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A collection of Vintage Barbie dolls are seen here at Gerald Corbin¿s home Saturday August 23, 2008 in Oakland, Calif. (Anda Chu/The Daily Review)


Got fashion dolls on your mind, by any chance?

Do you have Barbara Millicent Roberts in your closet or Gene Marshall on your shelf?

Do you mull over what kind of outfits would look good on them, and what accessories would match? Do you painstakingly style their hair and paint on makeup through a magnifying glass?

Does your heart pitter-patter at the thought of getting your hands all over a mint American Girl Barbie?

Are you all grown up, but still play with dolls?

If so, the Alameda County Fashion Doll Club would like to meet you.

"We have a lot of fun, and we're always looking for new members," said club president Carrie Freitas, 30, who was recruited 15 years ago while perusing the Barbie section at Target. "Once they belong, they're usually a member forever."

The club was formed in 1991 by Johnathan Moore, who wanted nothing more than his own Barbie doll when he was growing up.

He begged and cajoled his parents. No toy trains or die-cast cars or anything of the sort, please. Just the doll, the one that little girls love.

"That's all I wanted for Christmas," he said. "I wouldn't even give them another option."

Eventually, they caved. He got his Barbie and had one of the happiest days of his life.

Now in his 40s, Moore has scores more dolls — and he's still hunting.

His club met Tuesday in a conference room at Best Western in Hayward. They chatted about the latest news in dolls, made plans for a doll show at Centennial Hall next month and had a show-and-tell session — really a chance to display custom doll modifications to an appreciative crowd and crow about vintage victories at thrift stores, garage sales or on eBay.

"I saw dolls I'd only seen in Christmas catalogs," said Oakland resident Gerald Corbin about a recent lucky break at an estate sale. "Dolls from A to Z. There was one room you couldn't walk into because there were so many dolls. I felt like I'd hit the lottery!"

While the club is less than 50 strong, and only about a dozen were at the monthly meeting, they are hardly alone in their hobby.

The Barbie population for sale on eBay approached 30,000 this week. A 1959-run No. 1 Barbie (you can tell she's legit by the copper tubes in the soles of her feet) sold on Friday for $1,500, despite a severed finger, botched haircut and a smeary pupil.

Statewide, the number of doll clubs tops 50, and there are at least 17 magazines catering to the doll collector, with the specialized Fashion Doll Quarterly targeting a niche market via glossy spreads that are on par with real-people fashion mags.

While some collectors take their treasures and sock them away, Fashion Doll Club members are very hands-on about their hobby.

"The biggest problem is keeping them in their boxes. I have to touch them," said Crystal Roza, a newcomer whom Freitas approached at a flea market last weekend.

"Oh yeah, you have to," said Corbin. "That's the best part."

The club can be contacted via e-mail at

Eric Kurhi can be reached at or 510-293-2473.