties such as Heidi Klum and Kate Moss). This feature was quickly addressed, and, in some cases, the Tonner Doll Hospital offered replacements heads. The frontal bone of her nose is broad while the apex is undeniably square. The philtrum is deeply carved and joins a mouth capable of conveying attitude, mood, and emotions. Where gorgeous Tyler had a neutral expression, Sydney had a definite pout. Her lower lip, so gorgeously generous, served as a foundation for the descending thin upper lip corners, evoking the aura of iconic pouter Greta Garbo.
Robert Tonner explains: "In 1999, Tyler Wentworth completely changed the Tonner Doll Company. She was definitely a success, and my goal was to build her "world" as fast as I could. I had always known that to keep her interesting I would have to expand the line with interesting characters. Tyler needed a best friend, but unlike Barbie's Midge, I wanted her friend to be every bit as high fashion and glamorous as she was. I set out to sculpt her head with the thought in mind that she should be beautiful, but entirely different looking than Tyler. It was a difficult sculpt to do and it took quite a while. Finally, when I thought I was happy with the result, I proceeded to the costly molding process (wax work, engineering and rotational mold making). Eventually, the day came when her head, in vinyl, arrived and I couldn't wait to get her painted. Boy, was I disappointed! I couldn't see her beauty; all I saw were what I considered flaws and came very close to rejecting the head. I'm so glad I didn't! With a few new face paints (better ones) and the collector reaction, she became one of my all-time favorite fashion doll heads."
Dolldom celebrates Sydney Chase's 20th anniversary with a photo portfolio of the beauties that grace its collection. Readers will notice Dolldom's predilection for controlled hair styles and for the wearing of the prescription glasses - even with evening wear- to cement the notion that not only does Sydney Chase love who she is, she celebrates her unique beauty.
To bring more sparkle to this party, Dolldom invited hardcore Sydney Chase fans to share their thoughts on this undeniably seminal doll in fashion doll history. You will find these interspersed among the photos.
"Sydney Chase’s beauty transcends time. She is class and elegance, but when the mood strikes, she can be edgy and to the minute. It’s no wonder so many of us fell in love with her." - Vince Nowell, designer and fashion doll expert
"I’ve always felt Sydney has a beautiful sculpt. She has a serenity about her. I’ve always felt she knew something I didn’t. I’ve also felt she had an elegance as well, she always looked good in a gown." -Joseph Coloff, collector and designer
"Sydney Chase was my favorite character and sculpt of the Tyler Wentworth Collection. I loved her and still do although I am an avid Sybarite collector now.
Actually, I find the Superdoll Voltaire sculpt my favorite because she shares a look and attitude which reminds me of Sydney." - Gerri Celia Sam, collector and photographer of Superdoll's Sybarite dolls
"RTW Sensational Sydney" (LE of 2000) wears separates from Tyler Wentworth's Boutique and 2000's "Casual Luxury's" coat.
"RTW Sensational Sydney Raven" (LE of 2000) wears Tyler Wentworth's RTW Boutique's winter separates.
"Sydney Parisienne" (LE of 150) was an exclusive to Paris Fashion Doll Festival. She models TDLM's "Purely Platinum".
"I have always preferred Sydney Chase.
Maybe, it is her little pouting expression." - Travis Kaller, collector and photographer
"24KT" (LE of 1000) and "Dream Doll" (LE of 200) was an exclusive to Dream Dolls Gallery and More.
"Ice Blue" (LE of 2000) goes for drama in Tyler Wentworth's "Double Take" from 2003
"Mistletoe and Magic" (LE of 675) was Two Daydreamer's exclusive.
"RTW Shimmer" was an annual edition. She models 1999's "Cashmere Noir"
"Sydney Visits Maryhill" (LE of 500) was an Under the Lilac Tress Convention exclusive. She models 2006's "Swept Away" from the TDLM Collection.
"Looking back, I think we forget that the two stars of the fashion doll world in the ‘90s, Gene and Tyler, were both wide-eyed innocents with a fresh, almost naive quality. Sydney came along and had a more mature and mysterious expression. She had a more highly sophisticated expression and wore the more extravagant and bold fashions that Tonner produced. She also had a very classical sculpt which made her endlessly versatile and an inspiring character for fashion designers as well as doll artists who did repaints."
- Pat Henry, editor of FDQ
"Winter Whisper" (LE of 1000) models a RTW Boutique FAO exclusive velvet dress.
"Before writing these comments about Sydney Chase, I browsed through countless photos I have taken of her. The impression I came away with was that Sydney fluently played varied roles in my collection such as a mom, a fashion model, a business professional, a sportswoman, a vamp, and, on the whole, an appealing, stunning female doll. In 2004, Sydney Chase "Envy" came out. I was thunderstruck. I fell in love with her. I wanted to BE her. I believed she was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen with her curly blonde hair, green side-glancing eyes and her well-defined angular sculpt. I never did manage to get her but the hunt is now on again. Happy 20th Birthday to you, Sydney! - Terri Gold, collector, photographer and blogger
"We had several heads to choose from to create Grace Marie Fitzpatrick from and I have always thought Sydney Chase was Robert’s most beautiful face. She is extremely realistic and reminded me of classic movie stars. It was a VERY easy choice to choose the Sydney sculpt. Grace has been so well received so I know many feel the same." - Rachel Hoffman, organizer of Virtual Doll Convention and owner of Turn of the Century Antiques