May 192013
 
Share

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

Dec 192012
 
Share

Mattel’s Barbie is the biggest selling doll of all time. But even if Barbie had never existed, Mattel’s other quality dolls like Chatty Cathy, Liddle Kiddles and My Child would have earned the company a place in doll history.

Mattel got its start in 1945, when Elliott and Ruth Handler teamed up with their friend Harold “Matt” Matson. Initially they made picture frames; but Mr. Handler soon began making doll furniture from the scrap wood. Mr. Matson left the company early on, and the Handlers turned to the toy business full time. The company was one of the first toy firms to invest heavily in television advertising, sponsoring “The Mickey Mouse Club.”

Vintage Barbie and Ken dolls by Mattel

Scan from 1963 Sears Toy Book.

While Mattel had been selling doll furniture for several years, they didn’t actually make dolls until they debuted Barbie in 1959. While parents and toy buyers were skeptical at first, she was an immediately hit with little girls, who loved her long, slim grownup figure and fabulous wardrobe. Before long, Barbie had a boyfriend named Ken, a best friend named Midge and a little sister, Skipper.

Go to the Barbie section for more info.


Chatty Cathy doll by Mattel.

Chatty Cathy had extra outfits and accessories that could be purchased.
Scans from 1963 Sears Toy Book.

Tiny Chatty Baby and Charmin’ Chatty by Mattel
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

In the early 1960s, even though Barbie ruled the doll world, Mattel had several other top selling dolls as well. The company had a hit with Chatty Cathy and her extended family, which included Chatty Baby and Tiny Chatty Baby in both white and black versions. These dolls are pull-string talkers that say a finite number of phrases. They also introduced Charmin’ Chatty, who talks by means of miniature records inserted into the doll.
View Chatty family dolls on ebay!
The Chatty dolls were so popular that Mattel went on to make many other talking dolls in the ’60s and ’70s. Most of these were pull-string talkers.


Talking dolls by Mattel.

Three talking dolls by Mattel. L to R: Talking Little Bo Peep, Patootie the Clown and Trish.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Swingy, Baby Go Bye-Bye and Baby Walk 'n Play by Mattel.

L to R: Swingy, Baby Go Bye-Bye and Baby Walk ‘n Play.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Mattel’s dolls didn’t just talk, they moved! Mechanical dolls such as Baby First Step, Swingy and Dancerina have been a big part of Mattel’s lineup over the years.


Liddle Kiddles dolls by Mattel.

Liddle Kiddles dolls by Mattel.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

In the mid- to late sixties Liddle Kiddles were the rage. These tiny dolls were sold in different series such as Storybook Kiddles, Skididdle Kiddles, Lucky Locket Kiddles, etc., and ranged from less than an inch tall to four inches tall.
View Liddle Kiddles on ebay!


Rock Flowers dolls by Mattel

Rock Flowers dolls by Mattel.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller den268.

In the early ’70s, Mattel introduced the 6.5″ Rock Flowers dolls. Topper’s Dawn doll had started a trend for the smaller size fashion dolls, but instead of being fashion models, the Rock Flowers girls were pop stars. Each doll came with a thick plastic record that could actually be played on a regular record player. Separate fashions in record-shaped packages were sold too.

The pop star theme is one that Mattel would return to every few years for a new line of Barbie dolls.

Mattel made a number of dolls in the likeness of popular celebrities in the 20th century, from supermodel Twiggy in 1967 to the characters from the film and TV show Clueless in 1997. Many of these were fashion dolls with their own unique wardrobes.


Julia and Marie Osmond dolls by Mattel.

Julia doll in the likeness of actress Diahann Carroll was made in talking and non-talking versions. Donny and Marie Osmond dolls were very popular in the late 70s when they had their own television variety show. Little brother Jimmy is a harder doll to find. Julia, Donny and Marie had extra outfits you could buy.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller dreamalong.

The Sunshine Family and Happy Family dolls in the mid-70s were fashion dolls with a family focus. In the ’80s, Mattel returned to the family theme with the Heart Family dolls. But family values soon took a back seat to fantasy and adventure with Mattel’s two popular action figure series, Masters of the Universe (for boys) and Princess of Power (for girls). The toys tied in with weekly cartoon series. But even action figures were no match for the power of Barbie, who continued as the world’s best-selling doll.


Moon Mystic & Frosta dolls by Mattel

Two of Mattel’s fantasy-themed dolls: 11.5″ Moon Mystic doll from the Guardian Goddess series and 5.5″ Frosta from the Princess of Power series.

Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Baby dolls have been a part of Mattel’s lineup since the sixties. In 1986, they introduced the adorable My Child dolls, which have become a favorite with collectors, particularly in Australia. My Child dolls have an articulated cloth body and cloth-covered head with rooted hair. They were produced with a variety of skin tones, hair and eye colors until 1988.
View My Child dolls on ebay!


My Child dolls by Mattel.

My Child dolls by Mattel.

Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Mattel continues today as a powerhouse in the toy business, with Barbie, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Monster High and Fisher Price among its brands. They also have a large line of licensed Disney dolls.

See also:





Copyright 2006-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

May 052011
 
Share

Tonight I happened to catch an episode of the new TLC reality series “Pawn Queens” about a pawn shop outside Chicago that is owned by two women and two men. The show focuses on the female partners in the business and the fact that they buy and sell “girl stuff” in the shop – not just the usual guns, electronics and other “big boy toys” that most other pawn shops specialize in. Among the items they purchased in this episode were a light-up wedding dress, a baby stroller that converts to a bicycle, and a vintage ponytail Barbie doll.

The owner of the Barbie doll said that it was “an original 1959″ doll and asked for $4,500. Only a #1 Barbie would be worth that kind of money, because she was only made for a few months. The doll was obviously NOT a #1, #2 or even #3 Barbie, and had a massive case of green ear. Worth a couple hundred bucks, tops. One of the pawn shop ladies agreed that it was an “authentic” doll, and stunned me by countering with an offer of $3,000! I was yelling at the TV by this point.

Now came the drama. One of the male co-owners pulled one of the women aside and informed her that they didn’t have $3,000 on hand. She had to swallow her pride and ask the Barbie owner to come back in a few hours after they scraped up some cash. I was hoping for their sakes that they woman had second thoughts about selling her “valuable” doll and didn’t come back. Alas, she did return. One of the guys ran down to a gold buyer with some jewelry and got some money. I was still yelling at the TV, but Chicago being halfway across the country, they couldn’t hear me.

I can’t say this bodes well for either the series or the business. I am a huge fan of “Pawn Stars,” the History Channel show about a very successful family-run pawn shop in Las Vegas. While they make the occasional bad purchase on that show too, they routinely call in local experts to advise them on the authenticity and value of items that they don’t know enough about. The “Pawn Queens” better take a lesson, or they might end up having to hock their own jewelry to pay the bills.

The photo above shows what #1 or #2 Barbie should look like – notice her eyes are painted only in black and white. (Photo courtesy of Loving Dolls.) The doll in the photo below has blue eyes, like the one the “Pawn Queens” purchased. This doll is a #3 – but the doll on the show had a darker skin color, indicating it was a later model Barbie.

Mar 212011
 
Share

Oh, this is the stuff of my youth. Believe it or not, although I was born in 1962, I did not own a Barbie doll growing up. But I had this doll, Talking Julia. I also had Mattel’s Rock Flowers and Timey Tell and Hasbro’s World of Love. That was back when girls still played with dolls until they were 11 or 12. Now they play video games. Sigh.

Talking Julia doll by Mattel

Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Talking Julia was made with the Twist ‘n Turn Barbie body and the Christie head mold. There was also a regular (non-talking) version of Julia who has straight hair and wears a nurses’s uniform.

View Talking Julia dolls on eBay!

Copyright 2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

Feb 182010
 
Share

Did you know YouTube has vintage doll ads? They have several different ones from the ’60s and ’70s. I am starting to add them to the website (check out this hilarious one on the Bonnie Bride page), but here is one to whet your appetite. It’s for Mattel’s Rockflowers dolls, narrated by legendary disc jockey Casey Kasem.