funny stories, memories, nostalgia

The harsh reality and trauma of 70s and 80s era toys that didn’t live up to the hype…

I woke up in a silly mood. Then I got up and cleaned the bathroom, which is what I do on Tuesdays. Maybe it was the fumes from the detergent, but I was positively giddy this morning. In fact, I was so giddy that Bill shot me a dirty look at the breakfast table. It’s his fault I’m like this, though. Before we were married, I usually slept until the sun was up. Thanks to being married to an Army guy for the past almost 19 years, I wake up at about 5:00am every day. A lot of times during the work week, I’ll lay down to try to read during the afternoon. Then I fall asleep. I guess I do need to sleep more during the night, but I wake up early because of Bill and the dogs.

So anyway… this morning, as I was sitting there feeling giddy, I noticed a post on a Facebook page called “Do you remember the 60s, 70s, & 80s”. It was about a doll called “Baby Alive”. I think I might have had one of these dolls when I was a child, but it was probably picked up from a yard sale or something. I don’t remember having the food or diapers that came with it. That was the doll’s gimmick. You could feed her baby food and she would “crap” it out in a diaper. I was laughing at the photo, because the diapers were called “Dampies”. But because of my crappy aging eyesight, I thought the box read “Dumpies”, which to me seemed like a better name. It’s time for me to get bifocals, but I couldn’t help but laugh about the mistake.

Actually, looking at this commercial, maybe I didn’t have one of these. I don’t remember having a baby that had a lever on the back like that.
Here’s a demo. Yuck! This woman speaks with a sing-song cadence. Maybe I had this particular version of the doll. I remember it being “well loved”, but not by me.

Now I’m reading the comments about this doll. It seems that many people were traumatized because of Baby Alive, whose life was apparently shortened when kids played with her as intended. Many people reported that Baby Alive didn’t last very long in their homes, because she would get maggots or mold from the “food”. It seems like that would be bound to happen. I wonder how it was that the toy manufacturers didn’t realize that putting a “food stuff” into a plastic and rubber toy that can’t be thoroughly cleaned was going to lead to trauma and tragedy.

Consider that the doll came with the food and diapers, but actually playing with this doll would mean using the special food and diapers, and that would mean having to buy more. I’m sure the toy makers were counting on that, and the money it might bring in… but they didn’t count on the doll getting infested with maggots and smelling putrid after only a few months. I watched the second video, with the lady demonstrating the doll. She shows the packet of “food” that came with this doll, and I can’t help but laugh at how sexist we still were in the 70s. The instructions say to use the bottle to measure out water, or Mom’s measuring spoon. What if it’s Dad’s measuring spoon?

I think I was a lot happier with Baby-That-A-Way. I remember getting her at a flea market. I think I might have even bought her myself, back in Gloucester, Virginia… Carter’s Flea Market, which used to be a lot of fun on the weekends. I could walk there from my house, although that meant crossing four busy lanes of traffic.

This “baby” crawls.

The trouble with Baby-That-A-Way, though, was that she ran on batteries. That meant you couldn’t bathe her or you’d ruin her. I was pretty rough on my toys. They actually got played with pretty well. I don’t know why I would have wanted this doll, other than the fact that she could crawl. I didn’t like playing with doll babies that much. I preferred Barbies, which had long hair and could be dressed in evening gowns and such. I guess I never had much of a maternal instinct, even when I was a child.

The other day, a friend from high school shared this on her Facebook page…

Actually, if you had a “cheap” Barbie– say one of the older Malibu dolls that didn’t have bent arms, you could pull the head off and reattach it. But the more expensive dolls, say Pink and Pretty or Golden Dream Barbies, would be ruined if you pulled off her head.
I used to have a friend who had this doll. I never got her, because pink wasn’t my favorite color.
She had this one, too. I was jealous, because I was fascinated by perms. But the doll was, in fact, kind of ugly.
We both had this one. Her doll had a different face than mine did, and her golden outfits were different looking. The “curl” was totally bogus. It was just copper strands that didn’t really stay curled.
We both also had Beauty Secrets Barbie. I ruined her by cutting off her bangs. I had bangs and hated them.

I inherited a bunch of my sisters’ 60s era Barbies. I abused the hell out of those dolls, which makes me sad now. Those poor dolls were actually prettier than my 80s era ones, even if they weren’t as functional. They were probably worth some money, too, before I fucked them up by playing with them. I like how pretty the girls are in these ads. I was never “pretty” as a girl. I was more “cute”, I guess. I always wanted long hair, but my mom would never let me grow it out. She’d get it cut short. I wore boys’ jeans and cords, because they fit me better than girls’ jeans did. I never got tall and slim. Instead, I stayed short and squatty.

I also had a Tiffany Taylor doll. I loved her, but was kind of traumatized when she didn’t live up to the hype, either.

This was like a Barbie on steroids.

Tiffany Taylor’s gimmick was that you could rotate her scalp and change her hair color. I always left her hair set to blonde, though, probably because I was a blonde myself. Consequently, when I turned the hair to brunette, it would stick straight up in the air. I think this doll was also subjected to one of my disastrous attempts at hair cutting. I somehow didn’t realize the hair wouldn’t grow back if I cut it. There was also a “Tuesday Taylor” doll, but I think she was supposed to be a Barbie sized version. Tiffany was a lot bigger than Tuesday.

I liked Tiffany’s clothes. You can see that when she’s a brunette, her hair sticks up.

But… my least favorite doll of all time was this one…

I HATED this doll.
I didn’t have this one… but I probably would have hated it, too.

I remember actually taking a hammer to my Talk Up Doll, because I hated the annoying voice. Too bad… she probably would have been worth some money today. I suck at selling things, though, and like I said, I actually played with my toys. I was never one to keep something around just to look at and allow to collect dust. My former friend would do that. Not me… I had less impulse control, and I hate dusting.

Wow… I really fell down the rabbit hole with this topic. I suppose I could have written about something more important, like Afghanistan, but I really felt like writing something fun. And I did annoy Bill by laughing at “Dumpies” diapers. I guess my lack of interest in baby dolls wasn’t such a bad thing, though, since I never grew up to have any kids, anyway. Perhaps my “Barbie” life was a reflection of what my real life was going to end up being.

Mood music. I didn’t have this album. I remember the ad for it, though, and this song… how annoying!