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Dolls Talks with Grandma Gets Real

The Grandma of the doll community does really exist. She is real! Have you ever met her? She is beautiful, caring, always there to give some wise advice... I can spend hours watching her on Instagram hunting down Barbie bargains at garage sales, organising her miniature room, and setting her dioramas up.

So it was with great pleasure that I caught up with Tonya for Dolls Talks chat.

Grandma Gets Real with her mini me doll

- Hello!

My name is Tonya Ruiz. I have an Instagram account that is a miniature plastic parallel universe of my real life.

GrandmaGetsReal Tonya Ruiz

- Can you describe how you feel about your doll hobby in 5 words?

My happy corner of the world.

-Tell me how you manage to be a full-time grandma to your own grandchildren as well as the whole doll community?

I get up early, so I have plenty of time to do both.

Grandma Gets Real with Great Shape Barbie

- As someone who had a model career, what is the message to the little girls you would like to put out there to help them with accepting their body image, etc.?

I think we need to raise our children embracing their uniqueness instead of looking to an unattainable airbrushed or filtered standard of beauty.

- Your life is a perfect example of how God can save! What advice would you give to someone who is yet to meet Him?

I don't really give advice, but I love to share my story.

Grandma Gets Real with her doll family collection

- If you could go back in time to when you were small what doll would you take with you and why?

I guess I'd have to take Grandma Barbie - back then there were no "senior" Barbie dolls.

- What/who inspired you to start your doll collection?

When we started our dollstagram account - we began collecting dolls that resembled our family. Then I kept adding to it...

- How big is your collection? Are there only dolls or have you ever collected other toys?

I have over 300 dolls. I also collect a few other toys - like Vintage Fisher Price Toys - that I use in my photos.

- What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started collecting dolls?

Probably pick a niche.

- How do you store your dolls? Are they on display? What are your recommendations

on keeping dolls intact?

Some of them are on display in my attic room. I haven't been collecting long enough to know much about keeping them intact.

Grandma Gets Real Tonya Ruiz taking Barbie doll photos outside

- When it comes to doll photography do you prefer indoor or outdoor?

It's easier for me to take them inside by a window because I prefer soft natural light. BUT... some of my favorite photos were taken outside.

- What advice would you give to someone who’s just re-discovered their childhood hobby and started collecting dolls?

I would say choose the dolls that speak to you. Don't buy it because the dolls are new and everyone else is getting it. Dare to be different and have a unique collection.

- What’s next on your dolls wishlist?

I would love to complete my Happy Family Collection. They are so expensive online. I'm hoping to run across them at a garage sale.

Grandma Gets Real mini me Barbie doll with miniature dolls

- If you could get absolutely any doll you want, what would that be?

I would like to recreate my childhood collection - so a 1968 TNT

- Do you think dolls are a good investment? Or is it rather an excuse?

I don't know. I have never purchased dolls as an investment. I buy them to photograph.

- Do you think the doll community world will change in 10 years from now? And if yes, how?

Things always change. I would imagine that it will continue growing. I'm sure that video and photo technology will continue to advance and allow us to do amazing things.

Grandma Gets Real Tonya Ruiz as a cat lady

- What advice would you give to adult doll collectors who have odd looks from their family and friends?

Just keep being yourself.

- Unbox or not unbox? (& Why?)

I unbox everything - but I consider myself a Barbie photographer not a Barbie Collector.

-Fabulous chatting to you Tonya! I love it!

Follow Tonya on Instagram or visit her website

All photographs are property of Tonya Ruiz and have been published with her kind permission.

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