Today's blog post is a mystery story! Read to try to solve the case of The Disappearance of the $300 Box of Doll Supplies. You aren't going to believe what I think happened! Also, my Mother's Day Sale starts tomorrow. Link to all my shops from the Home page.
Today on the blog, I tell you about Mego Melt and how to fix it. I'm using my Gen 2 Sindy doll to demonstrate. Despite the name, Mego Melt can affect any brand doll or action figure made from hard plastic and vinyl. The affected dolls are typically from the 1970s and 1980s. The Sunshine Family dolls are notorious for this problem, and it will affect them and similar dolls most especially when they aren't properly stored.
Today on my blog I show you the special hybrid method I use to replace Patti PlayPal and similar doll's eyes. Some dolls, like Patti, don't fit into one typical repair method and you have to improvise to fix them. This sort of thing happens often when you're a doll doctor; don't be afraid to think outside the box and try various methods until you get the one that works best for you!
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!
As you're all aware, I have been working on the next books in my doll repair and doll making series. My Doll University book is available on the Shop page, along with e-packets specific to repairing certain vintage dolls. I have gotten behind on my Art Dolls book, which is next in the series; I keep thinking I'm done and then I remember other things I want to add! The kids starting back to school is taking up a lot of my time, too. As much as I want to help you start a career in dolls, I found another business opportunity I want to share: flipping fashion!
I discovered a great app called Flyp that allows you to send your fashion inventory to Pro Sellers who sell it for you and pay you through the app. I have been liquidating my fashion inventory because it takes up too much room in the house and I am transitioning to moving most of my businesses to consignment. As often as we are now staying up at our mountain cabin, I am not around to ship orders daily. With Flyp, I don't have to be at home because the Pro Seller handles listing and shipping for me!
While Flyp is a terrific option for consigning your stuff, it's an even better opportunity for starting a business. In fact, I would call it revolutionary! If you decide to be a Pro Seller on Flyp they will match you to consignment lots. If you are selected to sell someone's lot they ship it to you free of charge. You get inventory for no money upfront: your fee is extracted from your earnings when the item sells! The consignor pays for shipping the lot to you from their earnings, so there is no risk! You can start a business selling fashion without spending a dime on inventory to stock your store! How and where you sell the clothes are up to you; you can choose whatever websites or physical location you want to sell the items. I wish this option was available back when I started selling clothes! I'm kind of bummed to discover it when I'm getting away from selling fashion!
You can sell men's and women's clothing on Flyp. Apply to be a Pro Seller on the Flyp app or on their Instagram @joinflyp. Currently Flyp is only available on Apple devices. I hope they expand to Android soon. If you're looking for a great home-based business idea I encourage you to join Flyp. Maybe you'll partner with me! I'm "Amanda B" on Flyp.
Because Flyp is only available on Apple, I put together some reseller boxes for people who use Android. These are available from my shops on Poshmark, eBay, Depop, and Mercari. Shipping is cheapest on Poshmark. Everything is priced really low, like thrift store prices, so you can maximize your profit, and all are set up so you can make me an offer to fit your budget. Link to all my shops from the Home page. I would love to help you start your own business, whether in dolls, or fashion, or both!
Right now, you can save on my reseller lots as well as doll stuff during my 10-Day Sale. I'm celebrating Valentine's Day and Chinese New Year and discounts are my gift to you! The sale is running on my eBay, Etsy, and Depop shops, as well as my Shop page. I hope you'll stop by for the deals! Happy Chinese New Year!
I am happy to announce a new product: recordable voice boxes! These are the same boxes used at Build-A-Bear Workshop. Make a doll or plush toy with a special message or one that says "Mama" or "I love you". Find step-by-step recoding and installation instructions on my blog. Purchase a box from my shops, link on the Home page.
The Census At Bethlehem by Pieter Brueghel The Elder
Early this year, I was hit with a premonition. We were driving up to the mountains and I saw a man walking along the side of the highway. I can't remember any particular thing about him but for some reason he struck me forcibly as the iconic tramp, a symbol, like The Walker in The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper (with which I was obsessed as a pre-teen) or Strider from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I was still musing over why I saw him as a tramp and not just a stranded motorist, and also considering the ancient origin of the term "highway", when we passed a wooden wagon full of hay straight out of a Brueghel painting. The wagon wasn't in a farm yard or anything, just in a clearing by the road. It wasn't the kind of wagon you could attach to a vehicle and I have no idea how it got there. I suddenly had the impression we were hurtling backwards through time, driving inexorably into the past. As it turned out, I was somewhat correct. The arrival of the pandemic, the medieval quarantine, the slowing of life's pace are all experiences our ancestors would recognize. The year seemed to freeze us in amber, or at least in some viscous miasma we had to drag ourselves through, every movement labored and spotlighted. There were some blessings; I didn't miss our usual hectic summer sports rolling into the even more frenetic holidays. It has been especially hard on the children, however. They miss their friends and their usual activities. It was worsened by our daughter's advent of back pain and subsequent diagnosis with scoliosis. Swimming, her favorite sport and the activity most recommended by her osteopath, was closed to her.
And of course, the year has been a disaster for so many. The past again: bread lines, famine, mass unemployment, and the complete absence of any government relief. People have been left to sink or swim alone. Our town Santa Claus died of COVID, as did a high school friend. My sister's entire family caught it, though they seem to have come through okay, thankfully. I did the only thing I could think to help and wrote my Doll University book and Tiny Budget Tiny Cabin books. These teach you to set up your own home-based doll repair business as well as get into a tiny home as cheaply and quickly as possible. I fervently hope my advice helps you turn this year from the past into a prosperous, or at least stable, new future.
Here's to 2021. May we take only the good with us into the new year. Happy New Year, from Atelier Mandaline!
Merry Christmas! Atelier Mandaline shops are closed for the holidays. May you have a wonderful Christmas!
I've been re-branding Atelier Mandaline. It's been 15 years since I designed my logo and packaging and my business has evolved. Back then, I only sold girl's clothes and dolls on eBay and I didn't even have a storefront. Now I have eight shops and a doll hospital and I've become an author. My customer base has become more diverse since I started selling men's fashion. My new logo reflects my increasing focus on doll eyes and supplies and my previous pink and white color scheme has become more neutral to appeal to all my clients. I am still using the handmade unicorn tags created by my kids because they're just so cute and I do still sell a lot of dolls and girly stuff.
My re-design has not yet reached my web presence; I still need to update my website, blog, and store logos. Rest assured, I will get those done as I can. I did change my logo on my newsletter and immediately got an Abuse report to Mail Chimp. Evidently, someone didn't recognize me! I never subscribe anyone to my newsletter unless they request it because I hate when I buy something and end up with a ton of spam. I would not do that to someone else! So please pay attention to my Atelier Mandaline name, not my logo. The new logo is the one shown above. It's still me, just with a new look!
One of the reasons I'm not completely done with my re-brand is because I've been working on my third book, Atelier Mandaline Presents Art Dolls, second in the Atelier Mandaline Presents doll series. This latest book focuses on making one-of-a-kind dolls using pre-made dolls, like Barbie, American Girl, Blythe, and now, Pullip.
For literally as long as I can remember, I've wanted to make my own dolls. As a teenager I made rag dolls, but I really wanted to learn to sculpt dolls. I started sculpting them from clay and polymer medium, but because I didn't have a kiln they were extremely fragile and not long-lived, and they weren't professional-looking.
Over the past couple decades I've learned to make unique dolls without having to manufacture them. I found I can completely re-design commercial dolls by replacing their eyes, wigs, and re-sculpting and re-painting them. My custom dolls sell for hundreds of dollars each. Making art dolls is a huge trend right now and it's a perfect work-from-home career during the pandemic. I decided to share my tips so you can learn to create your own dolls.
I already covered Blythe and American Girl art dolls in past blog posts, and I added a historical doll section to help you create accurate vintage and antique art dolls. I still wanted to learn how to make a custom Pullip doll so I could show that to you.
Pullip dolls are "big eyes" dolls made by Jun Planning, similar to Blythe in that they have convertible eyes. While Blythe has color changing eyes, Pullip dolls have moving eyes. Pullip dolls can wink, sleep, and look from side to side. They use eye chips a little smaller than Blythe's. The eyes don't change color but you can customize the eye chips. Pullip dolls come with a ball-jointed body. Jun Planning makes finished Pullip dolls but they also sell a kit with a blank doll ready to be customized. I ordered one of those kits two years ago and finally got around to finishing it. Allow me to introduce "Autumn", my new custom Pullip.
Autumn has custom-painted shimmering hazel-green eyes and a red curly wig. She's painted with a peaches and cream complexion, freckles galore, and metallic copper eyeshadow and blush. Her wig is attached with silicone adhesive in front. leaving the back open so you can easily reach the buttons and lever to manipulate her eye mechanism.
Autumn wears a vintage hand-crocheted dress with organdy slip. Her slip can be worn as a babydoll dress. Autumn's coin head band can be worn as a necklace. Autumn is for sale in my shops, and she will also be featured in Art Dolls so you can learn to create your own Pullip doll. You can link to all my shops from my Home Page to purchase her from your favorite site.
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.