How can I reuse or recycle old dolls and action figures?

Dolls and action figuresJust before Christmas, Ruth sent us an email asking “how can I recycle these?” and attached this photo of some rather creepy dolls and assorted other figures.

The obvious answer for any toy in good condition is donate it to a charity shop or charity for another child to enjoy – but I know from personal experience dolls quite often don’t make it out of a childhood in good enough condition to donate.

Perhaps they’ve had an extreme haircut to many, lost a limp in a freak hoover accident or learned an important lesson about tattoo permanency after having “make love not war” biroed in huge letters up their soft rubber legs (sorry Sindy, you looked so much more of a hippie than those overly groomed Barbies).

So I join Ruth in asking, what can be done with those type of dolls?

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18 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old dolls and action figures?”

  1. Delusion says:

    I have to say, I had a black haired Cindy with no arms. She was given to me by my Gran after I saw my sister’s “Ice Skating Cindy”.

    Maybe she didnt look as posh, but I kept her throughout my childhood and still enjoyed playing with her. You may be lucky to get a child who isnt too picky, :)

    • louisa says:

      Oh I didn’t mean to suggest that broken dolls can’t be loved too – I just meant they would be less likely to be accepted at a charity shop or the like.

      My hippy Sindy stayed in my collection until I grew out of dolls – but she mostly chose to wear long dresses or trousers for formal occasions ;)

  2. Mary says:

    You’d be surprised what people will buy as “collectible”, even if just for the good parts. Could try selling them on EBay.

    Also could try cleaning them up and donating them then.

  3. Teanah says:

    Few things you could do. You can strip them down and repaint them, make new clothing for them and turn them into extremely expensive one of kind collectors dolls. Sell them on ebay for hundreds.

    You can take the legs off the 12 inchers, clean them up and decorate them a bit and use them in the center of half round cakes (angelfood pans) that you decorate as their “skirt.” Usually good for little girls birthdays and wedding showers.

    You can remove the heads and add a nice decoration under the neck with lace and flowers and a flower hat or flowers in the hair or holly or ivy etc and add a loop with a heavy needle and make ornaments for christmas gifts.

    You can use the hands to model rings on a jewelry display if you sell your own hand made jewelry.

    You can use the action figures in shadow box settings after repainting them to match the scenes. These also make good christmas gifts if the theme of the box is something that someone is into like computers or sports.

    You can also paint the actionfigures into fairies and add wings and make them ornaments too.

  4. Elouise says:

    Dolls without limbs are still dolls to play with and might suit the play needs of particular children. When I was a child, I sought out dolls missing limbs to adopt and take home to my orphanage of limbless dolls. I wasn’t too interested in perfect dolls. So! Clean them up and donate them to charity. Some child, somewhere, will have a thing for limbless dolls.

  5. John B says:

    My kids took the severed head of a barbie and attached it to the headless torso of an action man. They dressed the result in a tight vest top and a mini skirt and called it “Venice Beach Barbie”.

  6. Jen says:

    cut the hands off and make hand earrings. a lotta altered art uses barbie and ken pieces too

  7. pam says:

    You would be surprised at what Barbie collectors do. I used to know some and they knew how to put new hair on dolls and mixed and matched the bits in all sorts of ways – so give them to charity to be re-used!

  8. Rajeem Vaz says:

    I just found out from my employer about a reuse site called that’s launching soon

  9. Tamara says:

    nim, that’s weird… i want one of those barbie eye rings.

    you might just keep the dolls around in a box in the closet for days when a niece or nephew or grandchild visits. i used to love playing with my aunt’s “vintage” dolls that were stowed at grandma’s, even the one’s that had been loved to pieces already

  10. Gulia says:

    Make animated movie with them and show it on You Tube.

  11. Gulia says:

    Children can learn to draw a figure by using Barbies as models.

  12. Fellina says:

    I am throwing an Ugly Sweater party soon, I will be spray-painting a Ken and Barbie gold, making a tiny ugly sweater for each, and handing them out as trophy’s to the ‘Ugliest Sweater’ contest winner. :)

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