Monday, September 14, 2015

"Hey, don't I know you?"

Last Saturday was the September doll meeting. I had specifically asked for the August meeting date off and didn't bother with asking the time off from work for this meeting but the stars were aligned so I could go to this one too. Which is good since I ended up having to do a few business related things there. Also I might not get the chance to go again until December. The end of the year always end up being my busy time and that was even before I started working so it's going to be even worse this year.

The meeting was good, but a little unfocused. It was one of our "play date" meetings without a theme and I'm not really sure how much I like those. It's not like we're very militant with our themes, anyone can bring anything they want to share. I tend to bring Joe a lot and there's very rarely a theme that he fits. Sure I try to dress him to be theme appropriate, but I usually just bring him because I want to and I have never felt he was unwelcome. However, I have long accepted the fact that it's not always all about me so if people like them they can keep doing them.

Anyway, per usual there were a few stops made on the way up to Raleigh. We were going to stop at the flea market we pass on the way up but it was overcast and there were very few vendors so we skipped it. Which ended up being a smart choice since we were a few minutes late to the meeting. (It didn't help that we managed to hit every red light along the way). We did stop at our usual two thrift stores, the PTA thrift store was a bust. It was all baby dolls and "collectible" porcelain dolls. At the other one I found a Rio doll from the Jem line. I quickly grabbed him so it wasn't until after I bought it I found out he had a mouse chewed foot and face! I'll probably be dumping him on E-bay and getting rid of him. I do have a small Jem collection, but don't want one with a chewed up face. At least he came with some clothes, they'll be worth something.
I also found another doll. She was on the bottom shelf with just her feet sticking out. I pulled her free and examined her up close, she was an inexpensive blow mold clone doll, but something about her looked familiar. I was looking at her when it dawned on me, she was a clone of Mattel's Sweet Sixteen. I know I've talked about Sweet Sixteen before, but I can't find the first post about her here on the blog. Sweet Sixteen was a short lived doll line from Mattel from the mid 70's. She used the straight leg Barbie body (sometimes with Francie arms) just with cheaper plastics. Her face comes from the Japanese exclusive Tuli-Chan doll, but with different hair and face paint. All the ones I've seen were made in Korea. As far as I know she had a single release and had no other dolls in the line. She had her own line of carded fashions, each ones were simply made casual outfits. I don't think any of them came with shoes. According to a reliable source, she was released by Mattel specifically for the clone market. She was an inexpensive Barbie like doll they could put out with Mattel quality without "tarnishing" the Barbie brand. That way Mattel could get the dime store sales without bringing Barbie into it. Interesting, right?
Sweet Sixteen didn't make a big splash. I'm pretty sure she was discontinued after one year. Even now those dolls can be found very cheaply online. She doesn't turn up all the time, but when she does she really don't go for a lot since there's really not a lot of interest for her. However, I like her. I have three of her including the first one that I re-rooted. (Never doing that again, btw). I am surprised that she was popular enough back then for another company to clone her. I guess the competition decided to one up Mattel by making an even cheaper copy of their cheap doll!
The clone doll is marked in two places. She has "Hong Kong" molded into the back of her head and "M. & S. Shillman. Inc Made in Hong Kong" written on her upper back. It's ironic that she's so well marked, I guess Shillman didn't want anyone knocking off their doll, no honor among thieves, right? She is a very simple clone doll. She has the usual thin clone hair and hair style with the center part that covers most of her scalp. Her bone straight, shoulder length, almost so light blonde it's white hair is very reminiscent of the actual Sweet Sixteen. She just has a center part compared to a side part on the actual doll. She has simple face painting again done in the style of the actual dolls. The biggest difference is that Sweet Sixteen has brown eyes with a streak of brown eye shadow and the clone doll has blue eye with no eye shadow.
Sisters.... or more likely cousins
The clone doll also has another big difference, her head is a ball joint (like most clone dolls) instead of a neck knob. Her body is a blow mold of standard clone quality. She has articulation at the neck, shoulders, waist, and hips. Her hands have a lot of molded in detail in front, but it's not very pretty. They gave her indents were the joints are in her fingers, it almost looks like she's wearing a ton of flesh colored rings on each hand. Her hip joint is the standard v-style joint. And on her toes she has two raised bumps to keep her shoes from falling off. (I've always hated those, sure they keep the shoes on, but they look so unnatural).
When I found her she still had the plastic band wrapped around her hair. She also came with what I
believe is her original swimsuit. I don't think she's ever been played with, which is not surprising. These clone dolls are very cheaply made so when they get played with it really shows with them. I did have to do a little clean up on her. I had to fix her part line, from the factory the very start of it was all brushed to one side. I also had to recolor her face slightly. Her nose and tip of her chin had lost it's coloring. Her swimsuit got washed, it had some spots on the top and the left side. They mostly came out, the might have stained the swimsuit after 40 plus years but I can deal with it. I also went through my shoe bag and found her an appropriate pair of clone shoes to wear.
I don't think she's an exact copy of Sweet Sixteen's head. I think they reverse engineered the doll, making the mold from the original doll. It would explain why her head is a very close match with some slight differences and smaller. But it's very obvious who she's supposed to be. I did some research into her, but couldn't find another doll like her. I think she's a fairly uncommon doll, but not particularly rare. It would be hard to find another one of her, but if I did she wouldn't cost that much. However that's not a big issue. I don't plan on selling her. She's joining the Sweet Sixteen collection as an interesting side note to her history.  

1 comment:

  1. She has a very pretty face. It's interesting to know Mattel tried a hand at clones too.