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About the Author Greetings! This is me when I was 3. And, as you can see from the photo, I was very happy when playing with my dolls. Decades later, dolls still hold a fond place in my heart. I have created DollKind in order to publish my doll history research articles and to share my enjoyment of dolls with you.

  closeup image of Thumbelina Doll Face

Thumbelina Doll

Children of the 1960's will have fond memories of stuffed animals such a teddy bears and rabbits that moved their heads to the time of a built-in music box, but perhaps even more memorable than this was Ideal Toy Company's Thumbelina Doll which was originally released in 1960 and designed around that music-box type movement. The effect was that Thumbelina Dolls could wiggle and squirm, just like a real little baby, and while the moving mechanics inside the doll underwent refinements over the years, it was the lifelike movement of this dear little doll that made it so special. In the 1960's, Thumbelina was Ideal Toy Company's most popular baby doll and this is why so many women remember her fondly today.

Thumbelina Doll Video

In the accompanying video, you can see the signature movement of the Thumbelina Doll, and although not in her original costume, hopefully if you've been looking for information about this doll, this will help you confirm whether or not it was Thumbelina that you owned. Thumbelina had blonde, rooted hair of the silky fiber called 'saran', a soft vinyl body, and painted features. Amazingly, some of the original dolls are still in good working condition, as one viewer comments:

"I still have this doll--and she works perfectly!? Loved her as a child, my daughters loved her and she is still in great condition."

Types Of Thumbelina Dolls

Thumbelina became popular enough for Ideal to introduce a variety of sizes and alternate versions over the years including:

  • 9"- 10" Tiny Thumbelina Dolls
  • 14" Tiny Thumbelina Dolls
  • 16" Thumbelinas
  • 19" Thumbelinas
  • Thumbelina Doll versions with a crying mechanism
  • Wakeup Thumbelina which could roll over and lift herself up on her arms as if crawling
  • Snoozie Thumbelina with sleep eyes
  • Kissin Thumbelina
  • Toddler Thumbelina
  • Bye-Bye Thumbelina
  • Newbord Thumbelina
  • Sister Thumbelina
  • Tearful Thumbelina

Later dolls often featured moveable eyes instead of painted ones, and one of the dolls reissued in the 1980's had no movement at all. There were many costumes and accessories created for the dolls including cribs, swings, bath tubs and more.

Thumbelina dolls are still produced today, and though they have a more modern look to them, isn't it astonshing to consider how many generations of little girls have played with Thumbelina over the past five decades? The vintage Thumbelina dolls are highly collectible, and though it is rare to find one of the originals in perfect condition, a search on eBay will turn up all sorts of versions of Thumbelina and her huge category of accessories. When looking for Thumbelina Dolls, don't be confused by a doll with a similar name - a Barbie Thumbelina doll released in 2009.

I also think it's worth mentioning that if you were a child in the 1970's, the name 'Thumbelina' may trigger another faint memory you can't quite get a firm hold of. There was a really exquisite pop-up Thumbelina book published in that decade. I so wish I still had mine. It was a small book, probably no more than 6" square, and filled with beautiful watercolor illustrations, as I recall. On one page, a butterfly on a string sailed across the scene and at the end of it, I believe a brown bird united Thumbelina with a king of her own tiny size. Do you remember this pop-up Thumbelina book? I've had no luck trying to find it on the Internet and yet it seems to me that lots of my friends owned this back then.

Video Featuring Wake-Up Thumbelina

Personally, of all the moving Thumbelina Dolls, I found 'Wake-Up Thumbelina' to have the nicest motion. This doll, released in the 70's, had a movement that did a remarkable job of replicating the motions made by infants right before they learn to crawl. Watch the accompanying video, and I think you'll be impressed today with the lifelike level of movement Ideal created in this doll.

The Emotional Value Of Baby Dolls Like Thumbelina

I believe that we females possess an inherent response to care for the helpless. Baby dolls helped us to recognize and act on that instinct to nurture and protect dear little beings who seemed dependent on us for their care, even when we were still children dependent on our own mothers. Play with pretty baby dolls encouraged our loving and peaceful emotions in which we were able to create a calm and lovely environment of happy activity.

When we compare baby dolls with other toys that promote competitiveness, stress or even violence, it is worth thinking about the qualities we would like children to take with them into adulthood. If you are a mother or father, and are choosing toys for your children, the traditional choice of a lovable baby doll can be your choice to foster emotions of compassion and caring in your children.

I well remember exactly how I felt about my own doll family. My imagination imbued each individual in my rather large doll family with a unique personality, unique needs and feelings. In role playing the scenarios I created around my different kinds of dolls, I was experimenting with how I would react to a variety of situations in the real world. My baby dolls inspired the most giving and loving feelings in me, and if you are looking for information about Thumbelina Dolls, chances are, glimpsing photos and videos of her will put you back in touch with the warm feelings you once had when playing with dolls formed a big part of your world. Do you believe that your doll play helped you to become a kinder person, a better sister, mother or friend? I do!

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Photo Credit: Donna Cazadd