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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10 comments:

  1. These. Are. Awesome! I had no idea they existed!! Disco Wanda & Juanita are definitely going on my Wishlist!! I remember first hearing the Shindana story when I read the Barbie bio 'Forever Barbie' as Mattel helped the Shindana team with investment and production of their toys (if I'm remembering right, I'm definitely going to follow the links). Didn't they create the Flip Wilson/Geraldine rag doll? Is that Marla Gibbs from 'The Jeffersons'!! I love when I get to meet dolls I never knew existed!

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    1. I enjoyed reading your enthusiasm, Julius! I have the Forever Barbie book, too. Shindana did receive funding from Mattel, Chase Bank, Sears Roebuck and a couple of other corporations but they made it understood that they would maintain full autonomy -- We'll take your money but the final decisions regarding matters are left up to us.

      I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Lou Smith, Jr's. son (Lou Smith III), who provided me with a wealth of information about the Shindana company as well as about his dad, who was one of the cofounders of Shindana and the original president before his tragic death. Each time I revisit the information about the dolls, I have pleasant as well as mixed emotions about the state of our nation during that time.

      Yes, that's Marla Gibbs. They did make Flip Wilson and Red Foxx (I have both as well as the Gibbs doll). Shindana created several other dolls in the likenesses of AA celebrities. There has never been another company like Shindana... ever.

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  2. Hi, my name is Carrie and I've been reading your blog for a while but have never commented before. I wanted to let you know about a doll I found on shopgoodwill.com that you might be interested in. She is a vintage black Crissy in excellent condition. Shopgoodwill is an auction site where you bid on items. No, I am not in any way affiliated with goodwill, I just spend too much money there. I'm a doll lover looking for interesting dolls and have found a ton on that site. I may have bid on a few too many but really, is there a such thing as too many dolls ? My kids think so but I disaggree

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    1. Hi Carrie, thank you so much for taking the time to tell me about the Crissy doll on ShopGoodwill. I am familiar with that site and have won a few auctions. I have a small collection of Crissy dolls. I'll go to the site now and check the one out that you mentioned.

      Are there ever too many dolls? Of course a doll lover would say no.
      😊

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  3. I'm glad that you've been able to check Juanita off of your list! Both Wanda and Juanita are cute! Since I received Juanita when I was trying to get Wanda, Wanda has been faintly calling my name. The calling is a little louder now. :) My Juanita came in a Disco Wanda box, with the orange dress, and with the headband with the flower.

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    1. Hi Roxanne,

      I remember your post about your Juanita. That is what put Juanita on my want list. It has taken this long for me to find her. I hope your wait for Disco Wanda doesn't last long. Thank you for informing that your Juanita was in a Disco Wanda box.

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  4. I really enjoyed this post a lot, thank-you.:D I came across some Disco Wanda pictures and auctions when I was looking for a doll to replace my childhood fashion doll Barbie clone and was intrigued but had no idea there was any history behind the name. What a great company and mission!
    I can't believe a Flip Wilson and Geraldine doll was made in the seventies! It feels as though society is more uptight now than it was then. It's unfortunate that the only thing I can remember about Wilson is that he made me cry with laughter when I was little. I also loved Geraldine's shiny hair.I wish I knew what I found so hilarious: D
    *off to see if I can buy a DVD of his performances*
    Thanks again!

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    1. I am happy you enjoyed this post, Maricha and learned something about Shindana Toys, Inc. The name is actually Swahili and means competitor.

      I enjoyed watching the Flip Wilson Show and seeing him perform his stand-up comedy acts on Johnny Carson and other shows prior to that. Within recent years, he was featured as an Unsung Hero on TVOne's series by the same name. I learned a lot about who he really was from viewing that one-hour show. I am sure there are Youtube videos of Flip Wilson performing his comedy. You might search their site.

      What we found as funny as children may or may not still crack us up today, but I think Flip's comedy probably would.

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  5. Love them. Thank You for the information. ENJOY :)

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