What makes character dolls highly desired collectibles, are the realistic expressions that distinguish them from the blank expressions of factory-made ordinary dolls. Character dolls of pre-World War I Germany were modeled after real children. Not only were their features astoundingly real, they were shown with emotional expressions common to childhood, such as pouting, sniveling, or laughing. These dolls are valuable because of their desirability and rarity. Their clothing was also advanced for the times, with detailed and elaborate outfits. Because they were realistic and often of a harder composition, they were not manufactured for a long time, as most children preferred soft cuddly dolls that were invariably cute and contented. Good condition is important, as the dolls need to have unbroken parts and faces that have not been handled or dragged excessively by children. Look for original clothing, eyes that are painted rather than glass, and original hair wigs. Those with dramatic childhood expressions are preferred.
In more modern times, character dolls have come to mean, specific celebrities, both real (Shirley Temple), and imaginary (Howdy Doody). You won't find them for every actress that you admire as the nature of the actress can determine the manufacturing motivation, so don't look for a doll for Angelina Jolie, for example, but if you happen to find one, then it could be a one-of-a-kind craft project. Celebrity dolls are not true character dolls, but must be included here, as they are "character collectibles", and some, such as Shirley Temple, can belong in a category all by themselves, especially to those collectors who specialize in one celebrity character exclusively. It is always good to investigate dolls that appear in garage sales and flea markets, as on occasion, rare and valuable specimens will turn up. All it takes is one person cleaning out the attic and finding an old bisque doll that is no longer fashionable to modern children.