Pinoy artist lauded for realistic celeb dolls

By Czer Esquejo

Posted at Jul 30 2014 07:04 PM | Updated as of Jul 31 2014 03:04 AM

Noel Cruz's Maleficent doll. Photo from the artist's Facebook page

MANILA – Filipino artist Noel Cruz is again in the limelight, several years after he first became famous for repainting factory dolls to create life-like collectibles.

Cruz drew acclaim for transforming ordinary mass-produced factory dolls into life-like figurines.

Recently, he repainted dolls following the release of actress Angelina Jolie’s film “Maleficent.”

Cruz repainted two versions of Maleficent dolls, enhancing the color and adding intricate details from the headdress to the doll’s eyes, nose, lips and cheeks.

His other recent works include the cast of the "Twilight" series, Katniss Everdeen of "The Hunger Games," Jack Sparrow of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and Harry Potter.

When putting in the little details, Cruz said he envisions himself to be of the same size as the dolls he paints and carefully makes only minimal movements with his hands.

Cruz aims to raise the bar and produce one-of-a-kind repaints, and focuses in achieving a sense of both aesthetics and likeness in his creations.
His works recently went viral on social media after opening the auction for his latest creations on eBay earlier this year.

Cruz and his works have since been featured in international online news websites and TV stations.

“Some people think I’m a weirdo, that I have nothing better to do with my time,” Cruz said in an interview with US-based television station KTLA.

His works are renowned by different artists and collectors all over the world for their accuracy and details. He now makes at least $1,250 for every 12-inch doll he repaints.

The price could even go higher up to over $5,000 if the dolls were previously auctioned.

Several years ago, Cruz made worldwide news when his dolls of Jolie and singer Cher sold for over $3,300 and $3,800 respectively.

Originally from Manila and now based in Los Angeles, Cruz said he had no formal training. He began his career in 2001, when he came across repainted dolls on eBay while looking for a doll for his wife’s collection.

In 13 years, Cruz has painted hundreds of dolls modeled from stars from recent Hollywood box office hits to the classics, such as Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson and others.

Cruz displays details of his works on his website,

Cruz admitted that he feels sad when he sells his creations, but is rewarded with the thought of sharing his talents to the world.

“It’s like, these are my girls, or my boys if it’s male dolls. And it’s like sending them off. I’m sad, but the payoff that I get is satisfaction of knowing that I am able to share my art with others,” he told KTLA.