Dolls are one of the most popular types of toys of all time, and while dolls are usually deemed as toys made for girls, there have been dolls in recent years that can be played by both boys and girls. There have been different kinds of dolls that were developed and produced over the years, but there are only a few that are considered timeless in terms of their popularity. Here is a list of the most popular retro dolls.
The most iconic doll is arguably Barbie, which is manufactured by Mattel and was launched on March 9, 1959. The Barbie doll was created by Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel and the wife of another co-founder named Elliot Handler. It was said that the Barbie doll was inspired by the German toy doll called Bild Lilli. Ruth Handler came across the said doll during a family trip in Europe in 1956. The Bild Lilli adult-sized dolls were initially designed and sold to adults, but they eventually became quite popular among German Children in the 1950s.
Ruth Handler then took a couple of Bild Lilli dolls to the United States. She gave one doll to her daughter Barbara and then the other dolls were used during a meeting so that Handler could convince other Mattel executives about producing adult-sized dolls. Mattel initially rejected the idea, but Handler would later gain permission to sell the doll after a couple of redesigns with the help of toy designer Jack Ryan. The Barbie doll, which is named after Handler’s daughter Barbara, was introduced at the American International Toy Fair on March 9, 1959.
Here are three of the best Barbie dolls that you can buy and collect today:
- Barbie 60th Anniversary Doll Black & White Dress
- Barbie Tiny Wishes Doll
- Barbie Birthday Wishes Doll
Blythe is a fashion that is known for having a thin body and a large head with big round eyes. Some of the Blythe dolls have a special feature where there are eyes that change color with just a pull of a string. The Blythe doll was created in 1972 by toy designer Allison Katzman, who was working for toy design and engineering firm Marvin Glass and Associates during that time. The doll was then bought and produced by toy company Kenner, who released it in 1972.
These Blythe dolls were sold in the United States for only one year, and this led to collectors viewing the dolls as highly collectible items due to their scarcity. The second generation of the Blythe dolls would be introduced by Cross World Connections in 2001, and this toy company is still producing the dolls as of 2023.
Strawberry Shortcake is a cartoon character that was first used for greeting cards produced by American Greetings, who are also known for producing the Care Bears greeting cards. Strawberry Shortcake is popular because of her quirky design, as she wears a relatively large hat over her spaghetti-like hair. The outfit she wears varies from toy to toy, although she is wearing clothes that are colored white, red, pink, and green most of the time.
The Strawberry Shortcake character was created by Barbi Sargent, who was working as a freelance artist for American Greeting during the early 1970s. The character then appeared on a Valentine’s Greeting Card that was produced from 1972 to 1973. In its original appearance, Sargent called the unnamed character “Girl with a Daisy” or “Strawberry Girl.” Then, in the late 1970s, an illustrator for American Greetings named Muriel Fahrion designed more characters under the Strawberry Shortcake line. These characters would also have a fruit or dessert-themed name and clothing. It was in 1979 when the first Strawberry Shortcake doll was produced by Kenner, who is known for manufacturing classic Star Wars action figures.
Check out these three toys that are based on the Strawberry Shortcake character:
- Strawberry Shortcake Classic – Peach Blush Pink
- Strawberry Shortcake Plush Pillow Buddy
- Funko POP! Animation Strawberry Shortcake Vinyl Figure
American Girl is a line of dolls that were first released on May 5, 1986, by a toy company called Pleasant Company. The American Girl dolls are portrayed as young girls aged eight to fourteen that are from various ethnicities, social classes, and faiths or religions. These young girls also belong to different time periods in history, like the American Civil War, World War II, and others. Each of these dolls comes with thin books that tell the story of the dolls during a specific time period.
The American Girl creators, Pleasant Company, was founded in 1986 by an educator, writer, and philanthropist named Pleasant Rowland. Originally, the American Girl dolls can only be purchased through mail order, which meant that the dolls were sent to a customer’s home. Pleasant Company was acquired by Mattel in 1998 for $700 million.
Take a look at these three American Girl dolls that you can buy online:
- American Girl 2022 Girl of The Year Gwynn
- American Girl WellieWishers Camille
- American Girl WellieWishers Ashlyn
Madame Alexander Doll
The Madame Alexander Doll is a collectible doll that is manufactured by the Madame Alexander Doll Company, which was founded in 1923 by dollmaker Beatrice Alexander in New York City. The Madame Alexander dolls are known for having high-quality bodies and clothes, and the quality of the company’s products allows their dolls to be highly collectible in the market.
The first Madame Alexander doll was a miniaturized version of the fictional character Scarlett O’Hara from the book and movie titled “Gone with the Wind.” Besides creating dolls based on fictional characters, the doll company’s founder Beatrice Alexander was also known for being one of the early creators of mass-produced dolls based on living people. In fact, one of her most valuable batches of dolls was based on Queen Elizabeth II, and this batch has 36 total dolls to commemorate the coronation celebrations for the Queen in 1953.
If you want to get your hands on a Madame Alexander doll, here are three that you can check out:
- Madame Alexander Dolls Going to Grandma’s Huggums
- Madame Alexander Kindness Club – Brooks
- Madame Alexander Kindness Club – Harper
Cabbage Patch Kids
Cabbage Patch Kids are a line of cloth dolls that were introduced in 1982 by Coleco Industries (who made the popular ColecoVision gaming console in the 80s). The cloth dolls were inspired by the soft sculptured dolls called Little People that were designed by Xavier Roberts, a toy designer who would also serve as the creator of the Cabbage Patch Kids. The name for the dolls was coined by Roger L. Schlaifer, a licensing agent who got the exclusive worldwide licensing rights for the Cabbage Patch Kids in 1982.
Coleco produced the first batches of the Cabbage Patch Kids from 1982 to 1988 before Hasbro, one of the biggest toy companies in the world, acquired the rights to sell the dolls in the same year Coleco ended the production of the dolls. Hasbro would then continue to manufacture the dolls until 1994 when Mattel acquired the rights to produce the Cabbage Patch Kids. The license of the Cabbage Patch Kids would be passed around by different companies until it finally stuck with Wicked Cool Toys in 2015.
Here are two of the most popular Cabbage Patch Kids dolls that you can consider if you are planning on buying one:
- Cabbage Patch Kids Classic Doll – Blonde/Blue Eyes
- Cabbage Patch Kids Classic Doll – Brunette/Brown Eyes
And these are six of the most popular retro dolls that you can purchase and collect. Take note that a few of these dolls can be quite expensive, although they do have high resale value in case you need to sell them for emergency funds. Check out the most valuable dolls in these toy lines so that you can see which ones are the most worth it to collect.