My mind has been on the subject of Scotland this week so I decided that today I’d share these two little dolls that once belonged to my husband’s two sisters. A favourite aunt brought the dolls back from an overseas holiday for them when they were little girls. A couple of years ago when the old family home was sold the dolls were discovered amongst their mother’s things looking somewhat the worse for wear and I was asked if I’d like to adopt them.
I took them home cleaned them and tidied their hair. I was a bit at a loss to know what to do about their clothing which could really use a wash too. It is sewn onto them and I was afraid that I might damage it trying to get it off. Without it the dolls would lose their character so for now I’ve left them as they are. I’d really like to be able to press the little kilts which are badly wrinkled. I will try to find the girls some shoes and socks that fit one day though.
I was quite surprised when, during the tidying up process, I discovered that one of the dolls was marked “Roddy”. I had assumed that they were probably cheap dolls made in Hong Kong for the tourist trade but at least one of them was made in England. My sister’s in law are six years younger than I am so I had thought the dolls probably dated from the early 1970s but they may be a bit older than that.
Although only one doll is marked as far as I can tell they are identical in appearance apart from their clothing so I think it’s likely they were both made by Roddy. Anyway they fit nicely into my growing collection of 13-16 inch dolls made in the 1960s. I think they have rather sweet faces. If anyone has any tips about removing and restoring these outfits I’d love to hear them.
Every now and again Mattel comes out with a Barbie or Ken doll that gets everyone into a flap. Of course Barbie has always been controversial just for being the shape that she is but over the years she’s been in a few other scrapes too. Here are just a few of them.
An early Barbie accessory was this diet advice which would certainly not be allowed today.
In 1992 there was Teen Talk Barbie
In July 1992, Mattel released Teen Talk Barbie, which spoke a number of phrases including “Will we ever have enough clothes?”, “I love shopping!”, and “Wanna have a pizza party?” Each doll was programmed to say four out of 270 possible phrases, so that no two dolls were likely to be the same. One of these 270 phrases was “Math class is tough!” (often misquoted as “Math is hard”). Although only about 1.5% of all the dolls sold said the phrase, it led to criticism from the American Association of University Women. In October 1992 Mattel announced that Teen Talk Barbie would no longer say the phrase, and offered a swap to anyone who owned a doll that did.(Wikipedia)
In 1993 it was the turn of Earring Magic Ken
Poor old Ken has always had an image problem it seems and back in the early 90s Mattel were wondering whether to drop him from the line for the second time. They commissioned a survey of girls asking if Ken should be kept on as Barbie’s boyfriend or replaced with a new character. The girls wanted to keep Ken but they wanted him to be updated. Earring Magic Ken was Mattel’s attempt to do this. The Earring Magic line featured Barbie and all her friends including Ken who sported blond highlights in his hair and an earring. That and his lilac top prompted some observers to say that he resembled the stereotype of a gay man. The doll quickly became popular with male doll collectors but despite it being a commercial success Mattel discontinued it. Even today some collectors will still refer to Earring Magic Ken as “Gay Ken”.
Tattoos have got Barbie into lots of trouble.
In 1998 it was Butterfly Art Barbie.
These dolls were beach dolls and all of them, Barbie, Teresa, Christie, Kira and Ken came with tattoo designs on their bodies. By today’s standards they look pretty innocuous as far as the tattoos are concerned more like kids temporary tattoos than something you would see on “Bad Ink”. I believe that some parents also objected to the girls skimpy bikinis as well. I am inclined to agree with that. Anyway Mattel reacted by recalling the dolls and they were subsequently offered for huge sums on eBay. Here is Butterfly Art Teresa showing her tattoo.
I will say that while I personally dislike tattoos I thought that this was a lot of fuss to make about some dolls. I bought Butterfly Art Teresa because I thought she had a pretty face and I liked the crimped hair. I bought Kira later because Kira’s were hardly ever sold in Australia and if I can’t get something here that’s why I want it :). I didn’t buy Butterfly Art Barbie because I didn’t like her eyes. I thought she looked a bit dazed.
Here are my two Butterfly Art Dolls
In 2009 as if they had forgotten all that Mattel released Totally Tattoos Barbie
In April 2009, the launch of a Totally Tattoos Barbie with a range of tattoos that could be applied to the doll, including a lower back tattoo, led to controversy. Mattel’s promotional material read “Customize the fashions and apply the fun temporary tattoos on you too”, but Ed Mayo, chief executive of Consumer Focus, argued that children might want to get tattooed themselves. (Wikipedia)
Mattel has released a range of Harley Davidson dolls over the years and several of these have had tattoos as well. As these are dolls for adult collectors it doesn’t seem to have stirred up such a storm of protest.
In 2011 another controversial tattooed Barbie appeared. Tokidoki Barbie.
Although she was a limited edition collectible she does seem to have provoked a lot of articles both for and against. Somehow I managed to miss hearing about her altogether.
Just recently I was looking at another series of collectible dolls, the “Divergent” line which has heavily tattooed dolls and thinking that Butterfly Art seems pretty tame next to these guys.
Obviously the collectible dolls are released because they are part of pop culture and bought by collectors of TV & movie memorabilia as well as doll collectors but I do wonder why Mattel keep releasing playline dolls that they know will get them into trouble? Am I being very cynical in thinking that perhaps that’s exactly why they do it? Any publicity is good publicity? Are these and other controversies really such a big deal or is it just a case of a very vocal minority making a fuss while the vast majority either don’t know or don’t care? Either way I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of controversy in the pink aisle.
Fashion Doll Friday – Butterfly Art Teresa
Jacket and Scarf Closet
This is another pink themed closet and I don’t know if it has a proper name. It features two jackets and two scarves so I’m calling it Jacket and Scarf closet to differentiate it from other pink themed closets.In contrast to the last couple of Closets this one does not have much in it at all. I find it quite odd that the Fashion Fever Closets didn’t appear to have a set number of outfits in them and I can’t remember if there were price variations according to how many items were in them. I generally looked for them when they were on special anyway.
Here is the full closet.
Lauren (FF Barbie Wave B) is the model today. I do like the pink suede skirt, the little jumper and the pink check jacket with the pink scarf. I was a little disappointed that this Closet didn’t have a bit more in it but I do like the pieces that it does have.
The other day my husband went to the local library and returned with a book he’d found that he thought I would like. It was “20th Century Paper Dolls Identification & Values” and while it is primarily a price guide it is interesting because it lists many paper doll manufacturers and has a lot of illustrations.
I didn’t find many that I recognised but then I came to the pages on the Milton Bradley company. Now that’s a name that I remember well from my childhood although more for games than for paper dolls. I did know that the company made paper dolls though. In fact I have one, the 1962 version of Magic Mary Jane.
I had never read the story of how these dolls came to be produced before briefly it goes like this.
The concept for this type of doll was invented by an engineer in Ohio for his daughters. He devised a way of attaching a magnet to the doll and pieces of metal to the clothing so that they would cling to the doll without the need for paper tags. He obtained a patent for his idea in 1943 but after failing to find a manufacturer he sold it to a Mrs Wright of Cleveland who took the idea to the Milton Bradley Company. The story goes that the executive that she spoke to was not interested but Mrs Wright was not easily put off. She found her way to the office of Mr Shea the President of the company and waylaid him. She must have been a persuasive woman because Mr Shea liked the idea and Mrs Wright left with a contract. The first doll, “Magic Mary” was produced in 1946 and more followed at regular intervals from then until the 1970s.
You can read more about the history of the Milton Bradley Company in the books “It’s All In The Game” by James J Shea and “The Milton Bradley Story” by James J Shea Jr.
The reason that I came to have Magic Mary Jane is because my sister had her as a child. I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere that we loved playing with paper dolls as children. My sister was only three years old in 1962 when this version of Magic Mary Jane came out so I know that it was being sold overseas much later than that. I can’t remember now whether it was bought for her when we still lived in England or when we first came to Australia. In any case it was in the mid 1960s. The original set disappeared years ago, given to younger cousins or to charity but my sister found one on eBay or at a toy fair a few years ago and bought it. Later on she found a set that was in better condition and bought it. She gave the first one she bought to me.
Here are some photos of Magic Mary Jane and her clothing.
I had fun scanning the pictures for this post and chose the outfits that I liked best for Mary Jane to wear. I love that little Scottie dog too!
Fashion Doll Friday – Barbie Basics Red Collection -03
This is a story about one of the first Barbies I bought as an adult and how like grandfather’s axe I have just kept upgrading her.
I rediscovered Barbie in the late 1990s. I didn’t have a Barbie when I was a child although I did have Skipper and Tutti. My cousin had one though. A Titian, swirl ponytail who looked quite different from my Sindy, Tammy and Tressy. I thought that she was interesting looking but not what I’d call pretty. I did like the fashions though and would spend ages looking through the little brochures that came with Barbie and Skipper picking out which dolls and outfits I would have if we were ever rich. As far as I was concerned Barbie had a certain look, she had a ponytail or maybe a bubblecut. That was what Barbie was supposed to look like and I wasn’t too sure that I liked her looks being changed. (Readers of My Other Blog will know that I react much the same way to new Doctor Who’s).
Anyway by the time I decided that I wanted some Barbies of my own she was a very different girl but I found that I liked a lot of the mid 90s dolls with their Superstar faces. They did look more natural than the high fashion Barbies of my childhood. My first Barbies were used ones from markets and then I started to buy cheap playline Barbies. One of the first ones I bought was a typical mid 90s Barbie with long blonde hair. I named her Lisa and she really grew on me. Lisa was my model for various photos as I began to enjoy taking photos of my Barbies. Here she is in a Travel Doll project that I participated in when we still lived in South Australia.
It’s quite hard to ID some of the playline Barbies from that era once they have been undressed and their hair mussed up. I’m guessing that Lisa came from the mid 90s because she doesn’t have such big hair or exaggerated eye make up as some of the early 90s dolls. I did see a picture of one I thought was her once but I didn’t bookmark it so now I’m looking again.
As a pre-loved doll Lisa had one or two issues though and later on I got another doll and named her Lisa too, or Lisa Two if you like. I restyled Original Lisa’s hair to hide her sticking up fringe and dressed her in one of my favourite Fashion Avenue fashions. She now lives on my “Going to the Ball” shelf with other dolls in evening wear. I couldn’t part with her.
You have met Lisa Two as I’ve used her in “What They Wore Before” I picked her to have as similar eye colour and expression to Original Lisa as possible. I don’t know what doll Lisa Two originally was either.
Lisa Two is now one of my models for Fashion Avenue outfits but when Mattel brought out a new Barbie body in 2000 I decided to look around for a new millennium Lisa to wear the Fashion Fever Fashions. It was a lot harder this time to find the look I wanted. The Superstar face had been replaced by the Mackie face but I still wanted a smiling Lisa. I also wanted very light blonde hair. The hardest thing to match however was eye colour. Many pretty dolls were rejected because the eye colour or shape didn’t look right. Eventually I settled on this one. She doesn’t look quite as innocent as her predecessors but she is older now after all and sometimes I think I can catch the right expression.
Will there be another Lisa in the future? It’s possible. If I see one and I know that she is right for the part then I’ll probably get her. Perhaps Lisa Four will be on a Pivotal body, I would like her to be more poseable than her predecessors but the main thing is to get the right facial expression.
Summer Casual Closet
I don’t know if this closet has a proper name. I think of it as Summer Casual. It is another closet which does not have a lot of pieces but does have interesting colours and no pink which makes a nice change. I think the crochet look halter top is very nice and I also like the handkerchief hem sundress in shades of orange. The capris are nicely detailed with tiny mock zippers. The little skirt is made of the sort of mesh material often seen in sportswear and reminds me of a netball skirt. I thought the salmon pink shoes were an odd choice for this closet though. Only two pairs of shoes came with this closet so one of the girls has to go barefoot. The yellow visor is plastic and I don’t know where it is at present.
The models for this closet are:
Rebecca – Fashion Fever Barbie Wave A
Lauren – Fashion Fever Barbie Wave B
Samantha – Florida Vacation Barbie
This weekend the Hobart Doll Show is being held at the Hellenic Hall in North Hobart. I always try to get to it as we don’t have many doll shows in Tasmania and this is the only one that is easy for me to get to.
The show is put on every year by the Hobart Doll Club and the main feature of the show is the competition for porcelain doll makers. The club holds classes and workshops for its members. The theme of this years show was “Roaring Twenties”. Here is one of the prize winners.
To be honest although I think some porcelain dolls are beautiful and I admire the skills of the people who make and dress them I really prefer play dolls. The porcelain ones display very nicely but you can’t really do a lot with them. They are not meant for that.
A lot of the dolls I saw today were “Reborns”. For those that don’t know Reborns are vinyl baby dolls which have been repainted to resemble real babies. They have really delicate looking skin and are often weighted to imitate the feel of a real baby. They can be scarily realistic. I had my own “Baby in the Bag” moment when I saw a lady carrying one of these dolls around the show. It looked so realistic I actually did think it was a baby at first glance even though she was carrying it in rather an odd way for a real baby. Reborns sell for insane amounts of money because of the complicated and time-consuming process of creating them. Baby chimpanzees and other primates are also getting the reborn treatment now although I think the artists are trying to make them more like baby humans than baby animals. The show had a fantasy section too which included a baby Dracula if you can believe it.
Here are some competition entries that I liked:
There were also categories for cloth dolls. There is a club for cloth doll makers in Tasmania too. It is called the “Not Just Cloth Dolls Club” who meet on the third Saturday of every month. Here are a couple of samples of what the cloth doll makers have been up to.
Of course there were trade stalls too and these were the main reason that I wanted to go. As well as painting supplies for the reborn artists, haberdashery, patterns, kits and dolls dresses there were modern dolls and teddies for sale and a smaller number of older ones.
I didn’t see many dolls I liked that I could afford at first but on my third circuit of the hall I discovered a little vinyl Pedigree doll in a basket. I swear she hadn’t been there the previous time I’d passed that stall. I picked her up and she was hanging on to a smaller baby doll by the ribbon of its sash. I wasn’t sure if they were meant to be together or not but the Pedigree girl was only $7. That was a bargain as she was spotless and had all her eyelashes and her original shoes although she had been redressed. The stall owner assured me that the two dolls were meant to be together, “A doll for a doll.” she explained. We both knew I was getting a bargain but she didn’t mind which was nice.
I wasted no time in taking a photo of my new doll. I won’t have much to do to her, just a bit of a hair tidy up. I will find her a new dress though because I don’t really like this one. Tomorrow she’ll be meeting the rest of the British Doll gang on the shelf in the doll room. She is marked “Made in England” and I’d put the date to the early 1960s. My sister had a doll a lot like this except she had bright red hair. The little friend doll is marked U.D. Co. Inc 1969 Hong Kong which is a pretty nice description so I hope I’ll be able to trace the company that made her.
As a bonus I also discovered that there is a lady doing doll restorations in Hobart and have got her contact details. That’s great because I have two or three dolls I’d like work done on and I really didn’t want to send them or take them to the mainland in case they were lost or damaged on the way there or back.
The sun shone, I had a lovely walk through North Hobart and took a lot of non doll photos so all in all a very enjoyable day out.
http://www.stillmomentsnursery.com/store/ – see some reborn dolls
http://www.porcelaindollsbyme.com.au/index.html- making porcelain dolls
http://www.allcrafts.net/dolls.htm#clothdolls – patterns for cloth dolls