Saturday, August 30, 2014

Who Wears It Best?

I removed the above Sparkle Girlz fashion from the card and tried it on several dolls to see which body types fit these fashions best.

I was surprised to discover the top is a bodysuit, as modeled by Swappin' Styles Artsy.  The skirt sits low on the waist.  There is a black ribbon sewn underneath the skirt in the center to create a crotch.  The black shoes are flexible with a split in back for ease of putting on and removing.

Alvin Ailey American Dancer Theater Barbie, photograph courtesy of D. Davis aka #TheBarbieKing

Fellow doll enthusiast, D. Davis aka #TheBarbieKing, shared a photo of his muse, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Barbie.  Wearing the body suit alone, this ebony complexioned beauty makes a bold fashion statement.

Artsy now wears the complete fashion in the above photo.  The top is snug across her broad shoulders, but I was able to Velcro it closed in back.  The skirt and shoes fit nicely. 

"Why are her lips so-big?" my daughter asked me recently.  Poor Denise underwent lip enhancement last year, which was a mega failure.  As my daughter stated, "It's just too much!"

Again, on Denise, the body suit is tight.  The skirt and shoes fit.

Dressing the thinner frame of the Chic Boutique doll in this fashion posed no problems.  The body suit is actually a little loose in the waist and hip area, however.  The shoes are perfect for her slender feet.

Next in line to try the fashion on was Kara.  Same verdict here:  Snug fit for the body suit while the skirt and shoes fit.

The last one of my dolls to try on the fashion was Brandy.  As you can see, it appears to be a comfortable fit.  However, the top is snug across her shoulders and a little loose in the waist area.  The shoes are a different story.  See the next image.

Brandy is basically standing "on" the back half of the shoes.  The front of her feet stop where the yellow arrow points.  Perhaps if she did not have cankles, her foot could be placed further inside the shoe. 

Of the dolls I tried the fashion on, it fits best on the Chic Boutique doll, but I like it best on Kara.


After seeing D. Davis' photos of dolls wearing the gray bodysuit and red plaid skirt separately along with other Sparkle Girlz fashions, and appreciating his ability to blend the fashion with other clothing, I asked his permission to share the photo of AAADT Barbie (above) and the next photo. 

These Barbies look fab-u-lous in Sparkle Girlz fashions.  Photograph courtesy of D. Davis aka #TheBarbieKing
Above, Oklahoma Cheerleader Barbie is dressed in the "love" dress.  Davis' muse, AAADT Barbie, now wears the top from another Sparkle Girlz fashion while Barbie Basics Red pairs the red plaid skirt with a white blouse she already had.

D. Davis, a collector since the '90s, who loves his Barbies and GI Joes, appreciates "the more solid muted colors" of these fashions and added, "Sparkle Girlz clothing gives you other options." 

Thanks again D. Davis for sharing the photos of your lovely ladies with us!


Friday, August 29, 2014

Lost and Found Arms

The armless Patsy Joan
When I gathered all my Black Patsys to photograph for the Buttercup Trixie and Predecessors post, I discovered Patsy Joan had lost her arms... somewhere!  There she stood, armless high upon the top row of a wall shelf with other similar-size dolls alongside and behind her.  Oh where, oh where are your arms, girl?  (I wondered.)

I felt around on the shelf for the arms, but they were not there!  Since standing dolls cover the floor beneath, in front of, and on the right and left sides of that shelf, I moved several standers and found one arm.  Relieved, I moved some of the standers and continued to look in the general area where I felt the other arm might have fallen; and there it was, a little farther back than where the other arm had landed onto the carpeted floor.

From the desk drawer I retrieved some sewing elastic since I could not readily find the rubber string that "we" usually use for restringing.  I undressed Patsy Joan and took the doll, the arms, and elastic to Doc Garrett, who shook his head as he inhaled and exhaled a brief sigh after accepting the new patient.   Without saying a word, I just smiled at him.  He knew what needed to be done.

I returned to the doll room and continued photographing the other Patsys.  Before I had them all photographed, the doctor brought Patsy Joan and the remaining elastic to the doll room.  With the repair completed, he said, "I'm going to have to start charging you 50 cents or something."  I chuckled but agreed with his next statement:  "You'd have to pay a lot more if you had to send the dolls off for repairs."

Although I concur, I have not yet paid him his 50-cent fee. 

Patsy Joan with restrung arms


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Buttercup Trixie and Predecessors

Buttercup Trixie's first photo upon arrival
Buttercup Trixie by Effanbee (Tonner) is part of the Patsy family of dolls dating back to 1928.  Designed for Effanbee by Bernard Lipfert, a trained sculptor, most, if not all, Effanbee dolls, including the Patsy family, came with a metal gold tone beaded chain bracelet with a heart-shaped Effanbee charm.  The charm usually reads:  Effanbee Durable Dolls on one or both sides.  The opposite side might bear the doll's name. 

The metal charm bracelet accompanied the first of the new era Patsys in the mid-2000s.  This was eventually discontinued and replaced by a paper wrist tag.  The newer dolls were also given a facelift by Robert Tonner after he acquired the company in the mid-2000s.

A gold tone Effanbee beaded bracelet with metal charm is shown above along with the front and back of a heart-shaped paper wrist tag.   Use of the metal bracelet and charm dates back to vintage Effanbee dolls.  Some contemporary dolls (pre-Tonner acquisition) have both the metal bracelet and paper tag.

11-inch Patsy Jr. by Effanbee, all composition, circa early 1930s, still has her Effanbee gold tone, heart-shaped bracelet that bears her name on back, "Patsykin."
My earliest Black Patsy family doll, Patsy Jr., is from the early 1930s.  Patsy Jr. is a composition doll of 11 inches with three Topsy-style braids and otherwise black painted hair.  Other composition Black Patsy family members were also made.

In her book, Effanbee Dolls That Touch Your Heart (Collector Books 1983), Patricia R. Smith indicates brown-skin versions of the 9-inch Patsyette were made in 1931.  She further writes, "Effanbee made Patsy Baby-kin and Baby Grumpy into a black doll with three tufts of yarn hair."  According to Smith, this doll must be marked Effanbee in order to be authentic, as there were others made by other companies during this time.  Patsy Baby was added to the Patsy family after Amos and Ruby (of the Amos 'N Andy Show) "gave birth" to Amosandra during the1936 radio broadcast season.  Smith shares that listeners of the radio show showered the imaginary baby (Amosandra) with gifts, including dolls.

The white radio actress, Elinor Harriot, who portrayed Ruby during the 1930s broadcast of Amos 'N Andy can be seen here holding a large Black (non-Effanbee) doll and surrounded by a variety of other dolls.  Those with three tufts of hair in the photograph appear to be Effanbee's Patsy Baby-kin, also known as Patsy Baby. (These were some of the apparent gifts listeners sent in to welcome Amos and Ruby's new baby.)

In addition to Patsy Jr. and the Amosandra (Patsy Baby) and Patsyette dolls mentioned in Smith's book, Cynthia Lisa Ferguson, a fellow collector, shared that Effanbee also made the following Black Patsy family members:  14-inch Patsy, Skippy (boy),  Patsy Joan a 16-inch curly head mold, 19-inch Pasty Ann, 24- and 26-inch Pasty Lou, and 27-inch Patsy Ruth.  

All above dolls, except Grumpy, Champ, and the composition dog, are part of the original Effanbee Patsy family.  L-R:  Grumpy, a compo pooch, 14-inch Patsy in red hood, 24-inch Pasty Lou, Champ, Patsy Baby/Amosandra (seated), and 27-inch Patsy Ruth.  Photo courtesy of CLF Doll Collection

Using the original molds, during the 1980s and well into the early 2000s Effanbee began reproducing vinyl versions of their most popular Patsy family dolls.  Shown below are the reproduced Effanbee and Tonner-owned Effanbee Patsys that I own. Certainly, there are others, which are absent from my collection and therefore not included here.

1987 Shirley's Dollhouse-exclusive Black Patsy Boy and Patsy are all-rubber-like vinyl, 14 inch-dolls.
©1994 Patsy Joan is a 16-inch vinyl replica of the original 1949 composition doll.  Patsy Joan's firm and shiny vinyl was designed to simulate composition.  Her gold tone Effanbee charm, which she wears as a necklace, is hidden by her dress.

1996 Limited Edition Patsy Ornament is 3-1/2 inches tall, hand painted, and made of resin.

9-inch Patsyette Christmas Gift Box Set Grand Finale  is a 1998 vinyl replication of the original 1931 Patsyette that Smith recognized in her book.
9-inch, all-vinyl Patsyette (©1996) and Patysette Beach Time Basic (2005); Beach Time was made after Tonner took ownership of Effanbee.  Both dolls wear their gold tone Effanbee charms as necklaces.

5-inch Wee Patsy was reproduced in vinyl by Effanbee in 2000 and the first time as an African American in this size.  The first Wee Patsy dolls were 6-inch composition dolls and a brown version was made, circa 1932.  These vinyl little ones did not come with a charm but do or did have heart-shaped paper Effanbee wrist tags.  The brown doll is missing her paper tag.

14-inch Porcelain Patsy is a year-2000 replica of the original 1928 doll.  (The original Black doll was made during the early 1930s in composition).  Porcelain Patsy is a skater, made in a limited edition of 1500.

Shortly after Tonner acquired Effanbee, the original Patsy molds were discontinued.  New head sculpts with wider faces and different body molds for all Patsy family dolls appeared in 2005 with copyright dates of 2004.

14-inch, all-vinyl Patsy Rosebud and Patsy Birthday Best ©2004 received new head and body sculpts by Tonner.  Both have rooted curly hair, paper wrist tags and gold tone Effanbee charm bracelets.

10-inch Lil' Rose (2004) and Sweet Surprise (2005) are new Patsy family members with new head sculpts.  Lil' Rose has vinyl head and arms and a hard plastic body.  Her hair is wigged.  Sweet Surprise is all vinyl with rooted hair. 

10-inch, all-vinyl Buttercup Trixie has a new Patsy head sculpt and body.  Her hair is a wigged Afro.   The elbows, wrists, and knees are jointed, a first for any Patsy family doll.

The newest Patsy family member is Buttercup Trixie, shown above after being liberated from her box.  Her hair has been styled and the ribbon repositioned. 

The little girl in this photo, has a similar hairstyle and dress as Buttercup Trixie.  The photo can be found when searching Google images for "Circassian girls."  It has also been pinned on Pinterest boards and used in blogs on Circassian girls.  During the late-1800s through early-1900s, the photographer, Charles Eisenmann is known to have photographed many "Circassian beauties."
Buttercup Trixie took two additional photos shown below:

The girls in yellow joined Trixie for a group photo. 
In this final photo, because the two display well together, Trixie posed with All-Natural Lizette (who is not a Patsy family member). Trixie holds a doll she claimed as her own, Sydney, from the Only Hearts Club line.
About the Newest Patsy-Family Member
Trixie is a 10-inch, honey skin-toned, all vinyl and hard plastic doll with jointed elbows, wrists, and knees.  She has large brown inset eyes with applied eyelashes.  Her wigged Afro had the pink ribbon sewn to the side.  I removed the stitch and repositioned the ribbon away from her face.   Trixie wears a pale yellow cotton, lace-trimmed dress with three pale pink roses at the neck.  The dress has an attached yellow satin lining.  Yellow lace tights with attached white panties and yellow faux leather shoes complete her outfit. 

Trixie also comes as a basic doll, ready for dressing.  Basic Trixie was shown as temporarily unavailable on the Tonner website at the time this post was composed.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sparkle Girlz Fashions: How Many [Are] You Buying For?

Sparkle Girlz fashion display box and $1.97 fashions at Walmart (please excuse the phone camera photos).

I went to Walmart to see if the Sparkle Girlz playscale fashions by Funville were in stock.  I almost left the store empty-handed until I went back down the aisle where I had seen the mini Sparkle Girlz dolls the first time.  On double-checking, there they were, right next to the minis where I had completely overlooked them initially.  Who knew they would be in a box and not hung from a rack?

Relieved, I removed the fashions from the display box to see how many different ones were available before separating them into groups onto an empty shelf to photograph.  I wanted to capture all that were available since I knew I was not going to purchase one of each even though I came pretty close.  There were a total of 24.  Mattel has never offered this much variety in Barbie fashions at one given time.

Below are the poorer and poor quality photos I took with my phone camera before deciding on which fashions I would purchase.

I purchased the fashion with the tartan plaid skirt, 2nd row, 2nd from left  There is a better photo of this fashion later.

The first group photo above is the worst of the in-store photos.  The others are better, but not much.  All except one of the fashions in the above blurry photo were left behind.

 I selected several from this second picture, above, and even more from the final in-store photo below. 

Since there were so many fashions from which to choose, I had to use a process of elimination.  I knew I wanted fashions that came with shoes.  I did not want any made from shimmery fabric.  I also wanted to keep those with writing on the fabric to a minimum.

I selected a total of 16.  Some are duplicates that will be sent to my niece.  I wanted to also purchase a Black Sparkle Girlz fashion doll for her but there were only blondes available.  After carting the fashions, I noticed two Walmart associates at the end of the aisle.  I asked one about the doll's availability.

Me to 1st Woman:  Excuse me, do you know if there are any more African American Sparkle Girlz in stock?

1st Woman to the 2nd:  Do you know, (then turning to me) what kind of doll?

Me to the 2nd Woman:  African American Sparkle Girlz, the Barbie size.

2nd Woman:  You mean the ones in the cone?  [Their boxes are cone shaped.]

Me:  Yes.

2nd Woman:  To be honest, yes, but they are on a pallet and I have about 20 pallets to stock.  So I can't tell you when they will be on the shelf.  (She then looks at my Sparkle Girlz fashion-lined cart, not realizing it was mine and said to the first woman.)  Look, we have fashions for the doll she wants.

Me:  That's why I want the doll.  These are mine.

2nd Woman:  How many you buying for?

Me:  Um... caught completely off guard and not really wanting to confess that most are for me, I blurted out, two!  (Well, I was buying them for two people, my niece and myself.)

2nd Woman:  [Staring at me strangely, probably still wondering why I was purchasing as many for two "girls."]

Me:  Trying to explain; yet I know I really didn't have to.  I usually buy high-end dolls for my niece that my sister won't allow her to play with [true], so I want to buy the Sparkle Girlz doll and clothes for her.  I know my sister will let her play with this.

2nd Woman:  Oh.  Yeah, she needs to be able to play with her dolls.

1st Woman:  But the others are collectible.

Me:  Yes, they are, but I still want her to be able to play with her dolls, whether they are collectible or not.  
2nd Woman:  Check back later in the week.  The dolls should be out by then.

Me:  Okay, I will.  Thanks!


At home, I took additional group photos of the fashions I purchased.

This photo illustrates the fashions purchased from the first two in-store photos.  Remember the blurry tartan plaid fashion I mentioned in the first group photo?  That's it on the top row.  The remaining five fashions were in the second group photo.

The fashions above are the ones I purchased that appear in the third in-store photo.  The two with purses do not have shoes.  All others in this image have shoes.

Each fashion card has an image of one of the Sparkle Girlz as seen in the next photo of randomly selected fashions to illustrate this fact. 

I have seen four different playscale Sparkle Girlz dolls.  Funville has used one of the four dolls on the fashion cards, which I think is quite admirable.  Usually the blonde is the chosen one, but not in this case.
The following are duplicates that will be sent to my niece along with an African American Sparkle Girlz doll (as soon as one becomes available).
These are duplicates that my niece will receive.

I will probably send my niece a couple of the other fashions that I have singles of, which ones will be determined later.

The quality of the fashions appears to be comparable to that of the $4 to $6 Barbie fashions and most of those do not come with shoes.  Beyond Sparkle Girlz, I am not sure which other dolls can wear the shoes since they appear a little on the small side.   My overall assessment is:  For those who enjoy dressing and redressing playscale dolls, for a mere $1.97, you cannot go wrong investing in a few of these Sparkle Girlz fashion (and maybe even a doll or two).


Monday, August 25, 2014

Whistle for Willie Another Ezra Jack Keats Doll-Book Combo

Peter, from the book, Whistle for Willie

After purchasing The Snowy Day doll-book combination, I saw another Peter doll on eBay fashioned after the character from Ezra Jack Keats' book, Whistle for Willie (1964).  I dismissed the purchase initially but eventually gave in and purchased the doll.  Subsequently, the book was purchased to add both to my dolls with books collection and next exhibit.

Peter arrived in mint condition and is more adorable than I had imagined.  His book was a used 0.1 cents board book that looks well read.  I entered Peter's description into my Excel doll inventory workbook as follows:

14-inch all-cloth boy doll with screen printed facial features represents Peter from the book, Whistle for Willie, by Ezra Jack Keats (1964).  Wears a gray felt floppy hat with black band, removable pink and white print shirt and blue shorts, sewn-on pink socks and fabric blue shoes.  Distributed by Weston Woods, designed and manufactured by Determined productions, Inc.  ©1992 Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.

In Whistle for Willie, Peter is a little older than he is in The Snowy Day.  He now wants to learn to whistle to call his dog, Willie.  A cloth Willie is available, but Willie will not be part of my dolls with books collection.

Click the play arrow to watch a video of Whistle for Willie.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Walmart Exclusive Quick Fix

A quick visit to Walmart for three things led me to the doll aisles where I found the above Only at Walmart Barbie fashion.  It includes a halter dress, pink hooded jacket, pink handbag and matching high-heels.  What looks like a shopping bag is part of the card graphics.

There were other Walmart-exclusive Barbie fashions (see two more here), but this is the only one I purchased.  It was $5, supposedly reduced from $6.97. 

The sherbert-like colors of this particular fashion appealed to me.  The color combination also reminds me of some of my late brother's artwork, which was usually done in pastels. 

Swappin' Styles Artsy models the fashion without the jacket.

Swappin' Styles Artsy, who had been wearing a love-themed two-piece fashion for several months, was chosen at random to wear the new fashion.

With jacket on, Artsy poses with a some of my brother's artwork.

I think Artsy (in name alone) was the perfect doll for this fashion. 


Happy birthday, Ronald!  I love and miss you.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Snowy Day Peter

Peter's Chair book and doll (1995), photo courtesy of Sherry Howard,

After reading To Buy or Not to Buy Ezra Jack Keats' Peter's Chair, I searched online for this mini book-doll combination and discovered the price of $5 that Sherry Howard paid was a pure steal!  This led to a search for additional books written by Ezra Jack Keats featuring Peter (and hopefully accompanying dolls).

Keats' The Snowy Day (1962) is one such book.  It also happens to be the first children's picture book to feature an African American protagonist.  Learning this left me wondering why I had not read The Snowy Day as a child and why I had not read it to my own children or grandsons.  I searched the Internet to locate the plush Snowy Day doll, Peter, and the book to add to my dolls with books collection and next exhibit of the same title.

Shortly thereafter, based upon the auction title and description:  SNOWY DAY DOLL - EZRA JACK KEATS (HARDCOVER) NEW, I purchased what I was misled to believe was a doll-book combination from an eBay seller who sent only the plush doll.   After communicating with the seller about my displeasure, I was forced to open an eBay case in order to receive a full refund to include a reimbursement for return shipping.  Yes, I still wanted the doll, but I did not want it from a seller who took his or her time to address my issues with the purchase nor from one whose description was less than honest.  Before this issue was resolved with that seller, I found another Peter doll on for a little less than the other.  What was described as a first edition The Snowy Day book by Keats with a copyright of 1962, was purchased from Abe Books for under $4. (The book is not actually a first edition; it is described on the title page as first printed in 1962; but I'm okay with that since I purchased the book for the content and condition.)

Plush Peter and book are finally here, together.  

Listen to and see the animated The Snowy Day story here.
View episode 1 of The Snowy Day here.
Read about the author, Ezra Jack Keats, and see a photo of the little lad who inspired him to write The Snowy Day and six additional books featuring Peter here.

Although Keats wrote a total of seven books featuring his Peter character, to my knowledge, only three dolls have been fashioned after Peter's appearance in these books: The Snowy Day (1962), Peter's Chair (1967), and Whistle for Willie (1964). 


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dana Cover Girl's Time to Shine

Dana Cover Girl by Kenner ©1979
With a box date of 1979, Dana Cover Girl entered the market at the height of the disco era.  She is a 12-1/2-inch fully poseable doll with jointed wrists.  She uses a similar, if not the same body, as Hasbro's original Jem and the Holograms.

Dana has brown painted eyes and brown rooted hair styled in a side-swept wavy ponytail.

As illustrated on the side panels of her box, Dana wears a white body suit and removable skirt that can also be worn as a stylish cape (according to the text on the back of the box).  Her silver shoes are as shiny as a disco ball.

A portfolio and magazine cover are included in Dana's box. The back of the box illustrates the many ways Dana can pose with or without her posing stand, which is also included in her package.  Illustrations of several fashions, designed for Darci (the blonde counterpart) that Dana can also wear, are shown on the back of Dana's box.

Dana's poses and extra fashions made for Darci that Dana can wear are illustrated on the back of box.

Dana Cover Girl, not a new-to-me doll, has been dying to receive blog exposure.  Her desire has now been fulfilled.

The Totally Jem page offers additional information and comparisons of Jem, Dana, and Darci. 

Click the play arrow to view a circa 1980 Darci commercial, which does not feature Dana.