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.
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.