A funny thing that happens sometimes when I'm sourcing is I will find the same thing or very similar things over and over. Recently this has happened with vintage Uneeda dolls. I am sourcing online lately since the thrift stores are all closed or operating on limited hours. This results in my getting a lot of "mystery" dolls and clothes since I can't see them up close.
I won a couple doll lots on eBay that all contained Uneeda Dollikin dolls in various sizes. I have a weakness for Dollikin dolls, as you know if you have been reading this blog for any time. These articulated dolls resemble artist's mannequins and are infinitely posable. The original Miss Dollikin was a 19 inch doll released in the 1950s as a Cissy competitor. Smaller Action Dollikin was produced in the same size as Barbie in the 1960s and Little Miss Dollikin, a 6.5 inch doll, was released a bit later to compete with Topper's Dawn. She was sold as "Tricki Micki" by Woolworths, just the same but with long straight hair rather than a bob. There was also a 15 inch Dollikin called "Squirt" by collectors and made in 1957 only, so very rare, and a rare Baby Dollikin. I've never seen one of those but I now own the Miss Dollikin, Action Dollikin, and Little Miss Dollikin. I don't know how long I will keep them; although I love Dollikins I am not a collector. I purchased the smaller versions to add to my doll stringing kit offerings. I already sell a stringing kit for the full sized Dollikin but not the others. I was unaware of Dollikin dolls as a child, which is too bad, because the Little Miss Dollikin was sold until the 1980s. She became a break dancer then! I would have absolutely loved her back then! I will probably keep my Dollikins at least long enough to make kits and clothing patterns for them all and to get them out of my system!
The nice thing about having a few dolls in a collection is it can be a great help in trying to identify an unknown doll. One of the Dollikin lots came with a mystery Barbie clone. She had long honey-blond hair, very wiry, which looked as though it had been in a ponytail, although it could be brushed out straight pretty easily. Her face looked a lot like Francie, Barbie's friend. She had a hollow plastic body with a twist waist and a vinyl head marked "U" on the back. Cursory research indicated the U mark was used by Elite for their Wendy doll as well as Uneeda for their Suzette. and Miss Suzette. Now, Miss Suzette is worth a great deal of money; I've seen her listed as high as $600! I got more serious about identifying my mystery doll!
I was leaning toward her being a Uneeda doll rather than Elite because she has several similarities to other Uneeda dolls from around the same time period. I keep a Uneeda Tiny Teen Suzette in my office because she isn't worth all that much and she is nearly identical to Little Miss Revlon, so she is useful for determining whether clothes or shoes will fit Little Miss Revlon. I could see right away the Tiny Teen Suzette has hair very close to the mystery doll's hair, very wiry and thick with rather fuzzy tips and the same dark blond color.
The Tiny Teen Suzette is marked UNEEDA on the back of her head, incised very lightly and barely visible. The mystery doll is just marked U.
Comparing the mystery doll to the Action Dollikin I saw they have similar circle marks on the backs of their thighs and what looks almost like peg joints, little bumps in the plastic around the jointed areas. They are both made of the same heavy, hollow plastic, although the Dollikin is finished much better, with completely smooth seams and brighter paint.
I looked on the Doll Reference website at Barbie clones and they show the Tiny Teen Suzette and subsequent Suzette, and the Miss Suzette. They show the Suzette doll with a ponytail and bubble cut. Another doll, Elite's Wendy, used the same head, also marked U. Both Wendy and Suzette have the Bild Lilli face, with side glancing eyes and heavy black winged eyeliner. Neither of them has the slight smile and white eyeliner of my mystery doll. Doll Reference notes a second ponytail version of Suzette was made whose face was unlike the previous Suzette. I think it is likely this is that face.
I went to Instagram for help and a collector friend said she thinks my doll is Suzette from 1960. In between the Tiny Teen Suzette and Miss Suzette, Uneeda's quality dropped sharply in regard to Suzette dolls. I don't know if they were just under such pressure from Barbie or what.
I wondered if Suzette had a friend like Midge or Francie. A great deal of research produced one ad showing Suzette's friend Diane. Diane looks nothing like this doll, however, in the ad. You have to be cautious using vintage ads because they often featured illustrations or heavily-edited colorized photos so the dolls can appear completely different than in real life. I can't find a photo of an actual Diane doll.
I am sure this is a Uneeda doll, and fairly sure she is Suzette. At any rate, she is extremely rare. I spent days pouring over doll books, blogs, sales sites, old ads and catalogs and I have not seen another doll with this face. She's for sale in my shops and you can link to your favorite from the Home page. Look for a 60s fashion doll extravaganza over the next couple months. I have many Barbie dolls and friends and their clothes listed and more are on the way.
Naturally, since I am in the middle of writing my Art Dolls book, I decided to dive deep into the world of Tammy doll clones from the 1960s. I was hoping to finish the book in January and I'm way behind and definitely don't have time to mess around researching obscure vintage dolls, but I can't help it. I get obsessed with stuff, as you well know if you've been reading my blog for any amount of time. and when I get like this I literally can't think about anything else.
It started innocently enough. A couple of years ago I ordered a big lot of vintage dolls. I thought one of them was a Tammy doll with brunette hair. She was wearing a blue outfit that looked like the original Tammy romper. When the lot arrived however, I saw "Tammy" was probably not Tammy. Her outfit was a blue dress, not the Tammy romper, and she was way smaller than Tammy, plus she had flat feet. I assumed she was a clone. Her hair had been chopped pretty badly, too. I threw her into my doll stash to await restoration.
Then, most of the way through my book I went to add photos of the re-rooting process and realized I didn't really have any. I absolutely hate rooting doll hair and I've only done it once. And apparently it was such a traumatic process I forgot to take any photos! I remembered my pseudo-Tammy and decided to give her a re-root to feature in the book. I completely forgot about her narrow neck opening! I managed to get her done but I am worried I might have permanently damaged my thumb; it's been kind of numb for more than a week now and it's hard to hold scissors or a hemostat. I just hope my book sells well, because I'm never getting paid for my time! "Tammy" has a lovely head of Kanekalon hair in "beach blonde".
I didn't really notice her size when I was doing her hair, just holding the head, but when I re-inserted the head and went to find some clothes for "Tammy" I realized she's a completely odd size. She's around 10 inches tall, nowhere near Tammy's 12 inches but too tall to wear 9 inch Pepper's fashions. Pepper was Tammy's little sister. My doll is close to Skipper's size, but still larger, so she can only wear a few of Skipper's clothing and shoes. I started searching online for Tammy clones in order to possibly find her some clothes and fell into the Tammy clone world, which I didn't realize included Sindy.
I distinctly remember reading about how the Pedigree company, having obtained a license from Mattel to produce Barbie in the UK, decided not to do so due to Barbie's unpopularity among British girls. According to the story I read, they interviewed lots of girls to find out what kind of doll they would like and came up with Sindy. Imagine my surprise when I found out Sindy was released a few years after Tammy and was nearly identical! Maybe the girls were just shown Tammy and Barbie dolls and polled on which they preferred.
Depending on who's writing the story, either Pedigree produced Sindy in collaboration with Ideal or Ideal threatened to sue Pedigree over the resemblance of the dolls. As there are cases of Sindy and Tammy dolls being produced with one another's bodies I believe they must have struck a deal of some sort. Pivoting to researching Sindy dolls, I found out about the existence of "Mini Sindy", apparently a rare variation. Mini Sindy is usually described as being 10.5 inches tall. My doll is just barely 10 inches, but comparing her to my Gen 2 Sindy, I believe she may actually be a mini Sindy doll or a Sindy clone. I am still not clear on whether the Mini Sindys are actual Sindys or knock-offs.
My doll's face, above, is a clear Tammy copy from the 1960s. The Sindy face below is the Gen 2 Tammy from the late 1970s, early 1980s.
My doll is marked "Made In Hong Kong" on her back, nearly identical to the "Made in Hong Kong" marking on the Gen 2 Sindy's back.
The Gen 2 Sindy is marked with the Sindy logo on the back of her head. My doll has no marking on her head and neck.
My research on Tammy clones led me to Mayfair's Judy doll, "Canada's Fashion Queen", which led me to the Calico Lassie doll by Kellogg. Girls could send in box tops from Kellogg's cereals to get Calico Lassie and her outfits. Calico Lassie's ads referenced her "Hillbilly Style" fashions, and with her sausage curl pigtails she was a clear reference to Elly Mae from The Beverly Hillbillies TV show. Kelloggs didn't have the copyright permission to use Elly Mae's name but the inference is clear. Kellogg used Mayfair's Judy doll for their Calico Lassie, changing only her hairstyle. Judy and Calico Lassie are both marked "Unique" on the backs of their heads, despite being a Tammy twin. So. Calico Lassie is a clone of a clone of a clone, being a clone of a TV character based on a clone of a doll who was herself based a movie character, Sandra Dee's Tammy!
I remembered picking up Calico Lassie on one of my last thrift trips before the onset of the pandemic. I dug her out for comparison. I don't have a real Tammy doll, and never have had one, but I've seen photos of Calico Lassie wearing Tammy's clothes and vice-versa, so I know she's basically the same size.
As you can see, Calico Lassie is a good 12 inches tall, with the splayed, separated fingers called "Tammy hands." Her body and legs are hollow blow molds and her head is heavy vinyl. She has a slight high heeled foot and can wear either heels or flats. From my research I know this is how many Sindy and Tammy dolls were also made. The Gen 2 Sindy is 11 inches and my doll is 10 inches.
The Mini Sindy dolls were apparently also made with the same type bodies as the Calico Lassie and are known as the "New Zealand" Sindy dolls. So, an added wrinkle with Sindy is she was different based on the country in which she was sold. Yet another wrinkle is some Tammy and Sindy dolls were produced with one another's bodies. On top of that, there are Sindy clones too, including Linda, Camay, Fleur, Fi Fi, the miniature Sarah Louise (who is like a combination of Sindy and Little Miss Dollikin), and on and on.
My doll is based on the "Posin'" Tammy or Pepper, with bendable wires inside her legs. Her arms don't pose. The Gen 2 Sindy has the bendable wire arms as well as the Barbie-type knee joints that snap into place. My doll has a vinyl head and limbs with a blow mold body.
My Gen 2 Sindy is mine and a model because her condition is so bad I doubt she would ever sell. Her hands were broken and I made new wrists from epoxy that kind of keep them attached. She also suffers from the weird melting joints you often see with the Sunshine Family bodies: there's some kind of vinyl or something that melts inside the joints and glues them into place, as well as gluing the doll's clothing to the body. As a matter of fact, quality-wise, my possible clone doll is much nicer than either of the other two dolls.
Finding she might be a Sindy doll, I ordered a bubble pack of Sindy shoes, boots, and hair accessories and the shoes fit all these dolls. The boots only fit the Gen 2 Sindy and they come with a little piece of paper advising you to cover the doll's legs with talcum powder in order to help slide them on, so they were apparently a problem when they were manufactured.
I've decided to call my doll "Sindy", even though she might be a clone. She's certainly a rare doll, besides being one-of-a-kind; I haven't seen another one exactly like her. The closest was a 1965 Tammy doll but her body was different and she was taller. I don't know if it really even matters, since it seems like the clone dolls are as valuable or even more valuable than the originals, based on their rarity, and there seems to be a whole market for just clone collectors.
I don't really blame them; I loved Sindy as a child. I vividly remember wanting the 1978 Sindy and her accessories. The ballerina Sindy, so posable, and especially the Pony Club Sindy, with her horse trailer and English riding gear. Even the Sindy dining room table, with its fancy plastic china and silver. I never got any of them; with four girls we were fully invested in Barbie stuff. I was horse-obsessed, but living in the same part of Ohio that produced Annie Oakley, we had Western style toy horses and Barbies. You had to special-order Sindy as well. She wasn't available from Barr's, our general store complete with candy counter where we got most of our toys. I still love Sindy's darling face. I will probably end up making a trunk set for my Sindy, since her clothes and shoes are so hard to find.
I hope my hand recovers soon because it's hard to type and I have several dolls headed to my hospital. We are building a covered sort of breezeway at our cabin, too. It will have a storage shed so we can get all the tools out of the tiny cabin, and a picnic table. We are digging and pouring the footings this weekend, so I need my hand fully recovered!
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.