Sad news: Joe Tai

Yesterday, I learned on Prego doll board that Joe Tai has passed on September 17. He lost the battle with liver cancer. He was  two years younger than me.

Joe Tai was born in 1972 in Shanghai, but grew up in Taipeh, Taiwan. He was interested in dolls since he his childhood. He got his first doll when he was 9 years old.

He bought his first collectible Barbie in 1999 and soon after, became well-known as a customizer and repaint artist of Barbie dolls, winning several renowned doll makeover contests. You can see some of his OOAK dolls here:

The lack of quality accessories for his custom dolls inspired him to make some,  and from 2003, he also made these for sale.  He soon became very popular for high-quality scale shoes and fashions.

The release of  TylerWentworth and some other 16″ dolls inspired Joe Tai to work on his own doll line.  Joe Tai quit the customizing scene and started to work on his own doll line, although it would take several years until his 16″ doll, and even the 12″ version would be released. He revised many times and even discarded two finished sculpts.

Finally, in 2005, his first 12″ doll was released: Ingrid, named after Ingrid Bergman, her facial sculpt bearing a distinct similarity to Joe´s own features. So, in a way, Ingrid is his “daughter”.

She was made of a special porcelain-like vinyl, similar to Mattel´s “silkstone” and had straight arms and legs. In 2006, Ingrid would get two friends with different sculpts – Brigitte and En – and a multi-jointed, highly articulated body. The picture shows one of the first Ingrid releases that no longer lives here.

In 2008, the 16″ doll was finally ready. Initially named “Lara”, she was released as “Jo”, and her sculpt was a scaled-up version of Ingrid´s.  

Joe´s company is tiny. Established in 2004, he is working with approx. 20 artists who paint, craft and sew. Everything is done by hand, these dolls are not mass-produced. Each release is limited to a few hundred or less. We do not know yet what will happen with the company and the molds, now that Joe is gone. Perhaps his heirs will continue production, so that his legacy will stay around. 

Here is a 2006  interview with Joe Tai:


1 Comment

  1. Rosetta said,

    April 2, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Hello, We are friends of JOE TAI. And just read your article and feel very sad. JOE TAI didn’t contact us after he found cancer. And We just learn he left us already. May we know if you have his family contact information? We want to go to his tomb and send him some flowers. Thank you. my contact information is Thanks a lot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: