Nov 122012
 
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Kenner Products was founded in 1947 by the Steiner brothers in Cincinnati, Ohio, and quickly became successful with their toys. Their success continued through the fifties and sixties, with introductions like the Easy Bake Oven and Spirograph. The company was purchased by General Mills in 1967. In the ’70s, Kenner got into the doll business. They continued to make dolls throughout the decade, but by the 1980′s were concentrating more on action figures, including the Star Wars line, which was their biggest success story. In 1985, General Mills spun off Kenner and Parker Brothers into a new company, called Kenner Parker Toys. Two years later it was acquired by the Tonka Corporation, which split Kenner Products and Parker Brothers back into separate divisions. In 1991, Kenner became part of the world’s largest toy company when Tonka was purchased by Hasbro. They continued to produce high quality dolls during this period. In 2000, Hasbro shut down the Kenner division and merged its product lines together. Although they still produce some of Kenner’s products, including Baby Alive, the Kenner name is no longer used.

These are some of the dolls and action figures made by Kenner. Click on a photo to see a larger version.

Gabbigale is an 18″ talking doll with a battery-operated recording mechanism. When you raise her arm, pull the string and talk to her, she records what you say. When you lower her arm and pull the string, she repeats it back to you. Copyright 1972.
Photo courtesy of Martin Auction Co.

Baby Alive was hugely successful for Kenner. While there are many drink-and-wet baby dolls, Baby Alive is the rare “eat-and-poop” model. She is battery operated with a chewing mechanism. She was sold throughout the ’70s and a new version was produced in 1990. There were both black and white models made. Baby Alive is still being made in an updated version by Hasbro.

Crumpet, copyrighted in 1970, is a 19″ pullstring, battery operated mechanical doll who pours tea and serves cookies. She has long straight blonde hair and blue sleep eyes, and was sold complete with her table and tea set.

Madcap Molly, advertised in 1971, is an unusual wind-up walking doll described as “the do-it-all dolly.” She is 12″ tall and came packaged with a shopping cart, scooter and skis. Molly’s construction is hard to describe: her head, arms and legs are flat plastic while her torso is more three-dimensional.

Garden Gal is a series of three dolls: blonde Skye, Brunette Meadow, and Willow, a redhead. They came packaged with flower seeds, two plastic pots, peat discs and watering can. The dolls, from 1972, have white molded boots on their feet.

Betty Crocker was a lithographed cloth advertising doll sold with baking utensils. She is 13″ tall with huge brown eyes, and her gingham dress and white apron with the Betty Crocker logo are removable. She has brown yarn pigtails in addition to her fabric hair. Dated 1974.

Vintage Blythe doll by Kenner Vintage Blythe doll by Kenner Blythe was introduced in 1972. She is a very unusual 11″ fashion doll with an oversized hard plastic head. By pulling the string at the back of her head, her eyes will close, and reopen a different color! Her eyes can be blue, green, brown and pink by turns. Blythe came with a variety of hair colors, either with bangs or in a side part style. Her vinyl body is the same or similar to that used for Hasbro’s World of Love dolls. Many extra outfits were sold for Blythe, and there were wigs in wild colors available too. In the past few years Blythe has become very popular, particularly with Japanese collectors, and Blythe dolls have been reproduced by Ashton-Drake and by Takara in Japan.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.
Vintage Blythe doll by Kenner Vintage Blythe doll by Kenner

Vintage Jenny Jones & Baby John dolls by Kenner Jenny Jones and Baby John are a mother and baby set of dolls produced in 1973. Jenny is 9″ tall and her drink-and-wet baby is 2.5″. They were sold with a crib and accessories. There were also separate outfits and nursery furniture available for them.
Photo courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Vintage Dusty doll by Kenner Vintage Dusty doll by Kenner Dusty has been called one of the ugliest fashion dolls ever made. While this may be unfair, it’s safe to say that she is not a “girly” doll. Her niche was that she was an active sports-minded girl, busy with tennis, golf, skiing, swimming and other fun activities. Dusty has platinum blonde hair in a shag cut, a tan complexion and a big smile. She is 11.5″ tall and jointed at the waist. Most dolls have bendable arms and jointed wrists, but there were some dolls made with straight arms. These were sold for $1.99 with the trade-in of any old doll. Dusty had separate outfits available for many different sports. She also had a black friend named Skye. While Dusty and Skye are the same height as Mattel’s Barbie, they have a stockier build, and Barbie’s clothes will not fit them.
Vintage Dusty and Skye dolls by Kenner
Vintage Dusty and Skye dolls by Kenner

Nancy Nonsense is an 18″ pullstring talking doll from 1974. She has blonde hair in pigtails and painted blue eyes with lashes.

Baby Yawnie is a 14″ baby doll from 1974 with a stuffed cloth body; when you squeeze her hand she yawns and closes her eyes by means of a bellows mechanism. Black and white versions were made.

Steve Scout (white doll) and Bob Scout (black doll) from 1974 are 9″ action figures that wear official Boy Scouts of American uniforms. There were several Adventure Sets and accessories sold for them.
Photo courtesy of Martin Auction Co.

Vintage Bionic Woman doll by Kenner The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Bionic Woman were popular TV shows in the ’70s, and Kenner’s dolls of the main characters, Steve Austin played by Lee Majors, and Jaime Summers, played by Lindsay Wagner, were big hits. The company also produced dolls of Oscar Goldman (Steve Austin’s boss), Maskatron (his robot enemy) and Fembot (Jaime Summer’s robot enemy), as well as playsets and extra outfits for Steve and Jaime.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Stretch Armstrong doll by Kenner Stretch Armstrong doll by Kenner Stretch Armstrong is unique. He is 15″ tall, but has a latex rubber body that can be stretched to several times its size. Inside is a gel made from corn syrup that helps keep the stretched-out shape for a short time. He was first issued in 1976, but was reissued in the ’90s with his dog, Fetch.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

1977 Star Wars Chewbacca action figure by Kenner Vintage Star Wars 1977 Stormtrooper action figure by Kenner Kenner had the first license to make Star Wars action figures, which they did from 1977 to 1985, and in doing so, popularized the 3.75″ figure which became an industry standard. They made over 100 unique figures and sold more than 300 million of them worldwide. Pictured at left are the Stormtrooper and Chewbacca from 1977.

Photos courtesy of eBay seller king-auctions.

Vintage Darci doll by Kenner Vintage Darci doll by Kenner Darci is a 12.5″ fashion doll from the late ’70s with a fashion model theme. She had two friends, Dana and Erica, and many extra outfits. Although Darci is beautiful and well-made, the fact that she couldn’t share clothes with Mattel’s more popular Barbie doll, spelled her doom. Darci was made as a blonde, brunette and redhead. She has jointed wrists, which are unusual in a doll of this size.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.
Vintage Darci doll outfit by Kenner Vintage Darci doll Perfect Pose Studio by Kenner

An International Velvet doll was produced in 1979 as a tie-in to the movie starring Tatum O’Neal. Ms. O’Neal is pictured on the box, but her name is not mentioned and the doll doesn’t resemble her. The doll wears white riding breeches and an ascot, with a black jacket, boots and hat. She is 11″ tall with long blonde hair.

The Sea Wees are 4″ mermaid dolls with a copyright date of 1979. They have one piece bodies, jointed only at the neck, and long rooted hair. Pets and babies were made for them.

Vintage Strawberry Shortcake doll by Kenner Vintage Strawberry Shortcake doll outfits by Kenner Strawberry Shortcake and her many friends have been made by a few different companies under license from American Greetings. The first doll versions were made by Kenner in the 1980s. The most common are 5.5″ vinyl scented dolls. They had extra outfits and accessories. A 16″ rag doll version was made as well. She has yarn hair and her bonnet is attached to her head. In the ’90s Strawberry Shortcake was made by Toy Headquarters, Inc. The line is now produced by Hasbro.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.
Butter Cookie doll by Kenner Vintage Baby Strawberry Shortcake doll by Kenner

Vintage Glamour Gals Loni doll by Kenner Glamour Gals is a series of 4″ fashion dolls with non-removable clothing, made in the early 1980s. There were several different dolls sold in a variety of outfits. In addition to the regular line, there was also a line of dolls wearing jewelry, and a line that came with accessories. They also had a Showplace Case, a car, and even a cruise ship.

Photo courtesy of eBay seller king-auctions.

Vintage Indiana Jones doll by Kenner Vintage Raiders of the Lost Ark Belloq action figure by Kenner After the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” came out, Kenner had the first license to make tie-in toys. This Indiana Jones doll is 12″ tall. He can be considered a celebrity doll as well, because the box features a photo of actor Harrison Ford. They also made a line of 3.75″ action figures which included several characters from the film, including Belloq, pictured at left.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.

Rose Petal Place dolls, made in the mid-80s, are 6″ doll with a fantasy flower theme.

Hugga Bunch, copyright 1985, was a strange line of plush toddler dolls, like a cross between a doll and a stuffed animal. They came with smaller baby dolls for them to hug.

Always Sisters doll outfit by Kenner Always Sisters dolls by Kenner Always Sisters are three families of three sisters each. There is a blonde family, a brunette family and a redhead family, with each having a 14″ baby sister, an 18″ middle sister and a 22″ oldest sister. They have vinyl heads and hands with cloth covered posable bodies. Each doll was sold separately, and they had extra outfits.
Photos courtesy of eBay seller dreamalong.

Special Blessings from 1988 are a line of Christian-themed dolls with hands in praying position. They have vinyl heads, soft cloth bodies and big painted eyes that glance upward.

Hey Vern It’s Ernest! is a talking doll Kenner made in 1989, in the likeness of fictional character Ernest P. Worrell, as portrayed by actor Jim Varney. Ernest’s career began in television commercials, then he got his own series and starred in several feature films as well. The doll is 16″ tall and is a pull string talker.

A talking Beetlejuice doll was made that same year, in the likeness of actor Michael Keaton.

Sabrina, the Teenage Witch was a 1990s tie-in to the popular TV show starring Melissa Joan Hart. She is a 10″ fashion-type doll, and was sold along with her cat, a rabbit and hat, and book of magic spells. There was also a Bedtime Sabrina, who according to the packaging, could “magically levitate” from her bed.

Babysitters Club, from 1993, is a line of 18″ dolls that tied in to the popular series of chapter books for girls.

Copyright 2006-2013 by Zendelle Bouchard

Oct 162012
 
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Cowpokes dolls by Knickerbocker

This adorable pair of dolls are the Cowpokes by Knickerbocker, dated 1981. They were designed by Ruth Morehead, who also designed the Scarecrow Kids dolls.

Body Construction
The Cowpokes are 12″ tall and made of cloth, stuffed with polyester filling. They have acrylic yarn hair and printed features.

Markings
The dolls are not marked or tagged. The only tag is on the clothing.

Knickerbocker Cowpokes dolls tag

Clothing
The Cowpokes’ hats and boots are part of their body. The hat brims are glued in place. Their outfits are fastened with velcro and are removable. They are made to look like multiple pieces, but are actually all one piece. They have fine acrylic yarn fringe on the vest and skirt/pants.

Packaging
They came packaged individually in a box with a large cellophane window to display them.

See also:

  • Knickerbocker Main PageCopyright 2012 by Zendelle Bouchard
Sep 162011
 
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I found a new website today. Well, not new, but new to me. Karen’s Toys sells a variety of toys and dolls from the 1960s to the present, but she specializes in ’70s and ’80s stuff like Dawn, Rockflowers, World of Love, Dinah-mite, Hugga Bunch, Glamour Gals, Rainbow Brite and more. I haven’t purchased anything from the site, so can’t give a recommendation, but it is certainly fun to look at.