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Liddle Kiddles were dolls originally produced by toymakers Mattel Inc. in 1965. They were introduced at the 1966 New York Toy Fair and put on the market soon after. Initially about 3 inches tall, they were tiny by doll standards. The sensation they created in the toy world caused other toy companies to produce their own tiny dolls.
Mattel founder Elliot Handler oversaw the project. He told engineers and sculptors that he wanted the dolls to resemble little children in neighborhoods across America. Martha Armstrong-Hand, the famous doll sculptor at Mattel, made the first Kiddles in 1965. She explained that the first set of ten dolls used only three different head molds but had different hairstyles and face paint. Armstrong-Hand also sculpted other Mattel dolls, such as Drowsy (1965), Baby First Step (1965) and Cheerful Tearful (1966). A fun accessory introduced in 1968 was the Liddle Kiddle Talking Town House, this had one of the famous Mattel talking voice units inside. When the "chatty-ring" was pulled you would hear one of 8 different phrases, such as "This is where the Liddle Kiddles live!" The voice unit was the very same one that had been introduced in 1960 inside Mattel's Chatty Cathy doll, and used in all other Mattel talking dolls and toys.
Kiddles were made of soft vinyl with painted facial features and rooted, brushable hair. The first, second, and third series (called "bigger bodies" by collectors) ranged from 2¾ in to 3½ in, while the Skediddle Kiddles were 4 in tall and had a special mechanism inside the body which allowed them to walk, wave, and ride vehicles with the push of a child's hand. The Kola and Kologne Kiddles were 2 in, and the mini Jewelry Kiddles were 7⁄8–1 1⁄16 in. All the dolls were marked with "Mattel" or "MI", a date, and either "Japan", "Hong Kong" or "Taiwan" on the back of the shoulders or on the back of the head near the hairline. The smaller dolls were marked under their non-removable clothing. Most Kiddle accessories were also marked. Some were marked with the Mattel seal, and some were only marked with a number.
The bigger bodies (the first ten dolls) were designed to resemble typical neighborhood children at play. The name Liddle Kiddles was actually taken from the words "little kid". Each of the first 24 dolls had detailed clothing and accessories that perfectly matched their theme and size. Wire skeletons inside the vinyl bodies enabled the dolls to be posed and re-posed realistically. The small 2-inch dolls, however, had no wires inside for posing and, unlike the first 24, their clothes were not removable.
Packaging and Care
Kiddles were packed in cardboard blister/bubble cards, in cellophane window boxes, or with paper hang tags. Heat and humidity damaged some dolls over time, and repeated play broke the posing wires of some dolls, rendering them unable to hold a pose. The hairstyles, painted facial features and clothing have proved durable.
They had no special mechanism to enable movement, just posing wires, the sharp ends of which usually protruded through the soft material, though they could still be posed. Sometimes, with too much or too little movement, the wires inside the Kiddle doll would rust, and the soft rubbery skin of the Kiddle Doll would turn green around the wire, called 'green spot' by some collectors.
Kiddles were made with a different kind of hair than that of dolls made today. It was made to be very shiny and silky, but after some time the hair would lose all its luster, frizz up or lose some of its hold, and even become brittle and harsh-feeling. The Kiddles who have vibrant color in their hair also lose some of the color over time.
Prototype Kiddles are a rare find for collectors. These were one-of-a-kind artist samples used by Mattel to develop Kiddles, to introduce Kiddles to prospective buyers at toy fairs, and to use for advertising. Prototypes usually had experimental bodies, unusual hairstyles in unusual colors, or prototype clothing often made from existing Mattel fabrics, like those used for Mattel's Barbie line. Prototype dolls generally had hand painted faces, and some were created only as heads with no bodies.
Many Kiddles have been found to have variations.
- Cinderiddle has been found with a side-part, as opposed to the usual bangs in front.
- Lady Lavender of the Tea Party Kiddles has a variation outfit where the pink flowers and purple dress are swapped out for purple flowers and a pink dress.
- Sizzly Friddle has three different variation outfits.
- Sleeping Biddle can be found with three different kinds of crowns: a peach colored one with a rhinestone in the middle, one with three strands of pearls, or the rarest made of gold beads.
- Both Biff Boodle's and Rolly Twiddle's wagons come in color variations. You will not find Rolly Twiddle with a Biff Boodle wagon, however, and vice versa.
- Greta Griddle' yellow table and pink chairs switch color from time to time.
- Beat-a-Diddle was found to have a red outfit in rare cases instead of her usual black one.
- Windy Fliddle's red and yellow plane (red on top, yellow on bottom) was known to swap colors.
- Trikey Triddle has either a red and white polka dot dress with white collar or a pink floral with green leaves on a white background dress with white collar.
- Kampy Kiddle has been found to have her ponytail braided. Her fishing pole, usually made out of plastic, has been found made out of real wood.
- Slipsy Sliddle has different hair colors from red to brown.
- The First 24 1966–1968
- Storybook Kiddles 1967–1968
- Skediddle Kiddles 1968–1970
- Playhouse Kiddles 1970
- Kiddles 'N Kars 1969–1970
- Tea Party Kiddles 1970–1971
- Lucky Locket Kiddles 1967–1970
- Kiddle Kolognes 1968–1970
- Kola Kiddles 1968–1969
- Sweet Treat Kiddles 1969–1970
- Jewelry Kiddles & Mini Pop ups 1968–1970
- Zoolery Kiddles 1969–1970
- Holiday Kiddles 1968–1969
- Animiddle Kiddles 1969–1970
- Kozmic Kiddles 1969–1970
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Kiddles 1968
- Storybook Sweethearts 1969–1970
- Liddle Baby Kiddles 1970
- The Totsy Co. 1967
- Karry Kases 1966–1968
- Playhouses & Cases 1966–1968
- Snap Happy Furniture 1969–1970
- Paper Goods 1966–1971
- Games and Misc. 1966–1970
- Gift Sets and Sears Exclusives 1966–1970
- Prototypes 1965–1971
- Store Displays 1965–1971
- Advertisements & Catalog Reprints 1965–1971
- Lucky Locket Reissues 1976–1978
- New Sweet Treats 1979
- Tyco Toys Kiddles 1995
- Kopy Cats & Competitors 1966–1969
- Liddle Kiddles Dolls & Accessories by Tamela Storm & Debra Van Dyke 1986
- Liddle Kiddles Identification & Value Guide by Paris Langford 1996
- Kettelkamp, Sean- Chatty Cathy and her Talking Friends (1998) by Schiffer Publishing.
- Schiffer Books Website