Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

Childhood dreams meet adult money

By Kristine Pascual, Oct. 10, 2023

Lines of women clutch their bags filled to the brim with half naked baby dolls, ecstatic to make a trade.

In the other line, crowds of women line up to buy various boxes of plastic baby figurines. They talk among themselves about what they are looking to buy, trade or sell. Purchasing a box is like pulling the lever of a slot machine in Vegas — it’s a gamble, you don’t know what you’re going to get.   

Sonny Angel is the title of a fictitious 2-year-old boy/cherub created as a companion for working women in their 20s. The company’s slogan “he will bring you happiness” is one that seems to be true for many buyers. 

Each angel wears different headgear. According to the Sonny Angel website, in the last 20 years, over 900 variations of dolls have been created from animals to sweets to flowers. Like most collectible items, some dolls hold more value than others. Originally sold and made in Japan, these dolls retail anywhere between $11-$25. However, in Japan, they are priced as low as $7.  

Sonny Angels are sold in what is called a “blind box.” Buyers are surprised with each bag hoping to see the baby of their choice. Furthermore, each series contains a “secret” figure. I, as well as most other Sonny Angel collectors, desire to own a secret because of its rarity. Secret and/or rare Sonny Angels can be resold for as much as $500 on sites like Ebay or Mercari. 

Liberal studies major, Vivian Thai started her collection this past summer. With each box she purchased she became more and more addicted to the gambling aspect of the boxes, desperately searching for the exact dolls she wanted.  

“Sonny Angels are my children. I feel like I have something to be excited about, this silly little doll brings me so much happiness. I carry at least one everywhere with me,” Thai said.  

I too often carry at least one Sonny Angel on me daily. I have a cherry “hipper” stuck to my phone and often receive comments from friends, peers and even strangers. I find this doll to be a great conversation starter.  

For civil engineering major, Carmen Tran, Sonny Angels make her feel youthful.   

“When I was younger, I loved playing with dolls. Now that I’m older I don’t really play with toys but Sonny Angels reintroduced me to my childhood in a more fun way,” Tran said. 

Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

Figurines and collectibles such as Sonny Angels are far from useless. Each one holds meaning and says a lot about the person collecting them. The art of collecting brings people together. Whether it be baseball cards, Sanrio plushies or Sonny Angels, at the end of the day collecting is fun and exciting. 

Though these figures may seem silly to some, they hold much more significance than they appear. Psychology major, Timothy Choi collects another popular brand of blind boxes created by the same company as Sonny Angels. These little figures glow in the dark figures called Smiskis.  

“It’s a tradition with my friends. Whenever we would go out, we would hunt for them. We would come back home with at least one [Smiski] and every figure I have is tied to a memory of hanging out with friends or family,” Choi said.  

I was never a collector but it’s cool to learn more about trading. To me, the trading world solely revolved around games such as Pokémon or sports like baseball. It never occurred to me trading goes beyond those worlds. I never thought I would take part in trading anything and now I have stepped foot in it, I’m not sure I can turn back.  

Sonny Angels are far from being the first ever collector’s item. For centuries people have collected toys and knick knacks. These days LEGO is booming thanks to adults who are reconnecting with their favorite childhood toy, even launching a theme made for ages 18 and older.  

After a little over a year of collecting I’ve racked up 30 of these plastic babies. I don’t care if anyone thinks it’s a waste of money or if they look creepy. To me, there’s something in a Sonny Angel that keeps me tied to my youth and brings me happiness. I have them hidden and scattered around my apartment. Seeing one standing above my coffee maker or peeking through a house plant is like a little dose of joy each day.  

I recently joined a Sonny Angel Discord server home to more than 4,000 other Sonny Angel fanatics. Collectors  and buyers send hundreds of messages each day regarding trading, selling and discussing which dolls in particular they are on the hunt for. The server truly is a barter and I’ve learned quite a bit about negotiation. I have traded a handful of my Sonny Angels with girls across America, even one in Canada.

I feel connected with so many girls from all over the world I have never met. I think it’s cool to be part of a community through a common interest, as niche as it is.  

I plan to keep these Sonny Angels for as long as I can. I’m hoping my kids will think it’s a cool piece of my college years. Some may think these dolls are silly, but to me they’re a real comfort and that’s all that matters. 

Feature image courtesy of Lauren Wong

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