Livin’ La Vida Licca

I don’t just collect dolls, I’m a bit of a doll nerd. I like to know as much as I can about them. When and where they were made, which company produced them, their story, their history. I have shelves packed with books, magazines and folders of catalogues, advertisements and photocopies from trade publications. So, usually when I want to know something about a doll, information is pretty easy to find. If it’s not on my bookshelves, there’s heaps of information on the internet or I’m bound to know someone in an online doll group who can help me. I’ve even researched and published a book on the Little Tuppence doll. However, there are a couple of dolls that are really hard to find accurate information on. Licca Chan, by Takara dolls is one of them.

My first generation Licca fashions for Licca and Goro.  The pack shows Licca an her friends Izumi, Kurumi, Wataru and Goro. Mama Orie is pictured on the back of the pack.

Licca was one of the first Japanese fashion dolls on the market and broad information on her is available. Licca was first produced in 1967 and collectors refer to each era of the doll as a generation, or ‘gen’ for short. It is generally known that the first generation was produced from 1967 to 1972, the second from 1972 to 1981, the third from 1982 to 1986 and the fourth from 1987 to the present day. Some sources also mention a fifth, short lived generation in 1992. Mostly, the generations refer to the period of time a doll with a certain look was produced. In general, first gen dolls are identifiable as having only one dot painted in each eye, red hair in one of four hairstyles – long hair with side swept fringe and red ribbons, an up-do, pig tails or thick braid. Second gen doll’s eye’s now show three painted dots and they have red hair in a flip style with the front sections pulled back, flat against the head and a white rose button hair clip. Third gen dolls have three eye dots and long red hair with a fringe; fourth gen dolls have a new face mould and varying hair and face colour. However, once you start collecting, you realise there are a few variations within in each generation, but finding factual information on these variations has, at times, driven me to distraction. I suspect the problem may be that I don’t speak or read Japanese. Perhaps all the information I seek is out there on a Japanese website that I have no access to. I have also seen mention of a book called ‘Licca and Japanese Fashion Dolls’ by Nakamura Futaba, where the differences within generations are explained, and it seems to be available in a couple of Tokyo libraries, but again it’s probably in Japanese. However, in information written by Helene that appears on, Ms Nakamura seems to have identified two variations in the first generation and four in the second, but what these are, I’m not exactly sure. So, I’m left to try and cobble together a clear picture from the fragments of information that I do have access to, from trawling the internet looking at photos of dolls and from dolls in my own and friend’s collections.

Two boxed Licca dolls from 1996 and 2002.  The one on the right is an 35th Anniversary or Birthday doll so I’m keeping it NRFB.

My first Licca dolls were fourth generation, modern dolls, so information on them was easy to find. All but two were NRFB (never removed from box) and came with little booklets which were date stamped. One was a Licca’s Castle doll (a doll sold exclusively at Takara’s activity centre, Licca’s Castle) and information on her was available from their website. Another, I found nude at an op shop, so she’s a bit of a mystery, but I can guess that she’s an early to mid 1990’s doll, just based on other dolls I own. All of these dolls seem to have the same face mould and body type, though hair colour and face paint varies.

Licca’s Castle Licca and an unknown doll found at an op shop.  I broke my only-one-doll-per-face-mould-or-character rule for the Licca’s Castle doll, I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her, and better still she was only $5. And I just couldn’t leave this little girl at the op shop. She was nude, so she’s wearing a Daiso Elly Yukata. The last photo shows her markings.

Although I love the modern dolls, it’s vintage Licca that holds the most appeal for me, and in the last couple of years I’ve come across a few older dolls. The first of these, I thought was a second gen doll – she has the right hairstyle – until I realised that she doesn’t have the cute, little, sticky-out ears that give vintage Liccas their adorableness. A consultation with some friends and a search of the internet eventually determined that she is a second/third gen hybrid – that is, a third generation doll with the second gen hairstyle. Or is she? Just to add to the confusion, Takara produced a doll called Lisa, almost identical to Licca, for the American market. So how do you tell the difference? I don’t know. I have been told that Lisa’s hair is made from a coarser fibre and her body markings differ slightly to Licca, but I haven’t been able to confirm either. My doll came in a Takara tagged dress that is not one that I’ve seen sold with Lisa, and although I don’t know if it is original, I’m guessing my doll is Licca rather than Lisa – but will keep an open mind. Her hair is a bit frizzy, I need to give her a day at the spa, but she’s still a gorgeous doll.

My second/third gen doll in the tagged Takara dress she came in.  She has a third gen face with second gen hairstyle and the same markings as a third gen doll.

The next doll to come my way is a third generation doll. Her hair isn’t in great shape, but these little dolls are so hard to find here in Australia, I wasn’t going to quibble. The dress she came in isn’t tagged, but the style and fabric is right for Takara, so I’m assuming that it is a Licca dress. Whether it’s her original dress is another story, but it suits her, so it’s hers now.

My third gen doll in the dress she came in. It’s not tagged, but is similar in style toother Takara fashions so I’m guessing it is a Licca dress. Her hair is a bit frazzled, but these little dolls are hard to find in Australia.

My latest acquisition arrived only yesterday, and I nearly passed her up. I saw her for sale as a second gen Licca in an online group. My first reaction was to type ‘sold!’ But then the doubts started to creep in. Her ears looked right – cute, little, and sticky-out – but the mouth didn’t. Second gen’s usually have a closed mouth pout, but this girl had an open mouth, similar to a third gen. All sorts of misgivings started to fill my head, so I changed my mind and decided not to buy. But I kept seeing her every time I looked at that internet group, and she was so cute. So, I started trawling Licca photos and information and eventually discovered that late term second gen dolls (around 1979) did have an open mouth. I changed my mind again and bought her, and boy, I’m glad I did. She’s gorgeous and I love her. She came nude, so for now, I have dressed her in a Rement fashion that has similar stying to some second gen fashions, even though it is a bit big. Happily, I had her rose button hair clip. I bought a bag of doll bits – clothing and accessories – at a doll sale for $1 ages ago, and was surprised to find the Licca button at the bottom of the bag. Of course, I still want a second gen with the closed mouth and I’d love a first gen, so the hunt for vintage Licca continues.

My second gen Licca wears a Rement dress that is similar in style to some second gen fashions.  I love her cute, little, sticky-out ears. She is marked between her shoulders.

There are a lot of differences between my three vintage dolls. The second gen is the smallest, standing only 21 centimetres tall (approximately) and although she has an open mouth, similar to the third gens, her face is rounder, cheeks chubbier, nose bigger, and she has those ears. Her body is a different design and much smaller than the others, her arms and legs are thinner, and her hands better defined. Although the second/third gen and third gen appear to have the same face, the head of the second/third seems slightly larger than the third. The third is slightly taller at approximately 22 centimetres, the second/third only approximately 21.5. The bodies, while similar in size, are completely different, although they have the same markings. The fourth gen dolls are around 1-1.5 centimetres taller and the bodies are bigger.

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A comparison of the second gen, second/third gen, third gen and fourth gen Licca bodies.

Licca – both vintage and modern – has a range of friends and family that is constantly changing. I have one vintage Licca friend, but to add even more confusion to proceedings, she’s from a range of Lady Licca dolls that was released around 1970. Lady Licca uses the usual first gen Licca head mould, but is much taller than other Licca dolls, at around 25 centimetres tall, and appears to be a different character than the smaller Licca. She has two friends, Aya and Junko, and I found Aya on eBay earlier this year. She is a gorgeous doll with the most beautiful eyes. She came wearing a very Mod styled, Lady Licca fashion called ‘Wasurenagusa’ (Forget Me Not).

Licca’s friends and family: Aya, Mama and Papa, Miki, Maki and Yu and Sakura, who is not wearing her original outfit, but another tagged Licca dress.

I also have some modern family and friends dolls, Licca’s Papa (who I think is named Pierre), Mama (who may be called Orie), and twin baby sisters, Miki and Maki, as well as one of their friends, Yu, all from the mid 1990’s (I think), and a more recent friend called Sakura, who has colour change hair. Licca has also had a range of fashions, accessories, cases, houses and play sets over the years. I have a few fashions, and one playset from the 1980’s, a McDonald’s drive thru, that a friend found at a Trash and Treasure market. I don’t have the space to set it up and have thought about selling it several times, but each time I get it out to sell, I have a bit of a play with it and then can’t bear to part with it, it’s so much fun.

The 1980’s McDonalds play set features a third gen Licca and friend Isumu on the box and the cardboard money has Licca’s portrait on each note.  

Two fourth gen Licca fashions, a mini Licca key ring or phone strap, a mini Licca doll and a Rement mini reproduction doll in box.  The box shows pictures of first gen Licca friends Wataru and Izumi and Mama Orie.

If you are able to help with information on vintage Licca, I’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment or contact me via the form at the end of my blog. In the meantime, a couple more websites with some information on Licca are Yu’s Cutie Dolls and Poupee Mechanique.





I’m currently moving my doll room (and I seriously do not recommend it!), so it’s giving me a chance to reconnect with and photograph some dolls that live in the back of the cabinets.  Some of those dolls are my Integrity Toys, Fashion Royalty Nippon Misaki and Amelie dolls (who have now been moved to the front of a cupboard).

Misaki, as the name suggests, is aimed at the Japanese market and was first released in 2006.  She has a slightly different look to the other FR dolls.  She has that slightly animae look that a lot of Japanese dolls have, with pouty lips and a cute little turned up nose.  In general, her face paint is simple and she has rooted lashes.  I think the Misaki range has some of the most interesting and creative of all the Fashion Royalty dolls.

I’m not really sure how I first fell for Misaki.  She was sold through a doll dealer here in Australia when she was first released, so perhaps that’s how I discovered her, or perhaps it was in Haute Doll magazine.  However I found her, I remember the long decision making process as to which of the three original dolls I should buy.  I discounted Harjuku Honey pretty quickly, she just didn’t appeal to me.  Puppy Love has that cute little dog, but Casual Affair is gorgeous, with that long, red, curly hair and green eyes and I like her fashion more, so she won out in the end.

Casual Affair Misaki – has a fab outfit, but this doll looks amazing in almost anything.

Although the Casual Affair fashion is very casual indeed, this doll is so versatile, she looks fantastic dressed in any style. Her fashion is so intricately detailed too, from her cute underwear, I ‘heart’ Wu tee shirt and fully lined lace up running shoes, to the little plastic dice on her bag, everything is perfect.  Well almost.  As much as I love her little baseball cap, her hair is too full and silky for her to wear it, it just keeps popping off.

Crazy Girl Misaki – this doll has attitude!

Although I loved some of the subsequent Misaki issues, my only-one-doll-per- face-mould/character rule kicked in and I didn’t buy another until 2008, when Crazy Girl came out.  The colour of her vinyl isn’t just tanned, she looks black, and so I caved in a bought her.  She is very different from Casual Affair.  This girl has attitude and her fashion suits her perfectly.  Again the detail is wonderful and I especially like her rubber and canvas boots. Her face paint is more detailed than Casual Affair, but still remains quite simple and I love her crimped pigtails.

Debut Amelie – I just don’t seem to be able to photograph the true beauty of this doll.

When a friend for Misaki, Debut Amelie, was released 2009, I fell in love with her and had to have her.  Even though currency exchange rates were much better back then, these were expensive dolls by my standards.  I can’t really justify spending huge amounts on dolls, especially new ones, and by the time Debut Amelie well, debuted, she was very expensive indeed.  But she was so gorgeous I splashed out and bought her. She is quite different from Misaki, her face sculpt and paint is closer to those used in other Integrity doll lines.  I still consider her one of the most beautiful dolls I own and only wish I could capture it in a photo – I’m not happy with any I’ve taken of her.  Her fashion is fabulous, I especially love her military style jacket with its wee badges, pork pie hat and that gorgeous embroidered bag.

Limited Edition Colour Infusion – Rebel Spirit Amelie – I especially love that this doll has a removable ring. This Amelie is hard to photograph too. What’s the deal Amelie?

Once again, I broke my one-doll-per- face-mould/character rule when I saw that Limited Edition Colour Infusion – Rebel Spirit Amelie from 2011 was on sale on an overseas dealer’s website.  These dolls were no longer sold in Australia and I had given up the idea of buying any more, but she was on sale, and I had some birthday money to spend, and she was so different to Debut Amelie, she was soon winging her way to me.  This version has very dark vinyl, short hair and uses a slightly different body/leg type to previous Misaki/Amelie dolls.  Her outfit is quite high fashion and the detail is just as good if not better than my other dolls – she has some lovely jewellery.  But this girl is even harder to photograph than Debut.  I just can’t seem to capture her true beauty.

And that’s where my collection ends.  There are other issues I’d love, especially the new friend, Kylie, but with currency exchange rates and postage costs, they’re just out of my price range.  But that’s ok.  I love the four dolls that I have and I’m content with those.  More on Misaki can be found here.

Surprise and Disappointment – A new Clone Review

A couple of months ago I bought one of the new Barbie fashionista dolls.  I love her new face sculpt, but hate the non-bendy body, so decided to swap her head to another body.  She’s an AA doll and I had a spare, earlier Fashionista body that is articulated, but found that it’s slightly lighter than the new doll.  I swapped it over anyway, just until a more suitable body appears.  A quick search of eBay didn’t result in any Barbie bodies the right colour, at the right price, but it did throw up an interesting looking clone doll.  She was available with several different hair styles and a poseable body and although it’s really difficult to gauge skin/vinyl tone on a computer screen, I decided to buy her anyway, as she was only $7 with free postage.  I expected it to take an age to arrive, but was pleasantly surprised when she arrived after only a couple of weeks.  There was momentary disappointment when I realised she was exactly the wrong skin/vinyl tone, until I fully appreciated how lovely she was in her own right.

My new clone has a gorgeous face and fabulous hair, despite a couple of flaws in her lips, which aren’t too noticeable in real life.  Her body is similar to the older Fashionista dolls.

She came packaged in a simple plastic bag with no name or maker information on it and she was nude with the exception of some rather nice silver plastic earrings.  Her body is almost identical in design to the poseable Fashionista dolls, although it is a slightly poorer quality plastic.  Interestingly, the joints of her elbows and wrists are much lighter than the rest of the body, but it doesn’t really show much.  Her face sculpt is quite nice and her facial screening is simple but lovely, despite her lips having a couple of flaws in the paint. It doesn’t show until you look closely.  Her hair is fabulous, a huge afro of tight springy curls, and overall I’m surprised and really happy with her, especially for the price.

She came wearing rather nice earrings.  Her elbow and wrist joints are slightly lighter than the rest of her body and as you can see there are a couple of flaws in the vinyl of her arm, but it’s not too noticeable.  She has good articulation.

As I would now be adding her to my collection and not just using her for a body swap, she needed something to wear.  I decided it should also be a cheap and cheerful clone fashion, so headed back to eBay to see what I could find.  And I was determined to buy something as cheap as possible.  There were lots of fashions available for under $2 with free postage, and I finally decided on a strapless dress covered in ribbon roses.  It looked interesting and fashionable enough for her, the colour would complement her and the silver trim would match her earrings.  A warning bell did ring, as in all the photos of the dress it was pictured on a mannequin and not a doll, but for $1.16, I took the plunge.  I thought being a letter sized item it would arrive quickly, but no, it took weeks.  And that warning bell was right.  The fit is nothing like the photos on the auction listing.  It’s shapeless and baggy and way too big.  But then, what did I expect for buck?  It’s not a complete write off though.  Here, I’ve just pinned it in, but with a bit of tweaking, moving the Velcro, a couple of gathering stitches and taking in the back seam, it will look fine.  And there’s no way I could be bothered making all those ribbon roses for the price.

Before and after: the dress is much baggier and daggier than it looked in the auction listing, but with a needle and thread, and a bit of tweaking it will look great.

So, with some surprise and disappointments, and the addition of a pair of clone shoes from my shoe stash, for $8 I have a fabulous new clone to add to the collection.

Quick Post: Halloween

Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Samhain (pronounced sow-in) – the day before All Saints Day when the walls between the worlds of the living and the dead are thinnest, and spirits can cross from one to the other.  It’s not such a big deal here in Australia.  There are a few decorations in shops, but few people celebrate it, decorate their houses or trick or treat.  At least in my area.  It has become bigger in the past decade or so, but it’s still not widely observed.   I think a lot of people see it as an American thing and not part of the Australian culture.  Still, it gives us doll collector’s an excuse to buy dolls and set up dioramas.

Mattel have been releasing Halloween themed dolls since the late 1990’s, and for the last decade or so have usually released both a Barbie doll and Kelly/Chelsea sized dolls.  Of course these haven’t been on sale here in Australia, and are often a Target store exclusive in the US.  I have a few of these dolls, which I have mostly won in raffles/Kris Kringles or have been gifted.  I did buy one Kelly doll though.  I love bats and in 2008, Kelly came dressed as a one, so I had to hit eBay to get her.  They’re fun to include in dioramas and displays, and I display some of them all year round on my bookshelves, among the sci fi/fantasy books that fit their characters.

I won the 2006 Halloween Hip doll at a doll club Halloween themed meeting.  She’s a lovely doll to set in a diorama.

Halloween Party Kelly as an Alien from 2000, Halloween Party Tommy as a Dragon from 2003 and Halloween Party Melody as a Witch from 2005 spend the year sitting among my sci fi/fantasy books.  Halloween Kelly as a Witch, Kayla as a Cat and Miranda as a Pumpkin from 2006 were Christmas presents and Kelly Trick or Treat, Kelly as a Bat is from 2008.

Integrity have also issued some Halloween inspired dolls. The Dynamite Girls Spooky Sooki was the first in 2009.  At that time, these dolls were available through a doll dealer here, and I had to add her to my collection.  She reminds me of a grown up Wednesday Addams, and is just a gorgeous doll on her own.  They added a couple of friends and a revamped Sooki – The Return in 2013, Handsome Devil Damon (a devil, naturally) and Dead in her Tracks Dani (a zombie, complete with tyre marks on her dress).

The Dynamite Girls Spooky Sooki and her little cat, Stitches  are perfect for any Halloween diorama.  Sooki is a gorgeous doll for re-dressing too. 

Of course Monster High dolls are also perfect for a Halloween display.  I bought Scaris – City of Frights Skelita Calaveras, Daughter of Los Eskeletos for $1 at a garage sale with Halloween in mind.  I love her Day of the Dead sugar skull face paint and skeleton body.  She’s perfect, sitting in a graveyard.

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Monster High Skelita Calaveras is hoping to dig up a date for Halloween!

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Jenjoy has been known to get into the Halloween spirit – pun intended!

I don’t ‘do’ Halloween, but since I bought Spooky Sooki, I have taken a Halloween doll photo each year.  Our doll club often has Halloween as a theme, so my photos have often been based on my display at the meetings.  Even Jenjoy has played along at times.  This year, I decided to use Middie Blythe in my display.  She makes a perfect little witch with her friend Luc the Spook, who I needle felted for her.  So, whether you celebrate Halloween or not, we wish you a truly spooky Samhain.

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Middie Blythe, here with her friend Luc the Spook, is this year’s Halloween Muse.


Doll Showing Off

Yesterday, I went to a doll and toy sale and it was much better than I expected it to be. When I got home, I discovered from my Facebook feed, that a couple of friends had also been to sales in the US and UK and today, it’s left me mourning the decline in real-world doll shows and sales.

I’ve been in the mood for a – well, for lack of a better term – ‘doll fix’ for days, and just haven’t found anything I really wanted or thought was a reasonable price (once postage was factored in) online, so this sale came along at a good time.  This was a toy/doll sale that’s held three of four times a year (and run as a not-for-profit by a collective of sellers), but yesterday’s event was bigger than it’s been in a while and better still, there was a whole table of vintage Barbie, something I haven’t seen in ages.

Some of yesterday’s buys, vintage Barbie Pak blouse and gathered skirt and two pink Louis ghost chairs (total $6), and I finally found a genuine Hee Wee in excellent condition (again $6), for less than the cost of postage on these items.

When I first started collecting seriously (way back in the 20th century), the internet was around but was really only used by big business and computer boffins.  If you wanted to buy dolls, especially vintage dolls, your only options were snail-mailed sales lists or doll shows and sales.  And back then there were plenty.  There were several doll clubs that hosted doll shows, regular collectibles fairs, as well as doll club meeting/sales days.  There were almost monthly opportunities for finding things to add to your collection.  Not anymore.  We still have sales days at our doll club meetings, but often it’s just the same sellers (me included), with the same stuff as the last meeting, and the one before that, and the one before that.  There are one or two doll shows around, but the number of sellers and range of things for sale is nothing like it used to be.

The fact that the internet has made the world a smaller place and increased the opportunity for buying and selling is a double edged sword.  Yes, you can meet people and find things that previously you wouldn’t have had a chance to, but it’s changed the real world opportunities and interactions that we have.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the online communities and groups that I’m a part of and have made some wonderful friends from all over the world that I otherwise, probably never would have.  I also love being able to shop at any time, from own living room.  But there are other things that I miss.

Two more buys, Tiny Kitty got a new outfit for $10, and this Holiday gown was $1.  Of course I can get fashions for $1 on eBay, but I’m still waiting for one I bought three weeks ago to arrive from China!

Of course, the main draw of shopping in the real world is that you can see what you’re getting.  You can tell if something really is mint, without squinting at photos on a screen.  I haven’t had many things go wrong buying online, but one instance involved a vintage Francie dress that was described as, and looked mint in the auction photos, that certainly wasn’t that way when it landed in my letter box.  Luckily, when I contacted the seller, she was telling the truth when she said she had two and had sent the wrong one, keep it and she’d post the right one.  I eventually got the right dress, but it was a hassle and that wouldn’t happen when buying in person. You also have a chance to learn, to hone your dolly detecting skills.  To see the difference between a bubble-cut Barbie and a side-part bubble-cut Barbie, up close, in person, and not just from photos.  You can discover if some vintage Barbie dolls really do smell like crayon, not because you read it on someone’s internet post, but because you picked up a doll and sniffed.  And you can see if the production doll is as good as the prototype photos or whether the doll you’re buying has a misplaced eye decal or some hair plugs missing.

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The mint Francie dress I bid on and bought on the right and the faded and stained dress I first received instead, something that doesn’t happen when buying at a show.

There’s more to it than that though, real world buying offers so much more.  Often you’ll see a doll you never knew existed and a new area of interest will open up (this can also be a double edged sword!).  You’ll be introduced to networks and communities you may never have thought of joining.  You’ll meet artists and those who repair or modify dolls – sometimes much more reassuring than posting a doll to a complete stranger. You can find hand-sewn outfits and handmade items and accurately gauge their quality.  And of course you get to make and meet friends.  I spend as much time chatting at these events as I do shopping and there’s no time zones or keyboards involved.  And sometimes there are added hugs. Real hugs, not cyber ones.

Things are often cheaper at these events too, and there’s no exchange rates or postage costs involved – often what puts me off buying things online – and no waiting for things to arrive, or get lost, in the mail.  In my perfect world, there would still be as many real world, doll buying opportunities as there were when I first started collecting, as well as all the online opportunities we have now.  I know that’s probably never going to happen, but I’d hate to see doll shows and sales disappear altogether.

A Korean Ju Ju doll by Young Toys and two vintage Japanese prismatic postcards that I probably wouldn’t have bought online, as I wouldn’t have been able to check them over, up close.

So, do a google search and see if you have a local doll club and please consider joining it.  If there’s a doll show or sale on, please support them.  And if you have the skills and wherewithal to help organise or host one of these events, please step up, and help to keep real world doll shopping alive.

Some more wee vintage toys, a crochet bear and dog, and my favourite items of the day, a wee Welsh doll given to me by a friend and her little Scottish friend I bought to keep her company, all for $5, less than the cost of postage.

Tammy’s Family

Seeing as I wrote about vintage Sindy in my last couple of posts, I thought perhaps I should look at Tammy too.  The Tammy doll was launched by the Ideal Toy Co. in 1962 and it’s no secret that the Sindy doll is basically a copy of Tammy.  They share the same body type and an almost identical face mould.  Both dolls even carry the same tag line – The Doll You Love to Dress – however how this came about is not so clear.  I have read articles – with accompanying documentation – that state both that the Sindy doll was produced through and agreement with Ideal, and that there was a huge dispute between Ideal and Pedigree over the production of Sindy. The truth probably lies somewhere in between and whatever it is, an agreement must have been reached between the two companies, as the Sindy doll had a long and prosperous life, ironically, much longer than the Tammy doll.

Blonde standard Tammy in ‘Beau and Arrow’ and in her original romper.

Now, here’s the thing; any American doll collector will tell you that Tammy is the real deal and Sindy the knock off.  However, for us Aussies (and of course those in the UK), Sindy rules and Tammy is the pretender.  You see, when the Barbie doll came to Australia in 1963, Lines Bros. Pty Ltd – Pedigree Dolls parent company – was already heavily invested in the Australian toy market, part owning several Australian toy companies, and they launched their Sindy doll with equal force. Consequently, Sindy immediately garnered a huge share of the doll market and became Barbie’s major competitor. It wasn’t until 1965 that Tammy was imported by discount department store, G.J. Coles and Co. Ltd, and Tammy never had the impact that Sindy did.  The Sindy doll sold for 27/6 ($2.75), the same price as Barbie, whereas Tammy was much cheaper at 15/- ($1.50).  Several of Tammy’s outfits were also available here, and Pepper, Tammy’s little sister and her wardrobe were also available in 1966, again, cheaper than both Barbie and Sindy’s siblings, Skipper and Patch.

Blonde standard Patch in ‘Happy Holiday’ and her original romper and skirt.  Note: dolls originally sold here in Australia tend not to come with this over-skirt, see group photo below.

I have Sindy and Tammy in my collection and I love them both, but I suppose if I had to choose a favourite, it would be Sindy.  I grew up with her, she’s a childhood friend.  But looking at them objectively, it’s harder to choose one over the other.  I do prefer the vinyl used for most vintage Sindy heads over that used for Tammy. It seems to be a superior, creamier quality and the colour is generally better.  I prefer the hair fibre used for Sindy and some Sindies do have wonderful, full heads of hair. However, some Tammies have fabulous, high colour face paint and lovely curls.

Both dolls have wardrobes full of beautifully designed and manufactured clothes, and both have fabulous little accessories.  However, Sindy’s fashions were slightly edgier from the get-go, with a mod influence in her shift and dropped waist dresses, and leather skirt.  Sindy’s fashions were a little more familiar to us here in Australia too.  Riding gear and tweed skirts made more sense to us than outfits called ‘Cheerleader,’ ‘Cutie Co-ed,’ or ‘Sorority Sweetheart.’  Even Sindy’s original fashion of jeans and striped top was cooler than Tammy’s blue romper suit (seriously, what is the deal with that romper?).  However, the sheer number of Tammy’s fashions (many more than were available for vintage Sindy) means there’s bound to be something that appeals to everyone, and the later fashions did start to have that mod influence.

Tammy’s brother, standard Ted in his original outfit.  Shoes may not be original.

Both dolls had boyfriends, but Tammy’s boyfriend Bud is almost impossible to find, and, you guessed it, expensive when you do.  Both had little sisters too, but the thing that I love most about Tammy is that she has a whole family.  Little sister Pepper is joined by big brother, Ted and mum and dad, who were never given names, although a story in a Tammy book or annual did give Tammy’s surname as Turner, so I suppose Mr and Mrs Turner it is. Little brother Pete joined the family in 1966, and is a little harder to find.  All dolls (except Pete) got their own wardrobes, though dad, Ted and Bud had to share outfits. Pepper did have a same-sized friend called Patti too, but she was a department store special, and is also very hard to find.

Tammy’s dad in original shirt and ‘grey flannel trousers.’ Shoes may not be original.

Tammy’s mum in original dress, replacement shoes and reproduction belt and necklace made by me.

Now this first, standard Tammy doll was not the first Tammy doll in my collection, but I’ll leave the other Tammy issues for another post.  No, the first doll I bought was Pepper, who I found at a doll club meeting for a whole $10. She was wearing her tutu, but weirdly, I had her little romper from childhood.  I can’t remember having a Pepper as a kid, but my great grandmother used to re-dress dolls as bed dolls and toilet roll dollies and send the original outfits to me, so it’s possible I got it that way.  The next member of the family was Ted, found for a reasonable price on eBay, then this blonde standard Tammy doll was a Christmas gift from a friend, as was dad.  Finally, I found a mum for sale in a lot, here in Australia.  I haven’t found a Pete yet, and I’m not sure that any of these dolls beyond Tammy and Pepper were originally sold here in Australia.  None of my dolls is perfect, but I prefer played-with dolls in my collection and I’m happy to do a bit of restoration, as you can see in my blog post here.  I’ve tracked down some fashions for them and now the whole family is nestled quite happily in my doll cupboards.  And as for the whole Tammy/Sindy rivalry? Well, I like to think of them as look-alike, transatlantic cousins, a’ la The Patty Duke show, and just love them both.

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Tammy’s Family, the Turner clan. I wonder what all the girls are looking at over there on the left?


That Rascal Patch

No Vintage Sindy doll collection is complete without Sindy’s little sister, Patch.  I’ve always thought that Patch is a unusual name, one perhaps more suited to a pet, but I suppose it makes sense,  looking at Patch’s original outfit, with her little denim overalls having a patch on one knee.  I’m also sure I remember reading a story in one of the Sindy annuals that hinted at Patch being a nickname and Sindy’s sister’s real name being Vicky.  But that makes things confusing seeing as Sindy later got a friend called Vicky.   Whatever the case, Pedigree described Patch as ‘that rascal,’ and she really does have a cute, impish face.  In fact, some dolls look downright mischievous.

Once I had my vintage Sindy and Paul dolls, I decided I needed a Patch to complete The Sindy Set. I set my heart on a blonde to match Sindy’s hair colour and luckily I found one at a good price at a doll show a short time later.  She’s in really good condition with nice hair and face paint.  She was wearing her original ‘dungarees’ fashion but was missing her scarf – which I still haven’t been able to replace – and shoes, which are always hard to find.  She’s marked ‘Made in Hong Kong’ as most of these dolls found in Australia are. Now, I was quite happy to make do with only one Patch in my collection, but as with my Sindy dolls, the universe had other ideas.

My first Patch, wearing ‘Summer Dress’ and ‘Red Tights.’ Shoes are not Patch shoes.

A couple of years later, a friend found a gorgeous red haired Patch at a doll show and bought it thinking I might like it.  The hair is a little ‘choppy,’ not an even bob-cut like my first Patch, so I wondered if she was one of the later issues that seem to have this uneven hairstyle.  I couldn’t resist adding it to the collection because of this fact and because it only cost $8! She was without clothes, but I managed to find her something to wear.

My really cheeky looking red haired Patch wears my favourite outfit, ‘Brownie.’ Belt and socks are not original.

A little while later, at another doll show, I was buying a Patch/Pepper clone doll for a whole $2 from a dealer that I knew, when she bumped a Patch doll on her table and the doll’s head fell off.  She grabbed it, shoved the head back on and handed it to me, telling me she was sick and tired of it losing its head, take it away.  I offered to pay something for it, but she wouldn’t take anything, so a third Patch made its way into my collection.  I have a real soft spot for this doll.  She’s a miniature, and I suspect this is why her head falls off.  Her vinyl is very hard and I have a feeling that these miniature dolls shrink a bit over time and that’s what’s happened to this doll’s head.  She’s also had a bit of brutal haircut, her brunette bob is cut very short and unevenly. I have thought about re-rooting her, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  She’s had a hard life and been tortured by some little darling, but that somehow makes her more endearing.  I’m very happy she’s found a home in my collection.

Brunette miniature Patch wears the ‘Red Riding Hood’ dress, found at a doll show for 50 cents.  I later found this beautifully knitted cape at another show, again for a few cents, so added it to the fashion until I come across an original.  Shoes are not Patch shoes.

And that leaves Patch number four.  She’s what collector’s commonly refer to as a Canterbury Patch. These were the last Patches to be made and they are different to previous issues.  These dolls generally have shorter, curlier hair and their face paint is quite different too.  Mine looks more shy than rascally.  She’s not perfect, her hair has had a trim and her paint is worn, but again, it gives her character, and these dolls are harder to find, especially here in Australia, so I’m very happy to have her.

Canterbury Patch wears ‘School Days,’ with replaced tie and shoes.

I’ve managed to gather a few of Patch’s outfits, but none are complete.  Patch had a lot of tiny accessories such as the pencils and glasses from her ‘School Days’ outfit and the whistle from her ‘Brownie’ uniform, and these are incredibly hard to find and often expensive when you do. Even Patch shoes are hard to find.  Most of my Patch fashions have been found at doll shows and sales, some for as little as fifty cents.  I’m quite happy to piece outfits together, bit by bit.  By far, my favourite Patch outfit is ‘Brownie,’ and it’s the one I’ve probably spent the most on. I just love the wee Brownie brooch on the neck-scarf.   Both my sister and I were Brownies, and Patches outfit is a blend of both our uniforms.  My sister’s uniform had a neck-scarf like Patches, but her hat was a matching yellow beanie-type hat.  By the time I became a Brownie, things had changed and we had a thinner neck-tie and brown beret, just like Patch’s.  I’m yet to find (or make) Patch a beret and her belt and socks are not original, but it doesn’t matter, she brings back happy memories of childhood.

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Patch did have a friend called Poppet back in the late 60’s/early 70’s.  She’s a doll that shares the same body as Patch, but has a different face mould, and I’d love to add one to my collection.  But they’re hard to find (I don’t think they were ever sold here in Australia) and expensive when you do, so I don’t hold out much hope of finding one.  But then again, you never know. More about these dolls can be found at Our Sindy Museum –