The Baby Dollikin Face

 

The "Baby Dollikin" face mold has a long and unique history. Rarely was one face mold used so often, and yet it retained a fairly generic personality during the ten years or so that it was produced. I started calling this face the "Baby Dollikin" mold because Uneeda's adorable Baby D seemed to be the most famous doll to own it. I have not noticed that anyone else applied a standard name although many dolls with this face were produced and sold by many companies.

Uneeda used this mold on Baby Dollikin (at left) who may have been the first to "own" this sweet and pretty face. The expression is softly smiling, pleasant and agreeable with little twinkly dimples just below the eyes. Baby Dollikin was a short-lived project and apparently did not endure long enough to give this baby face mold any lasting fame or personal recognition.

After Baby Dollikin, who was elaborately constructed, Uneeda simplified the doll and began making her with the newly invented all vinyl flange joints that fit together snug and secure. Once this easy new method of jointing babydoll arms and legs was invented, it seems as if the doll industry changed overnight and the modern doll era began in earnest.

There was a lot of experimentation until the modern vinyl joints were invented, however. Doll companies tried wires, discs, vinyl bags, metal hinges, axles, and many different methods for joining the pieces of the doll together.

Uneeda was possibly more daring than any other company in this regard. Some of their efforts seem absolutely laughable, which makes the old Uneeda dolls all the more interesting. Uneeda was willing to try anything -- and then they actually produced and sold all their inventions! I'm glad they did. Otherwise we would not have as much insight into the experimentation that went on during the transitional years of vinyl development.

The doll on the left is Baby Trix. She has a heavy, hard plastic body with metal parts inside. Her soft vinyl arms have been slipped over plugs of hard plastic. The hard plastic plugs are assembled very much like wheels on an axle. The axles run through the hard plastic body. A button on the dolls chest could be pushed and a mechanism inside would wiggle the axles and this made it appear that the doll was moving her arms, legs and head. This doll is heavy for her size because of the very heavy hard plastic body casing and all the metal pieces that are inside. Baby Trix also went through progessive years of development... but that is another story. :)

The modern methods for making vinyl doll joints greatly simplified doll construction and made the process considerably cheaper, easier and faster. The doll industry took off like a rocket because the U.S. had pulled out of the Great Depression, the Baby Boomer era was in full swing and doll companies were suddenly able to make dolls at a rate as never before.  

Vinyl Materials

Baby Dollikin was constructed of heavy hard vinyl and metal pieces were used in the joints. She was made in 1957, 58 or 1959. I've never been able to pin down the exact time frame. Dollikin's little sister DewDrop (in the photo at left), was constructed of heavy hard vinyl either the SAME year or possibly the following year. Dewdrop had the modern flange method for jointing the vinyl pieces.

DewDrop was also made with heavy soft vinyl later on: all the pieces were soft vinyl.

The early DewDrop dolls had a different neck size than Baby Dollikin. The neck hole is a little bit wider and the neck itself is wider also. This does give the face a very different appearance. You can see in the photo that the face appears chubbier, the cheeks look fatter. And, the neck is much shorter than on Baby Dollikin who has a neck that is almost too long. I think the head on Baby D should have been sitting a bit further down on the neck than it does, actually, but her long neck does give her a more graceful and elegant appearance than DewDrop. Baby Dollikin is 21 inches tall, and the early all vinyl DewDrop dolls are 19 inches tall.

Then in the early 60's DewDrop was made with vinyl arms and legs and head, with a blow molded vinyl body. The blow molded vinyl resembles plastic and is usually referred to as plastic. The neck hole in the head was made smaller again and the neck was made longer, so the later DewDrop dolls are proportioned more like Baby D. The 1960's dolls are 20 inches tall.

The blow mold method of making vinyl or plastic dolls was very new in 1960 or 61 but once it caught on it really caught on. After that most dolls were made with the blow molded vinyl/plastic for bodies and legs. Arms and head were made with soft vinyl, usually. The blow molded vinyl could be made with various thicknesses and weights. Some dolls were not made thick enough and had a tendency to be brittle. They crack easily, especially in places where the material is thin such as the heels of the feet. The Uneeda dolls I have seen were made well with sufficient thickness in the blow-molded portion.

With DewDrop especially, you can pretty well determine what year she was made by what she is constructed with.


Flesh Tone Paint

Another interesting thing to know about the old Uneeda DewDrop dolls, is that Uneeda painted many of them with a high quality flesh tone paint. It seems they did this if they were not satisfied with the flesh color in the vinyl. I did strip a doll head that was painted and found that the vinyl color underneath was a deathly color gray which would not have been suitable at all for a babydoll. So, if the vinyl was sallow or gray in color, then they painted it at the factory before the pieces were assembled. Sometimes the entire doll would be painted. Sometimes just the head or sometimes just an arm or leg.

I know that some people in this world use a flesh tone paint to cover over blemishes on doll vinyl (insteading of cleaning it or using a stain remover.) You can tell when the paint was definitely a factory paint job because the face color will be applied professionally OVER the flesh tone paint. Also, the entire limb will be painted and not just portions of it. Furthermore, the factory paint is of such high quality that it holds up very well over time and does not crack off or peel. It seems to be exceptionally durable and flexible.

The DewDrop doll on the left is made entirely of soft flexible vinyl and she is painted with flesh tone paint on every piece of her body. This is the first doll I encountered that was completely painted. The paint holds up very very well and most people don't notice it. Even people who are very familiar with old dolls don't always notice the paint.

I think that the painted dolls are more beautiful and desirable, because the fleshtone color is very warm and rich and has a special luminous glow. If the doll is painted, I think this quality should add to the value of the doll (assuming the paint is still in good condition.)  

The DewDrop Name

I found out recently that DewDrop was also sold as Sweetums. Uneeda may have alternated the names from year to year, or maybe it had something to do with what the doll was wearing -- or maybe there was no rhyme or reason for it. I do know that this doll went by more than one name.

I did have a mint in box DewDrop (shown at left) and she was dated 1963 on the box. She has the blow molded body and legs. Notice her fingers are in the distinctive position that are so characteristic of the big Uneeda babies. All the 19, 20 and 21 inch babies with this face also had these fingers. There are some Uneeda walker dolls named DebTeen which also have this finger position. Some people tell me that the fingers are saying "I love you" in sign language.

Information about Uneeda dolls is rather sketchy. The dolls themselves tell us more than any other sources I know of.  

Hair Colors and Style

Baby Dollikin came with various hair colors including pale white blonde, dark blonde, brunette and redhead. The redhead seems to be very rare in all the early dolls. Dolls with molded hair were made as well. Some dolls had straight hair, some had curls.

DewDrop came in the same assortment of colors as far as I know, as well as a very pale yellow blonde that was especially striking. She is shown in a photo above, wearing a dress with violets print.

In the 1960's Uneeda produced a redhead DewDrop with curly red hair, green eyes and freckles. She is a particularly memorable doll, as shown at left.

Original Clothing

The Baby Dollikins wore simple pajama outfits that were one piece or two piece. Here, a very lovely brunette Dollikin is wearing her original red playsuit and red shoes. The socks are replaced. The outfit only had one pompom in the center, and the collar was almost like a clown collar but not quite as ruffled. I have seen this one piece outfit in a gold color also. I don't know if there were other colors.

 

Dolly Sizes

The Dollikin Face (as I like to call it) was used for many years, possibly longer than most babydoll faces. It was used on many different dolls by Uneeda, in various sizes, and was known by several names. The doll on the left was most likely sold as DewDrop or little DewDrop or Sweetums. She is 18 inches tall and has a smaller head size as well as body size. Only the large Uneeda dolls have the "I love you" fingers. This one does not.

Generic Copycats

And, this face is not exclusive to Uneeda alone. The Dollikin face shows up on many many generic dolls of the 60's, in various sizes. Many of the store brand dolls or department store dolls had the Dollikin face. The lovely 19" brunette on the left is named Babbette and she came with an extensive dolly layette. She has no manufacturer ID. But the face looks very familiar, doesn't it? Even though the face is familiar, she does not have the "I love you" fingers of the Uneeda dolls.

Early vinyl dolls were made by a mold company who sold the vinyl pieces to other doll companies who assembled and dressed the dolls. This is why we are likely to see the same bodies on dolls from different companies. I have a Uneeda doll and a Horsman doll with the same 24" vinyl limbs. The cloth bodies are different because they were designed by Uneeda and Horsman. But the vinyl pieces came from the same mold maker and are identical.

The Dollikin face mold was obviously sold to different doll companies and the heads were stamped with the ID of the company that would receive the order for parts.

Some doll molds were generic and were sold to many doll companies, who would dress and sell the dolls with their own custom clothing and packaging. Some face molds were exclusive copyright property of a specific doll company, who (most likely) contracted with the same mold company to make the custom heads for them. It appears that the Baby Dollikin face was a generic mold.

Canadian Variation

Here is a 19" all vinyl Canadian Pullan doll with the same Dollikin face. Pullan gave the doll an incredible head of magnificent hair (which was typical of the Pullan company.) This fabulous hair does change the appearance of the Dollikin face dramatically. This doll is such a glamour girl, we named her FiFi and when she gets bored we give her a comb and mirror to play with. She has lots of personality.  She was most likely made around the same time as Baby Dollikin and the early DewDrop dolls. She is clearly marked Pullan on the head and body. The heavy vinyl materials and separated toes indicate late 50's vintage. I have never seen this doll ebay before or since. I think she may be somewhat rare.  

 

Variation with Fixed Eyes

Here is a handsome doll, unmarked, that has fixed eyes and no lashes in the Dollikin face mold, and this gives it a distinctly different look as well. This doll has vinyl head and arms, blow molded body and the clothes are original. It is possible he was made in Canada but that is only a guess.

 

Mint and Original Baby Dollikin!

This doll is mint and original with her hangtag and accessories. The little baggie came with the doll and contained a doll rattle and a bottle. Marsha Trent owns this doll. (Thank you to Marsha for allowing me to use her photo.)


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