I have always found dolls and bears appealing as collectibles because a person can hug them. With a collection of fine stained glass or metal objects, one doesn't have that same freedom. Glass is cold. Bears' fur is soft and warm. Humor aside, another advantage for the doll collector is being the "parent" to a "child" whose psyche can't be warped with poor parenting skills or lack of experience. Dolls don't care if they sit on the bed or a shelf for weeks. Dolls aren't picky about their outfits-- pink frills or blue sailboats--all ok. Dolls not anatomoically correct (and even some that are) don't mind being dressed as a boy or a girl. And when you are done, they sit where you put them without running around getting dirt and schmutz on their new clean clothes.
Research in child development even supports the idea that we humans having been hardwired to bond to young for survival of our species, are attracted to teddy bears and dolls because of the round cheeks and big eyes, round bellies so similar to those of human babies. Price can be an issue in doll collecting. If a person prefers the artist doll, limited edition or one-of-a-kind it is possible to pay thousands of dollars and to wait several years for a new piece. On the other hand, Ashton-Drake type collectibles make dolls affordable for most budgets. And yet further still on the scale, a person can find a loveable doll in a thrift store or kids' shop just because it was love at first sight.
There are so many kinds of dolls, bears adn other animals out there now. Just go to any Barnes and Noble and check out "Doll Reader" or "Contemporary Artist Dolls" magazines. From abstract bizarre creations, classic sculptures, porcelains, resins-- Fimo, Sculpey and others, babies so life-like they seem to cry, babies that "breathe", vinyls of very good quality with paint that looks like skin tones, fabric dolls, dolls made by hobbyists and dolls made by professionally trained artists, clothing by fashion designers, bear creators who start with raising the rabbits and sheep to harvest the wool to make the felt to make the bear..the possibilities are endless.
One thing is for sure--we're not talking your mother's Barbie dolls any more! To be fair, Barbie does seem to endure and remain ageless and isn't she lucky? even though Ken went by the wayside, usurped by an Australian surfer dude after 40 years. Poor guy! Barbie stands up to all the new exciting fashion doll creations as well.
The aisles of Toys R Us contain very good quality vinyl play dolls made by German and Spanish companies who can become under the watchful eyes and skilled hands of "Re-born" artists another class of one-of-a-kind collectible babies. Left to their own devices these dolls make wonderful durable play babies for children.
It is possible to search online for dolls and bears in several ways. If you like a particular artist you can search that artist. If you like a particular shop you can start there. Many shops and artists have their own websites. Know what you like. Classified ads for doll shows. Trade magazines.
It is up to the individual collector whether he or she keeps the doll out. Puts it in a cabinet or keeps it boxed with acid free paper or to play with it. A lot depends on life style. A person with animal pets may find it challenging to keep the bear or doll out simply because four footed folks do find them tasty to chew and in worse cases, tempting to mark on. I have one dog who loves to carry a teddy bear in her mouth. She is a fierce protector! But just in case, she will bark at you around the dolly she carries.
Certain fabrics, vinyls, and resins are vulnerable to sunlight which can cause fading and damage. Others are temperature sensitive. Porcelain breaks. Many folks have made the mistake of trying to remove marks on vinyl dolls with acetone only to lose the paint as well! I've had poorly fired resin dolls crack and lose body parts. Dust can damage dolls and bears as well. Whatever way displayed, it is often important to keep not only the box the doll came in but also the tags, receipts, papers and certificates. This completes the piece's provenance and in the event of re-sale adds much to the worth. Some prefer rotating the doll or bear so it spends some of its time boxed and protected from the elements.
To sum things up, don't be shy or embarrasssed or afraid to like dolls or bears. They are not only for children. We carry good memories of these friends with us into adulthood. Friends who comforted in hard times. Always available for a hug and a secret. Loving them still makes perfect sense.