Rubin: With Goodfellows, the details make the dolls

Neal Rubin

If you looked closely, beneath the fishnet hose, the blue-ribbon Lady Gaga doll had a tattoo.

The Dorothy had a basket, just like Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz,” and in this runner-up’s basket was a little stuffed dog.

Goodfellows doll-dressing winner, Nadine Lonergan’s Lady Gaga, center, was authentic all the way to its tattoo.

It’s the details that make winners in the annual Goodfellows doll-dressing competition. And talent, of course, along with imagination. But what resonated with the judges Monday morning were the little things, on dolls that will soon work their way to little people.

The Old Newsboys Goodfellow Fund of Detroit will distribute 34,000 holiday boxes this December to children from income-impaired families in Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park, River Rouge and Harper Woods. About 9,000 of the parcels, destined to gladden the holidays of 4- to 9-year-old girls, will contain dolls.

The dolls arrive from Santa’s offshore workshop wearing briefs, white socks and Mary Janes. It’s up to swarms of loving volunteers to festoon each of them in proper finery, whether the outfit comes from a store, a pattern or clacking crochet hooks.

More than 100 of the most impressively dressed dolls will be on display through Nov. 29 in the lobby of Comerica’s Michigan headquarters at 411 W. Lafayette in Detroit. Ten of them have now been anointed spiffiest of the spiffy by a panel that included five highly qualified young ladies and one buffoon who didn’t even recognize the title character from “Moana” — who, speaking of details, was accompanied by an oar, an exotic bird and a pig.

I was the buffoon, reprising a role I’ve played for longer than I can remember. The experts were Natalie Rose Stanczak, 11, and her sister Emily, 8, of Auburn Hills; Sophia Virga, celebrating her 11th birthday, of Warren, and 12-year-olds Lauren Koski and Madelyn Bialy of Rochester.

Sorting through all the brides, Southern belles, Olympians and one Michael Jackson — which impressed me, but was banished by the connoisseurs because who’d want to play with him? — the smarter members of the panel awarded the top prize to Nadine Lonergan, 62, a neonatal nurse practitioner from Allen Park.

Her Gaga featured studded platform boots, a keyboard, a microphone and about three months’ worth of sequins and other ornamentation. Runner-up Dorothy was provided by Christine Maycock of Plymouth, while third place went to a red Christmas dress crafted by Belinda Moses of TACOM in Warren.

Goodfellows dolls are on display at Comerica headquarters on Lafayette in Detroit. An assortment of the dolls that will make their way to about 9,000 girls in the Detroit area are on display through Nov. 29 in the lobby at Comerica.

Moana had been a serious contender, but tough competition made for tough standards. “She’s not exactly a Christmas doll,” reasoned Emily. “It was really a summer movie.”

The girl who receives the doll probably won’t consider that, of course, and the only prize for the winners is pride. As much as anything, the contest is a reminder to everyone else that in order to live up to their motto, “No kiddie without a Christmas,” the Goodfellows have to spend money they don’t possess yet.

To take a nip out of their $1.1 million budget, said executive director Sari Klok-Schneider, kindly visit or drop a check to Goodfellows Fund, P.O. Box 44444, Detroit, MI 48224.

“I wasn’t that much of a doll kid,” confessed Klok-Schneider, 54, but the response from former Goodfellows recipients has made her one now.

“We still get letters from people who got packages,” she said. They recall the impact that a box of toys and clothes made in the sort of house Santa can’t quite find, and sometimes, they make her misty.

It’s sort of like the dolls — all about the details.

Twitter: @nealrubin_dn