Yuen-Ji, a Korean Doll

I stumbled across this doll at a toy fair late last year and just had to have her, despite the price – though I think the price was reasonable for a doll of this quality.  I had never seen or heard of these dolls before.  The manufacturer is listed as Choirlock Contents Factory on the box and a website http://www.dollskorea.co.kr is listed too, but it no longer exists. I think the dolls may be available on eBay occasionally though.  The box itself is gorgeous, very heavy cardboard with magnetic closure, ribbon tie and beautiful artwork. ‘Made in Korea’ is also printed on the label.  Inside the lid, the doll is called ‘Image of Korea’ and the doll’s name is given as Yuen-Ji.  The text inside the box reads: ‘Korean dress which the stream of line is beautiful and YUEN-JI who is following our own tradition that makes to feel out liberal and warmnature. Yuen-Ji would introduce the beauty of Korea widely. (sic)’  And she does.

The box art and Yuen-Ji NRFB.

The doll itself is fully articulated, and the body is quite different to other current dolls, but it does remind me of Takara’s Super Action Jenny body, introduced in 1997.  Her head mould looks a little like Takara’s Jenny doll or another Korean doll, Mimi.  It is marked © 97 HONG KONG.  I haven’t removed her from her box yet (I’m waiting until I relocate my cabinets before I de-box her), so I don’t know if her body is marked.  I also can’t see a copyright or manufacture date on the box, so I don’t know how old this doll is.  She has lovely, long rooted eye lashes and her hair is a good quality fibre and is intricately plaited.

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According to my cousin who has lived in Korea and whose wife is Korean, Yuen-Ji is wearing a very traditional hanbok.  The fabrics used are excellent quality and she wears long satin bloomers, petticoat and socks under her chima (skirt).  The embroidery on the bottom of her jeogori (jacket) is just gorgeous and the otgoreum (decoration hanging from jacket) consists of ribbon, two tassels and a glass bead.  Her hair is in 비녀 style, which indicates the metal ornament in the hair.  It’s very heavy as are the human-sized ornaments.  Even her shoes are moulded in traditional Korean style.  Included in the box is a clear plastic stand and a laminated photo of the doll to hang.

Yuen-Ji’s petticoat, bloomers and socks and the Korean-style shoes.

I don’t usually collect dolls in national costume (apart from mum’s Welsh ones of course), but this doll is an exception.  I have a couple of Korean Mimi dolls and while they are lovely, there is nothing about them that indicates that they are Korean.  There’s no doubting the nationality of this doll, but she’s much more stylish than the average costume doll and I can’t wait to put her on display.


Funtime Sindy

Seeing as this weekend we’re celebrating dad’s 90th birthday, I thought I’d post about a doll he gave me – Funtime Sindy by Pedigree.  I can’t remember if she was a Christmas or birthday present or both, but it must have been around 1975/76, and there were some very mixed emotions around her for several reasons.

You see, while I thought she was gorgeous and did love her, I had had my heart set on a brunette Ballerina Sindy, the ones that were fully poseable and came in the little purple tutus.  This girl wasn’t poseable at all, not even her knees bend, and although she does have lovely thick hair in a fantastic flip, it’s blonde (boring! I had lots of blonde dolls) and it wasn’t that classic ballerina chignon I was so captivated by.  Her little striped playsuit was a bit strange too.  I mean really, who wears playsuits?

Funtime Sindy in her original playsuit and redressed in ‘Free and Easy.’

Another problem was that she just didn’t fit in with my Barbie dolls.  Her head was way too big and not having bendable legs was an issue too. When she sat down, her legs splayed apart so she took up the whole sofa, and worse, Ken could see up her dress!

No, she just wasn’t right, so I was conflicted.   I saw some Sindy clothes I liked in the local Chemist shop and saved up and bought them for her, and had to play with her on her own.  I did love her, even though I was disappointed in her, as she wasn’t what I really wanted.  My aunt later gave me some Sindy furniture, and that presented more problems.  The bed was fine, Sindy was very comfortable in it, and even the dining table was ok, as long as no dolls wanted to sit next to her (her legs took up a lot of room under the table). But the bath?  No way.  With those splay-ee legs, there was no way she could sit in the bath, or even on the side of it.  No, the best she could do was kind of lay in it and hope she didn’t drown.  I’d also been given some Sindy cosmetics including shampoo and I did wash her hair in the bath.  That’s when I discovered how wonderful her hair was.  It could be washed and styled all day and still remained soft and shiny.

Of course, now I fully appreciate her.  She has one of the most beautiful Sindy faces I’ve seen with lovely high-colour face paint, although she does look a little sad. I suppose that’s appropriate though as it sums up my state of mind when I received her.  Her hair is still wonderful and she’s great to display fashions on – though still not too great at sitting down.  She’s the later 1974 version of Funtime Sindy with the very skinny legs (the earlier versions have the chunkier bodies and legs) and she was sold without the over-skirt.

When Tonner recreated Sindy in 2014 for her 50th Anniversary I was lucky enough to get Summer Fun for my birthday.  I wanted this one as she reminded me of my original Funtime.  Her little striped dress is reminiscent of the striped playsuit and she is blonde like Funtime too.  Her face isn’t quite right though.  She’s nowhere near as beautiful as an original Sindy and those eyelashes are just wrong, but she’s a nice addition to the collection.  One from the present to stand next to one from the past.  I have real difficulty photographing both these dolls though.  I just can’t seem to capture, well, their soul, if you like.  I’m not really happy with any of my photos of them.  I’ll keep trying, especially with Funtime.  I owe it to her to try to photograph her true beauty.

Tonner’s ‘Summer Fun’ Sindy reminds me a little bit of Funtime Sindy, though she’s not quite as gorgeous as the original.

Doll Talk

By far, one of the strangest doll related things I’ve ever found is a little booklet called ‘Doll Talk Book.’  Bought at a doll show for a whole $2, it is a little booklet cut from a magazine, listing the meanings of the latest words all the cool kids are using, but fashions dolls are also pictured throughout the booklet.  It’s an item that satisfies a few of my loves; dolls of course, but also books and in particular dictionaries (I have a small collection of dictionaries).

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The dolls featured are a Bubble-cut and a swirl Barbie doll, painted hair Ken doll, and a few clones, one of which may be a Davtex doll or a Debbie doll with legs, while two of the others may be Princess Patti or Wendy, both Barbie doll clones.  The clothes the dolls are wearing look to be home-made, perhaps from patterns that have been published in the magazine at some time. Unfortunately, there is nothing on the pages to indicate which magazine this booklet was printed in or even in which country it was published, but the words ‘dag’ and ‘galah’ are used, there’s lots of rhyming slang and one word is attributed to Ward Austin, a Sydney disc jockey, so I’m guessing it’s Australian.

(Update: it’s possible it was published in Woman’s Day with Woman, October 25, 1965. Thanks Kaye!)

Some of the words listed I’ve never heard of, so I don’t know if they were widely used throughout Australia, or are regional or if the booklet was compiled from a list of international words popular at the time.  A couple of the words are doozies – ‘ricka poodie’, meaning magnificent, great, swinging; ‘suhastled’, meaning rushed by and ‘fandoogily’, meaning too wonderful to describe (Ward Austin’s word) are by far my favourites.  An attractive boy is apparently a ‘bug,’ girls are known as ‘fluffies,’ a ‘cake eater’ is someone with a big head. To ‘cheese’ someone means annoying or upsetting someone, ‘cosmic’ means have a sun bath, ‘gink’ is a bit of a galah and a ‘seeing-eye wireless’ is a television, though I’ve never heard these usages before.  ‘Dag’ means to irritate or annoy, rather than the way we use the word today and ‘toked up’ means mad on each other, very different to today’s meaning!  All in all it’s a little booklet that is fab, grouse and fandoogily!

Whole Lottie Love

Late in 2013 a new fashion doll called Lottie hit the shelves to very little fanfare. I fell for them for two reasons: firstly, they’re really cute, and secondly they’re basically British.  Sindy was probably the last British doll to be sold here in Australia, but they haven’t been available here for years.  In the 70’s there were quite a few British dolls such as Daisy, Havoc, Amanda Jane and of course Sindy.   Lottie stands 7.5 inches tall with a childlike body and is made by the British firm Arklu. Lottie is primarily aimed at young children but quite a few collectors have found a soft spot for her too.

Lottie dolls were originally available at Toys R Us, but now are a little harder to find.  David Jones carries them and some independent toy stores, especially educational ones, still have them.  There are several versions of the doll available as blondes, brunettes, red heads as well as black dolls.  They all have great names such as English Country Garden, Branksea Festival, Pirate Queen and Autumn Leaves.  Lottie undertakes some classic activities including ballet, Brownie and horse riding and some more unusual ones such as Lighthouse Keeper, Karate, Fossil Hunter and Butterfly Protector. A pet beagle, Biscuit and persian cat Pandora were available as is Seren, the Welsh mountain pony as well as several outfits and accessory packs. Lottie also has a male friend called Finn and a search of eBay reveals new friends called Mia, Sophia and Sammi.  I haven’t seen these new friends for sale in Australia as yet.

Above: English Country Garden  and Branksea Festival Lottie.

Initially I chose English Country Garden, because the name is so British and I wanted a black version too, so bought Branksea Festival.  I went back and bought Pandora’s Box (even though I’m not a cat person) because of the cute little hat and glasses.  And then, of course, I had to have the boy Finn, once he was released here, and if I see Sammi in store, I know he’ll come home with me too.

Above: Pandora’s Box Lottie, Kite Flyer Finn and Biscuit the beagle.

Lottie’s facial features remind me of the Japanese doll Licca-Chan by Takara, but she also fits nicely into a Sindy collection with both the 1970’s dolls and the more modern Hasbro and New Moons versions, perhaps as a little sister.  I just love that I’ve been able to add a few more British dolls to my collection.

Above: English Country Garden and Pandora’s Box Lottie with two versions of Takara’s Licca-chan to which they bear some slight resemblance.

Welsh Dolls

My mother’s two grandfathers were Welsh.  In fact one was so Welsh, she had trouble understanding a word he said.  Soon after they were married, Dad’s mum gave my mum a Welsh doll.  I was allowed to look at it when I was a child, but I wasn’t allowed to play with it.  She kept it tucked away in a cupboard, but it came out regularly, and we’d both enjoy looking at it.

Mum’s Welsh doll is made from hard plastic and is strung (and is in need of a re-string), with sleep eyes.  Her costume is well detailed and even includes long underwear. 

When I began collecting dolls seriously, mum took an interest in them too.  She got very annoyed with Mattel and their Dolls of the World and International series.  When the dolls for each year were revealed, she’d say, ‘still no Welsh doll!’  And I had to agree with her, especially as the Welsh costume lends itself so perfectly to doll designing.  I also found the lack of a Welsh doll surprising seeing as there were at least three English, Scottish and Irish editions.

In Mum’s later years, I found a small acrylic display case for her to put her Welsh doll in, and I also found a little teddy bear dressed in Welsh costume at the op shop and bought it for her.  A friend brought my sister, mum and I little Welsh dolls back from a trip to the UK, and soon mum had started a collection.  I found a larger, fourteen inch doll at the op shop for her, friends sent her dolls at Christmas and birthday and I found a few at doll shows.

Mum’s collection: the large doll and Teddy Bear that started the collection and a number of hard plastic dolls that are all very different.

Soft plastic dolls, including a Little Tuppence/Penny Brite clone and a Little Cottage doll, and a collection of smaller dolls including a Pee Wee type doll.

I also decided to make a Welsh Barbie doll for her.  I used a Barbie Fashionista doll with black hair and blue/violet eyes, the same as my grandmother’s.  I managed to find a white shirt with lace trim that was just perfect, and made a long black cotton skirt, a checked shawl, striped apron and red cloak from scraps of fabric I found at an op shop.  I made a little lace bonnet, and I thought I’d have to tackle making a hat for her, but was so happy when I stumbled across one at a doll sale that is perfect.   To finish off, I gave the doll a basket full of miniature paper daffodils and a couple of needle felted corgis that I made.  She’s been christened Kitty Roberts, after mum’s mum.

Kitty Roberts with Cleo and Daffodil the corgis.

Sadly mum died a couple of years ago, but I have kept her collection intact and I’ve recently added to it with a doll I found an op shop.  I hope to eventually make a Scottish Ken doll, wearing a kilt in my family tartan so he can  partner Kitty Roberts.  And Mattel, it’s not too late.  I still hope that one day you’ll make a Welsh Barbie doll.

The most unusual doll in the collection, this outfit looks to be homemade and the hat is a milk or coffee pod!

Sindy – A Novel Idea

Most Sindy doll collectors are aware that the Sindy, Paul and Patch dolls starred in adventures in comic strips and short stories published in magazines and annuals such ‘June’ in the 1960’s.  However, many people are not aware that Sindy and co. also featured in a set of six full-length adventure novels.

The books first appeared in the 1966/67 catalogue and are described as ‘six great adventure stories,’ ‘with colourful pictures galore.’  The colourful pictures are actually two colour sketches by Daphne Rowles but they are carefully detailed and the characters are shown in actual outfits such as ‘Dream Date,’ ‘Birthday Party’ and ‘London Look’.  Each book also has an interesting, colour cover illustration depicting a scene from the book, although they’re not always entirely accurate to the story. ‘Adventures with your teenage favourite’ is printed on each book.

The books were published by Young World Productions Ltd. but made and printed in the Netherlands by N.V. Drukkerji Bosch, Utrect.  There are no authors credited, and while the books stick to a basic formula, it’s clear they were written by at least two different hands.  There are a few editing problems, typography errors and even a couple of continuity errors but these don’t get in the way of a good story.

Judging by these stories, Sindy and Patch are nomadic orphans, as their parents are not mentioned in any of the books, but we do meet a raft of friends and relatives with whom the girls travel the world and find adventure.  With the exception of one book, Sindy is generally depicted as an outgoing, independent young woman, while Patch is described as a daring ten year old.

The stories offer up lessons in manners, geography and history as well as an insight into life in the sixties.  Sindy, Paul and Patch dance to the latest records, entertain themselves by listening to the radio, doing jigsaws and playing ping-pong.  The language and grammar is a world away from what we use today and it’s plainly obvious that political correctness is not a 1960’s concept.  The male characters make themselves scarce whenever there is any cooking, cleaning or other work to be done and characters utter language that no one would even consider printing in this day and age.  So, here is a brief synopsis of each of the Sindy adventure novels.

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The Curious Clock: A clock with a deadly secret, a mysterious Italian Count, and a daring car chase start the Sindy Adventure Stories in fine style.  We find Sindy and Patch in London staying with Sindy’s model friend Cressida.  We also learn that Paul lives in a London flat with his friend Tom Saunders.  While at an auction to buy Patch a tennis racket (because sports stores are so passé?), Sindy successfully bids on a 17th century ‘clock of foreign design’.  The intrigue begins when those who come into close contact with the clock – including Paul – have fainting spells.  The clock is stolen before the mysterious illness can be investigated, but finding an important clue, Sindy and Paul are off to the police.  Patch, meanwhile, decides to ‘play detective’ and travels alone across London to the unsavoury ‘Rat Wharf’ where she sneaks into a derelict house to free a stranger she finds bound and gagged.  Not bad for a 10 year old.  Sindy, Paul, Patch and the mysterious Count Fersson, follow the police and after a daring and dangerous car chase through the London streets, it’s Paul and Patch who eventually tackle the crook.  The Curious Clock is donated to a Naples museum and the adventure is over in time for a late lunch.  Sindy is depicted liberated young woman, picking Paul up in her little red sports car, causing him to declare that Sindy is the ‘only girl driver he felt comfortable with.’ (Hmmmm!) The dialogue is great too, with statements such as ‘Isn’t Cressida the limit!’ and Count Fersson speaking in equally dodgy Italian and English.

Down Texas Way:  The Wild West, cowboys and a precious Pekinese pooch are the ingredients of this adventure.  We discover Sindy works for Paul’s Aunt Martha Blackwood, at her dog breeding kennels.  Sindy, Patch and ‘favourite nephew’ Paul fly to Texas with ‘intrepid’ Aunt Martha to deliver Yo Yo, a Crufts dog show champion Pekinese, to a Texas millionaire who has paid several thousand dollars for the dog.  Patch is disappointed in Fort Worth as she ‘thought it was a fort built to keep the Red Indians in order.’  Very PC – not!  On the way to the millionaire’s ranch Yo Yo runs away and The Sindy Set are soon off on his trail.  The search leads to a stay at Ma Curry’s ranch, which gives Patch a chance to meet real cowboys.  On yet another dangerous solo caper Patch nearly gets caught in a cattle stampede.  Before he can be found poor Yo Yo is dog-napped and Sindy, Paul and Patch must rescue him, help capture an escaped criminal and deliver the little dog to millionaire Briscoe Hartman.  This book is full of stereotypical characters with the cowboys described as ‘real, old-time cowboys…’ ‘both with bandy legs, lantern jaws and weather beaten faces.’  The Texan drawl lends for some great dialogue with Yo Yo being referred to as a ‘dorg’ and cowboys riding on a ‘hoss.’

Lighthouse Mystery:  If there’s an odd book out in the series, this is it.  Paul is completely absent and a lot of the focus is on Patch. It’s Patch that is credited with the ideas and most of the action and adventure early in the book.  The age of Patch and Sindy is somewhat confusing in this book too.  Both are referred to as children but no actual reference to age is made.  While it seems Patch may be her 10-year-old self, Sindy appears much younger than in other books.  At one time she is seeking ‘boys and girls of our own age’ yet one of the children is stated as being 13 years old.  She is just not portrayed as the confident young woman she is in other books.  The story sees Sindy and Patch staying with their uncle, Mr English, at Downs Farm, Downscombe.  After the gymkhana is rained out, the girls accompany their uncle to a property auction and Patch accidentally buys a Lighthouse for 20 pounds – as you do.  The girls restore the building, and here we learn that Patch is an accomplished carpenter, declaring that she will build any furniture that they will need.  Sindy thinks her sister is being, ‘a bit ambitious’ (no kidding?).  She, ‘knew Patch did carpentry at school but she never bothered to think how well she did it’.  Patch also takes on the task of fixing gutters and the roof of the shed adjoining the lighthouse.  Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents (but no mention of the girl’s parents) send gifts including furniture kits that are so easy, ‘Even you could do it Sindy.’  The Lighthouse is turned into a holiday camp for children with, ‘No grownups allowed.’  The girls and their guests find a smugglers well, manage to light their ‘Tobias Light’ when the newer ‘Gulls Light’ fails and rescue the injured lighthouse keeper.  Even the dialogue in Lighthouse Mystery is off the mark, with Patch often declaring, ‘Squawks!’ or ‘How whizzo!’  The corniest line in the whole book however, is awarded to a ships captain who exclaims ‘My! My! My! Splice the mainbrace!’

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The Lone Swimmer:  A summer holiday on the island of Capri is the setting for this adventure.  Sindy wins a holiday for herself and Patch in a magazine general knowledge competition, while Paul had booked a holiday with a friend who had to cancel.  Salvatore the fisherman tells The Sindy Set tales of a mysterious swimmer that the locals call ‘L’Uomo’ – ‘The old man of the sea’, who steals food from local gardens.  The gang are sure this is just another Capri fiction the locals tell to interest the tourists but after a series of incidents that possibly involve L’Uomo, the gang start to wonder if he is real after all. Finally Sindy encounters L’Uomo in the grounds of the hotel and discovers he is an Englishman who has lost his memory.  While the police begin an investigation, Sindy, Paul and Patch decide they must help a ‘fellow countryman’ without involving the Italian police who, ‘might not be very gentle in their methods…’  Again, very un-PC. Determined to solve the mystery they manage to discover L’Uomo’s identity, rescue him, get shot at and finally surrender to police having solved the mystery.  There is a not-quite-so-obvious case of disappearing/reappearing Patch thanks to a continuity error and she has near death experience (again) when she nearly drowns.  There are lots of references to the sights and sounds of Capri and of course lots of half-English, half-Italian dialogue.

Desert Escapade:  Perhaps a better title for this book would have been ‘The amazing appearing/disappearing Patch’ due to a huge continuity error.  Despite this, the romance of an exotic African location, a rich desert Sheik, and a stable of Arabian horses make for a great adventure.  Sindy and Patch are staying for some months in Algeria with their Aunt Lucy who has travelled to a warm climate for her health.  Sindy’s boyfriend Paul – who Sindy declares is, ‘such good fun, and so reliable,’ arrives in Algeria with his father who has business in Algiers.  Sindy saves a runaway Arabian stallion, discovering it belongs to Sheik Ibn Mensour from the oasis of Ouled Negrine.  It’s not long before Sindy and Paul have been invited to the oasis to meet with the Sheik and to ride his horses.  However, two mysterious Frenchman, one of whom has too much interest in Sindy for Paul’s liking, seem up to no good and after some detective work, The Sindy Set discover a plot to nobble the Sheik’s horses before the Fantasia, a desert horse event.  With the help of Patch’s admirer, Ali, and his donkey, Shalimar, the plot is foiled, the Sheik in their debt and everyone enjoys the Fantasia.  Some of Sindy’s outfits including ‘Dream Date’ and ‘Pony Club’ are described.  Patch again risks life and limb in a dangerous solo caper, climbing a scorpion infested rock pillar (is there anything this child can’t do?). The romance between Sindy and Paul is very much in focus, with Paul declaring, ‘What a girl.’

Haunted Island:  This adventure finds Sindy, Paul, Patch, and Sindy’s married friends Jack and Helen Mead off for a month’s holiday on the west coast Scottish Isle of Tolsta.  We learn the reason for one of Sindy’s ‘Bridesmaid’ outfits; she was Jack and Helen’s bridesmaid.  The island is inhabited only by the caretaker Angus, ‘a queer ‘un,’ his, ‘queer as well as deaf’ wife Jean and a few goats.  The gang learn that the island is often let, ‘but the parties didna stay long!’  Soon after settling into the big old house on the island a series of mysterious happenings have Sindy and her friends on their toes.  A painting changes, a large rock is found in a hall, strange shouts and a moving clock have the friends thinking of poltergeists and ghosts.  Helen is anxious to leave but Sindy is determined to explain the strange goings on, stating, ‘I hate being beaten by a mystery.’  They set out to find the person responsible for the weird events and eventually piece together the cause of the mystery, uncovering a smuggling ring (yes, another one) in the process.  The isolated Scottish location and the strange happenings are suitably spooky and Angus’s colourful dialogue is written with a thick accent, ‘Ye hae the run o’ the hoose…’ making this is another great mystery-adventure.

These books are great fun and an interesting item to add to your collection.  So, as the slogan says: ‘Start your Sindy library now!’

New Doll – Liyuan

I’ve done it again.  I was looking at eBay, researching a doll, saw another doll, fell in love and bought her.  And again I’m glad I did.  This time the doll I bought is a Chinese doll called Liyuan, although the seller was here in Australia.  I’d never seen Liyuan before, and I can only find reference to this one series of dolls, Four Seasons Fairy.  Not surprisingly, there are four dolls in the series, all wearing a similar outfit, but in different colours, representing summer, winter, autumn and spring.  I liked the Spring Fairy best, the colour just seemed to suit the doll better than the others.  I’m assuming the outfit is based on a Traditional costume of some kind.

The doll’s body is articulated and is a little similar to the Barbie Fashionista body, although it has a twist waist and more of a sway back, than the Barbie body.  Her feet have a gap between big toe and second toe so she looks as though she may be able to wear thongs of some description, although this doll came with high heels.  The body is very pale, much paler than the head.  Both body and head are marked ‘Jia Ni Di’ and I believe bodies marked the same way are readily available in China and come in a few variations.   The doll’s name (Four Season’s Fairy) fashion, box design and decoration are similar to those of another Chinese doll, Kurhn, but I don’t know if the dolls are made by the same company (I wish I could read Chinese).  Kurhn dolls are marked Kurhn and their face and bodies’ are quite different to this doll, so I don’t know if there’s any connection between the two dolls.

This doll has a gorgeous face, and is quite different from other Asian dolls I have.  Her hair isn’t made from the best quality fibre but it is intricately styled, so it doesn’t really matter.  The outfit is well made and the fabrics are quite nice.  A good quality stand is also included.  Overall I’m really happy with her.  I just have to find room in the Asian doll cupboard now.  Or get another one.  And a room to put it in!