Posted in Dolls

by Ruby Lane

Thumbelina dolls on Ruby Lane

Last week, we shared a graphic on our Facebook page that said, “Share if you remember Thumbelina dolls!” To date, we have received 337 shares and that post has organically reached 15,568 of you! That means that you not only remember Thumbelina dolls, you LOVE Thumbelina dolls! We thought you might enjoy a little history and blog about them – so Thumbelina doll lovers, this one is for YOU!

 

A vintage 1960's photo of friend Sharon Tara with her Thumbelina Doll (and brother!)

A vintage 1960’s photo of friend Sharon Tara with her Thumbelina Doll (and brother!)

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Danish author Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875) wrote a fairy tale, published in 1835, about a tiny girl named “Thumbelina” and her adventures with toads, moles, and beetles. Thumbelina avoided marrying them, instead falling in love and wedding a fairy prince her size. Mary Howitt was the first to translate the story into English and published it as “Thumbelina” in Wonderful Stories for Children in 1846.

The Ideal Toy Company borrowed the name “Thumbelina” from the fairy tale and began selling a doll named Thumbelina in 1961. The doll was very popular with children in the 1960s and1970s.

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Ideal's Thumbelina doll signaled the beginning of animated baby dolls. A wind-up mechanism in the doll's torso enabled it to slowly move its head and limbs in imitation of a squirming infant. First offered in 1961, the doll remained on the market into the 1970s. Late dolls also featured a crier and a pull string to activate sound. Source: The Strong Museum of Play

Ideal’s Thumbelina doll signaled the beginning of animated baby dolls. A wind-up mechanism in the doll’s torso enabled it to slowly move its head and limbs in imitation of a squirming infant. First offered in 1961, the doll remained on the market into the 1970s. Late dolls also featured a crier and a pull string to activate sound. Source: The Strong Museum of Play

thumbelina doll by ideal ruby lane

The Ideal Toy Company manufactured the Thumbelina doll at 9, 14, 16, and 20 inches tall. She came as a cuddly Newborn, Tiny or Toddler. The doll was made of vinyl and cloth with painted eyes, rooted hair, and rosy cheeks.  She had a wind key in back to make her head and body wiggle like a real baby. Do you remember that? When her chest was pressed it made a baby cooing sound. Thumbelina was variously marked. The 16-inch doll was marked on the head: Ideal Toy Corp. OTT-16.  Thumbelina wore a knit outfit with a tagged top, a flannel diaper, undershirt, and booties.

Thumbelina was Ideal’s biggest selling baby doll of the 1960s. She is a mechanical doll that wriggles when you wind a knob in her back.

Types Of Thumbelina Dolls

Thumbelina became popular enough for Ideal to introduce a variety of sizes and alternate versions over the years including:

  • 9″- 10″ Tiny Thumbelina Dolls
  • 14″ Tiny Thumbelina Dolls
  • 16″ Thumbelinas
  • 19″ Thumbelinas
  • Thumbelina Doll versions with a crying mechanism
  • Wakeup Thumbelina which could roll over and lift herself up on her arms as if crawling
  • Snoozie Thumbelina with sleep eyes
  • Kissin Thumbelina
  • Toddler Thumbelina
  • Bye-Bye Thumbelina
  • Newbord Thumbelina
  • Sister Thumbelina
  • Tearful Thumbelina

Vintage advertisement photos courtesy of Vintage Doll Collector and Doll Kind – Read More Here

  • snow
  • pink

  • ruby lane thumbelina doll
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Dolls and toys based on literary classics have a strong appeal for years. They tend to be childhood favorites saved and passed on to the next generation or given as gifts. They are usually well known around the world. The condition of a doll determines its market value. Boxed and never played with dolls are most favorably appraised but we love finding ones that have been played with, too. It means someone loved them!

thumbelina doll in box

Many collectors collect the dolls they loved as children. Some collectors collect vintage dolls based on an interest in the history of the doll company that manufactured the dolls. The Ideal Toy Company was the first to make hard plastic dolls after World War II. Some doll collectors favor dolls from certain decades or time periods. Ideal Toy Company started making Teddy bears in the 1930s and made Shirley Temple dolls. The Ideal Toy Company was acquired by the CBS Toy Company in 1982, which later went out of business. Thumbelina is a unique and charming doll that brings back wonderful memories just by seeing one! Here are some vintage 1960s advertisements that you might remember. 

vintage tumbelina doll advertisment
Ideal Thumbelina Advertisment
vintage ideal thumbelina doll

We would love to hear from you Write us at blogarticles@rubylane.com

2 Responses to “Do You Remember Thumbelina Dolls?”

  1. sue

    My Mum and Dad bought me a Thumbelina
    wind up doll in 1961 and I still have him. He
    is a bit worse for wear and the mechanism does
    not work but I would never part with him.

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