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1960s Companion Dolls




Three Beautiful Sisters


 Child-sized "Companion Dolls" were all the rage in the early 1960s.  For all of us who did not have any sisters, this was the next best thing!  There were slight deviations in size but the majority stood at 36", about the size of a three year old child.  The popularity of these dolls started with the beautiful Ideal Patti Play Pal (also seen it as Playpal).  Soon other companies started to get into the market as they saw the explosion in popularity of this new life-sized doll.

Unfortunately I do not have a very good cross representation of these beauties as each of mine is a generic (one day I'll get a Patti Play Pal) and each is almost identical although there are some subtle differences.  The sad notion about collecting these is that most are not marked with anything more than a couple of code part numbers.  Since many of the companies purchased their parts from the same factory, unless you find one in an original box, with a wrist tag or documented original clothing, it is impossible to truly know who you have.  There were a few companies that actually put their company mark on their dolls and collectors appreciate that today.

Once demand for Patti Play Pal took off, Ideal introduced a whole family of life-sized dolls to join her.  Some of these are Penny Play Pal, Peter Play Pal, Suzy Play Pal (toddler), and Bonnie and Johnny Play Pal (babies).  The dolls vary in size from about 24" to 38".

As far as other Play Pal type dolls that were released around the same time, most of the named dolls are sought after today and can command high prices like Patti. Some of those that are in this category are the 36" Betsy and Sandy McCall dolls by American Character, Effanbee's Mary Jane, Ideal's large 36" Shirley Temple, Daddy's Girl, and Miss Ideal, Horsman's Princess Peggy and Mary Poppins, Allied Eastern and Sayco dolls, and that elusive 36" Vogue Ginny.

Any of the life-sized dolls that were made during this time are grouped in the companion doll category because of their size and life-like qualities.  Most can wear (and are often found in) real children's clothing.  After all half the fun of having one of these larger dolls, is having the ability to dress them!

 I still chuckle, or maybe I should say KICK MYSELF, when I remember that in the early 1960s when these dolls were all the rage, I was about 10 years old.  I really, really, wanted one of these so started saving my weekly allowance and tooth fairy $, determined to buy one.  I remember spreading the money out on my bed and counting it often, getting closer and closer.  Well, finally after many months (I probably only got about 50 cents a week), I had enough money to buy one.  I had about $18.00!!!!  I begged my mom to take me down to White Front (sort of like Wal-mart today).  There they were, all lined up on the top shelf.  Patti Play Pal, probably Ginny, and some generics too most likely.  Which one, which one?  I really wanted Patti.  She was the most beautiful and the most expensive.  I remember looking down at the money in my hand. All those dollars.  If I buy a doll, I won't have any money left.  I really liked seeing all those dollars.  I felt SO rich!  Hummm, maybe I don't REALLY need a doll.  After all, I'm almost grown up.   Maybe I will think about it and come back another day when I'm sure.
Needless to say, I never bought one and I can kick myself now!




A Comparison of Generic Companion Dolls

The untrained eye would immediately assume that these were Patty Play Pal dolls, however, none of them are.  On initial inspection all these girls look identical.  However each has a different body construction and are marked a little differently.

This doll is a WALKER, stands 35" tall.

HEAD: there is a tiny "B" on the back of neck
TORSO:  letters AE at base of torso just above the "Y" of her bottom
LEGS:  AE at joint edge of each leg, sort of at the back
ARMS:  36-5 at joint edge of underarm on each

She is a NON-WALKER, stands 34" tall

HEAD: no mark (I've looked and looked)
TORSO:  35-5 on mid-torso then what appears to be a "K" at the "Y" of her bottom (not sure, this is very hard to make out, definitely looks like something is there)
LEGS:  35-5 at joint edge (inner thigh) of each leg
ARMS:  36-5 at joint edge of underarm on each
She is a NON-WALKER, stands 34" tall

HEAD: there is a tiny "C" on back of neck
TORSO:  35-5 at base of torso (not as close to the Y as the first doll)
LEGS:  35-5 at joint edge (inner thigh) of each leg
ARMS:  36-5 at joint edge of underarm on each
She has wavy (sort of crimped) hair but not sure if this is original or not.  The hair is very difficult to comb due to the thickness.  She has grayish eye shadow and almost peachy lips.  Her blush is prominent and in a peachy tone as well.  Eye color is hazel.Same color of hair but very straight and thick.  All one length.  She has no eye shadow.  Her eyebrows also appear a bit closer together giving her a more worried look.  Her blush is not as prominent as the other girls' and her lip paint is a definite pink.Her hair is straight but the sides by each temple is longer, indicating to me that her hair should be pulled back off of her face and fastened. (I had to redo her hair as when I got her it was loose)  This one has the eye shadow too and her lips are almost red but not a true red.  This doll is what I thought might be a Vogue Ginny based on the Vogue reference book.  It is the exact outfit.  However I'm having some doubts about this as time goes by.  She is not a walker and it was my understanding that the 36" Ginny was a walker.  However because information is sketchy at best on these, I really can't be sure.  I still love her and refer to her as my 36" Ginny.
This is a walker.  Her plastic is a much lighter weight and a pinker tone than the other two dolls. Her legs move freely when I left her up and you can hear noise as if there are metal rods (which is how these dolls move).  Her arms and head are a different vinyl.

This non-walker has a very nice evenly toned body.  She seems like a high quality construction. 

All three dolls have the exact same arms.

This doll, also a non-walker, has legs that though marked the same as the middle doll, have discolored.  Her legs also appear ever so slightly thinner that the other two.  Some of the red of her dress has transferred to her torso plastic. 

Doll on left has been redressed in a darling vintage 1950s little girl's dress I found in an antique store.  I would love to find a petticoat to go under it to give it some fullness but is very appropriate as it is.  She has generic shoes for a 36" doll.  She looks like she is ready to go to a birthday party!

Doll in middle is wearing what I believe is her original dress and shoes.  There are no tags in the dress but it is factory made and of high quality.  I thought maybe this might be a 36" Ginny because of the quality of the dress, but I have also seen some other dolls in quality clothing so who knows.

Again, this outfit on the right is documented in the Vogue Encyclopedia as being one released for Ginny.  I bought this several years ago and the woman who sold it to me said it was her daughter's childhood doll but she could not remember if they ever called it Ginny.


I really wish I had more examples to show as there are notable differences in the faces of some of the dolls in this category.  As I find more dolls to add to this page I will include them.
Another difficultly in collecting these as a group is that their large size is rather prohibitive
 when figuring out where to put them all!

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