Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Gift of Candi and Shoes Before Christmas

Box front illustrates all seven 11-1/2-inch
 Vintage Candi dolls
The Candi:  Vintage Candi by Hamilton Toy was a surprise gift received from doll-friend, D. Spears.  The doll arrived approximately three weeks before Christmas at just the right time to lift my spirits.  After I opened the box and read D.'s note card explaining the reason she sent the doll to me, I went into an immediate "ugly Oprah-cry."  D. has often expressed her dislike for going to the post office and avoiding it at all costs, but she made an exception to physically mail this doll to me.  Further illustrating the angelic nature of this gift, the doll is from her personal collection!  How special did this make me feel?  Very!

It was not until she shared photos of her Vintage Candi months earlier that I even knew the doll existed.  Of course I was familiar with Helena Hamilton's dolls.  I own the first one, Candi Couture, from 1994, and several others she created under her original company's name or in collaboration with other doll makers, such as the Paul David/Mikelman team and Integrity Toys.  Somehow, this one, Vintage Candi, slipped through my black-doll radar.

African Swirl Vintage Candi

I had mentioned my desire to own this doll in a Facebook (FB) comment to the photos D. shared of her doll.  The doll's presentation, particularly the brightly colored yellow box with illustrations of all dolls in the collection, is so reminiscent of the boxes my childhood Barbies arrived in.  Additionally, the doll, dressed in black bathing suit with red and white stripes at upper bodice and shoulders, side-swept bangs and high ponytail, deep complexion, and beauty mark below her lower lip, is stunning!

So after Vintage Candi arrived, I studied her box, which attributes the box graphics to artist, Miki Gross, whom I found on FB.   The box illustrates and indicates in writing that the collection includes seven styles, which are shown on the box top with additional images of different dolls on the four side panels as shown in the following photos:

The left side panel of the box top illustrates Danish Bubble.  Swedish Swirl is on the right side panel. 

The top panel illustrates Asian Swirl.  A sketch of  Hispanic Swirl is on the bottom panel of the box with the names of all dolls listed.  African Swirl is checked to indicate the contents of my doll's box.

African Swirl Vintage Candi's accessories are black pumps and black sunglasses.

Online research about Vintage Candi ensued.

The most helpful Internet source regarding this line and the dolls which preceded and succeeded it was the article, Blast from the Past:  Candi Girl by Hamilton Design Systeme, published on the blog, Dollville, USA (link to the article at the end of this post).   Through reading that article, I discovered the year Vintage Candi was produced, 2004.  According to the writer, prior to Vintage Candi's creation, Hamilton had partnered with a series of doll makers, some of whom I mentioned above, the last of whom appears to have been Jason Wu.

The collaboration between Hamilton Design Systeme and Integrity Toys ended some time after 2001. By 2004, Hamilton Design Systeme became Hamilton Toy, and released a new line of retro dolls called Vintage Candi. The line consisted of seven dolls, with bubble cuts and swirl ponytails, in either black or white bathing suits. Vintage Candi fashions were sold separately.
As a result of receiving this doll, conducting research about it, and reading Blast from the Past, I discovered Hamilton created and hand painted a 16-inch articulated doll named, Candi 16.  Several different hair colors were available; however, an African American version was not included.  In 2011, she collaborated once again with Jason Wu to create Candi International (not to be confused with International Candi from 2001).  I have not seen African American versions of Candi International or know if one even exists  If an African American version exists, I'd like to own one, but it is doubtful that the line was as diverse as Hamilton's initial offerings.  It seems toward the end of her doll making, her attention shifted from a multicultural doll focus to black-doll exclusion, which is very disheartening.  I am still thrilled to own (possibly one of the last) African American dolls Hamilton created, Vintage Candi.

Pink Mary Jane-style Madame Alexander doll shoes

The Shoes:  Using the doll's original dress, hat, socks, undies, and replaced shoes, in September 2015, I pieced together the Madame Alexander "Thank You" doll (seen here).  Because D. Spears knew my doll's shoes were not original to the outfit, along with Vintage Candi, she sent an original pair of pink Madame Alexander shoes.  Thanks to D., "Thank You" is now complete.

Madame Alexander 8-inch "Thank You" Wendy

Thanks again, D. Spears, for your thoughtfulness and for all you do.

Feeling quite blessed,


Here is the link to the article, Blast from the Past:  Candi Girl by Hamilton Design Systeme

The following links are previous posts about Candi dolls posted on this blog:
Hamilton's Candi
Throwback Thursday:  The Original Candi Girl

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  1. Candi is a stunning doll. I'm really happy for you.
    Take care!

    1. She's beautiful. I need this doll in my life.

    2. I hope you're able to add Vintage Candi to your life, Sweet T!


  2. Beautiful blessings!! Very generous of D. I didn't know that this doll existed either. Congratulations on receiving Candi and the pink shoes!!

    1. Thank you GG. I am glad this post introduced you to Vintage Candi as well. She is really a gorgeous doll.


  3. Great presents! I'd never seen nor heart about this doll. I love retro looking fashion dolls in general but this one is particularly gorgeous and I like the banding on her suit.
    I'm glad your Thank-you doll has the right shoes now.

    1. I love retro fashion dolls and retro-looking ones as well, Maricha! I love everything about this one.

      I am happy for Thank You, too. :-)


  4. Candi is fierce. Love everything about her. Congrats.


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