Troll dolls may not have been an invention of the Eighties, but they certainly enjoyed one of their many comeback periods during the decade. Over the years Trolls have been made by many toy manufacturers, so it’s hard to know who actually owns the rights to them, or indeed if anybody actually does.
The typical Troll is normal made from plastic, is around 15cm tall, and has a pot belly and a cheeky, cute-yet-still-disturbingly-ugly face, and a shock of brightly coloured fluffy hair that shoots vertically out of the top of its head. Since the toys often have subtly different facial features or different coloured hair depending on the manufacturer, Trolls are one of those toys that people like to collect, and the company that made them is often irrelevant.
Trolls have gone under many names, including Good Luck Trolls, Treasure Trolls, Gonks, Wishniks and Dam Dolls, but it is the latter which can claim to be the original name for them. The toys started off humbly enough, when in 1959 Thomas Dam, a Danish fisherman and woodcutter made a carved wooden doll for his daughter’s Christmas present. When other children saw the doll, they wanted one too, and so Thomas started making them and selling them locally.
Being hand made Thomas Dam charged a decent price for them, but it wasn’t long before the design of the doll became so popular that the toy companies started to catch on and make their own, cheaper variations on the theme. Unfortunately Thomas had made a mistake in copyrighting his work, and so the clones and imitations started to flood the market, eventually finding major popularity in the US in the early Sixties. It was not until 2003 that the Dam family managed to legally get their rights to the design recognised.
In their traditional form Trolls tend to be more popular with girls, although there have been attempts to try and sell them to boys by making things like poseable action figure Battle Trolls, and even reworked versions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in Troll form (yep, Ninija Turtles with big stick up hair!).