Waldorf Dolls were known since the inter-war period, but their popularity increased in the 1970s and after along with that of Waldorf schools. The term originates from a school that was founded at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany in 1919. The structure of this school’s curriculum was based upon the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf dolls were created within this education system to help children to develop a healthy sense of self through creative play and imagination. This was very important during the difficult social and economic times that Europe and in particular Germany experienced in the aftermath of WWI. The original Waldorf doll had no facial features but soon simple eyes and a mouth became part of the “Waldorf Look”. Most Waldorf dolls are handmade and/or home-made. Kathe Kruse is the exclusive producer of official Waldorf dolls. Source Source 2 The origins of Strawberry Shortcake are similar to those of Holly Hobbie and Sarah Kay (an Australian illustrator with a similar style to Hobbie whose works were incredibly popular in Europe at the time): Strawberry was created in 1977 as a greetings card character. Kenner produced a hugely successful line of scented dolls between 1980 and 1985. Each character was based on a fruit or dessert and dressed and scented accordingly. The concept of “themed characters” was quickly taken up by other doll lines. Rainbow Brite was based on another card franchise. Introduced in 1983, Mattel produced the very successful first line of dolls (1984 – 1987). Here, the characters made the colors used for rainbows. Lady Lovely Locks (1987 – 1989) and her friends had a hair play theme, and there was Cherry Merry Muffin (1988 – 1990). The Care Bears (1983 – 1988) were based on a greeting card franchise developped by the creators of Strawberry Shortcake. While they are not dolls, they were likewise such a huge 1980s phenomenon they need to be mentioned – as do My Little Pony (1983 – 1992, 1995 in Europe) and Monchhichis (created in 1974 in Japan, exportation of the doll line started in 1975, towards West Germany and Austria. The following years would see the Monchhichi line marketed in all of Western Europe. The original name was changed to “Chicaboo” in the United Kingdom, to “Mon Cicci” in Italy, to “Kiki” in France and to “Bølle” in Denmark. The height of the Monchhichi dolls’ popularity was in Germany during the 1980s, surpassing even the Japanese figure sales during this period. The Monchhichi doll line reached the North American shores in 1980. Mattel bought the license for the toy line. The line was dropped by Mattel due to poor sales in 1985, but was reintroduced during Monchhichi’s 30 anniversary in 2004 by Sekiguchi. As of 2013, Monchhichi dolls are still available in the United States from retailers such as Target.) After the success of Kenner´s Star Wars Action figures that was fueled by The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), Mattel was looking for a similarly successful movie-tie in toy line. They negotiated for the rights to a line of Conan the Barbarian action figures, which eventually turned into the Masters of the Universe franchise. The first figures were launched in late 1981. In 1985, Mattel and Filmation (who was producing the MOTU cartoon series) combined to make a spin-off for girls: She-Ra, Princess of Power, seeing that Galoob was already successfully marketing a similar girls´ series: Golden Girl and the Guardians of the Gemstones. Speaking of action figures, 1987 saw the debut of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a franchise that would be hugely successful over the next years. The Cabbage Patch Kids were originally created in 1978 but mass-produced as dolls by Coleco in 1982. They were hugely successful and after 1989, when Coleco had to file for banktruptcy, the line was picked up by other manufacturers (Hasbro 1988 – 1994; Mattel 1994 – 2001; 2001 – 2002 ToysRUs). Several years after the Cabbage Patch Doll first appeared, Mattel came out with their brand of competition… the My Child Doll. These dolls were similar in size to the CPK, but had softer “skin,” could stand on their own and were able to hold poses. They also had “real” hair instead of yarn hair. Their copyright tags say 1985 and they might have started manufacturing sometime that year, but they were first seen on shelves in 1986. They were made until 1988 and the slogan was that every child could have one that looked just like them. In 1985, the My Buddy doll line was made by Hasbro with the intention to appeal to little boys and teach them about caring for their friends. This idea was both innovative and controversial for its time, as toy dolls were traditionally associated with younger girls. Hasbro also introduced a companion Kid Sister marketed toward girls. Hasbro discontinued the line before the start of the 1990s and Playskool took over production, making changes to the likeness and clothing. My Buddy is one of several dolls said to be the inspiration for Chucky, the evil doll from Child’s Play.(1988) Punky Brewster was a popular tv sitcom that ran between 1984 and 1986. The main character, a spunky orphan, was a popular doll at the time. 17″ Kimberly was produced by Tomy (1981 – 1984) and was very popular in the first half of the decade. She was like a pre-teen version of Mattel´s Starr – “the terrific teen that´s tops with everyone.” The Starr line of 12″ dolls was made between 1979/80 and 82. Pleasant Company was founded in 1986 by Pleasant Rowland, and its products were originally purchasable by mail order only. In 1986, the first three American Girl Historical Characters were released: Samantha (Late Victorian/Edwardian Era), Kirsten (Pioneer Era) and Molly (World War II Era). Ginny was still being produced by Lesney. By the early 80s designer jeans were all the rage. Little girls (and big girls too) no longer wanted to wear just “ordinary” jeans. They had to have a “label”. Lesney picked up on this popular trend and designed the “OO La La! Sassoon” Ginny. Additional designer clothing packs could be purchased as well.(Source) In 1984, Meritus got the rights to produce Ginny dolls, and then in 1986, Dakin and she went back to her toddler looks. Meanwhile… in 1981, MTV had started as the first special interest channel, broadcasting music videos, presented by “VJs” or video jockes (a visual counterpart to radio´s disk jockey). The success of the new channel was also reflected in the doll industry. In 1986, Mattel offered a short-lived series named Hot Looks. These 19″ pose-able fashion dolls had vinyl heads with rooted hair and painted features. Their bodies are stockinette with wires inside so that they may be posed. Each doll has a stitched on non-removable bra and panties. There were five models in all, each representing a different country. Their look vaguely resembles two more successful doll lines of the time: Barbie and the Rockers (1986) and Jem and the Holograms (1986- 1987). And yes, it reflects the look of pop stars of the time. Since 1950s nostalgia was still a big thing, in 1987, the Rockers got a new look as Barbie and the Sensations. In 1982, Takara produced a doll under the Barbie name, but with an entirely different look, for the Japanese market. When the license ran out in 1986, they continued to produce that doll, which was then named Jenny. Jenny is still being produced and very successful today. Polly Pocket was launched in 1989 – a line of tiny dolls (or, rather figures), smaller than 1″, that came in compacts that contained entire play sets. A counterpart named Mighty Max was marketed to boys. In 1988, Mattel launched its Li´l Miss line of toddler dolls that had a special feature that could be activated somehow. Li´l MissMakeup, the first, had make-up that would appear and disappear when touched with a sponge dipped in hot or cold water. Li´l Miss Dressup had clothes that could be drawn on and changed colour with temperature; and Li´l Miss Magic Hair had streaks that turned colorful. PJ Sparkles had a very similar look and a hair bow, bracelet and heart that would light up. The Li´l Miss line continued well into the 1990s. Following the end of Jem and the Holograms in 1988, Hasbro attempted to create another doll line to compete against Barbie. They came up with Maxie, who was just your typical popular high school girl from California. Mattel replied with its own high school doll line, centered around Barbie´s cousin Jazzie.(1989-1992) Mattel first introduced the Heart Family to the world in 1985 as friends of Barbie, but they quickly abandoned that back story. The Heart family demonstrated a more family-oriented, simplified lifestyle, which seemed a refreshing change from those countless weekends in Malibu. In place of a pink Corvette and large motor home, the Hearts drove a sensible Volkswagen Cabriolet complete with car seats for the kids, illustrative of their safety-conscious nature, while the convertible top suggested they still had a fun-loving side. Furthermore, the Heart Family didn’t reside in an enormous dream mansion, instead occupying a sensible four-room home that included the basic furniture and necessities required for family life, such as bassinets, high chairs, and the all-important family table. In short, the Heart Family seemed to convey that the house wasn’t nearly as important as the love inside it.The Heart Family enjoyed immense popularity during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Source >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> The first years of the 1990s saw a revival of the Dam Troll Dolls. American Girl added Felicity (Colonial Era) in 1991 and the dolls changed from white to skin-tone cloth bodies. In 1993, Addy (Civil War Era) was released as the first AA American Girl doll. In 1995, a line of contemporary dolls was added (American Girl of Today; shortened to American Girl Today in 1996). In 1997, Josefina was added to the historical line (pre-US New Mexico) as the first hispanic character. In 1998, Pleasant Company became a subsidiary of Mattel. The market niche for contemporary 18″ play dolls that was present before the introduction of American Girl of Today was filled by the Magic Attic Club Dolls (1994 – 2004). Sculpted by Robert Tonner. The Springfield Collection was introduced in 1996. Battat offered the Our Generation doll line from 1998 on. Like the historical American Girl dolls, the Magic Attic dolls came with books that detailed their adventures. Another hugely successful book series that had dolls to accompany it was The Babysitters Club (1993). Galoob offered their line of Baby Face dolls from 1990-1991. They sold very well. However, due to events and politics within the toy industry, the dolls were discontinued in spite of the fact that they were a best seller. In 1991, German company, Zapf, introduced Baby Born, a baby doll with several functions that would be hugely successful. In 1992, Hasbro introduced the first talking Baby Alive doll, which did not sell well and was replaced by a non-talking functional doll, Baby All Gone (that could be fed), in 1995. Cupcakes were produced first by Tonka in 1990, then by Kenner from 1991-92 (Hasbro purchased Tonka in 1991, of which Kenner was a sub-division, and shifted production there). They were a series of dolls with plastic skirts which when turned inside out transformed into edible goodies with their hats becoming the icing. They were also scented, similar to Cherry Merry Muffin and Strawberry Shortcake dolls.Source In 1993, Mighty Morphin´ Power Rangers debuted as the first series in the franchise that adapted Japanese superhero series for the American market. They were successfully marketed as dolls and action figures as well.
In 1989, the Disney movie Ariel debuted. It was a huge success, reviving the classic animated musicals that had been going through a bit of a slump during the 1980s. Tyco produced a very successful line of Ariel tie-in dolls (1989 – 1993). Mattel offered its own line of Barbie and friends as mermaids in 1993. They also got their own license for Disney dolls and started to offer dolls accompanying the upcoming movies: Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995), Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules (1997), Mulan (1998), and Tarzan (1999). They also offered dolls based on classic films like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. In the early 1990s, Mattel introduced Barbie´s younger sister Stacie – kind of an updated cross between Skipper (who was marketed more as a teenager back then) and Tutti. Far more successful, however, was the toddler sister introduced in 1995 – Kelly (Shelly in Europe). Kelly and her “Little Friends” were made until 2009 (when Kelly was replaced by Chelsea). Mattel also made an attempt to introduce a line of AA dolls that was its own line, rather than “friends of Barbie”. Shani and her friends Asha and Nichelle were made from 1991 – 1994. The characters and face sculpts were later merged into the Barbie line. (pic by teekeek on flickr) In 1997, Skipper finally grew up and was made Teen Skipper, with a younger, less curvaceous adult body similar to Francie and Jazzie. The Teen Skipper line lasted until 2003. Meanwhile, Barbie was declared younger and entered High School again as part of the Generation Girls line (1998 – 2000). The line introduced several new face sculpts, including that for Barbie. The “Mackie face” closed mouth sculpt had been introduced for the collectible Barbies designed by Bob Mackie in 1992. In the late 1990s, it was used for several Barbie dolls in the playline before the Generation Girl sculpt took over and the Mackie sculpt was used mainly for collectibles again. Sky Dancers were launched in 1994. They were a modern version of the classic pull-string propeller toy. The Spice Girls had their first big hit “Wannabe” in 1996 and were a huge success. The five different character types allowed almost everyone to find a favourite. Galoob made Spice Girls dolls which were available from 1997 – 2000. Another hugely successfiul singer marketed as a doll was Britney Spears (1999-2000). Other TV shows that had characters successfully marketed as dolls were Full House (1987 – 1995), Saved by the Bell (1989 – 1993), Blossom (1990 – 1995), Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000) and Sabrina the Teenage Witch (1996-2000, animated series: 1999 – 2000). The Olsen Twins, who had shared the role of baby Michelle on Full House, went on to be tv stars in their own right after the sitcom had ended. They starred in several movies and series in the late 1990s and in 1999, the first set of dolls was introduced. And then, of course, there was Sailor Moon. The series – first broadcast in Japan 1992 – 1997, was first shown in the US in 1995, the manga followed in 1997. The show was incredibly successful and a huge phenomenon. The first dolls were imported and made by Bandai, ca. 1995; Irwin took over the license in 2000. Betty Spaghetty – a bendable doll with rubber hair and exchangeable parts (hands and feet) – was introduced in 1998. Also introduced in 1998 were the Groovy Girls, 13″ rag fashion dolls. The brand’s lifestyle aspects are fashion, friendship and self-expression, and a wholesome alternative to dolls such as Bratz, Flavas, My Scene, and Barbies. Groovy Girls were initially sold in specialty toy stores such as Zany Brainy, Noodle Kidoodle, and Store of Knowledge. Beginning in early 2005, the dolls were launched in Target stores as well. Ty Beanie Babies were first sold in 1993. Between 1995 and 2000, they were a huge craze. People paid hundreds for rare ones. Another craze was Tickle Me Elmo in 1996. Other animatronic toys that were must-haves were Furby (1998-1999) – the first successful attempt to produce and sell a domestically-aimed robot – and Tamagotchi (introduced in 1996, they were a huge craze in the late 1990s.) In 1995, Gene Marshall was introduced as a 16″ fashion doll for adult collectors. She was very popular and started the market for adult “play” collectibles that would give rise to many other lines soon after – most notably, Tonner´s Tyler Wentworth (introduced in 1999). In 1996, Eden Dolls produced the first Madeline dolls, based on the character from the 1939 book by Bemelman that had recently been made into a tv series. The cloth doll was 15″. Later, Eden added a line of 8″ poseable vinyl dolls. Six years later in 2002, Learning Curve bought the rights to Madeline dolls from Eden Toys. It was not long after Learning Curve began producing dolls that they decided to change the faces and designs of the Madeline dolls. Rather than having faces that mimicked those from Bemelmans’ illustrations, the dolls now had large round eyes and more distinct facial features. 1998 also saw a redesign of the Polly Pocket line with slightly larger dolls and the launch of the 3 3/4″ Fashion Polly who came with rubbery and clip-on clothes. The tiny Polly Pocket sets were phased out in the early 2000s (2003?). In Japan, Volks introduced the first Ball-Jointed Dolls in 1999. Another Japanese import that started a huge pop cultural phenomenon (with accompanying flood of toys) was Pokemon. Introduced in Japan in 1996, the Game Boy games (Red and Blue) were finally sold in America and Europe in 1998/99, along with the anime, manga and trading card game. Another huge thing in 1999 was the return of Star Wars with Episode I. Queen Amidala dolls were everywhere! Unfortunately, they did not sell well and Hasbro would concentrate on the boy audience for their upcoming toy lines for Episode II and III.