A customized Blythe doll
Blythe // is a fashion doll, about 28 cm (11 inch) tall, with an oversized head and large eyes that change color with the pull of a string. It was created in 1972 and was initially only sold for one year in the USA by toy company Kenner (later purchased by Hasbro). In 2000 the photo book This is Blythe was published and in 2001 the Japanese toy company Takara[nb 1] began producing new editions of Blythe dolls. There is a network of hobbyists who customize the doll for resale and create clothing and shoes for Blythe. Enthusiasts share photographs of their work and other types of dolls on the Internet.
Blythe was created in the early seventies by designer Allison Katzman at Marvin Glass and Associates and bought and produced in the USA in 1972 by the now-defunct toy company Kenner. Many years ahead of her time, Blythe dolls were only sold for one year in the U.S. (produced in Hong Kong) and also in Australia and Japan, during 1972. Over time the original "Kenner" Blythe dolls acquired a cult following of collectors and eventually, photographers. Ms. Katzman stated at the August 1, 2014 Blythe panel discussion in Seattle, Washington that while designing a fashion doll to compete with Barbie, she considered elements girls would like to be able to have, such as changing eye color. (Which were partially inspired by her teenaged daughter's tinted contact lenses.) Ms Katzman has stated that she found Betty Boop to be her main inspiration, not the said Margaret Keane orphans, as some people have assumed. She created a mock up paper doll with sliding colored gels for eyes, that she presented to the other members of her creative team. Gordon Barlow, an in house engineer, then designed the distinctive rotating cylinder with four different eye colors, changed by way of a pull string in the back of Blythe's head. Ashton-Drake Galleries produced nearly exact replicas of the 5 original Kenner dolls in 2005-2006, along with replicas based on the original Kenner outfits. The first release had skin-tones with a slight green tint. A second release in 2007 was less green and more peach-pink. Both releases have a matte surface texture. Ashton Drake in total released 12 different full-sized Blythe dolls, but ceased production in 2008.
In 2010, Hasbro released the Blythe Loves Littlest Pet Shop line as a part of their 2004 incarnation of the Littlest Pet Shop toy line, with Blythe dolls as petsitters for their animal toys in the aforementioned toy line. Blythe stars as a protagonist in the Littlest Pet Shop Presents animated shorts that were produced by Cosmic Toast Studios and released online by Hasbro (voice unknown). Another incarnation of the character, named Blythe Baxter (voiced by Ashleigh Ball), stars in the 2012 Littlest Pet Shop animated television series, as well as its related shorts (not to be confused with the Cosmic Toast shorts), that were produced by Hasbro Studios and DHX Media.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blythe dolls.|
- Official websites in English, Japanese by CWC
- Blythe Baxter's profile at the Hasbro's website
- Official website (previous version) by Hasbro