Troll doll

A Troll Doll (Danish: Gjøltrold) is a type of plastic doll with furry up-combed hair depicting a troll, also known as a Dam doll after their creator Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam. The toys are also known as good luck trolls, or gonk trolls in the United Kingdom.

Type of plastic doll with furry up-combed hair
Troll Doll

A “wizard” troll doll, manufactured by Russ Berrie in the 1990s
Type Doll
Inventor(s) Thomas Dam
Country Denmark
Availability 1959–present

The dolls were first created in 1959 and became one of the United States’ biggest toy fads in the early 1960s. They became briefly popular again during the 1970s through the 1990s and were copied by several manufacturers under different names. During the 1990s, several video games and a video show were created based on troll dolls. In 2003, the Dam company restored the United States copyrights for this brand, stopping unlicensed production. In 2005, the Dam company modernized the brand under the name Trollz, but it failed in the marketplace.[1]

In 2013, the brand was bought by DreamWorks Animation,[2] with an animated feature film called Trolls being released in 2016 and a sequel released in 2020.[3][4]

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Troll dolls were created in 1959 by Danish fisherman and woodcutter Thomas Dam. Dam could not afford a Christmas gift for his young daughter Lila and carved the doll from his imagination. Other children in the Danish town of Gjøl saw the doll and wanted one.[5] Dam’s company Dam Things began producing the dolls in plastic under the name Good Luck Trolls.[6] It became popular in several European countries during the early 1960s, shortly before they were introduced in the United States. They became one of the United States’ biggest toy fads from the autumn of 1963 to 1965. The originals were of the highest quality, also called Dam dolls and featuring sheep wool hair and glass eyes. Their sudden popularity, along with an error in the copyright notice of Thomas Dam’s original product, resulted in cheaper imitations.

A collection of troll dolls

The Dam company never stopped its production of trolls in Denmark, where they were always a popular item. In the late 1980s, the Dam trolls started making another comeback in North America. E.F.S. Marketing Associates, Inc. was one of the few corporations granted permission to import and market the Thomas Dam trolls for resale in the United States. These Dam Trolls were marketed under the trade name of Norfin Trolls, with an “Adopt A Norfin Troll” logo on the tags.

During the period of popularity in the early to mid-1990s, several attempts were made to market the troll dolls to young boys. This included action figure lines such as The Original Battle Trolls from Hasbro, the Stone Protectors franchise, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Trolls. The popular Mighty Max line also had a series named Hairy Heads, also known as Dread Heads.

In 2003, the Dam copyright was restored by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. The Uneeda Doll Company, a company that made millions of US dollars by manufacturing troll dolls in the U.S., challenged the restoration. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the lower court’s preliminary injunction, enjoining Uneeda from manufacturing, distributing, or selling “Wish-nik” troll dolls.[7] The Toy Industry Association named troll dolls in its Century of Toys List, a list of the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the 20th century.[8]

In 2005, the troll brand was licensed to DIC Entertainment, and products such as fashion dolls and fashion accessories were sold under the Trollz name.[9] The new Trollz campaign was not successful. In 2007, the Danish company filed a lawsuit against DIC Entertainment claiming that the company financially misrepresented its ability to create and market a modern troll doll toy campaign and destroyed the image and goodwill of the doll.[10]

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