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What are Toddler Dolls?

By Katharine Swan
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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Toddler dolls are dolls that resemble a young child, or toddler, in body type. A chubby figure, rounded tummy, and dimpled fingers and toes are characteristics of these dolls. Although many dolls in the 1930's and 1940's had these characteristics, toddler dolls became especially popular in the 1950's, when eight-inch dolls were mass-produced by many different manufacturers.

The Ginny doll, made by Vogue Dolls, has been credited with initiating the toddler doll craze. Vogue started marketing their early toddler dolls, called Toddles, in the late 1930's and 1940's. These early dolls were made of composition and had painted-on eyes; their arms, legs, and head were held onto their bodies with rubber bands.

In the early fifties, Vogue's toddler dolls were renamed Ginny. Around the same time, Vogue started using hard plastic to make their dolls. Sleep eyes -- weighted eyes that close when the doll is laid on its back, and open when it is standing up -- were also added. Beginning in the mid-fifties, Vogue's dolls were also walkers. When their legs were moved back and forth, as though walking, their heads turned side to side.

By the early to mid-fifties, these dolls had become so popular that many other companies were making them. Most dolls during this period had glued-on wigs for hair, sleep eyes, walking mechanisms, and fashionable outfits typical of the era. Virtually all were made of hard plastic. Madame Alexander's Wendy, Alexander-kin, and Wendy-kin, Nancy Ann Storybook's Muffie, and Cosmopolitan's Ginger are just a few of the other major toddler dolls on the market. A number of other companies also offered cheaper knock-offs.

Many companies continued to manufacture their toddler dolls well into the sixties. Vinyl replaced hard plastic, making rooted hair possible, instead of wigs. Walking mechanisms were not used as frequently, and the dolls were often made more cheaply than before. However, although these dolls were still manufactured, fashion dolls had become the new craze.

Today, these dolls can be worth a great deal of money, depending on their manufacturer and condition. High quality dolls, such as those by Madame Alexander, Vogue, and Nancy Ann, often boast high values, while the lesser quality knock-offs tend to be worth much less. Also, the less wear a doll shows, the more it will be worth. Dolls that are "mint" -- meaning that they are virtually untouched, looking the way they would have when they were brand new -- are the most valuable, and therefore the most desirable.

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Discussion Comments

By hamje32 — On Dec 31, 2011

@NathanG - I don’t doubt that any doll for toddlers could become popular. Just look at what happened to the Cabbage Patch craze.

These were baby dolls but like the toddler dolls they had unique features and the dolls were flying off the shelves. Doll making will never go out of style in my opinion, whether you buy them for your kids or for your portfolio.

By NathanG — On Dec 30, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - You can buy the Vogue dolls and others like them online. They are quite a bit of money but like you said, they could prove to be worthwhile investments.

Frankly I’ve never understood how anyone could pay that much money for a doll, even if they owned a vintage doll from the 1950s. But then again, I watch the Antiques Road Show and often scratch my head that vintage heirlooms could bring in so much money nowadays, given that they were probably not that expensive in their day.

By SkyWhisperer — On Dec 30, 2011

Years ago I had a friend who talked to me about some creative ideas he had for investments. He told me that he would go online and buy collector’s editions of Barbie dolls, in the hopes of selling them ten years down the road for a bit of money. I remember thinking that the idea was ludicrous but he had facts that proved people were doing just that.

So in reading this article, I kind of do believe that the toddler baby doll might prove to be a worthwhile investment, if you can get your hands on one. I’m not into collectors’ editions of anything myself personally but these are probably safer bets than some of the more speculative investments that have come by in awhile.

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