A doll is a model of a human being. The earliest documented dolls go back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome. Dolls being used as toys was documented in Greece around 100AD. They have been made as crude, rudimentary playthings as well as elaborate art. Modern doll manufacturing has its roots in Germany going back to the 15th century. With industrialization and the appearance of new materials like porcelain and plastic, dolls were increasingly mass-produced. During the 20th century dolls became increasingly popular as collectibles.
During the 19th century dolls' heads were often made of porcelain and combined with a body of leather, cloth, wood, or composite materials, like paper-mâché or composition, a mix of pulp, sawdust, glue and similar materials. With the advent of polymer and plastic materials in the 20th century, doll making largely shifted to these materials. The low cost, ease of manufacture and durability of plastic materials meant new types of dolls could be mass-produced at a lower price. The earliest materials were rubber and celluloid. From the mid-20th century soft vinyl became the dominant material, in particular for children's dolls. Beginning in the 20th century, both porcelain and plastic dolls are made directly for the adult collectors market. Synthetic resins like polyurethane resemble porcelain in texture and are used for collectible dolls.
In Western society, a gender difference in the selection of toys has been observed and studied. Action figures that represent traditional masculine traits are popular with boys, who are more likely to choose toys that have some link to tools, transportation, garages, machines and military equipment. Dolls for girls tend to represent feminine traits and come with such accessories as clothing, kitchen appliances, utensils, furniture and jewelry. Today with the explosion of the Asian Ball Jointed Doll a new collector has emerged. These people are creative and savvy collectors and the artists who produce them are truly deft hands at moulding lifelike and aesthetically pleasing creatures.