Sonny Angel Mania

Sonny Angels weren’t always mini. In 2004, the dolls were seven inches tall and did not come with fruity, fun headgear. Photos Courtesy of Samantha Avila Griffin

Sonny Angels are small collectable figurines with baby faces, angel wings and cutely themed headgear. Whether they’re tucked away in backpacks, hanging from student’s laptops, or perched in dormitory windowsills, the dolls are all over campus. 

Created in 2004 by Toru Soeya, Sonny Angel is a little angel boy who “is always by your side to make you smile,” according to the company’s website. The dolls started growing a fanbase in 2005 and have since surged in mainstream popularity because of trending surprise pack unboxing videos and videos of people showing off their collections on social media platforms like TikTok and Youtube.

“They are like my little friends, an exciting little treat and a little surprise,” said Iman Moaddli, a junior performing arts and social justice major, about the 3-inch tall Sonny Angels dolls who have been spreading their wings around the world. 

The dolls are sold as blind boxes, meaning the buyer doesn’t know which little friend they received until they’ve unboxed the toy. With a diverse range of Sonny Angel series, there’s one for everyone. Some come with clothes, but Sonny Angel dolls usually are nude as part of their design. As reported by the New York Times in April, some are put off by the doll’s nudity, and find it inappropriate. Others feel it adds to the character of the doll. “It is a silly and lighthearted toy, and I do not think pedophiles are getting off on Sonny Angels, I think they are probably getting off on much more sinister things,” said Moaddeli, who has a growing collection of 58 Sonny Angels.

Fans are delighted by the mystery of the blind boxes and guessing what doll they’ll receive. Collectors who want a specific doll often have to keep purchasing blind boxes, because they don’t always get the one they want.

“Opening the blind boxes is so exciting, and a very good surprise, but sometimes it’s not because I get something I already have then I’m so pissed off,” said Moaddeli.

Sophomore media studies major Kendall Block echoed this excitement. “The different designs are really cute and with the mystery boxes you just don’t know what you are going to get. It’s fun.” With over 650 Sonny Angels to collect, part of the excitement is in trying to collect them all. One of the more popular series is the fruit Sonny Angels. The dolls in this series wear headgear that resembles fruits like raspberries, peaches, oranges and pears.

 On Aug. 28, Block hosted an event for students to trade or sell their Sonny Angels and make connections with fellow collectors. “I just decided to host it because I know a lot of people collect them here at USF and because I am not involved in other clubs on campus so it was fun. People came and made friends and I am planning on doing another one or make it into a club for those interested.”

 Block has been collecting Sonny Angels for two years. Her room is filled with Sonny Angel merchandise and decorations — their fruit designs and cat themed headgear line her windowsill. 

Block worked in a store that sold Sonny Angels, which sparked her interest in the dolls. She and her co-worker would make it “kind of like a guessing game,” she said.

“They are an addiction,” said Moaddeli.“ I am very much addicted to hunting them down and trying to collect the ones I want the most.”

As the Sonny Angel presence continues to grow on campus, so does the joy and happiness that comes with them. “They are all so amazing and cute and make me feel better in their own little way,” said Moaddeli. From the basic collections to the infamous blind boxes, Sonny Angels have left their mark on USF campus, spreading their wings and infectious cuteness. 

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