Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Miss Revlon

In 1950's United States, there was a boom of dolls created that were a result of products geared towards grown women. These included Toni (who came with her own "permanent wave" kit,) Miss Revlon, and various other "makeup" or glamour dolls that came with their own hair styling or makeup kits.

Doll manufacturers are smart. They know that little girls like to emulate their mothers. There are few little girls that haven't watched their mother put on lipstick or do their hair. So, in 1956 Ideal licensed the Revlon name and created a fashion doll for little girls, with a name that they and their mothers (or aunts or grandmothers) would recognise.

Miss Revlon came in various sizes, from 15 to 20 inches tall. Some dolls have jointed elbows (like Madame Alexander's Cissy.) Most dolls have light brown hair, but some can be found with dark brown or very blonde hair. A modified version was introduced toward the end of Miss Revlon's popularity, and this doll was a pixie faced doll. She had pink hair, was called Pink Fairy, wore a fairy dress and only comes in the 18 inch size. Miss Revlon has a "high heel foot" and wears dresses and costumes that were representative of the high fashion of their day (including real fur wraps). Some dolls have pierced ears. Hair can either be short or long and worn in a pony tail. Dolls have sleep eyes. They are marked Ideal, followed by VT and the size of the doll, and are made of high quality vinyl and hard plastic.

I have a Miss Revlon and a Little Miss Revlon doll in my collection. Little Miss Revlon was introduced in 1958. She is a smaller version of Miss Revlon, and stands at about 10.5 inches tall. Little Miss Revlon is all vinyl and has a twisty waist. Both dolls have girlish faces on a teen body.

My Miss Revlon is a 20 inch doll. She wears an original Miss Revlon dress and replacement shoes. She is the shorter haired version and does not have pierced ears. My Little Miss Revlon also wears an original dress. Her vinyl has darkened slightly, but she fortunately is not plagued with a bad case of green ear, which is the case with so many pierced ear dolls of the 1950's.

Miss Revlon was sadly knocked off her pedestal by the introduction of Barbie in 1959. Barbie was more adult-like compared to the childlike Miss Revlon, and so a new era of dolls began. For some of us, however, the old era never really passed away.

Monday, December 14, 2009

O K Kader doll

Until I moved to Australia, I had never heard of these hard plastic baby dolls that were manufactured in the 1950s through the 1990s in Asia. OK Kader had factories in Hong Kong and Thailand. The Thai factory closed in 1993 after a massive fire killed many workers. There were both black and caucasian versions of these dolls.

Kader dolls seem to be popular among collectors in Asia and the Pacific, and no wonder. They have sweet chubby faces and characteristics unique to Kader dolls: a "clacking" tongue and twist wrists. The tongue is attached to the eye mechanism, so when the doll's eyes close, the tongue retracts and moves side to side. Wrists can be twisted so that the doll's hands can be posed. Dolls have hard molded eyelashes. My doll also wears replacement lashes.

All Kader dolls come with molded hair, although mine is wearing a wig (dolls usually lose most of their hair paint). The dolls may have residual glue on their head seams. I've seen them range in size from 13 to 25 inches (although there may be dolls on either side of that figure.) My doll is a 20 inch doll from about 1960. She has two little teeth in her rosebud mouth. Her matinee jacket and pants probably are not original to her, although I usually see OK Kader dolls for sale wearing knitted baby clothes. Most of the dolls I've seen for sale on eBay are vintage dolls that date from the 1950s and 1960s. Newer dolls have hard vinyl heads.

If you are a collector of dolls from the 1950's, you might want to have a look around for an adorable OK Kader doll.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Celebrity Doll - Sonja Henie

Sonja Henie was an Olympic ice skating champion from Norway. With her blonde girl-next-door looks and athletic abilities, she became a natural for the cinema and starred in several motion pictures in the 1930's and 40's.

Given her prominence and popularity (it's said that at the height of her acting career, she was one of the most highly paid actresses in Hollywood), it was natural that a doll was made in her likeness. In 1939, Madame Alexander released the Sonja Henie doll (a few years after Ideal released Shirley Temple and around the same time that the Deanna Durbin doll was released.)

Sonja Henie is an all composition doll with blonde curly hair and brown sleep eyes. She was available with several skating outfits, and also came with skiing outfits and skis. Sonja Henie dolls range from 14 to 21 inches tall, with the smaller sizes having a twist waist. Her toothed smile and dimples give her face a soft appearance, and her face mold was used for other dolls including a bride doll and some WW2 military dolls. Arranbee also made a Sonja Henie doll with the Nancy Lee head mold.

My Sonja Henie is 18 inches tall. She wears a skating outfit that I haven't been able to identify, new ear muffs, and her skates are original. Her wig is a soft mohair wig. My doll is marked MADAME ALEXANDER SONJA HENIE on the back of her head.

I love these old celebrity dolls. They're great reminders of days gone by.