Vintage Christie

When I began collecting, there were a few vintage dolls on my wish list, and Vintage Christie was high on that list.  Unfortunately, she was one of the harder, and more expensive dolls to find, especially here in Australia. I’m not sure if she and Brad were sold here, but I remember looking at them (and wanting them) in one of the fashion booklets that came with Barbie’s fashions.  I don’t ever remember seeing the dolls in shops when I was a kid, although perhaps they were sold out by the time I was old enough to look.  Even on the secondary market they are harder to find, and so, Christie was also high on my shopping list when I headed to a Barbie Doll convention in the US. I thought I’d have my pick of dozens, but that wasn’t the case.  Even then she was harder to find, especially in my price range.  I eventually bought two dolls, both far from perfect.  One had a lovely head but a damaged body, the other had a damaged head but good body and so, after some body swapping (and re-selling one), I had a doll I was happy with.

TNT Christie in Ruffles and Swirls with reproduction belt.

Christie was Barbie’s first African American friend, although not the first black doll in the Barbie range.  A black Francie doll was issued as ‘Coloured Francie’ in 1967, but she drew some controversy.  Some complained because she was basically a white doll reimagined, and lacked African American features.  Others were outraged as Francie was usually described as Barbie’s cousin (although the black Francie dolls were not described this way) so how could Barbie have a black cousin?  The answer is, of course, a simple matter of parentage and genetics, but this solution outraged some then and sadly, probably still does now.  As a consequence, black Francie was only sold for a short time and is now highly sought after.

Christie has a beautifully sculpted face and was first released in a talking version from 1968, a Twist and Turn version from 1970 and as part of the Sun Set line (with long straight hair) until 1977, when she was updated with a variety of new face sculpts. This original face mould was also used for Barbie’s celebrity friend Julia, based on the TV show of the same name. It starred Diahann Carroll as a single mother working as a nurse and raising her gorgeous little boy, Cory.  In general, Christie has a short, curly, bubble-cut hairdo (Julia’s hair is usually shorter and straighter than Christie’s) in various shades of brown.  On some dolls the hair has a tendency to oxidise to various shades of red, burgundy and orange.  My doll is a TNT doll, and her hair has oxidised to a lovely orange shade which matches her lip colour nicely.  The hair has also lost its curl, giving her more of a shag cut, but I like it.  She’s missing her original multi-coloured swimsuit, but that’s ok as these dolls look amazing in the brightly coloured MOD fashions of their era.

TNT Christie wearing Velvet Venture and Live Action Christie in Plush Pony.

I also wanted Live Action Christie from 1971, as instead of the Christie face mould, this doll uses the Vintage Midge sculpt and it works so well.  Live Action dolls have torsos with loosely jointed waists and bendable arms, legs, wrists and ankles, allowing them to look as though they are dancing once on their ‘touch and go’ stands.  I paid more than I usually like to for this doll, but she did come complete with her box, stand and instructions from a friend here in Australia, so it was worth it.  Her outfit is a purple and orange, trippy hippy concoction of fringe and over-sized sleeves, meaning even more movement when ‘dancing.’  Her box states she’s able to participate in a range of activities, some using her stand which is a large disk with some loosely fitted tubes to support the doll’s legs and a bar underneath, allowing it to be rocked.  I love this doll, she’s one of my all-time favourites.

I sometimes think it’s a shame that these dolls weren’t marketed as Barbie.  It wasn’t until 1980 that any doll other than a white doll used the Barbie name.  Perhaps the black Francie episode scared Mattel off the idea then, but I’m so glad that today, there is so much variation and diversity in the Barbie doll range.

And that brings me to the reason for today’s topic, I hope I don’t have to spell it out for you.  I’m so saddened and horrified by the events of the past 10 days or so, but heartened too, by the protests taking place around the world, not just in the USA. Unfortunately, here in Australia, there is no moral high ground for us to take.  Our record of racism and inequality is horrific, with over 400 Aboriginal deaths in custody since a Royal Commission (independent judicial inquiry) into the issue in 1991.

As I’ve said in a previous post, I like my doll collection to reflect my world, but more importantly, I want the world to be like my doll collection, where all are welcome and respected, and differences are encouraged and celebrated. Where the only thing that won’t be tolerated is intolerance. It’s the responsibility of everyone one of us to call for change.  To demand it. To do all we can to work for it. To vote for it.  For every person to be treated fairly, equally, with dignity and above all, with humanity.  Choose understanding over fear, choose unity over division and always, always, choose love, not hate.

(C) Jennifer B – All content is subject to copyright and may not be re-published or reproduced without written permission.

Dusty and Skye – The Fashion Action Dolls

I don’t remember when or how (whether it was a present or if I bought it myself) I got my Dusty doll.  All I know is it was an action doll, so I had to have it.  I was so curious as to how she worked.  How did she hit her tennis ball, gold ball, soft ball or netball?  I’m not even sure why I got the Dusty the Golf Champion version.  I wasn’t into golf.  With my hometown, Melbourne, hosting the Australian Open tennis tournament and tennis often being watched in my household, I’d have thought the Dusty the Tennis Champion would have been the more obvious choice.  But I do have vague memories of liking the little pink golf skirt, and especially the shoes, with their little cleats and the fringe on the front.  I thought the golf skirt was a more practical fashion, she could wear it anywhere, not just for playing golf, so maybe that’s why.

Dusty the Golf Champion.

All of the Dusty doll issues had a sport theme, and looking back at the mid 1970’s, it’s no wonder.  Women in sport were really making an impact.  Christ Evert, Martina Navratilova and Aussie Evonne Goolagong were transforming tennis and another Aussie, Jan Stephenson was taking the golf scene by storm.  Maybe that’s another reason I got the golf version of Dusty.  Anyway, for toy company Kenner, an all action, sports themed doll must have been a no brainer.

Skye in the Tennis Champion outfit.

There were four sport versions of Dusty available, Golf, Tennis, Softball and Volleyball, and each sport was available as an accessory pack as well, but I’m not sure exactly how much of the Dusty range we got here in Australia.  There was a range of fashions and a horse, Nugget, as well a Bubblin’ Bath and Shower, which was the same as that issued for the Bionic Woman doll – no surprise, they were both made by Kenner.  There was also an Awards Night Set, with both Tennis and Golf fashions, evening gown and accessories. I didn’t have and don’t remember seeing any Dusty fashions around as a kid, although a couple of them were the same as those issued for Jenny the Jet Setting Qantas Hostess (see here), so maybe I just didn’t bother.  My poor old Dusty just lived in her golf gear. A friend had the tennis version of Dusty so I know that version was sold here, but I’m not sure about the other two.  I remember seeing the shower in a toy shop, but can’t remember if it were Dusty’s or the Bionic Woman’s. Interestingly, in the only Dusty TV commercial I can find on Youtube (see here), only the tennis version of Dusty is shown, so maybe the others were added later.

Dusty fashion usually have a Dusty tag.  The floral dress, above, is missing the ribbon belt.

Dusty and her friend Skye were also available in swimsuit versions.  As far as I know, this was the only version of Skye issued (in a pink swimsuit), but there were two different Dusty swimsuit editions.  The first was the normal Dusty doll, usually in a navy one-piece swimsuit.  The other was a Dusty with non-bending arms and longer hair, usually in a pale blue swimsuit.  Again, I don’t know if any of these dolls was sold here in Australia.

Dusty and Skye both have an action body, allowing them to ‘play’ their sports.  They have bending arms and legs, moveable wrists and hands moulded to hold their accessories.  Their waists twist, and when twisted back and let go, propel the doll forward, allowing them to swing at their golf, tennis, or soft balls.  When pushed down, their right arm springs back up, meaning the dolls can punch their volley ball.  Their sport accessories, consisted of a base for the doll to stand on and either a hanging apparatus or stand for the ball.

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It seems there is quite a bit of variation in how Dusty dolls are marked.  In general, there is a row of numbers at the hair line on the back of the head, another two digit number under it, followed by © G.M.F.G.I. under that.  Her back is marked, © 1974 G.M.F.G.I KENNER PROD./CINCINNATI, OHIO 45202/DUSTY/MADE IN HONG KONG.  Skye’s markings are similar, but without the ‘DUSTY’ mark on the back. Unfortunately, these dolls are very prone to joint melt, where the different vinyl compounds of the body and the limbs react and one breaks down the other.  Both of my dolls have some melt, but I regularly check them to make sure the clothes don’t stick, and move the limbs to stop them seizing up altogether. It is possible to cut the melted plastic away, but it will return. There are also a couple of small melt marks on Skye’s torso, but I’m not sure what has caused them.

Once I started collecting, I discovered Skye and was lucky enough to find one for sale here at a doll show.  I managed to pick up a couple of Dusty fashions too.  While it seems Skye’s head was originally a little smaller than Dusty’s, mine is very small, so I’m wondering if it has shrunk over time as some dolls do.   Both dolls have their own face mould, and while neither is exactly pretty, I think Skye is the more attractive of the two.  Nevertheless, they have interesting, cheerful faces. Dusty is very tanned, has a sprinkling of freckles, and usually has whitish-pale pink lips.  I could never decide if  it were lipstick or zinc sunscreen. These are not dainty, graceful dolls.  Their bodies are thicker set – some will say more masculine – than most other fashion dolls, but also more realistic. They have big flat feet that can’t wear heels, and their stance is a little wide, but perfect for standing on their sports stand.  It’s because of this that some in the media, and even some collectors have dubbed these the gay dolls, and I have to admit, I sometimes think mine make a cute couple.   These dolls tend to polarise collectors, they either love them or hate them.  I love them, they make the doll collecting world a much more interesting place.

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(C) Jennifer B – All content is subject to copyright and may not be re-published or reproduced without written permission.

Articulating Ken

If finding articulated bodies to head swap with Barbie dolls is a challenge, finding articulated bodies for Ken doll head swapping is a nightmare.  There are so many fabulous new head sculpts in the current Fashionista range and no cheap or easily available articulated bodies to swap them on to. Strangely though, in general, Ken is more likely to be issued on an articulated body than Barbie is, especially in the collector lines.  So, I thought I’d take a look at articulated Ken bodies.  I’ve used the same criteria for judging their flexibility as I did for articulated Barbie bodies (see here) – how well a doll can touch its face/head, how well it can kneel and how well it can sit naturally on the floor.

Above: 95 cent Ken; Starr and boyfriend Shaun; this body was used on both playline and collector dolls.

A new poseable Ken body was introduced in the mid 1990’s mostly on sporty/action editions such as Hot Skatin’ Ken, and although new to the Barbie range, this body wasn’t new.  Marked © 1975, this body was first used on a doll named Michael in the ‘Young Sweethearts’ line, although this version had jointed wrists and ankles.  In the 1980’s it was used for a doll called Shaun as part of the Starr range of dolls, and again for Tom Comet in the space themed Spectra range.  Both of these dolls had rigid wrist and ankle joints, like those used for Ken dolls.  This body is leaner than the previous Ken bodies, and although it has a twist waist that also moves laterally, it unfortunately has a large gap between upper and lower torso, just perfect for getting waist bands and doll stands stuck in.  The arms have a ball joint at the elbow (with a visible silver pin) and the rather skinny legs at the knee and hip.  When the Mattel factory outlet shop first opened here, I bought a nude Ken with this body type for the grand sum of 95 cents.  I was tempted to grab an armful of them for head swapping, but back then, there was very little variation in Ken face sculpts, so I didn’t have many choices for head swapping, and as I don’t actually find Ken dolls with bendable legs and those bent Superstar arms too bad for posing in dioramas, I didn’t see the point.  This body type has been used for both playline and collector dolls and does have the tendency to become a bit floppy in some joints.  It’s not suitable for head swapping with current dolls as the neck is partly moulded to the head so it can sit flush on the neck of the body.  Current dolls heads sit over the neck joint. This doll can’t quite touch its head, but it can kneel quite well.  As for sitting on the floor, well it looks more like a drunk in gutter.  6/10

This redressed doll is from the collector Tim McGraw and Faith Hill gift set.

The next body type has a new torso, with the upper now moulded to fit over the lower torso, eliminating the gap at the waist joint.  It has the same lower arms as the previous body but the upper arms look to be a little bulkier while the legs are a new, much more muscular sculpt. This guy can touch his head, but not his face, and kneels well.  Sitting on the floor is not quite as successful, although perhaps with one straight leg, it might be possible. 7/10

The Speed Racer Ken and Arabian Nights Ken dolls redressed.

A variation of the above body, sees the lower arm replaced with a shorter more muscular sculpt and smaller hands. Again this doll can touch his head but not his face and kneels well.  Sitting on the floor looks more like a fainting fit, but perhaps with one straight leg it may be possible. 7/10

2005 Ken as Superman redressed.

And yet another variation sees the torso with a different neck joint, the head now sits over the neck joint, but the neck is too short for head swapping with current dolls. Dammit. This guy can touch his head but not his face and kneels well.  Sitting on the floor looks more like break dancing however. 6/10

Around 2010, Fashionistas Ken and Ryan became jointed.  These bodies are much slimmer than the previous bodies – especially in the shoulder where the previous bodies are very broad.  They’re still quite muscular looking and better yet, have jointed wrists.  One big failing though – Ken has bendable knees but Ryan doesn’t.  Really annoyed by that. And once again, although the head now sits over the neck joint, the neck is too short for head swapping with current dolls.  Double dammit.  Touching his head, but not his face is not an issue for this guy, but kneeling is a no-go, he topples forward.  Sitting on floor isn’t quite possible, there is no lateral movement at the hip, although with one straighter leg perhaps it may work. 6/10

Japan Ken, rebodied and redressed; Harley Davidson Ken and Texas A&M Ken; The Hunger Games male dolls – Finnick, Gale and Peeta – redressed, all of which are unfortunately, all the same colour vinyl, but perfect for Japan Ken.

When Mattel announced the Platinum Collector Edition Pop Life Ken in 2009, collectors were excited not only by the first Platinum Edition Ken doll, but also because there were rumours that this doll would have a new articulated ‘pivotal’ body.  Unfortunately, although a spectacular doll, Pop Life Ken has the first type of articulated body listed above and we had to wait until the Harley Davidson Barbie and Ken giftset for the new bod.  And it didn’t disappoint.  What a doll.  This body has a new moulded torso – unfortunately lacking a twist waist – new arms with wrist joint (and no visible pin),  legs that are slimmer than the body before and jointed ankles (which can be a little loose). This doll was also used for the Texas A&M Cheerleader dolls, one of which is black, so I bought one, but as they didn’t come to Australia, I’m not going to pay a huge price for more just to swap heads.  It was also used on The Hunger Games dolls and the Peeta dolls were being sold cheaply here at a factory outlet, so one of these was perfect for head swapping with Japan Ken. The body is not quite as poseable as I was hoping, he can touch his head, but not his face.  Kneeling is fine and sitting on the floor is almost there, repositioning one leg should make it possible. 8/10

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Fashionista Ken head on Dumbledore body and Twilight Jacob on The Fresh Dolls body.

I’ve looked for other alternative bodies and apart from the expensive Fashion Royalty dolls, have found a couple that work quite well.  The first is the Mattel Harry Potter Dumbledore body.  It’s a little chubbier than Ken meaning getting pants to fit takes some trying.  It has jointed elbows and wrists.  One hand is flat and one shaped to hold things which is, well, handy.  He has jointed knees but not jointed ankles. This is quite a pale body and the colour match to the head I’ve put on it isn’t quite right, but it’ll have to do. This guy can touch his head but not his face, but unfortunately, kneeling means a face plant.  Sitting on the floor is not quite right, but again, perhaps by repositioning a leg, may be possible.  6/10

A friend had a spare The Fresh Dolls doll, and it’s body is a good match for Twilight Jacob.  This body is a little bulkier than Ken but still nicely sculpted and has bendable wrists and ankles.  He can easily touch his head and can kneel, but needs to lean back quite a bit for balance.  He can also sit on the floor quite well.  8/10

A Ken Made to Move body has recently been released in the BMR1959 series, but these dolls didn’t come to Australia and I’m yet to get my hands on one.  I don’t want to pay a high price for a doll I’m going to rip the head off.  One of these is quite pale and one dark, though not quite dark enough for one of the heads I’d like to swap.  Hopefully this body is used more often and in the play line.  It would have been great for Mattel to do some Tokyo 2020 Ken dolls using this body.   With the right marketing it would have been a great opportunity for some gender neutral toy promotion.  In the meantime, I’ll be on the lookout for some op shop Dumbledores.

More information on The Fresh Dolls can be found here and the BMR1959 dolls here.

(C) Jennifer B – All content is subject to copyright and may not be re-published or reproduced without written permission.

Quick Post: New Clone Review – Male Doll

A few months ago (possibly longer, who can tell on Coronavirus lock down time?), I was searching eBay for articulated bodies for head swapping with Ken dolls.  I didn’t find anything suitable – they all seem to have the wrong sort of neck knob for current Ken doll heads – but I did stumble upon this doll, and found it weird enough to buy.

The quality of this doll isn’t fantastic, it’s made from a cheaper quality hard plastic than Mattel’s Ken doll, but it’s not bad.  The body is fully articulated, with jointed elbows and wrists – the arms are similar to some articulated Ken arms – but the doll can’t quite reach his face or head. The torso isn’t quite as big or muscular as some Ken dolls, but it’s still nicely sculpted and does have moulded Y fronts.  Again the legs aren’t as muscular as some Ken dolls but they do have Made To Move-type knees, which allow the doll to kneel.  Unfortunately, the hip joint doesn’t have any lateral movement and there is no ankle joint, but for $10 I can live without them.  By far the most unusual things about this doll are his eyes and hair.  He has a nicely sculpted face and big, brown inset eyes.  I can’t decide if I like the eyes or if they’re completely creepy.  The hair is rooted with a mop of brownish-red curls.  The doll was also available in blonde or a strange apricot coloured hair.  I’m not sure about the style, but it’s a good quality fibre and thickly rooted.

For another $4 or so, I bought the doll an outfit from the same seller.  It’s a pair of fawn coloured pants and a tee shirt with pinkish-maroon stripes that compliments his hair. It’s not the greatest quality, the stitching’s a bit dodgy and the Velcro isn’t well attached. I don’t think it would fit a Ken doll, but it’s a perfect fit for this doll.  I’ve added a pair of black Ken shoes.

Another reason I bought this doll is that I thought he would match a female clone doll (see here) I bought a while ago, that has similar inset eyes, and while her head is slightly bigger, it doesn’t really matter and they make a cute couple.  So, was this doll value for money? Well, I can’t quite decide.  It’s nowhere near the quality of a Ken doll which is roughly around the same price at $12-13.  But it is articulated and has rooted hair whereas, in general, Ken has a static body and moulded hair.  Ken doll fashions are much better quality though. Overall, I’m glad I bought it, it adds variety and interest to my collection.

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(C) Jennifer B – All content is subject to copyright and may not be re-published or reproduced without written permission. 

Jenny the Jet Setting Qantas Hostess

Most doll collectors would probably identify this doll as Dusty by Kenner.  But Australian collectors know better.  We know she’s Jenny the Jet Setting Qantas hostess.  And seeing as we share a name, I just had to have one.

Jenny – named after one of Qantas’s hostesses, Jenny Tregaskis, who resembled the doll – was released by the Australian company Toltoys in 1976 to much media fanfare.  The real life Jenny even visited toy shops during the launch.  I have vivid memories of mum taking me to a toy shop in Moonee Ponds (the real life home suburb of the fictional Dame Edna Everage), where I met the real Jenny and got a signed postcard from her.  I’ve turned the house upside down, but I can’t find the postcard and I’m not sure what happened to it.  It may have been pinned up in my cubby house and eaten by snails, as was the fate of a card with a teddy bear on it, sent by my best friend.  Or, it may be in a box I’ve yet to search through.  Either way, I can’t quite remember if it were a picture of the real life hostess, the doll, or both on the card.  I do remember thinking it was all a bit strange, meeting a real person, when I was really only interested in the doll.  There’s a great article about the launch of the doll from The Bulletin magazine (20th March 1976) here.

I vaguely remember the doll being bought and put away for Christmas or my birthday, really the only time I got dolls and toys unless I saved my pocket money and bought them myself.  Jenny had four travel themed fashions and I got all four of these too.  I have an inkling some or all may have been given to me by my sister who had just started working, but it’s possible my grandparents chipped in too.

Of course, Jenny is a renamed Dusty doll, made by Kenner, and a similar doll was released as a British Airways hostess by Deny Fisher in the UK at roughly the same time.  I’m assuming that it was General Mills Fun Group Inc. – Kenner’s parent company that initiated the airline/doll tie in, but it must have been perfect advertising for Qantas who had updated their uniforms only a year or so before.  Instead of the formal suits of the past, the new look was a modern shirt dress designed by Italian designer Emilio Pucci.  Using an international designer was big step, previous uniforms had been designed by Australians, so a doll-sized version hitting toy shop shelves must have been a bonus for their marketing team.

The Pucci print has been perfectly scaled down for Jenny’s nylon dress which she wears with white panties and flat brown shoes.  The doll uses the same face sculpt as Dusty, but without freckles, with shorter hair and a body with non-bending arms and twist but not action-twist waist, that some of the basic Dusty dolls had.  She is marked © 1974 G.M.F.G.I KENNER PROD./CINCINNATI, OHIO 45202/MADE IN HONG KONG on the back and her head has a row of numbers at the hair line, another two digit number under it, followed by © G.M.F.G.I. under that.

The four fashions issued for Jenny all relate to travel destinations on Qantas’s flight schedule and were also sold for the US version of Dusty and the British Airways doll.  They are Austria – a ski fashion, South Africa – a safari suit, Hawaii – bikini with grass skirt and Japan – a kimono.  All the fashions are really well made and have cute little accessories to go along with them.  Jennys’ clothes are mostly tagged with a cloth ‘Made in Hong Kong’ tag, but my safari suit has a Dusty label.  It also has Dusty’s signature flower motif on the jacket, so whether it’s a mistake, left over stock or a matter of Dusty copyright, I don’t know.

I love Jenny (and Dusty for that matter, more about her later), but she’s a doll that tends to polarise collectors.  She’s not particularly pretty, but she has an interesting, characterful face, and I love her smile.  Similarly, she’s not a dainty little thing.  Her body is thicker set – some will say more masculine – than most other fashion dolls, but it’s also more realistic. She has big flat feet that can’t wear heels, and her stance is a little wide, but Dusty, the doll she was based on, was essentially a sport themed action doll, so I suppose that makes sense. But the fact she was different to other dolls is also what made her interesting to me, and still does.  These dolls are very prone to joint melt, where the different vinyl compounds of the body and the limbs react and one breaks down the other.  The melt in my doll is quite bad.  I can no longer remove her panties and I’m worried that her arms may eventually melt out of their joints.  There are also a couple of small melt marks on her torso, so I’m wondering if her nylon dress also reacts with the plastic.  It is possible to cut the melted plastic away, but I haven’t tried this yet.  I just regularly check the doll and move her arms and legs to stop them seizing up altogether.  Her hair tends to frizz, and while mine isn’t too bad, she could still do with a soak in some conditioner and a set to try and get her hair to lay flatter. I’ll get around to it one day.

Love her or hate her, Jenny is a fabulous part of Australian cultural history and I personally think every doll collector should own one.

You can find Jenny advertising here and here.

A brief statement from Jenny Tregaskis here.

And more information on the Pucci designed Qantas uniform can be found here.

(C) Jennifer B – All content is subject to copyright and may not be re-published or reproduced without written permission. 

Articulated Barbie Body Swapping

It’s no secret that I love articulated dolls.  I love to pose my dolls and add them to dioramas, rather than just have them stand on a shelf all the time. As a child and when I began collecting, articulation in the Barbie line was pretty basic.  Bendable (double click) knees and straight or bent Superstar arms was the best I could hope for, but that was enough, at least a doll could sit.  Now Barbie dolls seem to be see-sawing between completely articulated Made to Move style bodies with their limited head moulds and vinyl colours or the Model Muse and new Fashionista bodies with their unbending arms and legs, but great range of faces and vinyl tones.  I try to buy articulated dolls where I can, but a lot of the time I’m left with no option but to head/body swap.  I scavenge bodies wherever I can, from op shops, doll sales or occasionally, buying dolls new.  The ones I use most are Barbie Made to Move – standard and curvy, Barbie Pivotal, Barbie Articulated Fashionista and Liv Doll by Spinmaster.  Of course there are other alternatives – Fashion Royalty, Azone, Pure Neemo, etc., but these can be expensive and I tend to go for the cheapest option I can find.  All have their positives and negatives, so here’s a look at each of the articulated bodies I have in detail.  I’ve chosen three poses – how well a doll can touch its face/head, how well it can kneel and how well it can sit naturally on the floor – as a means of comparison for each body type.

Barbie Articulated Gymnast – In the 1990’s, Barbie got a completely articulated, hard plastic body, and while it has its limitations – silver pegs visible at the joints, huge flat feet (although some editions, especially collector, have high heeled feet) and awkward flat hands – it’s fabulous compared to what has gone before. Some also have a ball jointed waist which allows more poseability. It was used mostly on sporty themed dolls, and of course with limited head moulds, but it’s better than a static body.  There are some hybrids of this body, the arms are often used on dolls with the usual double click bending legs, such as the Generations Girls.

While the arms do reach up to the head, those hands make a natural pose difficult.  The doll kneels quite well, but sitting on the floor is a no go, those hip joints don’t have enough lateral movement and there’s no twist at the knee.  5/10

Barbie Pivotal – Some excitement heralded the Pivotal bodies, first used on the Cabaret Dancer dolls in 2007 and on the Pop Life dolls of 2008.  Again made from hard plastic, these dolls had a great range of movement including moveable wrists.  There are a few hybrids of his body, with different torsos and arms, see previous article here.  I really love this body, it has a high fashion look and good poseability. However, because it was used mostly on Collector dolls, it doesn’t turn up often at a reasonable price. I especially like the sculpt of the feet, perfect for Barbie Basic shoe packs. Some do have an under bust joint which allows limited lateral and twist movement, but I’d much prefer a twist or ball jointed waist. In general it’s taller and slightly slimmer than other bodies meaning it doesn’t work with all fashions.

The arms reach the head quite well, and while not able to touch the face too well, those moveable wrists mean natural poses can be achieved – putting on glasses, pushing back hair etc.  The doll kneels, but needs to lean back a bit for balance, but can sit quite naturally on the floor. 8/10

Barbie Articulated Fashionista – Fashionista’s became articulated around 2008 and the body looked almost like a play line version of the pivotal body.  In fact some hybrid pivotal dolls had these Fashionista arms.  There was a good range of vinyl colours, a few new faces, and they occasionally turn up cheap at op shops and doll shows.  Like the pivotal body, some do have an under bust joint which allows limited lateral and twist movement, but again, I’d much prefer a twist or ball jointed waist.

The arms reach the head about as well as the pivotal body, and again the moveable wrist makes natural poses easier.  The doll kneels well with good balance, and although it can sit on the floor, not quite so naturally as the pivotal body.  7/10 

Barbie Made to Move – The Made to Move dolls first made an appearance around 2015. The most articulated Barbie doll to date, these bodies tend to polarise collectors.  Some hate the visible joints, but others love the poseability.  The head moulds and vinyl colours are limited and to begin with I bought the dolls new to head swap.  Recently I’ve found a few second hand for only a couple of dollars, which is a much better option. While I love that they have an ankle joint, I hate the feet on these dolls.  They’re so small and shapeless, it’s often hard to find shoes to fit.  I really, really wish they had a twist waist.  There is also a tall version of this body but unfortunately other dolls in the range did not make it to Australia and some were really hard to find when they did hit the shelves here.

This doll can touch her head and her face in oh so many ways.  Natural poses are a cinch.  She can kneel realistically and sit on the floor in several natural positions.  Except for those feet and the lack of a twist waist, this body would be perfect. 9/10

Barbie Curvy Made to Move – The curvy Made to Move dolls were released around 2017.  The articulation is similar to the regular Made to Move body, although the size of the limbs does alter the poseability slightly.  The head moulds and vinyl colours are limited, only tan and a pale doll so far, although the pale doll was not available here in Australia.  Again, I’ve bought one new, but have also found one at an op shop.  And again, I hate the feet.  They’re slightly bigger than the regular Made to Move body feet, but they’re a weird shape and it’s hard to find shoes that fit.  And yet again, no twist waist.  Sigh.

Like her regular counterpart, this doll can touch her head and her face in many different, natural ways.  She can kneel realistically, but not quite as well as the regular body, due to slightly bigger limbs. However she can sit on the floor in several natural positions.  Except for those feet and the lack of a twist waist, this body would be perfect. 9/10

Barbie Articulated Collector Curvy – I think the articulated collector curvy first appeared in the Harlem Theatre Collection in around 2017.  This body is sort of like a curvy articulated Fashionista. Again I’m lamenting the lack of a waist joint and this doll’s feet are a problem.  They are sculpted quite nicely, but they’re huge. It’s really hard to find shoes that fit.

Like the Fashionista body, this doll can touch her head, but not her face.  She can kneel, but must lean back a long way to achieve balance.  And sitting on the floor is a no go.  Her hip joints have very little lateral movement and the knees don’t twist. 6/10

LIV Dolls – LIV dolls, manufactured by Spinmaster were released around 2009.  The bodies are roughly Barbie sized but the dolls have over sized heads with glass insert eyes, and interchangeable wigs.  I love these dolls in their own right, and they regularly turn up cheap at op shops, so I’ve snapped up spares for body swapping Barbie heads.  They have a really interesting sort of rolling ball waist joint that allows some lateral as well as twist movement.  The downside is their feet.  While the ankle is jointed, the feet are huge and LIV shoes are really the only option.

This doll can easily touch her head but not her face very well.  She can kneel, but not as well as the Made to Move body.  Sitting on the floor is possible, but not very natural.  The hip joint only moves laterally in one direction and there is no twist at the knee making sitting on the floor difficult. 7/10

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Unknown eBay body – I did buy a cheap body from eBay.  It’s very pale and I bought it thinking it may be suitable for Barbie Fashionista #91, with her pale vinyl and big blonde afro.  Unfortunately, that particular doll did not make it to Australia, and I’m yet to find a head this body does match.  The body has fantastic poseability though and was only about $7.  It reminds me of the body used on Meng F (see here) although there are differences. The arms and hands are similar to articulated Fashionista, it has a twist waist and the legs are similar to Made to Move legs, except there is no twist upper thigh joint, but there is one above the knee.  It has jointed ankles and nicely sculpted feet, although finding shoes may be a problem.  If you are going to buy a body like this, make sure it has a moveable neck knob, so you can pose the doll’s head up and down.

I’m guessing this body can touch the head – when there is one – but not the face.  It can kneel realistically and sit on the floor in many natural ways.  And it has that twist waist.  If only it had a head! 8/10

I’m still trying to find articulated bodies the right colour for these three dolls (left), while these three Artsy bodies are all slightly different colours (middle).  The Artsy body is one or two shades too light for Fashionista Cheerful Check #80 (right).

The biggest problem I have when head/body swapping is finding the right colour match. Sometimes close enough will do, and dolls tend to look better if the head vinyl is a shade lighter than the body, rather than slightly darker.  Darker brown bodies are especially hard to find, and the right shade of brown, even harder.  I’ve even found that there can be slight differences in colour between the same doll.  For example, I have three Fashionista Artsy bodies, but all are a slightly different colour.  I put the head of Fashionista Tropical Dress #126 on one of these bodies, but it just didn’t look right.  I tried another and it’s almost perfect.  I have Fashionista Cheerful Check #80 on one too, but it’s just a shade or two too light.  I have two other dolls that I just haven’t been able to find a match for either.  Pale bodies are harder to find too.  I could do with a few more Asian Made to Move bodies, but I even had trouble finding one in stores.  I’m currently waiting for the curvy Tokyo Olympics Skateboarder doll to arrive.  It will be nice to have a pale curvy doll in the mix.  In a perfect world, I’d love to be able to buy doll heads and bodies separately.  Think of it, different head moulds in one or two different vinyl colours, and different body types – model muse, made to move, regular, curvy – in several vinyl shades so, effectively, you could mix and match your own doll.  That would be dolly heaven.  I do like having different bodies in my collection.  They are all different heights and builds and I like diversity.  So, for now, I’ll keep scavenging bodies where I can and hope I get the vinyl colours I need soon.

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This photo shows the differences in size between articulated bodies.  All except the curvy dolls are wearing Barbie Basics jeans, with varying success.  From Left: Pivotal – jeans are a perfect fit, doll is taller, LIV – jeans are a good fit, doll is shorter, Articulated Fashionista – jeans are a tighter fit, doll is shorter than Pivotal but taller than LIV and Made to Move, Made to Move – jeans fit, but are hard to do up and doll can’t sit in them, doll is taller than LIV but shorter than Fashionista and Pivotal, Barbie Articulated Gymnast – jeans don’t fit properly and won’t do up, bust is larger too and doll is about the same height as Fashionista. The Collector Curvy doll is hippier and bigger in the bust than Curvy Made to Move.

And just in case you need some help to body/head swap, here’s how I remove a doll’s head:

  1. Be filled with a sense of dread (I can’t help it, I always get anxious)
  2. Wrap the hair in a towel so it’s not affected by heat
  3. Lay a hairdryer on a flat surface and turn it on, on a hot setting
  4. Hold the doll’s head/neck in the warm air, try and get the heat up into the head
  5. Carefully pull and twist the head until it comes off

(The head knob will have plastic anchors that can pull through the doll’s head, so I generally try to make sure these anchors are not near the doll’s face by careful twisting.  I always cut the anchors off, before I put another head on the body. If a swapped head is a bit wobbly, a small rubber band or a small piece of plastic under the head will help)

  1. Breathe a sigh of relief

LIV dolls are somewhat easier.  Remove the wig and soak the whole head in hot water for a few minutes until it softens, then pull and twist off.

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Two bodies showing the neck knob.  The knob on the left still has the anchors in place, while they have been cut off the one on the right.

(C) Jennifer B – All content is subject to copyright and may not be re-published or reproduced without written permission.   

Not What I Normally Collect…Hard Plastic Fashion Dolls

I saw this hard plastic fashion doll at a doll show a few years ago and was intrigued by her. She reminded me of a few dolls I vaguely remembered from childhood and had stashed in a box somewhere, but where those dolls stood around eight inches in height, this girl was a whopping twelve and half inches tall.  Bigger even than Barbie.  And she was only $5.  So, being a doll nerd, an intriguingly unusual doll plus a tiny price tag equals a must have. Even though I wasn’t – and am still not – sure how she’d fit into my collection.  The seller told me she had made the outfit herself and reluctantly sold the shoes with the doll – which I’m glad of as her feet are such an unusual size.

My 12 1/2 inch hard plastic fashion doll is dressed in a homemade fashion, but it does include a cute little bracelet. 

I’m guessing this girl is from the 1960’s.  She is made from shiny hard plastic, has sleep eyes and glued-on mohair hair.  She is fully strung (and her head has just fallen off so a restring is in her future) with moving arms, legs and head.  I’ve never seen a doll of this type in this size before, although a friend posted pictures on a Facebook group of a boxed doll called Miss Mindy who looks similar, except she looks to have rooted hair or a proper wig.

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My childhood hard plastic fashion dolls. Eeek! Those scary blue eyes!

I’ve hunted out my childhood dolls and even though they are similar, they’re also quite different.  These dolls must have been given to my sister as I remember them always being around and not really liking them much. The two smaller dolls have head, body and legs moulded as one piece, with moving arms and painted on shoes.  Like the large doll they have glued on mohair hair, and it doesn’t look as though much care was taken in their manufacture as they seem to have glue smeared right across their foreheads.  Their eyes are transfers or decals (again applied a little haphazardly) and their mouths are a painted dot.  I’m guessing they were sold as ‘dress me’ type dolls for home crafters to dress.  I’m not sure who dressed mine.  It may have been one or both of my grandmothers or even one or both of my great grandmothers (two lived into their 90’s so I’m lucky enough to vaguely remember them).  One is dressed in a rather snazzy mauve knitted dress, with matching hat and bloomers.  This blonde doll even looks a little bit like my Nan.  The brunette doll isn’t so lucky in her choice of outfit.  Her dress is roughly made of tulle and a strip of gorgeous evening fabric, stitched together as a strapless dress.  It’s not a great fit, so another strip of fabric has been added by means of a safety pin to stop it falling down.  I have thought about re-modelling it, but I’ve lived with it this way for so long, I can’t bring myself to do it.

This doll looks a wee bit like my Nan.  She’s dressed in a lovely hand knitted fashion.

This poor love’s fashion isn’t great, although the fabric is lovely. Here you can see the simple construction of these dolls.

The third of these childhood treasures is quite different. This doll is slightly taller, and while she has the same moulded head, body and legs as one, she has painted high heeled feet and sleep eyes, that I have to say, are rather scary.  Her mohair hair is an auburn shade and applied more carefully than the other two.  I can’t decide if her fashion is commercially made, or a very well made home sewn outfit.  She has two petticoats under her skirt and lovely touches such as pearls at the neckline and a pearl bracelet. My great grandmothers’ work was exceptional, so it is possible one of them made it.

Both this doll and her fashion are more elaborate than the other two.  She has moulded high heeled shoes, scary sleep eyes, two petticoats and pearl details.

Just recently, I added another doll to this weird little side collection.  I saw her in a second hand shop and again, even though she’s not what I normally collect I couldn’t resist.  I wasn’t happy at her fashion, but I am happy at finding a black doll of this type. She’s a similar size to my childhood dolls, but her construction is different.  Her head and arms are strung, but her legs and body are moulded as one.  She has high heeled feet and separate shoes and stand.  She also seems to be from a later time period, perhaps the 1970’s or 80’s.  She has mohair hair under her head scarf and sleep eyes.  I’m in two minds as to what to do about her fashion.  I’m not sure if its mummy made or a cottage industry travel doll picked up as a souvenir in New Orleans, as the stamp on the apron indicates.  I can’t decide whether to leave it as a sad indictment to cultural stereotyping, or to redress the doll.  I have a feeling some of the fashion may be glued on, so redressing completely may be difficult.

This doll has high heeled feet, separate shoes and stand.  I’m undecided whether she’s a souvenir from New Orleans and whether to re-dress her or not. 

I’m still not entirely sure where or how to display these dolls.  In fact my childhood dolls are back in the box they’ve lived in for the last forty years or so.  But I’m still intrigued by this type of doll, and I can’t help wondering how many different types are out there.  I’d love to hear from you if have any similar dolls.

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(C) Jennifer B – All content is subject to copyright and may not be re-published or reproduced without written permission.