Every now and then she pops up in one of our kids' room or nursery tours. Big head, big eyes, tiny body. Who is she? Why, it's Blythe, of course!
The Blythe doll was originally designed in 1972 by Allison Katzman (working for the American toy company Kenner). The doll's special feature was that her eyes moved from side to side, as well as changed color, with the pull of a string. Blythe was only sold for one year until she was pulled from stores out of lack of interest.
In 1997 a New York-based photographer Gina Garan received an original Blythe doll as a gift. She used the doll to practice different photographic techniques and her photographs were spotted by Japanese toy company CWC president Junko Wong in 2000. Through her being featured in an advertising campaign in Japan, and Gina Garan's book release "This is Blythe" in the US, Blythe began to make a comeback.
In 2001 Japanese toy company Takara, who produce the Japanese fashion doll "Licca" (a sweeter, younger Barbie-type doll), helped CWC to produce new editions of the Blythe dolls. These dolls are now referred to as "Neo Blythes" while the original Blythes are referred to as "Kenner Blythes". In 2003 an American toy company - Ashton-Drake Galleries - also received license to produce replicas of the doll, though the "ADG" Blythes never became as popular as their Japanese counterparts.
If you are interested in reading more about Blythe, you can check out her official website or this book (pictured), which goes into the details of all the "Neo Blythes" that have been released. You could also sign up to the collector's forum here. The forum is also a great place to enquire about where to purchase a Blythe, as they can be difficult to track down. Their prices can range anywhere from around $80 used, to over $1000 for the original 1970's doll in good condition.
(Images: 1. From Piper's Adorable Pink Bedroom, photo by Bethany Nauert 2-3. Alison Gerber, 4. Aimee Thorne, used with permission 5. Junie Moon Store.)