The 1960s era for dolls is marked by several unique historical factors. First, the dolls were, for the first time, broadly advertised on television directly to children. Second, vinyl plastic dolls became the norm for play dolls. Finally, doll manufacturing in the United States shifted to other companies, including Japan and Hong Kong, after many decades of American dollmaking being the king. The dolls from this era are also near and dear to my heart, since these were the dolls of my childhood; as a child, I personally owned six of the dolls on this list! Here are the best of the dolls of the 1960s.
I need to obviously start this list with the queen of dolls…the doll that changed dolls forever. Barbie
was introduced in mid-1959, and with an aggressive advertising campaign and a fairly new concept (hand-sized doll to dress with multitudes of dolls and accessories, sort of like a three-dimensional paper doll), Mattel had a huge hit on their hands. Barbie was not without controversy of course, due to her womanly figure, however both girls and moms loved Barbie and made her the hit she remains to this day. The 1960s era of Barbie dolls is the one most eagerly collected by vintage doll collectors today; the earliest 1960s Barbie dolls were an interesting mix of girl-next-door and glamour; by the end of the 1960s, Barbie was the embodiment of groovy!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…if all the Liddle Kiddles
produced in the 1960s by Mattel were placed in a line, they would reach to the moon! I don’t know if that is true or not, but it gives a great visual image to the ubiquity of Liddle Kiddles in the 1960s. First on the shelves in 1966, Liddle Kiddles derived their popularity from their tiny size. They were inexpensive, and adorable, and little girls couldn’t resist collecting them (if you are an antique doll collector, a bit like tiny all-bisque dolls were collected in the late 1800s and early 1900s!). They also each had a story and accessories, such as Alice Wonderliddle , and Alice in Wonderland Kiddle who was sold with a white rabbit and illustrated storybook, from 1968.
and Friends were made by Ideal, and they were made to be a direct competitor of Barbie. Tammy was also a teenage doll with a lovely variety of separately sold outfits and accessories to purchase, but Tammy was more flat-chested and appealed to mothers who found Barbie’s curvy shape scandalous. Tammy also had a little sister Tammy, and a mom and dad and cousins; an entire family of dolls to play with. Tammy was only on the market from 1962 through 1966.
was the perfect embodiment of an old doll trend made new again—the talking doll. Early talking dolls from the early 1900s were terribly expensive and complicated, and not made for mass consumption. Enter Mattel in the late 1`950s and early 1960s, and their simple pull-string talking mechanism for toys and dolls, and Chatty Cathy was born. Chatty Cathy production started in 1960. She said 11 phrases, and she also had various family members including Chatty Brother, Charmin’ Chatty , and Chatty Baby produced.
5. Patti PlaypalWhere Liddle Kiddles had the 1960s market for girls who loved tiny dolls, Patti Playpal had the market for girls who liked their dolls large and lifelike. Patti Playpal was created in 1959 to be a companion doll for girls. She stood 35 inches tall, and she could wear the actual clothing of a young girl! Patti was also produced by Ideal, and she was on the market until 1962. Her doll family included Peter Playpal, Penny Playpal and Suzy Playpal.
6. Penny BriteDeluxe Reading (Topper) in 1963 decided to make a little girl fashion doll named Penny Brite to compete, somewhat, in the Barbie space. Reasonably priced, Penny Brite stood about 8 inches tall. She could be purchased in her small plastic box that doubled as a carry case, with clothing sets available separately as well as elaborate gift set rooms including a schoolroom, a kitchen, a beauty parlor, and a bedroom. Penny was only on the market (originally; as with many of these dolls there were later reproductions sold from 1963 to 1970.
7. FlatsyFlatsy dolls had one great gimmick---they were flat! They were sold in frame-like packages so that the Flatsy was part of a picture; the dolls came out of the packaging and had bendable Gumby-like limbs and rooted hair to play with. Flatsy dolls just snuck into the 1960s…they were first on the market in 1969, although they epitomize the groovy late 1960s historic era with their look and feel.
8. Crissy and FamilyThe final doll here also just snuck into the 1960s—first on the market in 1969, Crissy was the doll with hair that grows and grows. Push the button on her stomach and her short hair would “grow” in a ponytail out of her head! Turn the knob on her back, and her hair would go back in her head. Another Ideal doll, Crissy’s family included her little sister Velvet.