Honors Projects


Alexa TenneyFollow


This project explores the relationship between merchandise development and narrative development, with a specific focus on the creative development between dolls and animation. Through exploration of these creative mediums, I began to question: How does the creative process combining animation and merchandise develop, and what is the impact on the final product? This concept is broken down even further to focus specifically on characters, and how creative characters are developed for dolls. This project provides an overview of the history of animation and merchandising beginning with Felix the Cat in the 1920s. Felix represents an instance of an animated character turning into a marketable product. On the contrary, some brands were developed as toys first and had animation developed secondary, for example, My Little Pony and Barbie. Using the Mattel brand Monster High as a case study, I discuss the brand’s creative development and use it as a guideline for my own project as the brand developed dolls and animation consecutively. In order to engage with the research questions, I developed my own animation concept into a doll. Following the examples from Monster High, I created my own prototype doll while simultaneously developing an animation concept and final animation tests. The purpose was to create an overall cohesive look for the project and character. In conclusion, I learned that doll development and animation development require different choices to be made in the character design process. The creative choices I made and their reasoning are discussed frequently throughout the paper.


Honors Program


Film Production

First Advisor

Dr. Tiffany L. Knoell

First Advisor Department

Popular Culture

Second Advisor

Kim Turner Waterfield

Second Advisor Department

School of Art

Publication Date

Spring 4-24-2023