Barbie changed everything. Mattel delivered its breadwinning doll to the world in 1959. Undoubtedly, Barbie showed up in millions of little girls’ letters to Santa throughout the following decade.
But you know Barbie. Barbie is a global icon. We wanted to dig a little deeper into the toy chest for other popular dolls of the 1960s. There were fashionistas, military heroes, paupers and little brats.
1. Major Matt Mason
He lived on the moon! Mattel scored a big hit with the boys, lauching this adventurous astronaut into toy stores in 1966, at the height of the space age. The line grew to include Sgt. Storm, a blond in a red spacesuit; Doug Davis, a civilian in a yellow suit; and Lt. Jeff Long, an African-American explorer in a blue suit. Naturally, there were aliens, too, named Captain Lazer, Callisto, Scorpio and Or.
2. Little Miss No Name
Both unsettling and depressing, Habro’s Little Miss No Name was the anti-Barbie. Dream house? Dream car? Pshaw. Little Miss No Name wore a patched burlap dress. She held out her hand for coins. She didn’t even come with shoes. A single tear dripped from her giant, brown eyes. Inspired by the “Big Eyes” paintings of Margaret Keane, these hit stores circa 1965 and were still in Christmas catalogs a couple years later.
3. Little Kiddles
Mattel came up with these pioneering three-inch dolls in 1965, a forerunner to the tiny collections you see all over the place today. There were subsets of Storybook Kiddles, Skediddle Kiddles that could walk, and Kologne Kiddle. The oil crisis of the 1970s killed off these wee toys, as plastics became too cost prohibitive to produce.
Many dolls may cry, but only one waves hi. Well, they all do, really, if you raise their arms. But, with Heidi, “press her secret button, she waves hi,” or so the friendly woman in the commercial explained. This smaller doll came packaged inside a red plastic pocketbook.
5. That Kid
Habro was in a rather dark place, it seems, in the 1960s. A male counterpart to Little Miss No Name, “That Kid” was, for all intents and purposes, a little bully. Pick him up, give him a hug, and he would protest, “Put me down… you’re funny lookin’!” Take the slingshot out of his pocket and he would warn, “You better put that back or the monster will get you.” Was “the monster” his cute pet name for his temper?
6. Captain Action and Action Boy
Captain Action may have just been a plastic man, but he had one incredible power — licensing. Ideal Toy Co.’s competitor to Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, Captain Action could change outfits and become several different beloved comic heroes. He could slip into a Batman or Superman costume (each sold separately for $3.22), turn into Tonto or the Lone Ranger, venture out as Buck Rogers or Steve Canyon. There were even Green Hornet, Flash Gordon and other get-ups. Likewise, his young sidekick, Action Boy, could become Robin, Aqualad….
7. G.I. Joe
Speaking of ol’ Joe, we have to include the original action figure. Though, of course, back in the 1960s, he was a doll, not the smaller action figures of today. Four varieties were available — Soldier, Sailor, Pilot, Marine. It would take two decades until they got around to Destro, Cobra Commander and the bunch.
The American Character Toy Company launched Tressy in 1963 as an answer to Barbie. Why the name “Tressy”? Well, the 11½” fashion doll had retractable tresses of hair, so that kids could style her in several hairdos. At the end of the decade, the Ideal Toy Company bought the rights, launching Gorgeous Tressy and Posin’ Tressy for hip ’70s children.
9. Mrs. Beasley
As seen on Family Affair! In that sitcom, the youngest daughter, Buffy (Anissa Jones), carried around her Mrs. Beasley doll everywhere. Millions of viewers wanted to do the same, so Mattel obliged. A 50th Anniversary edition was recently offered for $100.
10. Tutti and Todd
Most girls probably had a Barbie by 1966. Sure, there were more outfits to sell, but a doll needs friends and family. Which is why, in 1966, Mattel launched Tutti and Todd, Barbie’s younger twin siblings. There was also a third wheel buddy named Chris. Speaking of Family Affair, a Buffy version of Tutti was released, including a miniature Mrs. Beasley