“They’re here!” The yellow package sat quite literally on her doorstep, simple and almost overlooked amid the leaves and sticks on the porch that needed to be swept. She gathered the package in her arms and carried it in her house.

“I can’t believe it,” she said with a grin. “After all these years, I’ll finally have almost all of the Glitter Riders of Gemworld!” She’d looked forward to this day for a long time, ever since she’d found the two “Glitter Riders” dolls at a flea market. They’d been in their boxes and everything. She’d taken Diamondia and Amethe out of the boxes, but had kept most of their accessories on them, their shining dresses, fur-and-plastic-gem-trimmed capes, and fancy shoes. Their swords and wands were in a box in her attic.

She smiled as she pulled out each doll. “It’s like being a kid at Christmas again,” she said with a grin. She and her sisters were huge fans of “Glitter Riders of Gemworld,” a cartoon that was wildly popular when they were kids. They’d had some of the dolls, but had since thrown or given away their originals, something she‘d come to regret as an adult. Now, she’d finally found another small piece of a happy childhood spent creating new stories for the Glitter Riders, who fought the evil Lady Tourmelina and her trusted advisor, Garnet. Each Glitter Rider could control an element with her wand and her special sword. The Glitter Riders were led by the beautiful and always fair-minded Queen Opal, her mysterious husband King Obsidian, and their cute and feisty little daughter Amethe.

Here they were, just as they’d appeared on the TV show. Emeralda, the gentle Nature Rider, in her green cloak with it’s plastic jewel and leaf-like trim. Her dark brown hair was no longer in a bun, as it should have been, and there was a few marks on her arms, but her face, with it’s expressive green eyes and blushing pink cheeks, were just as they had looked online. She came with none of her accessories but her boots. She wasn’t terribly surprised the boots were still there. The dolls had larger feet than average for a fashion doll and it was very hard to get their shoes off.

Sapphira was the mellow, go-with-the-flow Water Rider. She also came with her cape, shiny blue gown, and shoes, but nothing else. There were no marks at all on her, and her shoulder-length, midnight-black waves only required brushing, as it had never been in an elaborate style. She didn’t appear to have a mark on her, though her boots looked like a child had hastily shoved them on. Her pearl bead-trimmed cape still had it’s blue jewel firmly in front.

Orange-haired Topaz and red-locked Rubelina were never seen without each other on the show. Topaz was the flighty, strong-willed Wind Rider; Rubelina was the hot-tempered, wild Fire Rider. Rubelina’s ruffled cape was missing it’s plastic gem trim. She figured she could easily find a red plastic “jewel” that would fit her cape. Someone looked like they’d tried to cut Topaz’s laced shoes to get them off. She supposed she could cut off the rest of the “laces” to make them look like ordinary boots. Topaz also had marks on her legs and arms, and there was a dirt smudge on Rubelina’s chin, right under her sweet crimson smile, but they could be washed with soap and water. Topaz’s puffy curls needed to be returned to their original ponytail.

She pulled out the last doll with a sigh. Though she already had Diamonda, the stalwart head Glitter Rider and the Earth Rider, she wasn’t able to buy the others in the lot without getting her, too. It might not be so bad to have two Diamondas. If worse came to worse, she could always donate the second one to a thrift shop or give her to her cousin‘s little girl.

On closer inspection, Diamondia’s outfit seemed a bit too tight for her, more like a Barbie doll’s dress than one intended for the Glitter Riders. The makers of the “Glitter Riders” dolls proudly promoted their wares as being “more like a normal girl than any other doll on the market”…until it occurred to people that the dolls could wear no other doll clothes on the market but the outfits the company created for them and what their owners made themselves. This lack of versatility was one of the things that led to the demise of the “Glitter Riders” line of dolls, a year before the show itself came to an end.

She took a better look at Diamonda’s face. Unlike the other dolls, this Diamonda’s eyes were painted with darker, heavier lines and eyebrows. Her lips were smaller and pinker, her cheeks lacked the rosy blush of the other dolls, her light blue eyes were wider, and her legs were a bit thinner. Her boots were nowhere close to the right size. She could tell just by looking at the way the heels stuck out of the plastic. Her hair fell into a loose purple-white mass that nearly went to her knees. She tugged the boots off and started to peel the dress off as well, knowing that the doll’s face seemed familiar from somewhere.

“Which character on the show had hair like that?” she asked herself out loud as she threw the dress aside. It was a simple, cheaply-made white bride’s gown, probably the seller’s approximation of Diamonda’s original outfit. Diamonda really looked more like a bride than a warrior in her lace-trimmed dress and cape, even on the show. It had always seemed a bit funny for a woman in a frilly white gown to be leading her “riders” to victory over some monster or evil wizard or the other. She actually looked a bit like an older version of Amethe, Queen Opal’s small daughter whose attempts to run away and follow the Glitter Riders provided several amusing storylines…

Her eyes widened. THAT’S who this was! This doll WASN’T Diamonda! Diamonda’s hair was white, but without that purplish shimmer…or the more elaborate paint job on the face. She’d read about this online. This was Queen Opal, the benevolent ruler of Gemworld, cousin of Diamonda, and true head of the Glitter Riders! It was motherly, kind, somewhat mysterious Queen Opal who sent the Riders on their missions to collect magical objects from various corners of her kingdom, until her husband aligned with Lady Tourmelina and took over the castle in the third season.

“Wow! What a find!” She went upstairs to her attic, where she kept various odds and ends…including extra doll clothes intended for the Glitter Riders to wear for Christmas displays. “I’ll bet the online seller didn’t even know what she had!” Queen Opal was part of the rare second line of Glitter Riders dolls that didn’t see nearly the sales that the first, popular line had. It was too bad. The dolls of the second line - Queen Opal, Amethe, King Obsedian, Lady Tourmelina, and Garnet - were much better made and designed than the first line, with nicer clothes and larger and more imaginative accessories. They’d just come out in a market glutted with similar dolls for various girls’ programming.

She pulled a yellow lace-trimmed dress she used for Dimondia at Christmas over Queen Opal’s body. She’d toss the outfit and boots the doll came in, which weren‘t really her size. She took Opal downstairs and settled in front of her TV, watching old movies as she brushed each doll’s hair. It was a fairly arduous task, as all of the dolls but Sapphira had long, thick locks. She found a soft rubber band and pulled Emeralda’s brown hair back into it’s bun as best she could. Another rubber band gently twisted Topaz’s curly orange puff into a ponytail. The other girls, thankfully, kept their hair down or came with their original rubber bands. Maybe she’d see if she could find a tiny tiara for Opal somewhere. She ran a soft, wet, soapy cloth over the dolls that needed cleaning, giving them a gentle scrub.

She smiled. She had room for four of the Glitter Riders on her desk, next to her computer. Dimondia was already there, guarding her desk from the forces of evil. She set up Topaz, Rubelina, and Sapphira on either side of her, around the computer monitor. Opal and Emeralda joined little Amethe, in her short purple dress with it’s marabou trim and small purple plastic gem. She grinned. Amethe was a cutie, though many fans of the show thought she was obnoxious. She sort of admired the feisty little girl, though. She never took ‘no’ for an answer, even when her ideas got her into trouble and the Glitter Riders would have to come to her rescue.

She leaned back in her computer chair and sighed. She loved collecting “Glitter Riders” dolls. You never knew what you were going to find. She switched on her computer, waiting for it to boot and the first screen to come on. She clicked her internet provider icon, connected, and went into her e-mail. She couldn’t wait to share her find with her best friend, and all of her friends who loved the show and the toys as much as she did.

“Leslie, you won’t believe what came in the mail today..."