Feb 132013
 
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Remco is one of the best known toy and doll companies of the vintage era. Their slogan “Every boy wants a Remco toy…and so do girls!” was widely advertised in television commercials. Some of their best known dolls are the Littlechap Family, Heidi and Jan, and the Finger Dings.

There is very little information available about the company itself. Founded by Sol Robbins, Remco was prolific during the 60s and early 70s, but the company invested a lot of money developing dolls that didn’t sell well. Remco filed for bankruptcy in 1971 and was acquired by Azrak-Hamway International, Inc., a toy company, a few years later. In 1997, Jakks Pacific acquired Remco from Azrak-Hamway International.

Most Remco dolls are well marked, aiding in identification. Click on a photo to view a larger version.


Among collectors, Remco is especially well-known for the Littlechap Family, a family of four fashion dolls with very well-made outfits. They are a little larger than Mattel’s Barbie, so they can’t wear her clothes. The scan at far left is from the 1963 Sears catalog. Judy Littlechap photo courtesy of eBay seller franklin2000.

Remco made two different types of dolls of the Beatles. The Mascot, dated 1964, is 30″ tall and all cloth. Visit the Beatles Mascot page for more information.
The other Beatles dolls Remco made are a set of 4 vinyl figures about 4.5″ tall. Each doll has the same body but the heads are different. They are dated 1964 as well. A set of dolls of the Dave Clark Five was also produced. Ringo photos courtesy of eBay seller art-in-mind.

As well as the pop group dolls, Remco made TV characters in doll form too. Pictured at far left are Uncle Fester, Lurch and Morticia from The Addams Family. Near left are Grandpa and Lilly from The Munsters. While the pop groups have unique heads on the same body, these characters have unique bodies too. Photos courtesy of eBay seller art-in-mind.


_outback (7K)
5″ Heidi and her “Japanese playmate” Jan were very popular in the mid-sixties. They came packaged in plastic pocketbook cases, and had many outfits and playsets. Besides the more common version that waves “Hi” when you push a button in her belly, there were also Winking and Growing versions of Heidi. A black version was made as well. Other dolls in the Pocketbook series include Heidi’s siblings Hildy, Herby and Billy; and friends Pip and Spunky. Jan was one of the few Asian-American play dolls available in the 1960s. Bar-B-Que play set photo courtesy of eBay seller dreamalong.


Outfit for TV Jones doll by Remco TV Jones is a vinyl dog fashion doll. Like Heidi and Jan, he came packaged in a plastic case that was meant to look like a portable television set. He had four extra outfits that were sold separately. 1966. Photo at far left courtesy of eBay seller franklin2000.

For cat loving kids, TV Jones has a kitty companion named Pussy Meow. She has four extra outfits too, including a Schoolgirl Outfit, Secret Agent Outfit and Evening Gown. 1966.

Remco also made Mr. & Mrs. Mouse and their twins Elly and Andy. There was a plastic house for the family and playhouse for the twins. Other animal dolls Remco made are Hana Hippo, Ellie Elephant and Patsy Panda. They are hard to find.

Remco’s 1967 Little Orphan Annie rag doll measures 16″ tall. She seems to have been the only all-cloth doll they made. Photo courtesy of eBay seller king-auctions.

Baby Sister Grow a Tooth came out in 1969. She is 15″ tall and has a “Magic Bottle” and pacifier. Photo courtesy of Martin Auction Co.


_daisy (4K) _rose (4K) Finger Dings are 5.5″ finger puppets, introduced in 1969. They have a vinyl head, arms and torso without legs. They wear a sort of a leotard with an open back, and you put your fingers inside the leotard legs to make the dolls walk, dance, skate, etc. Besides the regular line of Finger Dings, there were also Finger Ding Animals and Flower Kids. Photos courtesy of eBay seller your-favorite-doll.
_spunky (5K) _kitty (5K)

Jumpsy doll by Remco Jumpsy doll by Remco Jumpsy is a mechanical doll who jumps rope. She is 15″ tall with a hard vinyl head and hard plastic body. Her hands are shaped to grip her jump rope (actually a long thin spring fitted to plastic handles). When her arms come down, she hops a bit and skips over the rope. Jumpsy has rooted blonde hair and wild looking painted blue eyes with spiky painted lashes. She wears a two piece blue playsuit. The shorts are not removable.

Remco produced 3 members of the ’60s pop group The Monkees as dolls, with the same construction as the Finger Dings. Dolls in the likenesses of Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith have been found in plain cardboard boxes, indicating that these were probably sold through mail order rather than in stores. (Peter Tork, the fourth member of the Monkees, had quit the band by this time.) Davy’s name is misspelled “Davey” on the boxes. Davy and Mickey were also sold packaged together as Clever Finger Dolls with no mention of their names or the Monkees name. 3 dolls photo courtesy of eBay seller franklin2000. Clever Finger Dolls photo courtesy of eBay seller king-auctions.

Adventure Boy had the same contruction as the Finger Dings and the Monkees dolls. The dolls were sold in play sets including the Spacecraft pictured at left, Snowmobile and Motorcycle. He dates to 1970. Photo courtesy of eBay seller art-in-mind.

Dune Buggy Baby, dated 1972, is an 11″ doll with long blonde hair who comes with her own dune buggy, operated with a wired remote controller. See pictures of her here.

The song “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” was a huge hit in the early 1970s. It began as a jingle for Coca-Cola and was then recorded for commercial release with the references to Coke removed. The multicultural theme of the song was something new at the time. Remco introduced their 18″ singing doll Mimi in 1973, capitalizing on the song’s popularity. She could sing it in six different languages and had an outfit for each language. Pictured above are her German, Israeli and Polish outfits. She also had Spanish, Scottish and Italian fashions. A black version of Mimi was also available. Photos courtesy of eBay seller art-in-mind.

A series of McDonaldland characters was produced in 1976. They included Ronald McDonald, the Grimace, the Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, Captain Crook, the Professor and Officer Big Mac. The dolls ranged from about 6″ to 8″ tall. The Grimace is plush with vinyl feet; the rest of the characters are posable vinyl with fabric costumes. A McDonaldland Playset was also available. Photo courtesy of eBay seller den268.

Baby This ‘n That came out in the late ’70s. She is a mechanical doll who moves her arms when you squeeze her toes. She comes with accessories to hold such as a spoon and straw. A new version was offered in 1990 as Sweet Baby This ‘n That. Photo courtesy of Martin Auction Co.

Remco’s I Dream of Jeannie doll came out in 1977. She was a tie-in to the animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera, not the original show starring Barbara Eden. As such, she would be considered a character doll rather than a celebrity doll. She is 6.5″ tall and has her own fashions which were sold separately. She can also wear Dawn sized clothing. Photos courtesy of eBay seller franklin2000.

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was an animated children’s television series produced by comedian Bill Cosby. In 1985, Remco made dolls of four of the characters from the show: Fat Albert, Little Bill, Greg (pictured) and Hank. They have vinyl heads and cloth bodies and are 21″ tall. Photos courtesy of eBay seller den268.

The Baby Sitter’s Club dolls were produced in 1991. They were licensed from the best selling series of chapter books by Ann M. Martin. Each baby sitter doll was 9″ tall and sold together with a 4″ little girl doll. The sets were Kristy & Karen, Claudia & Jenny, Stacey & Charlotte, and Jessi & Becca. There was also a Deluxe Gift Set with all eight dolls. A couple of years later, the four baby sitters were produced by Kenner in 11″ and 18″ sizes. Photos courtesy of eBay seller den268.

Other Remco dolls include:

  • Snugglebun – baby doll came with a lamp table with light up bottle warmer (1965)
  • Baby Walk Alone – mechanical walking doll, about 15″ tall (1966)
  • Tippy Tumbles a somersaulting doll that was a big hit; she was reissued by Ideal in 1977 (1968)
  • Bottle Babies – small vinyl dolls in clear plastic bottles (1967)
  • Ragmop – Cloth head and torso with vinyl limbs (1968)
  • Growing Sally has a torso that lengthens to make her taller. She comes with “little girl” wig and outfit and “grown up” wig and outfit. Extra clothing sets were available. There was a black version made. (1968)
  • Kewpie licensed from Cameo (1968)
  • Tumbling Tomboyaction oriented doll who came with a remote control go-cart (1969)
  • Baby Know-It-All in her Feeding Chair and Magic Slate – show her pictures on her Magic Slate and she reacts to them (1969)
  • Bunny Baby “A Tricky Whistle Doll” whose movements are activated by the sound of the whistle. She rides a Bunny Swing. (1969)
  • My Three Sons Triplets – 3 vinyl drink and wet babies, painted eyes and molded hair, tied into CBS TV series starring Fred MacMurray (circa 1969)
  • Li’l Baby Polly Puff comes with inflatable nursery furniture (1970)
  • Li’l Winking Herby Hippy, a 16″ doll with a winking mechanism
  • Sweet April, a crying baby doll with lots of extra outfits and furniture (1971)
  • Dune Buggy Baby has a plastic remote control dune buggy which you can decorate with stickers (1971)
  • Baby Laugh a Lot – very strange laughing doll. Sounds like something out of a creepy horror film. (1971)
  • Laurie Partridge, character played by Susan Dey on The Partridge Family, is 18″ tall with a teenage body and long straight brown hair. A good likeness, although the doll’s head is oversized compared to her body. (1973)
  • Look ‘n Love Dolly – Mechanical baby urns and nods her head (1978)
  • Hello Dolly – this 12″ talking doll came with a phone that plugged into her side – when you talk on the phone, her lips move and she “talks” along with you (1978)
  • Proud Family – Father, Mother and Baby. Mother can go through various stages of pregnancy (which the box refers to as “motherhood”) (1978)
  • Giggly Jigglies – “The Happiest Dolls in the World” 10″ tall, soft body with vinyl head/ molded hair “No batteries required” but what do they do? There was a pogo stick for them sold separately (1979)
  • Baby Cry & Dry – Drinks, wets, then cries and kicks her legs until you change her. Just like a real baby! 13.5″ long, rooted blonde hair in loose curls. Watch the TV commercial on YouTube. (1979)
  • Rainbow – a fashion doll who came with her own “Electronic Fashion Computer” to help you pick out her outfits (1979)
  • Pretty Penny Chatterbox – pull her braid and she says something. Her upper body is vinyl and her lower body is cloth. She sits in a stuffed chair. (1988)
  • Splashy and Her Floating Vanity – a bathtime fun doll

Copyright 2006-2014 by Zendelle Bouchard

Aug 262012
 
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Vintage Wettums composition doll by Reliable

Wettums is an all-composition drink-and-wet baby doll made by Reliable of Canada in the late 1930s and early ’40s. Since moisture causes composition to deteriorate rapidly, most of these dolls have not survived in good condition.

Body Construction
Wettums is jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips. She has painted eyes, molded painted hair and a nurser mouth. The drink-and-wet feature was enabled by a rubber tube leading from Wettums’ mouth to his/her bottom, with a metal grommet at either end. Wettums was made in multiple sizes. The doll pictured is 12.5″ long.

Markings
Wettums is marked “RELIABLE // DOLL // MADE IN CANADA” on the back of her head.

Clothing & Packaging
The book “200 Years of Dolls” by Dawn Herlocher pictures an all original Wettums doll, wearing a sleeveless undershirt and diaper. The lettering on the box has the doll’s name spelled “Wetums” and the wording “She drinks, she wets, you’ll love her.”

Vintage Wettums composition doll by Reliable


Aug 012012
 
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Vintage hard plastic Nanette doll by Arranbee

Vintage hard plastic Nanette doll by Arranbee.
Photo courtesy of Nancy McKee.

Arranbee Doll Co. was founded in 1919 in New York City. In the early years of the company, they imported bisque head dolls from Armand Marseille and Simon & Halbig in Germany. They also sold all-bisque dolls and composition mama dolls, as well as doll hospital supplies including wigs, parts, and shoes. In 1925, they opened their own factory in New York manufacturing composition dolls. They kept up with changes in the industry, switching to hard plastic in the ’40s and vinyl in the ’50s. The company made many of its own dolls, but also purchased dolls from other manufacturers to dress and market under their own name. While not being ground-breakingly original, Arranbee dolls are noted for their beauty and high quality, both in the dolls and their clothing. Company founder and president William Rothstein died unexpectedly in 1957; his family continued the firm for a short while, then sold it to the Vogue Doll Co. Vogue continued the Arranbee name and some of the lines until 1961. Fortunately for collectors, many Arranbee dolls are marked. Here are some of their more notable dolls:

  • Dream Baby or My Dream Baby was the first of Arranbee’s dolls to have a name. There is a closed-mouth version (A.M. mold number 341) and an open-mouth version (mold number 351). Some dolls have stuffed cloth bodies with compo or rubber hands, while others have full jointed compo bodies. After the company started making their own composition dolls, they continued using the Dream Baby name. There is a wide variety of compo Dream Babies, including dolls with painted eyes or sleep eyes, molded hair or mohair wigs, in a range of sizes. Dream Baby continued into the ’50s in a hard plastic version.
  • Nancy was first made in composition starting in 1931. A few different head molds were used for this molded hair Patsy-type doll (complete with bent right arm) who ranged from 11″ to 14″ in height. Nancy was also made in a line of 16″ to 20″ chubbier toddler dolls with sleep eyes and mohair wigs.
  • Debu’teen was introduced in 1938. She represented a young teenage girl, with a slim body and a wistful expression, and was made in sizes from 13″ to 22″. Larger dolls have a compo socket head on a shoulder plate, with cloth torso and compo limbs, while the smaller dolls are all composition. She was sold in a wide variety of well-made outfits including school clothes, dressy clothes, sporting outfits and military uniforms. The Sporting Women series of dolls by Vogue greatly resemble Debu’teen, and were probably made by Arranbee for Vogue in an unmarked version.
  • Around the World and Storybook dolls from the late ’30s and early ’40s are 9″ all-composition characters with molded hair and painted eyes. The same doll was used for both boy and girl characters, such as Snow White, Pirate, Dutch Boy and Girl, etc.
  • Nannette is a composition and cloth mama doll with swing legs. She was sold from 1937 until 1943, when the spelling of her name was changed to Nanette. She was sold until about 1947, when the company switched production to hard plastic dolls. The hard plastic version of Nanette is a little girl doll, virtually indistinguishable from Nancy Lee. In the fifties, Nanette was made with a vinyl head and hard plastic body. The last version of Nanette was an 18″ all vinyl high-heeled glamour doll.
  • Nancy Lee was a true little girl doll. She did not have the chubbiness of the Nancy and Nannette toddlers, but she was not quite as slim as Debu’teen. The compo version, who made her debut in 1943, generally has smoky eye shadow. The hard plastic version was sold from the late ’40s into the late ’50s.
  • 12″ Little Angel and 10″ Littlest Angel are toddler fashion dolls. Many extra outfits were available for them. Little Angel was not as popular as her smaller sibling, and was discontinued in 1955. Littlest Angel was later made with jointed knees, and starting in 1956 had a vinyl head with rooted hair. Littlest Angel was one of the dolls that Vogue continued to sell under the R&B name after they bought the company.
  • Coty Girl was a 10″ vinyl glamour doll made to compete with Ideal’s Little Miss Revlon. She had many extra outfits and was advertised extensively. This doll is very difficult to identify because she is marked only with a P in a circle, as were many other small glamour dolls of the era. The 18″ Coty Girl is the same doll as the high-heeled Nanette.

Copyright 2006 by Zendelle Bouchard.

Feb 172010
 
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Vintage baby doll by Kader

Kader Industrial Co., Ltd. was a Hong Kong company founded in 1948. The company is still in business but is now using the name Kader Holdings Co. Ltd. Their primary product is model trains and accessories. They do not appear to make dolls any longer. Collectors sometimes refer to the company as “OK Kader” because their logo is the letters “OK” inside a globe.
The baby doll pictured is 10″ tall. He has a hard plastic head and blow-molded vinyl body. He has a few features which make him unusual. He has a tongue attached to his sleep eye mechanism, so that when his eyes are open, his tongue protrudes slightly; when he’s asleep, his tongue disappears. He also has jointed wrists. He is jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips as well. His bright blue sleep eyes have molded lashes. He was probably made in the 1950s or ’60s.

Vintage baby doll by Kader

Vintage Baby doll by Kader

A little research reveals that the company appears to have made mostly baby dolls similar to this one, in a wide variety of sizes. They made black dolls as well as white ones. The dolls were distributed in Australia and New Zealand as well as the USA, and possibly other countries.

See also:

Learn More:

cover
Handbook for
Hard Plastic Dolls
by Pam & Polly Judd
More info from Amazon
or
Find it on eBay.
cover
Hard Plastic Dolls
by Polly and Pam Judd
More info from Amazon
or
Find it on eBay.
cover
Hard Plastic Dolls II
by Polly and Pam Judd
More info from Amazon
or
Find it on eBay.

Copyright 2010 by Zendelle Bouchard.