Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Shindana's Disco Wanda and Juanita

Three versions of Shindana's first 11-1/2-inch fashion doll, Disco Wanda, 1978
Shindana Toys, a Division of Operation Bootstrap, was founded in 1968 in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts, California riots.  The company's goal was to help rebuild the community and provide jobs for community residents.  Their moto, Learn, baby! Learn!  was in stark opposition to "Burn, baby! Burn!" which was chanted by the 1965 rioters as they burned buildings in their own community during a six-day protest against police brutality.

Shindana Toys was one of the many co-ops formed under the Division of Operation Bootstrap.  Their doll factory, located in Watts from 1968 through 1983, became a forerunner in the manufacture of ethnically correct dolls for Black children.  While most Shindana dolls were Black, their catalog of dolls includes a few that represent other ethnicities.

In addition to a host of other dolls by Shindana Toys, I have owned the above three different versions of Disco Wanda for over 20 years. In recent years, Disco Juanita, the Latina version of Disco Wanda, had been calling my name.  I was recently able to mark her off my want list with an eBay find.

This Disco Wanda marks doll #4 for me; she poses with my newly-acquired, one and only, Disco Juanita.

The eBay auction included both Disco Wanda and Disco Juanita, and one Disco Wanda box.

Having sold originally for $4.68, the original Toys R Us (TRU) sticker price remains on the top flap.  



Both dolls have painted brown eyes, smiling mouths with upper and lower teeth and the hint of a tongue. Their lip color differs and complements their complexions.  Both have shoulder-length, black hair, which is rooted and styled in a flip.  Wanda has an orange flower that pierces her left temple. Juanita wears a pink flower choker.


Made of polyester, Wanda's dress is gold; Juanita's is orange.  They both wear headbands made from the same material as their dresses and each wears a black floral waist sash with black fringe.  Both dolls arrived with bare feet.


Three different versions of Disco Wanda appear in Shindana's 1978 catalog without the mention of Juanita.  This leads me to believe Juanita was introduced at least a year later.  While the catalog indicates Wanda is "fully articulated," the articulation extends only to the usual five areas plus a swivel waist and bendable knees.

Original TRU sales receipt for the doll that was in the Disco Wanda box

Included in the Disco Wanda-labeled box was a clear plastic doll stand.   Upon removing the inner box lining, a TRU sales receipt fell out, which shows the original retail price of $4.68.  That price and the TRU stock number match the TRU box sticker price and stock number.



The bottom flap of the box contains stock numbers for Wanda and Juanita (#2058 and #2450, respectively). It is unknown if Shindana used the same box for both dolls, or if Disco Juanita had her own box that contained her name and image where Wanda's name and image appear.  For now, Juanita owns the box that was included in the auction.  The newest Wanda will be displayed with similar dolls.

For more information about Shindana Toys and the Watts Riots navigate to the following links:
The Shindana Story (additional links are included at the end of this post).
Shindana Toys (a Wikipedia entry)
Watts Riots
Watts Riots



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Monday, June 26, 2017

First and Most Recent Norah Wellings Dolls


Circa 1930s 14-inch Norah Wellings Islander

Norah Wellings began making dolls in 1919 as the chief doll designer for Chad Valley Dolls of England.  She formed her own company in 1926 (Victoria Toy Works) where she continued making dolls along the style of Chad Valley dolls, made of cloth (velvet, velveteen, plush and felt) with mask faces or molded faces underneath.  Many of her dolls were sold as souvenirs for the tourist industry.  Her dolls were also sold on cruise ships.

Close-up of 14-inch Norah Wellings Islander illustrates her expressive face and glass eyes, which seem to look through you.
I acquired my first Norah Wellings doll during the late 1990s/early 2000s from a local antiques dealer.  It is a 14-inch doll made of stuffed velveteen with molded facial features, glass eyes, smiling mouth, and painted teeth.  This circa 1930s doll represents a native islander and wears only a wheat-colored and orange grass skirt and one orange arm bracelet.  The doll's left leg has orange and wheat-colored grass tied around the calf.  There is a dark area in the same location on the right leg where the same material had been tied around that leg.

Hand made scarf (by me) to cover this doll's missing hair
Some of the black mohair used for her hair is missing from the crown of her head.   I had great intentions of replacing the missing hair, but never did.  Instead, I made her a head scarf using a piece of a brown and gold cotton scarf.

I have always wanted at least one additional Norah Wellings doll to upgrade the first one shown in the above photos.  That opportunity presented itself with the eBay purchase of my most recent Norah Wellings doll.  (Thanks again DS for sharing the link.)

14-inch Norah Wellings Nassau souvenir doll

She has such a lovely face!
Except for the usual cheek and nose rubs to the velveteen, the newest-to-me Norah Wellings doll is in excellent condition.  She still has all her original jewelry and has both her original black cloth tags.

Cloth tag on right side of neck reads "Nassau."

Many Norah Wellings dolls found today no longer contain the cloth tag that identifies them as Wellings dolls.  My doll's identifying tag remains intact on the bottom of her right foot.

The tag sewn to the right side of her neck reads:  Nassau.  Her right foot tag reads:  Made in England by Norah Wellings.  Her sewn-on gold dress, made of velveteen, has two felt orange circles on the front of the skirt and two on the back of the skirt.  Her short curly brown hair almost matches her complexion.  This circa 1950s doll was probably sold as a souvenir doll on the S. S. Nassau cruise ship, which sailed under this name from 1951 through 1961 before the name was changed to the S. S. Acapulco.

Both are delightfully lovely dolls.  Their smiles make me smile.
The Nassau and Islander display well together.
Links of Interest
Norah Wellings Dolls 1930s to 1960s by Denise Van Patten
See more Wellings dolls here.
See a rare, 36-inch doll here.
Allwin and Chad Valley Dolls

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Article, Video: New Kens with Dad Bods and Man Buns


Some of the new Barbie Fashionistas for 2017 include a variety of Kens with new bodies, hairstyles and a variety of complexions.

L-R:  Doll #13 Distressed Denim, Broad has a man bun and Doll #10 Classic Cool has cornrowed hair.

Ken bodies are now described as broad, slim, and original.  Distressed Denim, as noted in the above caption, has a broad body.  Classic Cool appears to be on the original Ken body.

Here's a link to an article published on Yahoo! Style on June 20, 2017, about the new Kens with "dad bods" and "man buns."  Photos of the guys and gals in the new line are included in the article along with a video from the dolls' debut on Good Morning America yesterday.  Here also is a direct link to the GMA video.

Here is yet another link to a cute stop-motion video.

Ten of the 15 new dolls were supposedly available in stores yesterday.  Preordering is now available at ShopMattel.com where, for a limited time, free shipping is offered on all Fashionistas.


#86 Glam Boho is curvy with more stylish-appearing shoes than the other curvy girls. The extra boho ensemble is included.

Glam Boho can be preordered at ShopMattel for $14.99.  Most of the others are $9.99.  All have non-articulated bodies, but I wonder if Glam Boho's complexion is comparable to The Barbie Look (TBL) doll's skin tone.  Maybe she can borrow TBL doll's body and enjoy a little more movement.


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