Back in 1959 a fisherman couldn’t afford to buy a Christmas gift for his daughter, so he carved a doll from his imagination – the Troll Doll

Troll Doll

Once upon a time, back in the year 1959, there was a Danish fisherman, Thomas Dam, whose hobby was wood craving. That year, the man didn’t have sufficient money to buy present for his daughter for Christmas, so he decided to create one. Using his imagination and wood carving skills, Dam made a doll for his daughter. What he didn’t know was that the doll is going to be so adorable that children around the world would cry for one in the stores.

Little Troll Doll with pink hair. De Tomascantis - Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Little Troll Doll with pink hair. Source by Tomascantis

That’s how the story of the troll doll begins. The troll doll was created in the town of Gjøl. When Dam’s daughter’s friends saw the toy, they all desired to have one. Doll after doll, Dam had to open a company “Dam Things” which started producing troll dolls named Good Luck Trolls. The figures were made of natural rubber and filled with wood shavings. Oh, and their adorable hair were made of sheepskin. And the clothes were sewed on the doll.

It was all hand made in Dam’s home. The trolls’ sale provided the family’s living. The dolls required hard work, a lot of time and space that led to Dam employing more and more workers and eventually building a fabric cause the home became too small for all the dolls and employees together. With his earnings, the “troll doll father” could buy himself a small factory where the little figures were produced.

To market the figures, Dam established his company “Dam Things.” He didn’t stick to the original doll but invented many different ones such as those baby trolls made of plastic. During the early 1960’s the dolls were already at their peak of popularity in several European cities, but once they got introduced to the States, it seemed impossible to satisfy the demand.

Kids playing with Troll dolls. Von kenji ross -, CC BY 2.0,
Kids playing with Troll dolls. Source by  Kenji Ross

There were thousands of Trolls shipped to the big world. The increased sales required a more rational way of producing the dolls. Hence, a new kind of plastic was introduced in the Dam’s factory that would make the Troll’s body on a machine. So, the new figures were made of hard vinyl fabric which besides being more practical was as well more durable than the natural rubber. Although most of the dolls sold are made of plastic, the company still produces handmade Trolls. The later ones are the best quality, and each doll has something unique

Most of the trolls are made of hard vinyl, but there have been trolls made of almost every material one can imagine: rubber, porcelain, ceramics, and even hemp. Their heads and arms are usually jointed, but there are some trolls that have unjointed arms. They also have either glass or plastic eyes and the most recognizable feature – their hair that comes in recognizable colors.

A "wizard" troll doll, manufactured by Russ Berrie in the 1990s
A “wizard” troll doll, manufactured by Russ Berrie in the 1990s. Source

Starting from the fall of 1963 until 1965, the trolls were one of the biggest toy fads in the States. The originals were of the highest quality, featuring glass eyes and sheep wool hair but their popularity resulted in many cheap imitations that as well used the copyright notice error of the original product created by Thomas Dam.

Troll Dolls. Von Phil! Gold phil_g -, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Troll Dolls. Source by Phil

The company of Thomas Dam continued the production of troll dolls in Denmark, te home country of the troll dolls where they never lost their popularity. And again, in the late 1980s, the figures made a comeback in the States. There was only one corporation, the E.F.S. Marketing Associates, Inc that had the permission for importing and marketing the trolls of Thomas Dam for resale in the States. The Dam Trolls in the States were sold under a trade name – Nordin (R) Trolls and had the Adopt A Norfin Troll logo on the tags.

In 2003, the troll dolls were put on the list of 100 most creative and memorable toys of the 20th century, by Toy Industry Association.