Sunshine Family Dolls by Mattel (1973-1980)

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Feb 212017

Mattel’s Sunshine Family showing the front and back of their original box. Photo courtesy of Franklin Lim-Liao.

The original Sunshine Family dolls sold by Mattel beginning in 1973 include dad Steve, mom Stephie, and their baby Sweets. 10? Steve and 9? Stephie have vinyl heads with inset plastic eyes and hard plastic jointed bodies. Sweets is all vinyl. Their outfits changed every year or so, but Steve generally has a knit shirt with dark pants, while Stephie wears a long flowered dress and usually an apron. Sweets has the same inset eyes but has a one piece vinyl body, and wears a one piece knit outfit.

Closeup of the Sunshine Family dolls by Mattel. Photo courtesy of Franklin Lim-Liao.

Closeup of Sweets doll from Mattel’s Sunshine Family. Photo courtesy of Franklin Lim-Liao.

Grandma and Grandpa were added in 1976 and could be purchased as a pair, or together with the rest of the family. The Sunshine Fun Family is an updated version that came out in 1979 and includes Steve and Stephie, Sweets (now a toddler) and a new baby brother. The black versions were called the Happy Family and Happy Fun Family.

Steve, Grandpa and Stephie from Mattel’s line of Sunshine Family dolls of the 1970s. Photo courtesy of eBay seller king-auctions.

The Happy Fun Family by Mattel is the updated version from 1979 with Sweets toddler and new baby brother. Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

The Sunshine Family had several playsets including a house with furniture, a nursery set for Sweets, craft kits and camping gear.

The Steve and Stephie dolls were also used for Mattel’s Americana-themed Star Spangled Dolls line including a Pilgrim Couple and Southern Belle.

Pioneer Daughter and Colonial Girl from the Star Spangled Dolls series by Mattel. These dolls utilized the Stephie molds. Photo courtesy of Sandy Blaine.

Copyright 2016 by Zendelle Bouchard

Marie Osmond Modeling Doll by Mattel (1976)

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Oct 272014

The Marie Osmond Modeling Doll, made by Mattel in 1976, should more properly be called the Marie Osmond Sewing Doll. The doll, designed to teach little girls to sew and “share Marie Osmond’s favorite hobby!” came with patterns and instructions to make a whole wardrobe of clothes for Marie.

Body Construction
The doll, made in a likeness of singer Marie Osmond, stands a whopping 30″ tall. She is all vinyl, jointed at the shoulders, neck and waist. Her torso is molded to look like she is wearing panties and a bustier. She has rooted dark brown side parted hair, painted brown eyes, and a big toothy smile.

She is marked “© OSBRO PROD. 1976” on the back of her head and the same with “U.S.A.” on her neck.

Marie comes dressed in a long pink princess-seamed gown with empire waistline. The bodice is a glittery fabric and the lower sleeves are a sheer nylon tricot trimmed with silver soutache. See her white plastic mules here.
Included with the doll are four pattern sheets and two sheets of instructions to make a basic skirt, pants, top, dress and coat, with variations to make a whole wardrobe of clothes. See the pattern package here. Also included is a stand to hold the doll while you are fitting the clothes on her.

Marie’s box has full color photos on the front and one side, and illustrations on the back and other side to sell the fashion sewing concept. She is described as being suitable for ages over 8.

Copyright 2014 by Zendelle Bouchard

May 192013

Once Barbie had a boyfriend (Ken), the next logical step was for her to acquire a best friend to share her secrets with (not to mention her clothes!). Midge debuted in 1963.

Vintage Barbie's best friend, Midge by Mattel

Redheaded Midge dolls wear a chartreuse & orange swimsuit. Blondes get two shades of blue; brunettes wear a hot pink top and red bottom.
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

The first version of Midge had the same straight leg body as Barbie, with a new head mold. She was available as a blonde, brunette or redhead, in a short flip hairdo with bangs, and blue eyes. Most dolls have a closed mouth smile and freckles; but some have no freckles, or a small white area painted between her lips to indicate teeth. Midge was sold in a two piece swimsuit with white open toe shoes. The color of the swimsuit varied according to the doll’s hair color. This first version of Midge was available from 1963 through ’66.

In 1964, Wig Wardrobe Midge was introduced. This set included a Midge head with a short, molded hairstyle, and three wigs for her to wear.

Midge's Wig Wardrobe by Mattel

Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

In 1965, Barbie and Midge got a new bendable leg body. Bendable Leg Midge had a new, short pageboy hairstyle with an aqua ribbon headband, a one piece multicolor striped swimsuit, and aqua open toe shoes. She was again available in three different hair colors.

Mattel stopped using the Midge name for many years until re-introducing her with a new head mold in the late ’80s. The original Midge head mold continued to be used throughout the mod era for Barbie’s friend PJ. Mattel made a reproduction of the original Midge in 1997.

Copyright 2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

Jan 162013

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls, Inc. is best known for their 4.5″ to 7″ bisque (and later, hard plastic) dolls, mostly of storybook characters, dressed in an endless variety of outfits and sold in polka dot boxes from the ’30s through the ’50s. But the company sold lots of other dolls, and this page is about them.

For details on the storybook dolls, see the Nancy Ann Storybook dolls page and the Nancy Ann Storybook series page.

_baby1 (1K) _aobaby (4K) The babies are some of the earliest dolls sold by the company. They were purchased from other companies and dressed by Nancy Ann. Many were made in Japan. These painted bisque babies are 3.5″ and 4.5″ tall.

_pink1 (3K) _pink2 (3K) After having great success with the Storybook Dolls for a number of years, in 1952, Nancy Ann branched out to other types of dolls with the Style Show series. These dolls are 18″ tall, all hard plastic with stunning outfits. These dolls are unmarked and difficult to identify unless wearing a documented outfit. They were only produced for a few years.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller luving_dolls

_red1 (4K) _yellow1 (2K) _face (4K) In 1953, the 8″ hard plastic toddler, Muffie, was introduced. She was similar to Vogue’s very popular Ginny doll. Muffie’s head was made of vinyl beginning in 1957 and she was produced into the 1960s. She had an extensive selection of extra outfits available.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

_basic1 (4K) _basic2 (5K) Debbie was a slightly larger version of Muffie at 10.5″ tall. She was a hard plastic walking doll. Some Debbies were made with vinyl heads as well.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.
_basic3 (4K) _debbie3902 (6K)
_green1 (2K) _mnafull (2K) _lmna1 (4K) _tagged (3K) 10.5″ Miss Nancy Ann was the company’s answer to Ideal’s popular Little Miss Revlon. An 8″ Little Miss Nancy Ann was also made. These dolls are all vinyl with mature figures and high heeled feet. They had extra boxed outfits available. For more information, go to the Miss Nancy Ann and Little Miss Nancy Ann pages.

In the late fifties, Miss Abbott became ill with cancer and the company struggled to keep up production. She died in 1964, and her partner, Mr. Rowland, who was also ill, was unable to keep the company afloat. Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls closed its doors in 1965. The assets of the company were sold to Albert Bourla, who produced a series of Muffie Around the World dolls in 1967. Aline, a low-quality Barbie-type doll, and her little sister Missie were produced during the ’70s. Mr. Bourla owned the company for nearly forty years before selling it (on eBay!) to the current owners, Claudette Buehler and Delene Budd. The company has undergone a renaissance with a new sculpt by Dianna Effner in the tradition of the original Storybook dolls.

Copyright 2004-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard.

Jan 162013
Six Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls

Clockwise from top left— Goose Girl, Dainty Dolly Pink and Blue, See-Saw Marjorie Daw, Flossie Came From Dublin Town, Over The Hills To Grandma’s House, and There Was a Maiden Bright and Gay.
Photos courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

This page is about the small bisque and hard plastic Storybook character dolls produced by Nancy Ann Dressed Dolls and Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls, Inc. from 1936 through the 1950s. For info about the company’s other dolls, go to the Muffie, Style Show and Other Dolls by Nancy Ann page.

Nancy Ann Abbott (real name Rowena Haskin) was born in 1901 in California and worked as an actress and dress designer in Hollywood before opening a book lending shop in San Francisco in 1935. In her shop, she also offered dolls for sale that she dressed herself in the evenings. Prior to this, dolls had been just a hobby, but when they proved popular, she was inspired to leave the bookshop to start her own doll company, Nancy Ann Dressed Dolls. In 1937, Les Rowland joined her firm as a partner, bringing to it his financial and selling skills, and they were off and running.

The first dolls were made in Japan and dressed here. Later on, the company had its own production facility. The first dolls made in the USA were marked “Judy Ann”. By the mid-40s, the company was called Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls.

Nancy Ann Storybook Doll marked

Early Nancy Ann Storybook Doll marked “JUDY ANN” wearing her original dress.

Nancy Ann Storybook character dolls only came in a few variations of size and body construction; instead they are identified by the outfit they are wearing, and many of the outfits look very similar. A doll without her original box or wrist tag can be very difficult to identify. Most of the dolls were produced as Caucasian girls; boys and African-American girls are much less common. The same molds were used for both genders and races.

Body Construction
The Storybook dolls were produced in bisque from 1936 to 1948, when they changed to hard plastic. They are mostly 5.5″ tall, but can range from 4.5″ to 7″ tall. They may or may not be jointed at the hips or neck; all dolls are jointed at the shoulders. Most dolls have glued-on mohair wigs; a very few dolls have painted hair. Many of the hard plastic dolls have sleep eyes, but all the bisque dolls and some hard plastic have painted eyes. For more information see the Nancy Ann Dolls website.

Vintage Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls

Clockwise from top left: Here I am Little Joan, To Market To Market,
I’m Going A-Milking, Little Betty Blue, He Loves Me He Loves Me Not and Mistress Mary.
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Most dolls are marked on their back, but the markings may be faint if the mold had been used for a long period of time. A variety of marks were used. Most of the marks include the words “Story Book” but some of the earlier dolls are marked “Made in Japan” or “Judy Ann.” For more information see the Nancy Ann Dolls website.

Most Storybook dolls were produced as part of a series. Go to the Series List for individual doll photos.

Six Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls

From the Dolls of the Month Series – Clockwise from top left: A Shower Girl for April, A Very Independent Lady for July, A November Lass To Cheer, A Breezy Girl and Arch To Worship Me Thru March,
A February Fairy Girl For Ice and Snow, A Rosebud Girl to Love me Thru the June Days .
Photo courtesy of Withington Auction, Inc.

Most dolls were packaged in white boxes with large pink, red, silver or blue polka dots. Some of the earlier boxes had different backgrounds or graphics. The hard plastic dolls have “Nancy Ann Storybook Doll” written in between the dots. Beginning in 1941, each doll had a gold foil wrist tag bearing her name. Prior to that, gold stickers were attached to the doll’s outfit.

Copyright 2006-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard