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~ The Dollikin Face ~

History of Uneeda Dolls with the Baby Dollikin Face

 

The Uneeda series of dolls with the Dollikin face mold has a long and unique history. Rarely was one face mold used so often, and yet it retained a fairly generic personality.

Uneeda used this mold on Baby Dollikin who may have been the first to "own" this sweet and pretty face. The expression is softly smiling, pleasant and agreeable with little twinkly dimples just below the eyes. Baby Dollikin was a short-lived project and apparently did not last long enough to give this baby face mold any fame or personal recognition.

After Baby Dollikin, who was elaborately constructed, Uneeda simplified the doll and began making her with the newly invented all vinyl joints that fit together snug and secure. Once this easy new method of jointing babydoll arms and legs was invented, it seems as if the doll industry changed overnight and the modern doll era began in earnest.

There was a lot of experimentation until the modern vinyl joints were invented, however. They tried wires, discs, vinyl bags, metal hinges, and many different methods for joining the pieces of the doll together. Uneeda was possibly more daring than any other company in this regard. Some of their efforts seem absolutely laughable, which makes the old Uneeda dolls all the more interesting.

The modern method for making vinyl doll joints greatly simplified doll construction and made the process considerably cheaper, easier and faster. The doll industry took off like a rocket because the U.S. had pulled out of the Great Depression, the Baby Boomer era was in full swing and doll companies were suddenly able to make dolls at a rate as never before. Don't you love it when a plan comes together? 

 

Vinyl Materials

Baby Dollikin was constructed of heavy hard vinyl and metal pieces for use in the joints. She was made in 1958 or 1959. Her little sister DewDrop in the photo at left, was constructed of heavy hard vinyl the year after, using the new modern method for jointing the vinyl pieces.

DewDrop was made with heavy soft vinyl after that. All the pieces were soft vinyl.

The early DewDrop dolls had a different neck size than Baby Dollikin. The neck hole is a little bit wider and the neck itself is wider also. This does give the face a very different appearance. You can see in the photo that the face appears chubbier, the cheeks look fatter. And, the neck is much shorter than on Baby Dollikin who has a neck that is almost too long. I think the head on Baby D should have been sitting a bit further down on the neck than it does, actually. She reminds me of Audrey Hepburn with the long swan neck. Baby Dollikin is 21 inches tall, and the early all vinyl DewDrop dolls are 19 inches tall.

Then in the early 60's DewDrop was made with vinyl arms and legs and head, with a blow molded vinyl body. The blow molded vinyl resembles plastic and is usually referred to as plastic. The neck hole in the head was made smaller again and the neck was made longer, so the later DewDrop dolls are proportioned more like Baby D. The 1960's dolls are 20 inches tall.

The blow mold method of making vinyl or plastic dolls was very new in 1960 or 61 but once it caught on it really caught on. After that most dolls were made with the blow molded vinyl/plastic for bodies and legs. Arms and head were made with soft vinyl, usually. The blow molded vinyl could be made with various thicknesses and weights. Some dolls were not made thick enough and had a tendency to be brittle. They crack easily. The Uneeda dolls I have seen were made well with sufficient thickness in the blow-molded portion. With DewDrop especially, you can pretty well determine what year she was made by what she is constructed with.



Flesh Tone Paint

Another interesting thing to know about the old Uneeda DewDrop dolls, is that Uneeda painted many of them with a high quality flesh tone paint. It seems they did this if they were not satisfied with the flesh color in the vinyl. If the vinyl was sallow or gray in color, then they painted it at the factory before the pieces were assembled. Sometimes the entire doll would be painted. Sometimes just the head or sometimes just an arm or leg.

I know that some people in this world use a flesh tone paint to cover over blemishes on doll vinyl (insteading of cleaning it or using a stain remover.) You can tell when the paint was definitely a factory paint job because the face color will be applied professionally OVER the flesh tone paint. Also, the entire limb will be painted and not just portions of it. Furthermore, the factory paint is of such high quality that it holds up very well over time and does not crack off or peel. It seems to be exceptionally durable and flexible.

The DewDrop doll on the left is made entirely of soft flexible vinyl and she is painted with flesh tone paint on every piece of her body. This is the first doll I encountered that was completely painted. The paint holds up very very well and most people don't notice it. Even people who are very familiar with old dolls don't always notice the paint.

 

 

The DewDrop Name

I don't know if DewDrop was known by other names. I did have a mint in box doll by this name (shown at left) and she was dated 1963 on the box. She has the blow molded body and legs. Notice her fingers are in the distinctive position that are so characteristic of the big Uneeda babies. All the 19, 20 and 21 inch babies with this face also had these fingers. There are some Uneeda walker dolls named DebTeen which also have this finger position. Some people tell me that the fingers are saying "I love you" in sign language.

It is possible that DewDrop was also named Sweetums at times, but I haven't been able to confirm it positively. And perhaps Uneeda named the same doll by different names even in the same year, depending on what they were wearing and how they were packaged. Information about Uneeda dolls is rather sketchy. The dolls themselves tell us more than any other sources I know of.

 

 

 

Hair Colors and Style

Baby Dollikin came with various hair colors including pale white blonde, dark blonde, brunette and redhead. The redhead seems to be very rare in all the early dolls. Dolls with molded hair were made as well. Some dolls had straight hair, some had curls.

DewDrop came in the same assortment of colors as far as I know, as well as a very pale yellow blonde that was especially striking. She is shown in a photo above, wearing a dress with violets print.

In the 1960's Uneeda produced a redhead DewDrop with curly red hair, green eyes and freckles. She is a particularly memorable doll, as shown at left.

 

 

 

 

Dolly Sizes

The Dollikin Face (as I like to call it) was used for many years, possibly longer than most babydoll faces. It was used on many different dolls by Uneeda, in various sizes, and was known by several names. The doll on the left was most likely sold as DewDrop or little DewDrop. She is 18 inches tall and has a smaller head size as well as body size. Only the large Uneeda dolls have the "I love you" fingers. This one does not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generic Copycats

And, this face is not exclusive to Uneeda alone. The Dollikin face shows up on many many generic dolls of the 60's, in various sizes. Many of the store brand dolls or department store dolls had the Dollikin face. The lovely 19" brunette on the left is named Babbette and she came with an extensive dolly layette. She has no manufacturer ID. But the face looks very familiar, doesn't it? Even though the face is familiar, she does not have the "I love you" fingers of the Uneeda dolls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations

Here is a Canadian Pullan doll with the same Dollikin face. Pullan gave the doll an incredible head of magnificent hair (which was typical of the Pullan company.) This fabulous hair does change the appearance of the Dollikin face dramatically. This doll is such a glamour girl that we named her FiFi and when she gets bored we give her a comb and mirror to play with. She's got tons of personality.  

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a handsome doll, unmarked, that has fixed eyes and no lashes in the Dollikin face mold, and this gives it a distinctly different look as well. This doll has vinyl head and arms, blow molded body and the clothes are original. It is possible he was made in Canada but that is only a guess.