Since its founding in 1930, the Fisher-Price company has created some 5,000 toys and all kinds of dolls, but perhaps none so sweet and dear as the Little Girl Dolls, first released in 1974, which came to be popularly called ‘Lapsitters’ because of their soft, bendable cloth bodies that were just right for sitting in your lap while you read a story, rode in a car or sat at table. These 14″ Little Girl Dolls have vinyl arms, heads and legs, soft rooted hair, and their cloth bodies were printed in patterns or single colors that served as cozy pyjamas at bedtime.
The Original Six Little Girl Dolls
Baby Ann looked like a typical baby doll, but the other 5 original Little Girl Dolls were a uniquely darling representation of children who looked about 4-6 years old – kindergarten aged, in my view. The faces were so simple and friendly, it is easy to see why little girls of the 1970s and their mothers reached for these dolls as being especially lovable. Fisher-Price’s Little Girl Dolls, looked like kindly friends any kindergartner would be happy to play with.
Later on, doubtless in response to 1970′s social research articles being published that advocated giving dolls to little boys to play with, Fisher Price introduced doll #206 – a little boy named Joey with brown hair, brown eyes and freckles on his nose.
And now, here they are: The Little Girl Dolls You Remember!
Little Girl Dolls – Mary
Just look at that smile! This face mold, with the especially wide smile, was utilized for the Audrey doll, too, but the Mary Little Girl Doll’s overall facial expression comes across to me as the most winning.
This Little Girl Doll was originally dressed in red gingham check, with a white apron and red hair bows. Her feet/shoes are red, too.
She is doll #200 in the Little Girl Doll line, and presumably because of that first number, she was the original concept doll in this popular series which has become so collectible.
I just love Mary’s friendly look. Wouldn’t you like to play with her? Did you own a Mary Little Girl Doll? What do you remember about her?
Little Girl Dolls – Jenny
If you compare Jenny’s face to Mary’s, you will see that her smile is a little less wide. Her expression is rendered as slightly more serious, perhaps, but I confess, of all the dolls in the Fisher Price Lapsitters collection, Jenny is my personal favorite. It may be that, because I was a brunette child, my parents most frequently bought me dolls with brown hair, while buying my blonde little sister light haired dolls. Perhaps I felt a sort of kinship with all brunette dolls as a child because of this, and felt that they belonged to me most!
The original Jenny Doll, #201, had an absolutely darling blue calico costume with red sash. The blue hair bows are missing from this photo and I hope whomever purchases this Jenny Lapsitter doll at auction buys some blue ribbons to fix her hair. Like Mary, her feet are red.
Jenny has a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. Doll collectors note that this signature button nose appears on Jenny, Mary, Audrey and Natalie, whereas Elizabeth and Baby Ann had differently-modeled noses.
Little Girl Dolls – Audrey
Auburn-haired Audrey looks ready for real kindergarten play in her adorable blue overalls and cute heart-printed red blouse. Like Mary, she has the wider smile and red hair bows but her cloth feet/shoes are a more serviceable-looking brown. Like Jenny, Audrey had a few little freckles. She is doll #203.
I like the Audrey doll because she is dressed like parents in the 1970s would dress their little girls for a hike in the woods, a day at the playground or other active outings. We were lucky children, growing up in an age when little girls weren’t expected to wear frilly dresses all the time. Oh – we had our pretty dresses, too, resplendent in era-appropriate prairie-style prints, but we got to wear nice little pants sets and overalls lots of the time, too. Do you remember the Garanimals clothing line that was introduced in 1972? That was just two years prior to the introduction of these Fisher-Price Little Girl Dolls, and don’t you think Audrey looks like her mother shopped in the Garanimals department for fun and sturdy clothing?
Did you or your parents choose the Audrey Lapsitter doll because you were a child who loved rough-and-tumble play? Was there a special reason this doll was perfect for you? DollKind.com would love to know!
Little Girl Dolls – Elizabeth
In designing the African-American Elizabeth Lapsitter doll, Fisher-Price, modeled a significantly different face. Here, we see a really different eye shape. They eyes are more almond-shaped than round, and the cute little nose is more distinctly formed. The mouth is more of a bow-shape instead of the more line-like smile featured on some of the other Little Girl Dolls, and the hair is a lovely, fluffy black cap.
Elizabeth’s garments are a really pretty large red plaid – of the kind often seen on high quality taffeta, and she has a tidy white collar and cuffs. Her sash and shoes are a vibrant blue. Elizabeth is doll #205 in the series.
I really admire the face mold on this doll. It’s so sensitive and warm looking. The expression is so alive. I think, perhaps, the Elizabeth doll looks more life-like than some of the other dolls whose faces are more simplified, almost to be point of being more like sketches of little girls rather than portraits. Elizabeth looks like a real personality – a child with whom you might have gone to school.
Did you have an Elizabeth Lapsitter Doll? Did you get her for your birthday? Christmas? Some other special occasion? We’d love to know!
Little Girl Dolls – Natalie
The Natalie doll is very interesting in this series. She has Mary’s wide smile, but the shape of the eye is different. It’s quite round, almost to the point of being a vertical oval. I have to say, I think this is the least life-like of the Lapsitter dolls because of this design feature. With no offense intended to ladies out there who owned and loved the Natalie doll back in the 1970s, I find this face to be almost a caricature rather than a realistic portrait of a little kid. More like a Strawberry Shortcake-type cartoon than an authentic little girl’s face.
That being said, the Natalie Little Girl Doll is still miles more charming than so many other dolls and her poofy red print bonnet was a nice feature that none of the other Lap Sitter dolls had. Her bonnet matched the sash on her bright pink dress, and her hair was a light brown – much lighter than Jenny’s. She is the only doll of the six to wear black shoes. Natalie is doll #202.
It’s interesting to think of the part realism plays in the appeal of dolls. Some of the dolls we played with were chiefly charming because they were so fantastical and not like real life at all, but what Fisher-Price did with these dolls was different. They were meant to look like people, and I believe the more real the doll, the more closely our imaginings involving them echoed our own small wishes and cares in our young lives. What do you think?
Little Girl Dolls – Baby Ann
Though marketed right along under the label Little Girl Dolls, Ann was definitely a baby doll. And a very darling one at that! With her short blonde baby hair and brown eyes, this little doll actually looked a great deal like one of my younger sisters. Doesn’t she look worth hugging? Perhaps Fisher-Price was thinking of families like mine in which an older girl might love one of the kindergarten-type dolls, whereas as a smaller sibling would adore having a baby doll in the same series.
Baby Ann, doll #204 in the series, comes in a white dress with a dainty rosebud print. Her sash and shoes are red. Like Elizabeth, this doll’s face mold is quite different from some of the others. Instead of the button nose, her nose is more realistic, more like a real infant’s nose. Her eyes are also more of the almond-shaped variety rather than the round. Her expression is really very sweet…almost wistful!
I think it is worth mentioning here that doll collectors searching for ‘Lapsitter Dolls’ may also come across another Fisher-Price doll bearing this name, but of a very different make than the dolls shown on this page. This doll is typically sold a the ‘Honey Boy Lapsitter Doll’. He has a yellow gingham body and instead of rooted hair, his head has blond molded hair. He was released in 1975. In addition to the dolls shown here, there was also the Joey Lapsitter doll, mentioned above, who was released later than the original six Little Girl Dolls, but matches them in all respects much more so than the Honey Boy Lapsitter Doll.
Also, if the photographs on this page, graciously donated to us by Chilly’s Closet which is a great eBay store to visit if you’re looking for vintage dolls, are stirring memories in your mind of dolls that looked very much like the Lapsitter dolls, but didn’t have cloth bodies, you are likely thinking of the Fisher Price My Friend Dolls. The facial characteristics and hair of both lines of dolls are quite similar, but the My Friends dolls had plastic bodies, not soft cloth ones.
In addition to the Little Girl Dolls shown on this page, Fisher Price released some variants of several of the dolls, with different clothing.
The Intelligent Design Of Fisher Price’s Little Girl Dolls
Close your eyes and imagine yourself back in your childhood home. You are about 5 years old and you are struggling with all your might to get a fancy dress onto a stiff-limbed doll whose arms you are having a frustrating time manipulating over her had to get her hands through the garment’s armholes. Your cheeks are flushed as your little hands struggle. Finally you get the dress over the doll’s head and arms, only to be met by tiny buttons at the back of the neck. At this point, you may go running to Mama for help because the dress just wasn’t designed with your hands in mind. Fine motor control is something it takes us years to master – buttoning buttons, tying shoes, hooking hooks.
This is why Fisher-Price deserves applause for the way they designed the simple clothing of the Little Girl Doll series. As you can see in the accompanying photo, the removable components were made with the uttermost simplicity and they fastened with Velcro – a technology most of us were able to get the hang of in a snap.
Additionally, the soft cloth bodies of these dolls required no struggling to move about. It was easy as a wink to dress them for the day’s play, or to remove their doll clothing for bedtime. These dolls were really well designed for small children to play with, and unlike so many of the gimmicky dolls that flooded the shelves in the 70s and were marketed as being battery-operated, moving, dancing, walking, talking, etc., the Fisher Price Little Girl Dolls, were just simple, soft dolls that challenged and invited you, the little girl or boy, to invent your own fun and play.
Collectors Value Of Fisher Price Little Girl Dolls/Lapsitters Today
At auction, mint condition Little Girl Dolls can typically be found in the $40 – $60 range. For that price, you should expect a doll with all her clothing, hair in good condition and a cleanly appearance. Not infrequently, you can even find Little Girl (Lapsitter) dolls in their original boxes. For lesser sums, you can find these dolls in less-than-perfect condition. Clothing may be lost and hair may be snarled or frizzed. Sometimes, a trip to a doll hospital or doll repair specialist can correct ‘flaws’. Something to consider is this – dolls in the worst condition have typically been best loved and most played with. Dolls in mint condition may have been played with little or never. If you are buying an excellent quality Little Girl Doll, here is your chance, or the chance for the child to whom you are giving the doll, to really love and care for a doll who may never have known the happy play we believe dolls ‘live’ for!
Little Girl Dolls vs. Fashion Dolls
This is why, at DollKind.com, we have so happily celebrated dolls like Holly Hobbie Dolls or these Fisher-Price Little Girl Dolls that truly fit in with the simplicity and happiness of a young child’s dreams, imaginings and joys. Instead of causing us to think about adulthood too soon, these little-girl-friendly dolls told us that being our own age was just perfect and filled with the possibility of fun.
This is something I’ve thought a lot about, especially watching today’s children and the way their worlds have been infiltrated by less-than-ethical marketers who are making money by making kids’ world’s more adult and complicated at an ever-younger age, in the areas of clothing, toys, music, television, movies and more. Childhood is so short! Who needs to rush on to the troubles of the teenage years or the concerns of adulthood when life can be about nothing more that a pretty picture book, a ride on a swing or a sweet little doll?
I think 70′s kids were being raised by parents who were frequently united in the belief that children needed plenty of time to play, plenty of time just to be kids, regardless of geographic or social background. Surely, every child deserves this, and as we look back at the Fisher Price Little Girl Dolls, I think we can see in their uncomplicated, sweet little faces a reminder of just how important it is to let the simple things in life be supreme in our lives, especially in childhood, but hopefully all of the days of our lives.
Did you play with Little Girl Dolls? Share your stories. We’d love to hear them!