Tuesday, July 7, 2020

You Can Tell It's Martha Armstrong Hand. It's Swell!

  It is SO HOT! It's been in the 90's,and in our house, with no air conditioning, even hotter. It rained today, but it didn't help. On op of that, I can never close my computer, because if it goes off, I can't get it back on. I am going to be getting away from all this soon,to go where it's even hotter, to help Lori move. Yes, Lori is moving AGAIN. She just moved to Georgia a year ago last month. Unfortunately she is not moving back to Ohio. She's only moving about 45 minutes further North,to a place where the property taxes aren't so high. I'm going down soon to help her finish packing her house up. I'm kind of looking forward to driving 12 hours, just to sit in the air conditioned car! And of course, I get to see Lori. (I hope that didn't sound like I'm looking more forward to the air conditioning.)
  You know that old Mattel advertising slogan,"You can tell it's Mattel. It's swell!"? A more accurate version would have been,"You can tell it's Martha Armstrong Hand. It's got that face!". Martha's dolls have a particular look. Their faces are usually chubby cheeked, with big eyes. Once you've become accustomed to Martha's dolls, you can spot one easily.

Martha with some of her creations, including Baby First Step, Shoppin' Sheryl,Drowsy,Baby Beans,Baby Pattaburp, (on her lap), Tearful Cheerful,and Tatters on the right of her lap.
  Back in the 60's and 70's many of Mattel's dolls were sculpted by Martha Armstrong Hand. Some of her Mattel sculpts include  Baby Pattaburp, Baby First Step, most of the first Liddle Kiddles, the Sunshine Family, Rosebud Baby, Love n Touch Baby, New Living Skipper, Drowsy, Baby Beans, and Barbie's friend Steffie, a sculpt still popular with Barbie collectors and still being used by Mattel. Several of Martha's dolls have been featured here on the blog. Baby First Step had her day HERE.

Shoppin' Sheryl was seen HERE.

Different versions of Drowsy were posted HERE and HERE.

Other dolls made form the Drowsy head sculpt were seen HERE and HERE.


    You can see a Rosebud Baby HERE.

Malibu P.J.,who has the Steffie head sculpt can be seen HERE.

 Love N Touch Baby was featured in THIS POST.

You saw one of my Living Skippers HERE.

  Martha was well known as a doll artist,but in her early career she worked for View Master, sculpting figures for the 3-D photos.

This is from "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea".
Martha sculpted many of the figures for the View Master Disney reels. I used to love the 3-D settings View Master did,like this one from Bambi.

Her Disney sculpts for View Master included Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge and Chip and Dale.
  Martha also did some work assisting animators at Hanna Barbara on such well known characters as Tom and Jerry.
   Martha is known for her 'ahead of their time' ball jointed dolls,which were extremely posable. She authored the book, "Learning to be a Doll Artist",which showed how her ball jointed dolls were made.

   Photos of Martha's amazing jointed dolls were used for the book, "Living Dolls",written by Martha's husband, David. David is quite famous himself, having worked as an animator at Disney,and as supervising director on "Snow White" and "Bambi",amongst other Disney projects.

  The book told the imaginary story of what happened when Martha's dolls came to life.

 The photos in the book featured a collection of  limited edition dolls made by Martha, called "America's Future". The dolls, with their diverse ethnicities, represented America.

  The book is available on Amazon.
  A NIADA (National Institute of Doll Artists) member called Martha “the most technically correct doll artist of our time”. You can see Niada's page on Martha HERE. It contains information on Martha, and some photos of her wonderful dolls.
  If you're still curious about Martha Armstrong Hand and her dolls, a video called,"The Work of Martha Armstrong Hand" can be purchased HERE.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Doll Book of the Month Club: Finding Walter

  This month's Doll Book of the Month Club entry is "Finding Walter" by Ann Turner. There are no illustrations.

  "Finding Walter",originally published in 1997 is a book Ivy and I got from the library, and I read to her ,when she was little. She enjoyed it a lot. We never owned a copy though. I always meant to get one,but all I could find were used copies,and a nice one was always what I considered over priced for a used book. Since deciding to do a monthly doll book post I had again been thinking about trying to find a copy of "Finding Walter". I finally found one listed as 'used, very good condition' on a site called Thriftbooks. It was a very good price, better than the paper backs I'd been seeing on Ebay,and it was supposed to be a hard back. When it came I found out it was a first edition hard back,with dust jacket,which didn't even seem to have been read beyond the first 20 or so pages. The spine wasn't broken and the book didn't open all the way beyond that. So whoo hoo! I made a great find.
  "Finding Walter" concerns two girls, Emily and Rose,who move to the country with their family for their father's health. Rose is not pleased with the move. She hates living in the country away from parks and museums. (Kid, who needs a park when you have the whole of the outdoors?!) She's very grouchy and unhappy. One day the old family dollhouse is uncovered in the attic. The house is filthy, and the dollhouse dolls are dirty and their clothes are moth eaten and faded. Emily gets right on cleaning the house and the dolls. Rose helps, but isn't as into it as Emily. In fact,she gets pretty snotty about it,and most other things too.
  The story turns to the doll's side of the story. Once awoken from their sleeping state of not being played with, the dolls realize that one of them isn't there. Walter is the youngest dollhouse child, and he is missing. The dolls call to Walter,but get no answer.
  The subject of the book now becomes the doll's efforts to communicate with the girls,and the dolls and the girls',attempts to find Walter and bring him home. Along the way Rose becomes more comfortable in her new home. Her mood improves and she and Emily begin to get along better. As for the dolls, they have many adventures.
  Walter is lost in the woods somewhere. Walter does eventually wake up and answer the dolls' messages, but even he's not sure where he is. But where he is is not as much the problem as getting the girls to locate him. The dolls can communicate with Walter, but they aren't able to move or appear alive in front of the humans, and they can't travel the distances needed to search for Walter on their own. This is when we learn that dolls can also communicate with humans. The dolls send mental messages to the girls,trying to tell them Walter is missing, and where they need to look for him. Emily is responsive to their messages right away. But Rose is harder to get through to. At first Rose doesn't believe Emily is really hearing the doll's thoughts. When Rose finally does get a message from the dollhouse son she's so terrified she runs away. Can you really blame her? Wouldn't you think you were going insane? It is a bit creepy when the dolls start putting images and messages in the girls' heads. It's a good thing they aren't evil dolls. (That would make a good horror book.)
   There's also a fire in the meadow by the woods. Will they save Walter in time?! I think kids will enjoy the mystery and the adventure of "Finding Walter". Ivy did. Scholastic rates the books as being for grades 3-5. Younger kids could enjoy the book too. As usual,you know your kids better than anyone. Use your own judgement.
  You could  have listened to "Finding Walter" for free HERE. It seems to have been removed since I started working on this post! However, you can still buy "Finding Walter" for your Kindle.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Play Sets: Bratz Rock Angelz Recording Studio

   I've been having trouble with my computer. For some reason it can't install the latest updates, and it's blocking something, which keeps it from being able to come on. I'm having to use Ken's computer for this. That will slow down my posts unless I get that fixed.
  The play set for this month is the Bratz Rock Angelz Recording Studio.

The studio has a built in mixing board on the outside .

'On Air'? Is this a recording studio,or a radio station?

The recording studio goes to the series of Bratz RockAngelz dolls.

There's a door on the side so the dolls can enter the booth.

The recording studio was sold with and without a doll.

There's a microphone hanging inside the booth.

The booth is lined with speakers.

This is another shot of the inside of the booth.

Since the recording Studio is made for Bratz dolls,it's a little short for most 1/6 scale dolls,like Barbie. It looks alright on the outside, but it too small for them to stand up in. Twelve inch Paul decided that since he knows so much about recording, he would demonstrate Here he is showing how the door is too short for him.

He still needs some shoes. He's been crossingAbbey Road all day.
 But the booth is tall enough on the inside for him to stand up in. The microphone is too low though.

It was sold in 2005.

The set as it looked in box.
  The set originally came with a microphone for the child, that recorded and played back brief pieces,what appears to be a doll sized margarita glass, glass of orange juice, and two bottles of 'water',and a head set for the doll.
  Surprisingly, the recording studio didn't come with anything else that would be useful for recording a song,like,say, guitars for the dolls or any other instruments. Those things were saved for other sets that were available separately.

  Those sets included a stage set ,a drum and keyboard set, and guitars. (There was even a tour bus play set.) There were quite a few Rock Angelz dolls sold, who came with guitars,or a stand microphone. There was even a two doll set that came with a guitar and a keyboard.
  You can see the original commercial for the recording studio HERE.
   That's the play set for the month.See you tomorrow for the Doll Book of the Month Club.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Final Dale Leroy

  Dale Leroy is finally finished...sort of. Some of you may remember seeing the beginning of the little felt fellow I have been working on.  Some of you may have been following his progress. Some of you may have no idea what I'm talking about. So here are some reminders.
'Dale Leroy',as he has become known,(named after the hypothetical little boy my mom always wanted and never had ), has a wire armature,covered with felt. He looked like this the first time you saw him.

His head is felt stuffed with Polyfil. He even has felt lips.

The neck situation looked ok when he was naked...

Then I made some clothes for him.

,,,but he looked a little stubby once he got a shirt.
Then I gave him some,as my mom called them,'big yella work boots'.

  All he needed after that was hair and a face. So here he is now,with both of those.

The fuzzy felt makes the eye lid paint look like eye lashes!

I'm not really satisfied. Other than the fact that his torso is too long and one arm is too short,I was hoping his hair would end up thick enough to reshape his head a bit. No such luck. I might try adding some more hair later.

He could use more of a nose too.

 I  don't know if I like his mouth either. Should I remove the felt lips and just try painting lips on? That's a rhetorical question, so don't bother to answer. I won't listen to anything anybody says,even though I've asked, as my family well knows. I'll probably be afraid to remove them for fear of ruining the whole doll, and just leave the felt lips on and complain.

I swear that nose used to be more visible.

"The Great Profile"  he's not.

So there is Dale Leroy. He looks a bit tall and lean to be a child,but hey,even hypothetical children need to grow up sometime.

   I am also working on the goofy faced little guy I showed you during the progress on Dale Leroy. We'll see him again soon.