Dec 192012
 
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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.

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Copyright 2006-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

  2 Responses to “Dolls by Mattel”

  1. Have a another Roxane Doll by fun world in original box. Can you supply any info on this Doll?

    • Sorry, I don’t know anything about Roxane. I just looked at one on eBay, the tag says Made in Hong Kong so that probably dates her from the mid-sixties to the early eighties.

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