The forms were practical and classical, the lines were clean, and the colours were vibrant.
Bjørn Wiinblad – Instantly recognisable, his style is very modern and personal with almost naively drawn, but immensely charming, characters, usually with happy round faces
Bonzo is probably the most popular character collected from the 1920’s right through to present day. A strange looking creature with a pudgy face and bright blue eyes he has appeared on everything from postcards through to toffee tins. I felt the urge to find out what made this little dog one of the top collectors items on the market and why he was so envied by all in his day. Pictured – George Studdy, Bonzo’s creator. Image courtesy of Richard Fitzpatrick. George Studdy, Bonzo’s creator was born on 23rd June 1878 in Devonport, Plymouth. He had one older sister and a younger brother and all were brought up in a strict household due to their father Ernest Studdy, being a lieutenant in the 32nd Regiment, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Ernest was hopeful that one of his sons would also follow a military career but due to an injury to his foot George’s life took a completely different path. His Aunt was aware that George had a love for art and gifted him £100 to start him on his way. He attended evening classes at Heatherley’s Art School and also one term at Calderon’s Animal School where he studied animal anatomy. He began to put a portfolio together and was then able to sell some of his sketches to publications and make a little money for himself. Comic Cuts was the first ever publication to buy his work on a regular basis and this was the start of George building up his client base amongst the Fleet Street publishers. Pictured – The Bonzo Book. By 1912 George’s reputation was formidable as a cartoonist and had illustrations appearing in all sorts of publications from “The Tatler” to “The Sketch”. An odd little dog kept appearing in his illustrations but it was not until 1918 when the editor of “The Sketch” became interested in what was known as “The Studdy Dog” that this little character really began to develop. Changing from recognised breeds over the years this little dog began to take on the form of a more cartoon character appearance, a mischievous pup he really caught the hearts of all the readers but there was one thing missing – his name! After receiving a host of letters from readers asking when this pup’s name was going to be divulged. The Editor of “The Sketch” Bruce Ingram, made the decision in 1922 and announced to the world that that this dog was called “Bonzo” and changed Studdy’s weekly illustration from “This Week’s Studdy” to “This Week’s Bonzo” thus the first official appearance of the cute little pup as we know and love him today. George and his wife Blanche had a daughter Vivienne who appeared in some of these sketches alongside Bonzo but she was not always happy with the end result especially when “Heads I win” was published. It wasn’t the fact that a little girl was crying against the wall with a headless doll in her hands and Bonzo grinning with a dolls head in his mouth that upset her but the fact that her knickers were showing and her socks were half way down her legs “I would never had looked that dishevelled!” she told her father. Pictured – A collection of various Bonzo soft toys. Image courtesy of Richard Fitzpatrick. Bonzo went from strength to strength and was in huge demand. Other publications wanted him on board and he was a regular image on various advertisements. He even appeared in neon lights in London’s Piccadilly Circus. The little pup began to pop up everywhere and so also did a host of Bonzo merchandise. Items such as scent bottles; plates, ashtrays and condiment sets were just the tip of the merchandise iceberg. Every toy shop in the country had Bonzo Toys that were made by both Chad Valley and Deans Rag Book Company. George was producing hundreds of postcards, which was the strongest market and today are collected all over the world. Bonzo even stared in 26 films for which George and ten other artists had to illustrate thousands of drawings, these ten minute films were released during 1924 and 1925. Sadly “The Sketch” finally made the decision to give poor little tired Bonzo a holiday after over 5 years of publication – this was to be his final appearance in the newspaper although George returned with other characters such as Ooloo! in 1929. Although he was no longer in “The Sketch” his image appeared in the countless postcards published by Valentines of Dundee and Dean’s published him in many Bonzo books from 1935. George Studdy sadly passed away in 1948 but the Annuals continued to be published up until 1952 other artists were used but the quality was no where near as good so Bonzo too was laid to rest Pictured – A modern enamelled badge. This was originally made by Richard Dennis to accompany the publication of The Bonzo Book by Paul Babb & Gay Owen. The badge has proved so popular with collectors that the Richard Dennis company still makes it today. Image courtesy of Richard Fitzpatrick. This strange little dog was part of people’s lives for over 30 years and is still very much part of collectors lives today. Anything associated with him now commands high prices on the secondary market especially the more unusual items. “Bonzo The Life and Work of George Studdy” is published by Richard Dennis Publications and written by Paul Babb and Gay Owen. Both are avid collectors of this little character and Paul explained to me that it was Studdy’s humour that made Bonzo such an interesting item to collect. The rarest items in Paul’s collection are original artwork and paintings that he acquired at an auction many years ago when illustrators were not so sought after or highly regarded as today. There are so many different pieces of merchandise to collect but one of the most sought after items by collectors is the Bonzo toffee tins manufactured by […]
Nailsea glass was originally an inexpensive means of introducing radiant colour into farmhouse and cottage. This was because the basic glass was pale green bottle-glass or, from about 1815, crown glass. Such glass was not subject to the excise tax of sixpence per pound levied on flint-glass. Colourful curios in many shades of blue, green, amber and red, which might be flecked, mottled or striped, were made not only at Nailsea in Somerset but by the glassmen of Sunderland, Newcastle, Stourbridge, Wrockwardine Wood in Shropshire, Alloa in Scotland and elsewhere.
John Wyndham (full name John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris) was a British science fiction author who wrote several classic novels, including The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes and The Midwich Cuckoos. His works are highly collectible, especially in first edition form. Here we take a look at the value of John Wyndham first edition books published under his own name during his lifetime. John Wyndham was a British author who wrote science fiction novels and short stories. He is best known for his novel The Day of the Triffids, which was adapted into a film in 1962. Wyndham was born in 1903 in England. He began writing science fiction in the 1920s, but did not achieve commercial success until the publication of The Day of the Triffids in 1951. The Day of the Triffids, in particular, is considered a science fiction classic. It tells the story of a massive attack by alien plants that leaves humanity struggling to survive. The Day of the Triffids was first published in 1951, and a first edition can sell for upwards of £5,000 / $7,000. As with all first edition books the dust jacket condition is everything and prices vary greatly. John B. Harris and John Beynon However, Wyndham had actually been writing stories and short stories since 1925 under several aliases and pseudonyns. In 1927 he published a detective novel, The Curse of the Burdens, as by John B. Harris, and by 1931 he was selling short stories and serial fiction to American science fiction magazines. His debut short story, “Worlds to Barter”, appeared under the pen name John B. Harris in 1931. Subsequent stories were credited to ‘John Beynon Harris until mid-1935, when he began to use the pen name John Beynon. Three novels as by Beynon were published in 1935/36, two of them works of science fiction, the other a detective story. He also used the pen name Wyndham Parkes for one short story in the British Fantasy Magazine in 1939, as John Beynon had already been credited for another story in the same issue. The Kraken Wakes John Wyndham’s second novel was The Kraken Wakes which was first published in 1953, originally published by Michael Joseph in the United Kingdom in 1953, and first published in the United States in the same year by Ballantine Books under the title Out of the Deeps as a mass market paperback. . The novel is about an alien invasion of Earth by creatures known as the “Kraken”. The Kraken are giant sea creatures that are able to telepathically control humans. They use their powers to create a world-wide flood, which forces humanity to evacuate to the moon. The novel was well-received by critics and is considered to be one of the classic science fiction novels of the 20th century. It has been reprinted several times and has been translated into multiple languages. The Kraken Wakes is considered to be one of Wyndham’s most accomplished works. The Midwich Cuckoos John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos is a classic of British science fiction. First published in 1957, it tells the story of a group of children who are born with strange powers after a mysterious event in the village of Midwich. The book has inspired many writers and has been adapted for movies and TV series many times. A first edition in near fine condition with near fine dust jacket estimate £2000 / $3,000. Did you know? Wyndham began work on a sequel novel, Midwich Main, which he abandoned after only a few chapters. The Chrysalids, Trouble with Lichen and Chocky Price Variations In writing this feature as with many that include price guides it is always apparent that their is massive variation in prices even for similar books and objects. The prices given here are for near fine copies, so copies in excellent order. First editions of The Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Wakes and The Midwich Cuckoos will always be popular and sort after. Bibliography of books published in his lifetime under the name John Wyndham The Day of the Triffids (1951) The Kraken Wakes (1953) The Chrysalids (1955) The Midwich Cuckoos (1957) Trouble with Lichen (1960) Chocky (1968) Related BBC interview and feature with John Wyndham
The United States was the home of Carnival Glass. It was developed there, and though other countries soon began to produce their own versions, most collectors today begin with American glass as it is the easiest to obtain. A previous article described the manufacture and appearance of this beautiful product, but briefly, it is a living glass – vibrant and bright – which reflects colour rather like spilt oil on water. Although the patterns are formed in a mould, unlike pressed glass Carnival Glass needs a lot of hand- finishing and decorating, and the iridescence (created by adding metallic oxides to the hot glass) means that the finished product doesn’t have that somewhat flat appearance often noticed in pressed glass. Pictured left is a Northwood fruit and flowers electric cable ice blue small bowl. Carnival Glass didn’t really become of interest to collectors until the late 1950s, and consequently the history of many of the early companies is still not fully-researched, so many dates are vague. A trawl through textbooks throws up a variety of dates – it seems that no-one is absolutely certain when the various manufacturers first developed their Carnival Glass products, though it is known that by 1905 the first cheap, iridised glass to rival the expensive Tiffany’s was in production. Pictured right is a Noryhwood Rosette rare green bowl. The Northwood Glass Company was founded by English-born Harry Northwood, son of a talented glass manufacturer. Harry left England to work in America in 1880, when he was twenty years old, and founded his own factory in 1887 in Ohio, before eventually moving to Wheeling, West Virginia. Many people believe that it was Harry who brought the technique of iridisation to the USA, having seen it at his father’s glassworks. By 1908 he was producing a range of iridised glass, using moulds from earlier pressed glass. He began by making a range of marigold Carnival Glass, which he called ‘Golden Iris’. Iris is from the Greek word for rainbow, and Harry thought that this was a good name for a glass which seemed to contain and reflect so many colours. Pictured left is a Northwood grape and cable plate.. Northwood proved to be a very productive factory, introducing designs such as grape and cable, fine cut and rose, beaded cable, wild rose, singing birds, peacock at the fountain, leaf and beads, nippon and rosette. Of all its designs, grape and cable was the most popular, and at one time could be obtained in over seventy shapes of dishes, vases, plates and bowls. Other companies, noting the popularity, copied the designs, which seemed to be quite a common practice at the time. Harry Northwood also introduced some lovely pastel carnival glass, which came in delicate shades of ice blue, ice green and white. Today, the pastels are highly sought after but are quite rare. White is perhaps the easiest to find and is very pretty with a delicate pearly sheen. Later, in 1915, a range of iridised custard glass appeared. This opaque and cream coloured glass has a pastel iridescent overlay, and is now very rare, commanding high prices. Most Carnival Glass is unmarked, but the Northwood company regularly marked their products with a letter ‘N’ in a circle, which makes them easily identifiable even by novice collectors. For a round ten years the Company was at the forefront of the Carnival Glass industry, but then, sadly, Harry contracted a fatal disease. He died in 1918, and without him the company seemed to lose direction, finally foundering to a halt in 1925. Harry Northwood at one time leased the Dugan Glass Company (when under a different name), and was related to Thomas Dugan, one of the managers. When Harry left, the name was changed to Dugan, and in 1910 the company began to produce Carnival Glass, often using old Northwood moulds. Normally it marked its pieces with a ‘D’ set inside a diamond shape, which is probably why, in 1913, it again changed its name, this time to the Diamond Glass Company. Based in Indiana Pennsylvania, Dugan was responsible for many wonderful pieces of iridescent glass with opalescent edges, using patterns such as fan, cherry, apple blossom twigs, butterfly and tulip, farmyard, fishnet, starfish stippled, pastel swans, raindrops and heavy grape. This company continued production right up until 1931, when the factory was destroyed by a disastrous fire. Pictured right is a Dugan grape delight amethyst rosebowl. The Imperial Glass Company, Ohio, was set up in the early 1900s, though the iridised glass didn’t appear till 1910 . Before then, it made pressed glass tumblers, water sets, cruets, pickle trays and other items of table ware. When the company finally introduced its range of Carnival Glass, it was an instant success and huge quantities were manufactured. It was so prolific in its output that most collectors today have some Imperial pieces in their collections. This company decided to specialise in geometric designs rather than the naturalistic patterns favoured by many of the other Carnival Glass companies, and it continued to produce items of practical use as opposed to the more decorative glassware which Northwood, Dugan, Fenton and Millersburg preferred. Pictured right is an Imperial grape marigold tumbler. Imperial experimented with many types of glass, often producing unusual base glass colours such as clambroth (a pale ginger-ale) and smoke (light blue-grey). They also managed to achieve an exceptionally brilliant iridescence on their wares, while their purple glass was a very deep, rich shade which no other manufacturer could accomplish. Much of their work resembles the Bohemian glass of the same period. At the time it was apparently quite common for a complete workshop group to decide to emigrate, and Imperial employed many Bohemian German-speaking workers who brought their expertise and ideas with them. The Company also produced a tremendous amount of marigold Carnival Glass, the commonest colour, and so one of the most affordable. Pictured left is an Imperial heavy grape one-handled dish. Glass from Imperial was sold […]
Everyone I know who has seen Wicked the Musical has become a massive fan. As with the original Wizard of Oz it has captured the public’s imagination and is now performed all over the world. The original production of Wicked premiered on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre in October 2003, and its original stars included Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and Joel Grey as the Wizard. It’s full title is Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz had has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. There are some fans who have seen the show scores of times and many who have started to collect Wicked related merchandise, collectors items and collectables. We take a look at some of the items available to Wizomaniacs and look further at the Wicked phenomenon. The show is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West which is an alternative telling of the original The Wizard of Oz film and L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Gregory Maguire has written a series of Wicked books which also include by Son of a Witch (published in September 2005), A Lion Among Men (published in October 2008), and Out of Oz (published in November 2011). Most fans and collectors first see the musical and then some discover the books. The original 1995 Gregory Maguire book has become quite desirable with 1st editions in good condition selling for upwards of £300. Signed copies fetch slightly more and some copies even have drawings by the writer himself. The book can be somewhat of a surprise to fans of musical as it dark, has serious political undertones, a lot of sex and some think does not show Elphaba in a good light. I read the book after seeing the musical and without going into an in depth analysis, although I was intrigued Maguire’s explanation of the history and origin of the Oz characters, I found parts disturbing. On a positive the musical came out of it. Wicked the Musical Dolls Doll companies love Wicked! It is full of strong female characters with colorful costumes and has the history of Oz behind it. Madame Alexander have created some wonderful re-creations of the characters notably Elphaba and Glinda in various situations and dress. Wicked the Musical Collectables The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz; its plot begins before and continues after Dorothy’s arrival in Oz from Kansas, and it includes several references to the 1939 film and Baum’s novel. Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Galinda (whose name later changes to Glinda the Good Witch), who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard’s corrupt government and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace. Wicked the Musical Plush Toys A Wicked film is in production for release in 2019 which should see a massive increase and attention to the story and related merchandise. So start collecting now. Wicked the Musical 10th Anniversary A number of special editions were created for the 10th anniversary of the show.
Ewald Dahlskog (1894-1950) was a Swedish designer who has become known for his ceramic, glass work, pottery designs and his work in public buildings. His work is often minimalist and inspired by natural forms, which can be seen in his use of simple curves and muted colors. Dahlskog’s pieces are both beautiful and functional, and have been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. Ewald Dahlskog’s studied at Konstfack (University of Arts, Crafts and Designwork) from 1908 to 1912 and from 1913 to 1917 at the Royal Art Academy in Stockholm. His work is deeply rooted in Swedish design traditions, which he combines with a modern sensibility. His pieces are both elegant and functional, and often incorporate natural forms into their design. Dahlskog’s use of simple curves and muted colors give his work a calming, tranquil feeling. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, and he is considered one of Sweden’s leading ceramicists. Ewald Dahlskog at the Kosta Boda factory Ewald Dahlskog worked at Swedish glassworks Orrefors Kosta Boda from 1926 to 1929, where he was an artistic assistant, during which time he radically transformed the production of art glass, using cut decoration in a new vigorous modern aesthetic. Whilst at Kosta he had joint exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city. He has designed many of the glassware pieces that are produced by the factory, and his work often reflects nature in its designs. His pieces often incorporate elements such as leaves and vines, and he strives to create shapes that are both organic and elegant. Ewald Dahlskog at the Bo Fajans factory After leaving Kosta, Dahlskog moved on to work at the Bo Fajans factory (Boberg Fajansfabrik AB in Gävle) in 1929. He remained at Bo Fajans for 21 years until his death in 1950. At Bo Fajans he continued to innovate creating high-quality ceramics in geometric designs inspired by nature. His work at Bo Fajans is considered to be some of his best, and his pieces are highly sought after by collectors. Dahlskog’s designs are often inspired by nature, and he strives to create shapes that are both organic and elegant. At the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition, his designs were described as ‘functionalist’. The vases displayed showed highly ribbed surfaces reminiscent of electrcial transformers. The Scandinavian design philosophy was internationally recognized at the Exhibition. They were shown in London in 1931 and had a great influence on British designer Keith Murray (Keith Murray Designs for Life). As well as being a versatile designer Dahlskog is famed for his artistically designed inlays in public buildings, such as the 1924-1926 built Stockholm Konserthuset and the silent film palace and later revue theater Chinateatern 1926-1928 directly at Berzelii Park in the Norrmalm district was built in the center of the Swedish capital. His work has won many awards, and his pieces are collected by museums and private individuals all over the world. Related Ewald Dahlskog items on ebay Bowl at Met Museum
Antique Typewriters Collecting antique typewriters has really come of age in the last twenty years, as the appreciation of antique machines has grown in our technological times of smooth cases and blinking lights. There were a few typewriter collectors fifty years ago but they could have been counted on one hand. Pictured left: Odell 2 ~ Chicago, 1890 This attractive index typewriter is nickel plated with an Art Nouveau styled base. Today there are over 500 typewriter collectors spread around the world. The largest group of collectors are found in the US and Germany, but there is strong interest throughout Europe, especially in Italy, France, Spain, and Switzerland. Most typewriter collectors seek machines from the 1880s and 1890s, the first twenty years of typewriter manufacturing, a time when the fundamental design of the ‘modern’ typewriter had yet to be discovered. During this time there was a major effort by many pioneering machinists and engineers to create a viable typewriter for a world that was ready for this revolutionary machine. There are perhaps 400 different models to collect from this age of experimentation. These typewriters were manufactured in many industrialized countries, in particular the US, England, and Germany. Today, the values of these machines are affected by condition, rarity, and desirability. With prices ranging from a few hundred dollars, to into the thousands for the rare machines. However, for those interested in acquiring an early typewriter at a modest price, there are a number of intriguing and historically important typewriters that can be had for a few hundred dollars, including the Blickensderfer ($150 to $250), Hammond ($150 to $500), and Odell ($400 to $600). Ebay is a good place to look for these and others – click to view Antique Typewriters on ebay. By 1910 the design of most typewriters had become standardized as a result of the emergence of the ubiquitous and brilliant Underwood 1, which appeared in 1897. All typewriters from now on, right up to the invention of the personal computer in the early 1980s, would ostensibly have the same look and function as the Underwood, the age of experimentation was over. An early and unique American typewriter goes to the auction block This November, a very special typewriter went for auction in Germany. It was the typewriter of US inventor Abner Peeler. His very strange typing machine was made in 1866 and is one of the very first typewriters to ever be made. This typewriter was not manufactured though and only one example is known to exist. Mr. Peeler also has the distinction of mailing the first typed letter in the US, which was sent on June 19, 1866. Pictured right: Commercial Visible ~ New York, N.Y., 1898 This attractive machine types from a type wheel, that is easy to remove, allowing for a quick change of font. To make an impression, a spring-loaded hammer behind the carriage swings forward, striking the paper and ribbon against the type wheel. The letter begins “Dear Companion, We are both well. I feel splendid. I am now in the office of Chipman & Co . The machine has been examined by a great may shrewd men and they think it is the greatest curiosity of the age. They also think it is of great value.” The ‘shrewd men’ were right but it would not be his machine that would herald in the age of the typewriter; that would be a few years later in 1874 when the American printer Christopher Lathem Sholes had his very functional typewriter, the Sholes & Glidden, manufactured by Remington & Sons. Mr. Peeler also created the very first airbrush machine and his impressive self-portrait, from a photo, is the first airbrush picture in history. One can read more about the Peeler collection and see his typewriter and self-portrait at www.abnerpeeler.com. The first typewriters ~ a brief history The keyboard provides an essential means for one to communicate and is used by more people today then ever before. Keyboards are arguably one of the most important tools in the world, a tool that represents our personal communication in this technological age. The keyboard truly connects the planet. But what did the first keyboards and typewriters look like and how did they evolve? Typewriters from the 1930s and 40s all look pretty much the same, they “look like a typewriter”. With four rows of straight keys, single shift and front strike visible (type-bars hit the front of the roller allowing one to see what they have just typed). Typewriters have not always looked like this though. Just imagine if you, never having seen a typing machine, were asked to design one. How might it look? In fact, the standard big, black machines that you might be familiar with such the Underwood and Remington were the result of many years of mechanical evolution. Pictured right: Caligraph 2 ~ New York, N.Y., 1882 With no shift key on this typewriter, there are twice as many keys as a normal keyboard; black keys are for capitals and white keys are for lower case. During these early years of discovery, ingenuity and mistakes, over four hundred different typing machines were produced to print the written word. Among them were machines with curved keyboards, double keyboards or no keyboards at all! The first typewriter patent was issued to an English engineer, Henry Mill in 1714. He outlined the concept of the typewriter when he registered a patent for ‘an artificial machine for impressing letters one after another, as in writing, whereby all writings may be engrossed in paper or parchment, so neat and exact as not to be distinguished from print.’ However, this machine was never made. Many experimental typewriters were built and used during the first 75 years of the nineteenth century but none were produced in quantity. This was about to change though, as the technology for mass production had arrived and the need for fast, accurate business communication was growing. What was needed was a person to bring together all […]
Why have collectors suddenly gone overboard for an out-of-proportion teen with scary eyes? And what can you do if you can`t afford the £500 or so needed to buy one? Blythe was a novelty doll produced by Kenner in 1972, and distributed in Britain by Palitoy. She was just under twelve inches tall, with a slender teen body and an overlarge head. Her most amazing accomplishment was that she could change the position and colour of her eyes. In fact, this wasn’t an innovative development – Pedigree had done much the same thing when they manufactured Pretty Peepers in the late 1950s, though this was a much larger doll standing 22 inches high, and her head was normal size. Presumably, Blythe needed the large head to incorporate the eye-change mechanism, which was operated by a pull cord running from the back of the head. Blythe’s eyes were large and round, and they changed from green to pink to amber to blue each time the string was pulled, momentarily closing between each pull. The blue and green eyes were side-glance, amber and pink looked straight ahead. Her appearance was revolutionary for the time – in fact, she scared children which may well be why she was soon discontinued, though another reason could be that a child’s frenzied pulling of the cord could cause it to break or the mechanism to jam. Twelve outfits were available for the doll, and she was obtainable with four hair colours – blonde, brunette, dark brown and auburn, some with fringes, some with a centre parting. She wasn’t a great success, and probably would have been ignored by doll collectors, until something happened which gave her a new lease of life and, indirectly, spawned a complete turnaround in the doll world culminating in a line of dolls which today outstrip sales of everything else. A few years ago, a lady called Gina Goran wanted to try out a camera, and grabbed the first doll she could find to test out the lens. It so happened that this lady had accumulated a collection of Blythe dolls. When she saw how great Blythe was as a model, she decided to dress the doll in unusual outfits and to photograph her in various place-settings. The resulting photos were gathered into a small book – and the result is history. Within a few months, prices for Blythe dolls had escalated, and a doll you could once find for a couple of pounds at a boot sale was now like gold dust. Blythe originally came wearing a long maxi-dress. The light brunette wore ‘Golden Goddess’ (yellow, trimmed with braid), the dark brunette, ‘Medieval Mood’ (brown with a Celtic pattern), auburn, ‘Love ‘n’ Lace’ (green scattered with flowers) and the blonde ‘Pretty Paisley’ (blue paisley print). Her range of outfits were sold carded with helpful photos on the reverse showing other items in the range, and included ‘Lounging Lovely’, ‘Roaring Red’, ‘Kozy Kape’, ‘Aztec Arrival’, ‘Pleasant Peasant’ and ‘Pow-Wow Poncho’. ‘Priceless Parfait’ consisted of a boldly-patterned yellow, blue and pink skirt, pink top with matching bag, fringed scarf and scarlet boots, while ‘Pinafore Purple’ was a purple all-in-one with flared sleeves and a medallion-patterned skirt worn over the top. All the garments had a typical ethnic-type Seventies look with pl enty of braid and fringing. Usually a label was attached inside with Blythe’s name on, which makes identification easy today, though in any case the clothes are very distinctive. An attractive ‘Blythe’s Fashion Wardrobe Case’ bearing a picture of Blythe, was available to store one doll and her outfits. Additionally, it was possible to buy a set of zany wigs to fit Blythe. These delightfully frothy affairs came in ‘Strawberry’ (pink), ‘Lime’ (green), ‘Blueberry’ (blue) and ‘Lemon’ (yellow), complete with a pair of trendy sunglasses. Each wig had its own polystyrene wig-stand, and a special combined brush and comb. Once Blythe was flaunting this movie-star get-up her appearance was amazingly altered. When Blythe made her come-back, fans clamoured for her. Takara, a Hasbro-owned Japanese company brought out their own range of Blythe dolls around four years ago, which proved immensely popular, and these have evolved to the extent that the plastic and colouring is almost identical to the original Kenner/Palitoy 1970s dolls. They feature the four colour eye-change mechanism worked by a pull string. The Japanese people have taken this new Blythe to their hearts, dressing her in street-wise, kookie fashions. Unfortunately, she is quite difficult to obtain in Britain, and it is normally necessary to use the internet or mail order to obtain her. These Blythes are not cheap, costing around £65 – though a range of four-inch high mini Blythes are much more affordable. Takara Blythes are sold in brightly coloured boxes with retro graphics reminiscent of the seventies. Their dolls have names such as Modrian, Dotty Dot, Hollywood, Disco Boogie, and Lounging Lovely, and their clothes are chic and pretty, some being replicas of the original Blythe outfits, and others very ‘girlie’, with pastel pink and blue jackets and floaty dresses. Another company producing a similar doll is Pullip, again Japanese based, owned by Jun Planning. Pullip dolls are a slightly more ‘grown-up’ version of Blythe, with a shaped body. The limbs are fully articulated, even the wrists and ankles. Their outfits are wacky, colourful and cool, and they are proving very popular, though it seems that stockists are only allowed a few of each new version, and you often have to order in advance. Pullips cost around £60, and the mini-Pullips are under £10. However, the eye action on a Pullip is not a colour-change, it is a side-glance and winking movement, controlled by levers at the back of the doll`s head. Pullip dolls have names such as Arietta, Bouquet, Noir, Withered, Chicca, Principessa, Squall and Venus. Additionally, there are storybook versions – Alice In Wonderland, Ann of Green Gables and Red Riding Hood. There is also a boy, who is known as Namu, and he stands taller than Pullip, about fourteen inches high. Namu comes in various versions including Trunk, Wolf and Vispo. The costumes and accessories […]