1961 - Mattel introduces Ken and his wardrobe. The first Ken stood twelve inches tall and was sold in a box, with fashion booklet, sandals, a towel and black wire stand. The first Ken was sold with flocked hair available as a blonde, a rare brunette, sold as a store exclusive, and dark brunette.
1962 - The first Ken doll's flocked hair would rub off easily so Mattel issued a new version of Ken in 1962 with painted hair.
1963 - This year, the painted hair on Ken shrunk a quarter of an inch to 11 3/4 inches! This oddball version of Ken also had loose leg joints and more pronounced kneecaps.
1964 - By this year Mattel corrected the fading vinyl issue, and the knobby kneecaps, and then returned Ken to his original 12-inch stature! (article continues below)... [Continue Reading]
Francie was presented to the public in 1966 as Barbie's mod cousin. While Barbie wore sophisticated fashions, Francie wore modern style clothing made with bright colors and patterns.
She was made slightly shorter than Barbie, although not as short as Skipper, leading the public to put Francie at an age between Barbie and Skipper. Francie was the first fashion doll to come with real eyelashes.
Mattel made Francie in many different configurations during the ten years she was on the market. From 1966 to 1968, she was available as a straight leg model and a bendable leg model. Beginning in 1967, she also was made as a Twist n Turn doll.
This model allowed her to twist at the waist. Also in 1967, Francie became the first dark complected doll for Mattel. Black Francie still used the caucasion molds, so she did not have true African American features. (article continued below)... [Continue Reading]
In 1964 Mattel brought the Skipper doll out. The vintage Skipper dolls were supposed to be about 10 years of age. They were also Barbie's younger sister. Many moms liked the idea of skipper for their daughters who were a bit young for the older Barbie dolls.
This introduction of Skipper came 5 years after the first Barbie was brought out. Just like the Barbie dolls, the Skipper dolls went through many style changes and even an age change. Finally in 2003 Mattel retired Skipper for good.
The Skipper dolls were originally 9.25" in height. There was one version though where you could actually make her grow taller. This version was manufactured in 1975 and was aptly named Growing Up Skipper. With a turn of her arms her height changed and more surprisingly her breasts grew but not everyone was pleased with that idea. (article continued below)... [Continue Reading]
Allan was advertised as Midge's boyfriend as well. Allan has the distinction of being the only one of Ken's friends to be given a last name.
The early versions of this vintage doll usually had red painted hair and brown eyes. Just like Ken, Allan was an 11 ½ " doll with straight arms and legs. One of the advertising hooks was that Allan could wear all the same clothes that Ken wore.
An interesting bit of trivia about the Allan doll is that he was named after Barbara Handler's husband, Allan Segal. (article continues below) [Continue Reading]
Midge Hadley was introduced as Barbie's best friend in 1963 to counter criticism that Barbie was too mature for a children's doll. Unlike Barbie's sculpted features, Midge's face was fuller and gentler with a sprinkling of freckles across her nose.
Midge's fashionable flipped hair was available in three different colors: brunette, blond and red. There were a small portion of Midge dolls made without freckles and some that showed teeth. These models are extremely rare and very collectible today.
The original Midge had straight arms and legs, and came in a two-piece swimming suit. The color varied depending on the doll's hair color. She was made 11 ½ inches tall, just like Barbie, and a major selling point was the fact that Midge and Barbie could share clothing. (article continues below) [Continue Reading]