Including Matchbox Suky and Suzy Dolls,
Vogue Glitter Girls and Others
|1970's and 80's|
"Wake Up, Little Susie"
by The Everly Brothers
"Who's That Doll?"
|I must admit I don't know a whole lot about the Lesney Dolls. They're not exactly fashion dolls in the same sense that Topper's Dawn doll is. Dawn was meant to be a mature, adult figure of a woman, while the Lesney dolls I've seen (and have come into my collection) are almost young adolescent girls. While they are dressed in adult careers (like the Suky Nurse or the Glitter Girls glamourous gowns), their bodies are almost flat-chested and their faces more child-like. Shorter than Dawn by a full inch, Lesney dolls can still wear some of Dawn's fashions, though their fashions are a bit snug on Dawn.|
|The Lesney Products Corporation has had a long history of toymaking, and not just with dolls. In the mid-1940's, two men who had been school friends, Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith (no relation), were reunited during the Second World War. After the War they decided to pool their finances and start a toymaking company. They combined their names ("Les" from Leslie and "ney" from Rodney) and founded the Lesney Products Corporation.
Until the 1970's, Lesney Products mainly manufactured toy cars and trucks under the Matchbox name, as well as toy guns and other "boy toys". The Matchbox Suky and Susy line of dolls were made at this time, as well as the "Miss Matchbox" series. In 1974 Lesney bought out Vogue Dolls, and the Glitter Girls went into production.
Through the 1980's, however, Lesney was under more and more financial stress, as other toymakers produced more desirable toys in the market. By the early 1990's, after nearly fifty years in the business, Lesney Products was gone. But the cute little dolls they left behind will delight us for a long, long time.
|All Lesney dolls are marked "Lesney 1973" on the backs of their heads, regardless whether they were made in the 1970's or later. The Matchbox Suky and Susy dolls are marked "(c) Lesney 1974 Hong Kong" on their backs, just above the waistline. The later Glitter Girls are simply marked "Hong Kong" at the waist. The Glitter Girls have underwear painted on. Only the Suky/Susy Ballerina has tights painted all down her legs.
As you can see in the photo above, the Lesney body style is basically two pieces: the upper torso, to which the head and arms are attached, and the lower torso which is a one-piece construction. An internal wire allows the doll to be bent into position. The left arm is bent more than the right. Hair is rooted sparsely, mainly on the top crown of the head. Features are painted on, and they do not have rooted eyelashes.
|Except for the package color, the name of the doll and a pronoun replacement ("I" is replaced by "We"), there's very little to distinguish a Suky doll from a Susy doll. Unless you removed one from the packaging yourself, it is impossible to tell which is which.|
|I'm leaving this image (to the left) as large as I can so you can see the different Suky playsets that were offered.
Most of the playsets reflected a much-earlier mentality about what little girls could expect to be when they grew up. Dolls were dressed as ballerinas, nurses, tennis players, horse riders (shouldn't that be "equestrians"?), skaters and shoppers. The playsets centered around picnics, house cleaning, weddings, camping and cooking. Oh, and let's not forget "Cinderella".
Remember these were manufactured in the early 1970's, when women were realizing there was more in life than domesticity. It's almost painfully obvious to see why these dolls didn't fare as well as Dawn, Pippa or the RockFlowers.
|Lesney Matchbox Suky Ballerina|
|I recently came into possession of this little doll, whom at first I thought was a Lesney doll. She has the same kind of face. However, upon closer examination, I discovered she's not marked anywhere on her body. Her body is also made of a cheaper, hollow plastic, as opposed to the more solid, rubber construction of the Lesney dolls.
Were there Lesney clones?
At right is a comparison of this doll with a Lesney doll.
|Below are a few photos I've saved of boxed Lesney-Matchbox Suky and Susy dolls and playsets. I have not seen any additional, separate fashions for these dolls. It would seem they were not produced or marketed in that manner.|
|In 1974, Lesney acquired Vogue Dolls and produced a limited run of "Glitter Girls" dolls with a handful of extra fashions. The dolls are standard Lesney dolls, but each was dressed in cheap, inexpensive wrap-around-style lame gown. (Pronounce that "la-MAY", please. I can't put an accent in this text!) The six dolls were given gemstone names and dressed in corresponding colors. Their long hair reaches down to the buttocks in shades of blonde, brunette and redhead. In addition to the doll, a very cheap, inexpensive "Dazzling Ring" was included for the little girl who owned them.|
|Glitter Girls wore clear, soft, rubbery shoes, almost like "glass slippers". Sadly, they're a bit too bit for Dawn.|
|From left: Amber, Crystal, Sapphire, Ruby, Pearl and Jade|
|Glitter Girl Jade|
|The six Glitter Girl dolls are as follows: Amber, with honey-blonde hair and blue eyes, wearing a gold dress; Crystal, with pale blonde hair and brown eyes, wearing a pale pink gown; Sapphire, with auburn hair and brown eyes in a deep blue gown; Ruby, with dark brunette hair and deep blue eyes, wearing a bright red dress; Pearl, who has auburn hair and green eyes, in a pale gold gown (or perhaps silver...mine may have oxidized over the years); Jade, with red hair and blue-green eyes in a bright green gown.
The front of the package shows an artist's illustration of the six Glitter Girls, but I've noticed a discrepancy. Pearl has auburn hair, but the drawing shows her as a blonde. Likewise, Crystal is shown with brunette or auburn hair, but the doll has pale blonde. Since my dolls are mint-in-the-package, I know they haven't been swapped out, and the style of the dresses they're wearing matches the ones shown in the illustrations. Either it was a last-minute switch at the factory, or the artist made a mistake that was not caught, or passed over.
The back of the doll package shows artists' renderings of the six additional fashions available for the Glitter Girls, in addition to a drawing of the Glitter Girls' Take-Along Fashion Penthouse, a carrying case for the Girls. The back of the fashion package shows how to dress the dolls and style their hair.
|Only six extra fashions were made for the Glitter Girls. They do fit Topper Dawn dolls, albeit snugly and a bit short in some cases. Since there's only six, I'm showing them here, instead of creating a separate fashion page.|
|Bridal Glitter||Glitter Dream|
(This has the coolest skates in it!)