Whether you grew up in the 60s, 70s, 80s, or were even born in the 21st century, you surely know the Troll Dolls. These peculiar dolls don’t exactly look like “normal” dolls, but that didn’t stop them from achieving tremendous success among collectors and children alike.

These figures are everywhere if you don’t know, Troll Dolls are not very graceful physically, but they are not trolls as such, they are rather short-limbed little people with brightly colored hair, smiling expressions, and crystal eyes full of kindness.

Since the first Troll Doll in 1959, Thomas Dam’s toys have become icons of nostalgia and a popular culture craze. But since the 1990s the story of Troll Dolls has expanded to other media such as television, video games, and even Hollywood movies. 

And that’s not counting the many appearances they have in other famous franchises. Whether you are a fan or not, we invite you to this journey in which you will learn all about the Troll Dolls.

Origin Of The Good Luck Troll Doll Toys

It seems that Denmark is the breeding ground for great toys because it is home to more than just LEGO. The first Trolls were created in 1959 by carpenter Thomas Dam, nicknamed Dam Dolls.

As he had no money to buy a good Christmas present for Lila, his daughter, Thomas used his skills to surprise her with a toy that had never been seen before, and that bet turned out well, as the other children in his town of Gjøl, wanted a doll for themselves as soon as they saw it.

To meet this demand, Thomas Dam’s company began to sculpt Dam Dolls en masse under the name “Good Luck Trolls,” based on Scandinavian mythology, giving a twist to these creatures that used to be seen as filthy and cruel.

Thanks to the humorous design of the figures, society saw them as good luck magnets. 

The first Dam Trolls were made of wood and then soft rubber, but due to economic and production issues, the main material was changed to plastic in 1961, using a process called rotational molding. 

By 1962, the Trolls were a global success, reaching toy stores in the United States. Prices for each figure ranged from 65 cents to $6, depending on whether they came in packages with vehicles and accessories because from the beginning Troll customization was a mainstay for Dam.

They worked so well that even boys played with these “girl” dolls, but we’re not going to lie, the physical appearance of the Trolls looks nothing like a Barbie, and that’s fine, their ugliness worked in their favor. And we don’t say it, their creator said it: “They were so ugly that you couldn’t help but laugh, and when you laugh, luck follows you.”

Something that did not benefit “Dam Things”, Thomas’ company, were the copyrights in the USA, as many companies created their own versions of the Dam Trolls, producing them with lesser materials and profiting from their popularity in the mid-60s.

Of course, one company had permission to sell the official toys, which was Uneeda Doll Company, but they ended up taking advantage of a loophole in American law, selling thousands of Dam Trolls called “Wish-nik”, turning them into public domain products and sinking the sales of their original owners.

However, Dam Things never stopped production in Denmark ever keeping its reputation intact in its place of origin, although the world forgot the original Good Luck Trolls for a while.

Triumphant Return Of The Trolls

After going unnoticed in the 1970s and most of the 1980s, the original Dam Trolls made a comeback in the United States under the name “Norfin Trolls”. This was made possible by E.F.S. Marketing Associates, Inc. a corporation that allowed Thomas to market his products in North America, but had not fully regained the rights.

The Norfin Trolls came with new facial expressions to attract collectors who wanted to get their hands on all the figures. This small but significant change was a total success for the Trolls, regaining their former glory of the 60s and at the same time gaining new fans.

The 90s were a golden age for the figures, taking the step that every toy line must do if they want to stay on top, adapting characters from famous franchises. The main focus was to attract little boys, so Hasbro created The Original Battle Trolls, action figures full of muscles.

They also launched the Stone Protectors toy line, which was brought to television by Gaz Entertainment. They even had their own TMNT toys, dubbed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Trolls. Another famous combination was with Mighty Max toys, creating the Hairy Heads.

With this variety of figures on the markets, kids no longer had an excuse not to play with the Trolls, although many already did if we’re being honest.

Dam Things was still having copyright issues though, so many of these adaptations were unlicensed. The most famous of these non-Dam knock-offs were the Russ Berrie ones or Ace’s Treasure Trolls, but by this point, everyone was taking advantage of their legal situation.

Recovering The Rights To Troll Dolls

This legal battle reached a key point in Dam Things’ favor in 2003, when the Uruguay Round Agreements Act changed the copyright rule in the United States, resulting in all companies whose products were in the public domain regaining rights to their intellectual property.

Uneeda did not stand idly by, but the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit banned them from making any more Dam Trolls altogether.

This had a huge effect on the market, as all the companies that were profiting from their own versions of the Trolls had to stop marketing them, and the popularity of these toys dropped in the late 1990s. In those years, the original and unique name for the Trolls went back to “Good Luck Trolls”, although this did not stop other companies from launching new toys with names different from the Trolls, but very similar to them.

The Failure of the Trollz

With its copyrights back, Dam Things sought to take its famous toys to other media, reaching an agreement with DIC Entertainment, a film and television animation production company.

This alliance saw the birth of an animated series called Trollz on the CBS network, along with a line of toys produced by Hasbro with the same name, which were characterized by moving away from the original design of the Dam Trolls.

Instead, they were girl-like dolls with fashionable outfits and accessories. They even had their own names, according to their hair color and the power gem that characterized them, in line with the lore of the TV show but far from the original Trolls.

Although the series ran for 112 episodes over 2 years, the Trollz campaign was a failure for DIC, who expected a better performance due to the popularity of the Dam Trolls.

They recorded huge losses from the series production and the dolls’ counterfeits that still abounded in the markets. For that reason, they sued Dam Things, although they responded with a countersuit, claiming that DIC overestimated their ability to create a modern campaign for the Trolls toys, refusing to take responsibility for their financial losses. 

When Dam Things gets out of one legal problem, it gets into a new one, but fortunately, this came to an end years later.

Dam Things Sells Rights To DreamWorks

Since the failure of the Trollz, Dam Things continued to look for opportunities to successfully expand into the audiovisual medium, despite having made TV specials and even music videos featuring the cute creatures in the past.

DreamWorks was the most interested in acquiring the license to make a film, but due to a series of factors, they ended up buying the rights to the “Good Luck Trolls” almost 100% in 2013, becoming the new owners of the toy line worldwide except for the Scandinavian region, where Dam Things continues to have the license to produce and market Trolls.

Of course, DreamWorks’ primary goal was to produce a movie, although they leveraged their copyright authority to launch a new line of Troll Dolls to boost the marketing of the film.

The classic Good Luck Trolls remained on the market, respecting the original designs, but for those who wanted something more modern, they launched the DreamWorks Trolls, colorfully dressed dolls with a more cartoon and childish style, highlighting the personality of each figure.

Dam Trolls Today

Sadly, Thomas Dam was unable to see the new wave of popularity of his beloved dolls, as he died in 1989 from cancer. Since then, the Danish company has been run by the Dam family. As was obvious from the sale of the rights to DreamWorks,

Dam Trolls became much rarer to find, as they are only produced in Scandinavia, at least if you want one of the originals. 

If you are not picky on the type of Trolls, Dam Things has collaborated with DreamWorks on multiple occasions to bring their line of Trolls around the world. So it should not be hard to find a Troll that will fit perfectly in your display case.

Success in Hollywood

In 2016, DreamWorks introduced the world to the first film based on its recently acquired toy line. The animated musical “Trolls” hit theaters, introducing us to a colorful and joyful world with Trolls redesigned for the new generations and delighting the old ones who played with these popular dolls in their childhood. 

The film tells the story of Poppy(Anna Kendrick) and Branch (Justin Timberlake), a pair of trolls who must embark on an incredible adventure to save their village from the Bergens, evil and bitter creatures who eat trolls to prove their happiness.

The voice cast also featured Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Zooey Deschanel, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, James Corden, and other industry celebrities.

Trolls was a hit with critics and audiences alike, grossing $346 million against a $125 million budget. It could have gone very wrong not only because it was the first film adaptation of these toys, but because of the new design they were given. Design changes were one of the factors to blame for Trollz’s failure, but thanks to great direction by Mike Mitchell, a talented voice cast, and an original song by Justin Timberlake that was a worldwide hit, “Can’t Stop The Feeling,” Trolls hit Hollywood hard, enough to earn it a sequel.

Queen Barb Troll Doll from DreamWorks Trolls World Tour

In 2020, DreamWorks released Trolls: World Tour, which was performing moderately at the box office due to the lockdowns but enjoyed good reviews like its predecessor. In addition to Timberlake, Kendrick, and other actors from the first film, it also featured Sam Rockwell and Kelly Clarkson.

The third film to form a trilogy is expected to arrive at the end of 2023. Now that we have finished with the story of the dolls, let’s move on to more technical aspects.

Troll Doll Facts And Figures

Dimensions of the Troll Dolls

As is common with popular toys, Trolls Dolls come in several sizes. The standard measurement is approximately 10 cm, although you can find the smallest ones of 5 or 6 cm, even the largest ones that exceed 30 cm. The larger the figure, the rarer it will be to find.

Types of Troll Dolls

This is the fun part since there are so many variants that it is impossible to mention all of them even if they are grouped into several categories

Even though their physical build in the traditional design is usually somewhat stuffy, there have been very skinny ones, others fatter, some who went to the gym, or who went to the beauty salon. There are countless physical variants to represent anyone who might want to buy one of these popular creatures.

Most of the variants correspond to specific themes, be it annual celebrations such as Christmas, Halloween, or Valentine’s Day… Likewise, there are Trolls Dolls dressed in clothing characteristic of certain countries, such as the Irish, Italians, Mexicans, and many more. For each country, there is a little Troll that represents it.

Of course, some figures represent styles or moments in life, such as Rasta Trolls, Baby Trolls, Royal Trolls, Rock Star Trolls, and the list only goes on. That’s without counting the freedom that the user enjoys to personalize it as they wish, and the number of copies that emerged in the last century.

Trolls also boast a lot of variety in materials. From wood, the first raw material with which they were produced, they have gone through glass, vinyl, rubber, ceramic, and many other materials. As for her hair, it began to be made with sheep’s wool, going through nylon, fur, straw…

Troll Collecting

There is no specific record of how many types of Trolls exist today due to the Dam Things copyright issue, but the world’s largest collection of Trolls belongs to Sherry Goom, a retired psychiatric nurse, who owns 8,150 different Trolls. This incredible collection is open to the public in Alliance, Ohio, where Sherry and her husband run a museum called the Troll Hole, dedicated to all kinds of souvenirs related to these creatures of the fantasy genre.

The Rarest Troll Dolls

Something I’m sure you’ve already realized at this point is that all Trolls are humanoid…

Well, yes there are some based on animals, like lions, giraffes, etc. But they are very hard to find, as well as the coal-black Trolls, the two-headed Trolls, and the tall Trolls we talked about before, whose value can exceed $500.

To these collectible rarities, we can add the original vintage Troll Dolls from 1960, which are hard to find nowadays, at least in good condition. Something that raises their price is if they have their original felt clothing since this material disintegrates over time due to its fragility. As of today, the value of these figures exceeds $200, while the smaller versions range from $20 to $40.

This immense variety of both types and materials is not a common occurrence in the toy market, as once companies set a production plan, they rarely change course unless it is to improve the process. However, in the case of the Trolls it is very different due to their licensing problems when they started to market them globally, so many replicas of various materials flooded the markets. In total, it is estimated that throughout their history, more than 10 companies have produced Trolls Dolls. Just imagine all the processes each one went through just to get to the same product.

Trolls Everywhere!

Ever since they became popular in the 1960s, Trolls have been the lucky charms of millions of people, believing that these little characters were a magnet for good luck. Perhaps it is just good marketing that is responsible for that effect on people, but there’s no denying that you feel better with one of these dolls by your side.

This was the case of Betty Miller, the first woman pilot to fly over the Pacific Ocean. For this feat, the former President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, invited her to the White House in 1963, and guess who Betty took as a companion. That’s right, a Troll doll named Dammit accompanied her throughout her legendary flight. 

Although Kennedy was already very familiar with these little creatures, as the first lady, Lady Bird Johnson was a big fan of Trolls, she even had one of her own. In 1964 alone, Americans bought more than a million of these toys.

Of course, there are hundreds of Trolls Dolls collectors who are constantly looking to add new figures to their ranks, but also fans who just love these toys and share their passion with others through social networks. For example, on Facebook, you can find various groups of Troll lovers, where they share photos of their collections, share tips on where to look for rare Trolls, or simply tell how their childhood was with them.

The dolls have also appeared in famous movies and TV series in the form of cameos, highlighting their participation in The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Robot Chicken, and Annoying Orange, among others. 

Perhaps their most famous role has been in Toy Story, the famous Pixar series. What better context than this to see the Trolls come to life and share with other famous toys? In the first and second movies, there is a pink-haired female troll wearing a flower bikini among Andy’s toys. In the third movie, they upped the number with a train car full of them in the introductory scene. 

Ah, we almost forgot to mention it. He may be in another universe, far removed from ours, but Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy is a big fan of Troll Dolls. So much so that he puts them in command control of his ship, accompanying them on great adventures.

Family of Troll Doll toys

Possibly that’s the best way to refer to the Trolls, as companions, whether they are as decoration in your home, or you take them as a token on a trip to another continent, they will always be there to bring good luck.

It’s a pity the number of copyright problems Dam Things had, but that didn’t stop the Trolls from being lost in limbo. On the contrary, they came back stronger, becoming icons of pop culture for more than 60 years and proving that beauty, at least the most important beauty, comes from within.

Thomas Dam can be proud of his creations, and wherever he is, he’s sure to be accompanied by many of his Trolls.