Monday, February 20, 2012

Retro Product Fail #8: The Blythe Doll

Photo via mydollies4 on Flickr
Open your eyes to the world of Blythe! The Blythe doll, introduced by Kenner in 1972, was either really cool or really creepy looking depending on your perspective. With an oversized head and equally oversized eyes (sort of an early protege of the Bratz dolls), Blythe's appeal was that you could dress her in different outfits and change her eye color and expression by pulling the string on the back of her head. Probably not something you'd want to play with if you were high on certain substances, as Blythe looks freaky enough to the un-stoned.

Personally, I think she looks like Christina Ricci, Michelle Bachman's Time cover portrait, or the woman who became known as "the runaway bride" a few years ago. They all have what I like to call crazy eyes. Apparently, other people back in 1972 felt the same way because Blythe only lasted a year in the United States and Australia. Here's one of the original commercials, with a theme song so indicative of the times (it sounds like the lead singer of Blood, Sweat and Tears singing):


Blythe was all but forgotten until the year 1997, when a photographer and TV producer named Gina Garan received a vintage Blythe doll as a gift, and she eventually became an overnight hit in Japan. According to Wikipedia, this is how Blythe's popularity got resurrected:

She began taking her Blythe everywhere with her and took hundreds of photos. In 1999, she was introduced to CWC's Junko Wong by artist and illustrator, Jeffrey Fulvimari which brought Blythe to the attention of Parco and toy executives. In 2000, Gina published her first book of Blythe photography with Chronicle Books, This is Blythe. In 2001, Hasbro (the Trademark and License owner) gave TakaraJapan and CWC a license to produce the New Edition of Blythe (Neo Blythe). Blythe was used in a television advertising campaign by Parco, the fashion branch of Seibu Department Stores in Japan and was an instant hit.

If you own an original Kenner Blythe doll, they're worth a bit of money--as of this posting, eBay has one listed with a current bid price of $1,850. In 1972 the doll was available with one of several hairstyles in the U.S.: a brunette with bangs, a sidepart brunette, a darker brunette with thinner bangs, a sidepart blonde, a red head with bangs, and a sidepart redhead. Twelve different outfits were available as well as colored wigs. 

Now that I've gotten an education on Blythe myself, I think the doll is kind of cool--definitely very quintessential 70s with the clothing, hair, eye feature and creepiness factor. Any of my readers ever own one? If you're interested in the modern day Blythe, you can check out the official website here

8 comments:

ApacheDug said...

Well, I never played with dolls (ok, ok--I had a 'Big Jim') but this was still interesting...good piece, Pam.

HOWEVER--if you want to see the real-life versions of these creepy eyed little girls, look at those wacky Toddlers with Tiaras! Here's a good example:

http://www.infinitydish.com/tvblog/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/toddlerstiaras.jpg

Pam@GoRetro said...

Thanks, Doug. I don't get a wide variety of cable channels, but I know all about the awful show known as Toddlers and Tiaras and I hate them, both the kids and their moms! (Well, I hate the moms just a bit more because they're teaching their daughters to act that way. The kids don't know any better.) However, that was a good comparison. Truth be told I think the dolls are kind of cool in a quirky 70s way.

Desiree said...

These are terrifying. Wow.

Teena in Toronto said...

I was a kid back then ... I don't remember them. But then my mother never bought me any cool toys.

Anna said...

Love your blog! Retro rules! I also find 1972 Kenner Blythe dolls and the reproductions to be so cute yet a bit creepy at the same time, as well. I liked them so much after discovering them on Weird Ebay Finds over ten years ago I started collecting them and then made a website about it in 2007 too. The site BigEyedBuys.com includes my information, tips and pictures about my own Blythe dolls. It also offers organized Ebay online auctions of Blythe dolls cause what site about Blythe is complete without offering others a chance at collecting them too lol Anyways, I just thought I would share that with you all :D

Cheers,
Anna
http://bigeyedbuys.com

Pam@GoRetro said...

Thanks, Anna! I'm going to check out your site; sounds cool!

Anna said...

You're very welcome, Pam. I hope you liked my http://bigeyedbuys.com website :D

Blythe said...

Beautiful post. I love your posted images and all reviews. I also collected this charming Blythe doll at PIJ. I am really happy to get this doll :D
http://bit.ly/blythejp

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