Like my Mystery of The Bradley Dolls, The Littles Dolls were dolls I had played with as a child but just could not remember the name of. Their tiny faces and furniture haunted me with a feeling of fondness and I was so glad to be able to research and discover just who these ultra small dolls are. Released by Mattel in 1980/1981, The Littles Dolls stood 2 1/2″ high with big hair, big heads and tiny bodies. While the dolls, themselves, were perhaps not of the highest quality, it was their doll house and furnishings that continue to stand out today as admirably detailed, diverse and highly collectible. Grown women of today go crazy when they see The Littles Dolls’ fabulous accessories and I hope this article will put you back in touch with tiny dolls that may have given you hours and hours of happy play!
The Littles Dolls Family Members:
The female Littles Dolls all had big poofy hair, and the male dolls had molded heads. Actually, I always thought that Mr. Littles looked more like a boy than a father because his head seemed so much smaller than Mrs. Littles’!
The Littles Dolls’ Dollhouse
Isn’t this just like you remember it? The above photo depicts the original box in which the unfurnished, five room dollhouse came, branded with the slogan A Wonderful World Of Dolls And Dollhouse Fun! The child who received this for Christmas or a birthday in 1980 or 1981 could then look forward to collecting each of the dolls and their tiny furnishings including chairs, tables, beds, kitchen appliances, dressers, house plants and even a set of cozy glowing fireplace logs and light-up lamps. The furnishings were proudly marketed as being constructed of sturdy die-cast metal and plastic, and the fact that so many of these accessories are still appearing at auction is a testament to just how sturdily The Littles Dolls’ collectibles were made.
Mr. and Mrs. Littles and their Baby
You could start your Littles Dolls family most sensibly with Mr. and Mrs. Littles. Shown here in their original box, they came with a very tiny plastic baby.
The orange/brown packaging, tiny figured print behind the plastic bubble and fat font displaying The Littles brand are all very reminiscent of the design sensibilities of the close of the 1970s.
Once you had collected the mother and father of The Littles Dolls family, you were ready to start purchasing all of the daughters (and one son), and one of the most appealing things about the way these dolls were sold was that sets were available containing one of The Littles dolls and a specific furniture grouping or piece. By collecting the dolls, you were also furnishing their house. Pretty clever!
Flossie Littles And Her Bed
I am just thrilled to be able to show the original packaged set of Flossie Littles and her bed. The bed is furnished with a rosebud spread and pink pillow. It is crafted to look like an antique brass bedstead. You could fit two of The Littles Dolls in the bed for a good night’s sleep!
Belinda Littles And Her Kitchen Chairs
Here, again, is a mint conditions The Littles set featuring Belinda Littles and 4 kitchen chairs. A table could be purchased separately to make up the whole kitchen set. I like how much these chairs looked like the chairs in so many kitchens at the end of the 70′s.
Heddy Littles And Her Sofa
This isn’t the best photograph but I thought The Littles doll collectors would be interested in seeing the advertising on the original box. It is a sticker offering a pop-up living room setting to be installed in The Littles Dollhouse, free with your purchase of The Littles Dolls and their furniture…while supplies last! By purchasing or acquiring the popups, the 5 rooms of The Littles Dollhouse could become incredibly detailed and lifelike.
Isn’t it fun getting to look at these mint condition, in-the-box furnishings for The Littles? Image 1 in the above photo depicts a bedroom dresser with mirror and rosebuds painted on the drawers, plus a ‘brass’ lamp for the bedroom.
Image 2 is very desirable cast iron stove, sometimes sold as the ‘Colonial’ stove. Because of America’s centennial in 1976, colonial-style furnishings and decor enjoyed a brief surge or popularity that they hadn’t enjoyed since the 1950s when so-called ‘Early American’ design was considered the height of style. Now, in truth, Colonial Americans typically cooked over fireplaces or open fires, but the idea of an antique cast iron stove is a cute one in this set of Littles furnishings.
Image 3 is a picnic table that allowed The Littles Dolls to dine outdoors. You could imagine The Littles on their patio, or out at a park for the day!
The Littles Dolls On TV And In Other Media
In my research of the Mattel Littles Dolls, I have discovered some confusion surrounding The Littles and television. The Littles were, indeed, featured on TV, but in commercials selling the dolls and toys. At left is a screenshot from a Littles commercial, and as you can see, these are the real Littles.
However, I have found that some doll collectors mistakenly believe that a 1980s TV show, rather confusingly called ‘The Littles’ is in some way connected to the dolls. It isn’t. The Littles TV show was a cartoon based on a series of children’s books which began being published in the 1960s by author John Peterson. It was about a family of tiny people with pointed ears who lived inside the wall of a little boy’s house. You can see the screenshot from this cartoon here at left.
It’s easy to see why the same name and the coincidence of tiny people might confuse people, and no doubt there are many people who grew up in the 1980s who were familiar with both these popular dolls and the popular cartoon and thought they were somehow all connected!
In the 1980s, it became the thing for popular toys to have their own cartoons, or for cartoons to spark the production of toys. From this, we get Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, The Smurfs and many, many more.
As for the real Littles Dolls, other than appearing in Mattel Toy Company commercials, they enjoyed brief fame in print media in the form of Colorforms sets and that apex of 80′s kid coolness – a stickerbook! They were also advertised in a variety of magazines.
Today, you may find The Littles featured in some interesting ways, including in homemade clothing or in tiny rooms that have been creatively designed by doll collectors rather than belonging to the original rooms and pop-up sets manufactured by Mattel!
Other Dolls That May Be Confused With The Littles
Another set of characters/dolls that are sometimes confused with The Littles and which may be mis-labeled at auction are the Liddle Kiddles. Shown at left are some example of Liddle Kiddles. Also produced by Mattel, they are a from an earlier era, with the first Liddle Kiddles being introduced in 1965 at a toy fair in New York.
Because of their tiny size (the original Liddle Kiddles were about 3″ tall) it is easy to see why they may be confused with The Littles, but whereas there were only 8 official Littles Dolls, there were tons and tons of Liddle Kiddles marketed in the 1960s. In their bubble packs, the Liddle Kiddles appeared as everything from tiny jewelry to Santa Claus! They are avidly collected by fans, and doll collectors or sellers need to be careful at auction to be sure they are correctly understanding the differences between The Littles Dolls of the 1980s and the Liddle Kiddles of nearly 2 decades earlier.
Collectors Value Of The Littles Dolls Today
The Sentimental Value Of The Littles Dolls Today
The Littles are one of those doll series that, if you remember them, you would just love to see them again. This is what drives pricing at auction…this desire to once again hold these tiny dolls in your hands, look at their faces and play with their accessories. Parents who had The Littles back in the 80s may want to reassemble a collection of them for their own children to play with today. Conversely, I have read the comments of other collectors who have spent hundreds of dollars on reassembling the kingdom of The Littles and don’t want their kids to play with them because of these toys’ value!
In the 20th century, we had a vast array of doll sizes to choose from – from dolls that were marketed as being as big as we children, down to itty bitty dolls like The Littles. The Littles were not the prettiest dolls, the best-dressed or the best-made, but they were among the tiniest and for young children, small things can be as large as life. The world of dollhouse miniatures continues to thrive to this day because of the fascination tiny items hold for people of all ages.
If you remember The Littles Dolls, I bet you can close your eyes and imagine yourself back to very happy afternoons, sitting on the floor, perhaps with a sister or friend, spending hours and hours creating scenarios in the Littles Dollhouse, arranging furniture, laughing and playing. Those memories are priceless, and I think the lasting popularity of The Littles Dolls as collectibles is owing to the way we treasure our good memories and would like to preserve and relive them today. I sincerely hope your visit to DollKind.com’s article on The Littles has sparked and satisfied your nostalgia and, if you owned these dolls, we would love for you to share your memories with us in the comments, below!
Permission to use these photos was graciously granted by eBay store Dennis Collectibles Dolls And Toys which is a fantastic place to find vintage dolls, including The Littles and
Kiddleland which has The Littles and tons of Kiddles!