Emma, Sparrow, and the unnamed LTF are dolls first, not characters. Their personalities will only come out after I've played with them and photographed them interacting with each other. I am working on how they are related, not to tell a story, although one will probably occur, but just because they will be three dolls living in the same house, and I want to have them be connected in some way. And they have to be connected to Harley, since she lives here, too. But they actually have nothing to do with Harley's story. Emma is simply an auxiliary character and could easily be written away. She's way more important in the doll world than in the story world. Meanwhile, Harley's boyfriend, one day to be spouse, is critical in the story, but not in the doll world. The MNF Luka who was Crow hasn't sold yet, but when he does, I don't know how fast I'm really going to reshell him into another doll. In a way I'm half tempted to keep him and just acknowledge the fact that he doesn't look at all like the character he is supposed to be....except for the muscles.
The AG dolls aren't nearly this complicated: they are either sisters, cousins, or friends, end of story. Maybe it's just the difference for me between a doll who is a child and a doll who is an adult. The doll who is an adult has a more complex, deeper, and more personal history than a doll who is a child, to me.
Anyway, I'm curious about how it works for all of you? Are your dolls doll first? characters first? Something in between? props that are more about creating your visual art? Or something else?