Gene Goes to Pittsburgh
Gene in the limelight at the 1999 Barbie©
doll convention in Pittsburgh
© 1999 by Kathryn E. Darden
The National Barbie convention was held August
4-7, 1999 at the Hilton and Towers Hotel in beautiful Pittsburgh, Pa,
organized by the Western PA Doll Club. With the theme ìWe Can Do
Anything, Right Barbie?î this yearís convention paid homage
to one of Pittsburgh's own, the famous female reporter of the late
1800's/early 1900's, Nellie Bly. The Hilton was full of glamor and glitz
with two sales floors full of dolls and a lobby with other items: Hallmark
ornaments, posters, Millers and Barbie Bazaar magazines, and other additional
booths. Barbie was the uncontested 11 1/2 inch queen of the hour... but
a surprising number of booths featured a strong Gene contingent.
Many Barbie dealers have already added Gene
in as a sideline, and a growing number of booths had regular line Genes
in prominent display alongside her smaller vinyl cousin. However, some
of the standouts of the show were the customized Gene dolls. There were
stylish divas from Bruce Nygren in sequins and brocades, and the lovely
exotic beauties by Franklin Lim Lio, as well as other gorgeous Genes customized
by talented designers, including Barbara Stewart who also designed this
year's convention doll, Barbie as Nellie Bly. Genes were also spotted in
various rooms by the diligent room shoppers. One guest room featured
a collection of mainline Gene dolls... artistically displayed in the bathroom!
Franklin Lim Lio has already established a
strong reputation for his incredible Asian art dolls. Starting with a bend
leg Francie in 1968, Franklin has found Gene to be a more than adequate
palette for his intricate hairstyles and Eastern fabrics. However, Gene
was beyond elegant in the intricate braids, twists and other upswept coiffes
wearing the regal Western attire designed by Bruce Nygren. I would be hard
pressed to pick between the two. I know! I shall simply have to buy one
of each someday.
Interestingly enough, I did not spot any Tonner
or other larger fashion dolls, but Gene was well represented.
If Gene makes this good a showing at the National Barbie convention,
I can only imagine what the Gene convention in October will afford enthusiasts.
After all, we can do anything, right Gene?