Patti Playpal and Playpal-Types, a photo by Black Doll Enthusiast on Flickr.
In 1981, Ideal Toys released the first-ever, 35-inch doll given the name Patti Playpal. A life-size doll that can wear child-size clothing and "walk with you," Patti Playpal was quite popular in her 1959-60s heyday. Children enjoyed dressing the doll, combing her closely rooted hair, and using her as an inanimate companion. I secretly longed for one as a child, but for some odd reason, according to my mother, I never asked for one.
As an adult collector, I have made up for this childhood void. I own more than 10 Playpals today. Three are authentic Patti Playpals. The others were manufactured during the 1960s and 1970s by other companies and are considered Playpal types.
Prior to Ideal's black Patti Playpal, other companies such as Allied Eastern, Horsman, Uneeda, among others made Patti Playpal types, inspired by Ideal's 1959-released doll. Due to licensing and trademarks, none of the others were named Patti.
In approximately 2003, Ashton Drake began reproducing the Caucasian version of Ideal's Patti Playpal dolls. Several members of the Playpal family were included in their reproduced dolls. Frustrated over the absence of a black version, I emailed Ashton-Drake requesting its manufacture. Others joined me in the "We need an AA Patti Playpal" email campaign. Finally, in 2006, Ashton-Drake (CollectiblesToday.com) used the original head and body sculpts of Ideal's 1959 Patti Playpal and created the first-ever African American version to use these molds. My AD doll is shown in a solo image below along with an additional comparison head shot of Ideal's version with the Ashton Drake doll.
Ashton Drake's 2006 African American Patti Playpal uses the 1959 head and body molds. Her complexion is lighter than the 1981 Ideal doll; their bodies and head sculpts are different, too. This doll is made of very heavy weight vinyl.