Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The World of Blythe

Blythe is a doll originally created in 1972 by designer Allison Katzman with the now-defunct U.S. toy company Kenner. She was a fashion doll with a very groovy mod wardrobe. Reportedly, she was modeled after drawings by Margaret Keane, the painter known for her doe-eyed characters in the late 60's. Blythe's most unique and notable feature were blinkable eyes that changed color with the pull of a string attached to the back of her oversize head. Blythe dolls were only sold for one year in the US during 1972 but she was not very popular and faded from store shelves quickly.
Thirty years after her first release date, Blythe regained popularity. In 1997, New York TV and video producer Gina Garan was given a 1972 Blythe by a friend and began using it to practice her photographic skills. She began taking her Blythe everywhere with her and took hundreds of photos. In 2002, Gina published her first book of Blythe photography,This is Blythe. Later that year, Hasbro (Kenner's successor) gave the rights to make Blythe dolls to Takara toy company in Japan. A vibrant Blythe subculture flourished on the Internet, predominantly in forums, user groups and several fan sites. There is also a parallel network of hobbyist Blythe clothiers, designers, and customizers. Original Kenner dolls are highly collectible, hard to find and sell for hundreds of US dollars on sites like Ebay.
There are two types of Blythe dolls: the 28 cm version and the 11.2 cm "Petit Blythe." Only large dolls have color-changing eyes, which include the colors blue, green, orange, and pink (except for cases with limited-edition dolls). Newer releases of the Petit Blythe dolls have movable eyelids and bendable bodies.
Unlike Barbie, Blythe does not have a boyfriend. She also does not advertise her professional life. Watch below an original TV ad from 1972, thanks to You Tube.


WendyB said...

I love the Blythe doll. She's so creepily cute. Interesting history too.

Pinky said...

Thanks for this very nice article about Blythe - and the Youtube ad is a great find - I haven't seen it before!