Last month, I took my daughter into town for lunch, and we ended up at a communal table with a couple of slightly older girls (and their mom) who were geeking out, pasting intricate Japanese "fashion doll" stickers into elaborate albums. Each sticker-sheet came with one or two blank bodies -- mostly girls, though boys and babies also featured -- and several fashion items that could be stuck and layered on top of the characters to play dress-up. Think puffy sticker versions of paper dress-up dolls.
We ended up dropping by the shop in Covent Garden where the kids had scored their booty, and buying a few sets and an album for Poesy. These have since become her most favorite toy. It's a good combination of free-play (since you can get funny effects like putting socks on their ears, etc) and collecting, with all the many different varieties of garments and bodies. There's also a less gendered version of these -- food toys like hamburgers and pizzas that you build up in layers.
These have been sheer kid-crack in our house. On our month-long family trip, they were a sure-fire cure for squirming boredom during the lulls and car-rides. They're cheap enough that we didn't mind the inevitable loss as we dribbled away a hanselgretl trail of puffy, minuscule shoes and socks and tu-tus in hotels across America.
Here's a video with the stickers' creator at a Japanese trade-show, explaining their origin. I'm not sure where to buy them -- ours came from Artbox -- but your local Japantown is a good bet.
Two summers ago we decided to create interchangeable apparel stickers for two-dimensional dolls. These stickers can be layered on top of each other to create a fashionable look. The 90 female dolls all have the same body shape, with only the face and hairstyles being different. Because the body shapes are all the same, their clothes are interchangeable, so if you collect a lot of different apparel, there are an infinite number of coordinating combinations. Initially there were 15 dolls, but due to their popularity we increased the number to 90 in two years.
The number of apparel stickers is limited to what can fit on a single sheet, so approximately six different coordinated combinations can be created from a single sheet. We first imagined the personality of each doll and what type of hairstyle and clothes she would probably wear, and from this we also matched her with a suitable name. We adjusted the cosmetics, eye shadow color, and eye positioning according to what we imagined as the personality of each doll to bring out more individuality.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.