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Blythe DollsBlythe is a doll originally designed and produced in 1972 by the Kenner company. Manufactured in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA for only one year (a very small number were also produced in Asia by Palitoy), she quickly slipped into obscurity with the rest of the Mod obsession with “big eyes” (peruse any thrift store on a regular basis and you know what I mean). Until, that is to say, an American photographer, Gina Garan, chose Blythe as her muse and published This Is Blythe in 2000.

Since that time the Japanese toy manufacturer, Takara, has produced reproduction Blythes in dozens of different hair colors, outfits, and skintones, even two different body types and three different facial molds. She is popular across the World in a way that she never was back in 1972 when Kenner saw no need to continue to manufacture her. So popular, in fact, that those few original Kenner Blythes are highly sought after. (No one currently knows how many original Blythes were manufactured…many of Kenner’s old corporate records were lost.)

Blythe is now if not THE most popular reproduction doll of all time, certainly one of them.

She is characterized by an oversized head on a Skipper-sized body (I have an obsession with vintage Skipper clothes and you’ll usually find my girls wearing them) and large eyes that change color and “expression” (ie, with a pull of the string at the back of her head she’ll “do her thing” — here I quote the original Kenner television ad — you can change the eyes to 4 different colors…2 of which look straight ahead, 1 to the left, and the last to the right). Blythe is highly customizable and you can buy your doll different eye chips, paint her face, or even root her different hair (or if you’re not brave enough, just throw a wig on). She’s a very durable and cute doll, though I’ve heard her described by countless people as being creepy. To each his/her own.

Though I have had many more in the past, I now only have 4 Blythe dolls (and 2 Middie…they’re a smaller doll). Whereas I once had 3 Kenner Blythes, when I felt that I had too many to really enjoy any more (you have to be careful with the original Blythes, who have a penchant for developing nasty plastic issues such as cracked torso parts), I sold 2 and kept only my favorite, Zinnia (the blonde in the above photo) and then I found the holy grail of a $1 doll at a local garage sale…her name is now Oona. My other 2 dolls are Takara reproductions. 1 is a “Miss Sally Rice” named Alba (the blue-haired girl above)…and the other is a “Nostalgic Pop” named Flora.

My Blythe have been on many adventures with me…in 2005 Zinnia went to the UK and we attended Portmeiricon, a celebration of all that is The Prisoner.  We had much fun.

Also in 2005 one of my customized girls (sold long ago) met Bruce Campbell.

I have met many people I still consider friends since becoming a Blythe fan back in 2002…she is a joyous doll, helping to bring people together from all walks of life no matter language or other potential barrier.

Photos (mainly of dolls who I sold long ago, sadly) are viewable on my Flickr…this photo of me with my very first Kenner Blythe is from September 2004.  No grey hairs there yet!

Middie Blythe

There is a smaller type of Blythe by Takara called “Middle Blythe” first released in October 2010.

She has a tiltable neck and her eyes don’t change chip, but they can look left and right and she can still blink.  She can share some clothes with original gen. 1 Licca (much smaller than the current Licca) and some Tiny Betsy McCall things too.

I honestly haven’t experimented with mine much yet…I have 2…Contessa Margherita (left) and Nana’s Little Lass (right)


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