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Toni (1949-56)

Ideal's Toni was the biggest selling doll of the late forties and early fifties. She was an advertising tie-in to the Toni Home Permanent made by Gillette, and was an expensive doll due to the licensing fees Ideal had to pay. With her groundbreaking nylon wig that could be styled and set over and over again, Toni initiated the era of hair play with dolls which continues today. In the late fifties, Gillette licensed the Toni name to American Character for an all vinyl high heeled doll.

Click on the image to view a larger version.
Vintage Toni doll by Ideal Vintage Toni doll by Ideal Vintage Toni doll by Ideal Vintage Toni doll by Ideal
P-90 ToniThis dress was made in various colorsToni in original box

Body Construction
Toni is an all hard plastic doll. She has a Dupont nylon wig that was available in many colors. Toni most often has blue sleep eyes with brush lashes, occasionally green or brown eyes are found. The regular Toni doll is strung and jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips. Toni Walker has a pin through her hips with a mechanism that makes one leg move forward when the other is moved back. The company used the Toni head and body molds for other dolls, including Mary Hartline, Sara Ann and Miss Curity.

Click on the image to view a larger version.
Vintage Toni doll by Ideal Vintage Toni doll by Ideal Vintage Toni doll by Ideal Shoes for vintage Toni doll by Ideal
P-91 ToniRare black haired P-93Another P-93Early Toni shoes

Toni is marked "IDEAL DOLL" on her head and back and below that, a size number: the 14" Toni is marked "P-90", the 16" is marked "P-91", the 19" is marked "P-92", the 21" is marked "P-93" and the 22 1/2" is marked "P-94". The Toni Walker doll, made from 1954-56, has the same markings except that a "W" is added; for example, the 14" Toni Walker is marked "P-90W". Sometimes Toni Walker dolls are found with the regular Toni markings. Collectors usually use the marking to describe the size of a Toni, so the smallest size is referred to as a "P-90" rather than a "14 inch doll."

Dress for vintage Toni doll by Ideal

Toni was sold in many different outfits. These are hard to identify because the when they were tagged, the tags were on the outside of the dress and were usually removed by the owner. Toni's outfits are often made of polished or embossed cotton, trimmed with rickrack or embroidered ribbon. Party dresses and bridal gowns were made of taffeta. Occasionally she was advertised in special outfits such as a velvet coat and hat. Toni always wears a slip and panties, shoes and socks. The earliest Toni dolls had center snap oilcloth shoes; later, molded vinyl shoes were used. Dress photo courtesy of Lisa Hanson. Check out Lisa's eBay listings.

Toni came packaged in a gray and white striped box with hot pink graphic on the front that echoed the style of the Toni Home Permanent. She came with her own Play Wave kit including play wave lotion (a sugar and water solution), shampoo, curlers, end papers, instructions, and sometimes a comb.

Sources for this page include:

  • "Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls" by Judith Izen
  • "Hard Plastic Dolls" by Polly and Pam Judd
  • "Hard Plastic Dolls II" by Polly and Pam Judd

Copyright 2009 by Zendelle Bouchard.

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