Who’s the swinginest dolly? Swingy! Do you remember this popular dancing doll from 1964, with her cute blonde flip hair-do and day-glo orange, pink and white dress? The Mattel Toy company was definitely aiming for ‘hip’, when they introduced Swingy. TV was presenting an image of the nation as dancing its cares away at parties and night clubs, and Swingy, with her mechanical swinging hips and rocking feet fit right into this popular picture.
Swingy Doll Commercial
In this video you can see an original Swingy Doll dancing at a party full of energetic little kids. The music in the background is actually excerpted from the cardboard record that came with the Swingy Doll. The song was written by Paul Revere and the Rangers, who might prefer to be remembered for their more socially-conscious songs such as ‘Indian Reservation’ but the fact that they were hired to write a pop song about a dancing toy is an interesting piece of trivia. Watch the video!
Lyrics from the Swingy Doll Commercial
Who’s the swingingest dolly?
Who can swing when she’s walking?
Come on Swingy
Feel the beat
Swing your arms
And you shuffle your feet
Swing your head
Dance with Swingy
And she dances with you
Swingy Doll Variations
In addition to the Swingy Doll with the shoulder-length hair, there was a Swingy Doll with a bobbed hair-do which I have seen referenced on the Internet. There was also an 11 1/2″ Tiny Swingy Doll release in 1970, wearing a striped dress with white skirt. The original Swingy was +18″, made of hard plastic, with painted features and rooted hair. She wore an orange headband and white socks and shoes. Swingy has a switch on her back with settings for ‘dance’, ‘walk’, and ‘off’. positions. The doll ran on 2 “D” batteries. To me, Swingy’s toddler-like features are somewhat reminiscent of another doll from the 1970′s – Rub-A-Dub-Dolly. Something about the expression is similar, don’t you agree?
A version of the Swingy Doll was released wearing a pink polka dot dress, instead of the orange/pink more plain dress with white skirt.
In 1969, the Whitman Company introduced a set of Magic Swingy Paper Dolls. She had 24 items in her wardrobe and rather than having tabs, the clothes were supposed to adhere by…magic! This Swingy Paper Doll set also came with its own pair of pink scissors.
Collector’s value of Mattel Swingy Dolls today
You can expect to purchase a Swingy Doll in working condition in the nature of $25 – $60 at auction today. Things to look for is whether the Swingy is still functional (many can no longer dance) and whether she is dressed in her original clothing. I have even seen Swingy Dolls at auction in their original box and with their original paper record, so you are in luck if you’d like to reacquire a Swingy to relive fond childhood memories.
Dolls you might confuse with Swingy
Interestingly, in 1978, Mattel (the makers of the Swingy Doll) released another doll name Li’l Love Notes Swingy. This Swingy had nothing to do with the other dancing Swingy Doll. Instead it was a soft bodied doll with colored dots on her clothes that you could push to make musical notes. Li’l Love Notes Swingy came with a song book with eight songs in it. I wonder why Mattel released another totally unrelated doll named Swingy within about a decade of releasing the original dancing Swingy Doll. Have any clues?
When looking for moving dolls, you might also come across Baby First Step and Baby Come Back dolls whose walking movement is really similar to Swingy’s. And there is also the famous 1968 Mattel Dancerina Doll who was battery operated, dressed as a ballerina and could pirouette!
Swingy as time capsule in the world of dance
Swingy is just one of hundreds of dolls with a dancing theme that were marketed in the 20th century. In the latter half of the 20th century, it was extremely common for girls from comfortably-situated families to take at least one form of dance classes, from tap dance and ballet, to disco or jazzercise classes later on. While few parents expected their daughters to become prima ballerinas, most hoped that studying the art of dance would give girls grace, poise and good posture, as well as an outlet for their youthful energy and a modicum of discipline.
Swingy made her appearance at an interesting time in the history of dance, when young people had abandoned the formal and set dance steps of their parents’ and grandparents’ eras and were hitting the dance floor just to ‘do their own thing’. Granted, 1960′s dancing certainly wasn’t the most skilled or elegant dance form, but it was about the self-expression that was in excellent keeping with the whole cultural mindset of the age.
So, as seen in the Swingy commercial above, the Swingy Doll is just there to do her own thing. Frankly, she may look a little chaotic, or to use a period word, ‘kooky’, but she’s sure having fun.
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