The Eyes Have It


I don’t do a lot of social media but I do belong to a couple of Facebook doll groups. One that I often check into is Dolls, Bears, Golliwogs and Vintage Toys -Australia & NZ. – New Group

It is a nice group with a lot of knowledgeable members who love to share pictures of their finds and favourite dollies as well as being a buy and sell group.

While I was checking out new posts I came across an interesting one written by Jan Wrate,  who is one of the group admins about dolls eyes changing colour. I had not heard of this before, probably because the affected dolls were mostly made after 1990 and I don’t collect many dolls from the modern era. Yes, to me 1990 is like last week.

Anyway I thought that it was information worth passing on so I asked Jan if I could share her article and she kindly agreed.

Here is the article:



by Jan Wrate

I have written this article as I am continuously asked “why has my dolls eyes changed colour?” or “what can I do about my dolls eyes?”

Since the 1990’s or thereabouts there are many dolls that have had their eyes completely change colour. For instance a brown or hazel eyed doll may have turned pink or purple or a blue-eyed doll eyes have turned grey. Often people purchased “rare” pink-eyed baby born dolls only later to find out they were not rare, but had just suffered this same fate.

When this topic was first spoken about it was presumed that the dolls had been exposed to extreme sunlight or had been under fluorescent lighting to have caused this change. Others claimed it was because they were cheap acrylic eyes put in to cheap dolls.

It is now known this was not the case and occurs mainly in glastic or acrylic eyes that have been used not only in some cheaper dolls, but also many expensive artist dolls. Name brand dolls that I know to have been affected include Baby Born, Annette Himstedt Dolls, Jan McLean Dolls, Franklin Mint, Danbury Mint, Heiti Ott, Gotz, American Girl, Lee Middleton Dolls, Hildegard Gunzel dolls and many more! Even doll artists making their own porcelain dolls have used these eyes and often they were EXPENSIVE eyes. It is not known why some batches were affected and others were not. It really is, and still is to some point to this day, “luck of the draw”.

So can anything be done about these eyes? In my opinion there are 3 options. 1) You could go to the expense of having the dolls eyes changed, 2) I read where there had been some success using a Sharpie Ultra Fine Tip BROWN permanent marker to re-colour the outer surface of the eyes to return them to brown (if they were this colour in the first place) or 3) just love the doll for how it is!

Many collectors do not mind this change of colour and there are actually now eyes being purposely made in pink, bright blues and violets for fantasy dolls. It is all about what you as a collector like or dislike.

This is one of the photos that accompanied Jan’s article.

pink eyed doll courtesy Jan Wrate

Several other group members commented that they had dolls with this condition. Dolls mentioned were My Twinn and My Child and Life of Faith. One said that her doll had been in storage and changed when taken out while another said that hers was always in a cabinet and not exposed to sunlight.  Another collector mentioned that she had noticed that it happened with Baby Born dolls made in China but not in Germany.


I do have a Baby Born doll that Naomi gave me a long time ago. We were still living in South Australia so it was in the 1990’s. In our old house the dolls lived in a spare bedroom but the room received a lot of light. I have had some issues of dolls clothes fading because of that. The lighting in my current doll room is rather dim  as I keep the curtains closed most of the time now I don’t sew in there any more. I have to admit that I haven’t examined Baby Born in some time. I have a nagging feeling that the last time I did her eyes were not blue but I can’t remember what colour they were when I got her. I will have to have a look and take some photos.


I had a look at her this morning and her eyes are pink! In fact she has been that way for some years as this photo from 2013 shows. I don’t know why I didn’t look into that at the time. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo on the computer of her new as I was not blogging then. I still used a film camera in the nineties so I did not take as many doll photos in those days.


Baby Born 2013

Here you can see her eyes close up.

Baby Born’s eyes have changed colour since I got her.

I went looking on the net myself to see if there were any other articles and pictures on the subject. I haven’t found any so far but I did notice that a lot of the online stores that sell glastic eyes mention which brands of eyes are affected, you can still buy them but they are cheaper as it seems to be a random thing. Some manufacturers say their eyes will not change colour as they have had a UV coating applied.

I am including one or two links to companies that sell doll eyes as their websites have a little information about what doll eyes are made of and how the material reacts.

I’d be interested to know if anyone has dolls with discoloured eyes and if so would you like to fix them or do you love them just as they are?

I don’t think that I will attempt to do anything about Baby Born. At least her eyes match her outfit.

Baby Born with a hat for winter. June 2017






  1. Does this mean they are blind? Perhaps they can have sunglasses. On a serious note this would be a disappointment for some collectors when they have spent good money. The dolls look strange with the pinky coloured eye colour. I wonder if the manufacturers or doll hospitals have more information on this subject?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is disappointing although apparently some people like them. If you wanted to keep your dolls MIB it would be upsetting.It is sort of like the way vintage Barbie’s hair and lips sometimes change colour through oxidisation or reaction in the vinyl. I have not been able to find out much yet but if I do I’ll post it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had a turquoise vintage Barbie Bel aire car turn olive green when I transferred it from an opaque storage bin to a clear one while doing inventory..I would have preferred it turn the same pink as the intereior or these dolls eyes! I rehomed it to a collector friend but I still have enough porcelains I should check those. I will also be putting Tammys convertible back in storage just in case.I wonder if in fact there might be a clear uv coat we might paint onto our dolls eyes like finger nail polish? Truly bizarre issue, thanks for the heads up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a bummer. Baby Born’s eyes remind me of the children in “Village of the damned”, or was it doomed? Almost all my taller dolls are from the 60’s and none did have a change in eye color. If they had, I would probably inquire if Schildkröt, offers eye replacement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My older dolls are fine. This seems to be a problem that affects dolls made in the last 20-30 years with the glastic or acrylic eyes. I think it was “Village of the Damned” I don’t care for pink eyes much but some people like it. A lot of manufacturers are making oddly coloured eyes now for fantasy inspired dolls. Each to their own.


  4. I have 2 ,one is a modern toddler type doll and one an older bisque doll, the newer doll has dark pink eyes, and the bisque has gone milky white, I intend to try glass paint on the bisque, just as an experiment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As I said each to their own. My regret is that I don’t have a photo of Baby Born from before the change, unless I have a print. I will have to look when I take my boxes of photos out of storage.


  5. Hi. I purchased the small Lee Middleton dolls designed for play for my girls back around 2000-2004. They were packed up several years ago. About a year ago I pulled them out. Both dolls had a change in eye color. One is a little creepy because her eyes are an orangey red shade and the other turned a light tan color. In addition to the one with orangey red eyes, her hair is falling out in clumps as if it rotted. I’m so upset because these were sweet memories of my girls’ childhood. I, too, cannot seem to find any posts or articles about this. If I recall, I called the Lee Middleton company about a year ago when I first noticed it and was told there was nothing they could do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s very sad, especially that the company can’t help you. I don’t know anything about Lee Middleton dolls so not sure why the hair would start coming out . Perhaps some of our readers might have had a similar experience and can tell us about it. I guess that getting the eyes replaced and a wig is a possibility, a doll hospital could do that. It is amazing what a good doll restorer can do. Of course that won’t come cheaply. There are Facebook doll groups and I know of at least one for people who fix dolls so I’ll have a look there and see if anyone has posted about Lee Middleton dolls. You would think that a doll that is only 15-20 years old would not deteriorate so fast but you get some strange chemical reactions and modern dolls don’t seem to be immune.


  6. 2 of my Annette Himstedt dolls changed eye colour to pink after being stored in acid free paper lined in original box and then outer packing box. I would love to sell them but paid £370 and £336 for them. Any advice or if there would still be a market for them would be appreciated they are perfect except for the eyes and I no longer have room for them. TIA

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well sadly you would not get back what you paid for them but if you were to sell them explaining what had happened to them someone might still like them. I’m not familiar enough with these dolls to know if you can source replacement eyes. Some people recolour them with pens as I mentioned in the piece. I think I’d just put them up for sale , be honest about the fault and leave it up to the new owner to decide what they want to do. You can give a link to this post for reference if you like.


      • Thank you for your reply I am still undecided what to do it seems such a shame to leave them in storage but as they were expensive I’m reluctant to let them go for peanuts. I have looked on the internet and new eyes can be purchased but not sure if it would take a doll specialist to fit them. Its good to know there are still doll enthusiasts out there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There are quite a few of us and some collectors might be willing to buy them a little cheaper and buy the new eyes themselves or just enjoy them as they are. If you or any friends or family use social media there are a lot of Facebook doll groups for buying and selling and you might be able to get some indication of a fair price through their moderators. I do hope that you are able to find good homes for them both at a price you and the buyer are both happy with.


    • I have a couple Annette Himstedt doll. One of them I would like to change her eye color. Can it be done with her dolls? Is so is there a website you can recommend that sell eyes for Himstedt dolls?


      • Hi Karen. I don’t know anything about repairing Annette Himstedt dolls, so I did a bit of reading. As you know the factory closed in 2008-9. There are companies that sell doll eyes but the ones I looked at don’t specify for what type of doll. Only the sizes and shapes. This is one I found in the UK which has good descriptions and pictures of the various types.
        Here is another.
        Would you be doing the work yourself or will you contact a doll hospital to do the change over?
        I did find one eHow article on dolls eyes but maybe our readers would have some better advice.
        If you do social media, there are numerous online doll groups of Facebook and there may be one for Annette Himstedt collectors. If you aren’t on Facebook yourself, perhaps you could ask a friend or relative who is to enquire for you.
        I hope this helps. Readers, if you can help Karen please jump into the comment thread.
        If you are in another country you may prefer to look for one closer to home as shipping costs and times are appalling these days even for tiny things.


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