Robert Tonner explains how he makes exquisite dolls tonight at SUNY-Ulster

(Courtesy of Tonner Doll Company)

(Courtesy of Tonner Doll Company)

Robert Tonner, Kingston-based creator of exquisitely detailed collectible dolls, was recently named SUNY-Ulster’s artist-in-residence for 2016. It’s a move likely to attract attention to the community college’s new Associate’s Degree program in Fashion Design, just launched last fall.

The Tonner Doll Company, established in 1991, made its mark on the public consciousness with its licensed limited-edition movie and TV character dolls, beginning with the denizens of Harry Potter’s wizarding world. Subsequent pop-culture lines have included dolls inspired by The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind, The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Twilight, The Hunger Games, Doctor Who, various Tim Burton movies, Marvel and DC Comics characters and so on. Tonner also develops collections around original characters; one currently available, called “Déjà Vu,” takes a contemporary character through various reincarnations going back to ancient Egypt, the Vikings and pre-Revolutionary France.

But Robert Tonner got his start as a fashion designer, so most of his doll characters are imaginary supermodels, vehicles for the display of fanciful runway-ready clothing. Such will be the focus of the artist/entrepreneur’s “Gallery Show of Fashion Styles, Illustrations, Photos & Dolls” that opens this Thursday at SUNY-Ulster’s Muroff-Kotler Visual Arts Gallery and runs through April 15. Tonner will open the exhibition with a slide lecture and presentation beginning at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 10 in the College Lounge at Vanderlyn Hall. Following his talk, there will be a reception in the Gallery.

Robert Tonner’s talk is free and open to the public. For more info on the event and the exhibition, visit To view Tonner Doll designs past and present, visit

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