Sunday, January 26, 2014

Doll-A-Day 26: Newborn Thumbelina by Ideal

Today's doll is Newborn Thumbelina, made by Ideal in 1968.

Thumbelina was originally produced in 1961, to compete with Vogue's Eloise Wilkin Baby Dear.

Personally, I think Thumbelina was much cuter. Baby Dear has a much grouchier or 'grunt face', as Unsentimental Niece used to say. Thumbelina was made in 18" and 20" sizes, and had a wooden knob in her back which made her wiggle when it was cranked. (You'd wiggle too if somebody stuck a wooden knob in your back...)The later, smaller Tiny Thumbelina's had a plastic knob. Newborn Thumbelina had a different face mold from all Thumbs that came before or after them.

  This is my baby. I got her for Christmas of 1968.

And here she is on the day.

Christmas, 1968.Cocoa, me, Mom, and my sister.Cocoa is obviously the favoured present of the she made it into the posed photo!By the way, it's Christmas, so Mom obviously made me wear my hair down. It was normally in a ponytail like Tammy World's.

 She's wearing her original clothes; a blouse and tights. She has lost the flower applique that was on her yellow ribbon,and she was apparently wearing one of those beaded Baby ID bracelets. That's possibly around here somewhere. I know I still have the one from my Tiny Thumbelina.The outfits on all of the Newborn Thumbelina's are pretty similar: the same blouse, with maybe a couple of different ribbon colours,(occasionally white but usually yellow), and hot pink,pink, yellow, orange,or chartreuse tights.

Zooming in didn't help much. I guess my dad wasn't much of a photographer. It's not something he did a lot of.
  I saw the Newborn Thumbelina dolls in a bin by the check outs at a Harts store the year I got her. (They were apparently supposed to come in open front cardboard boxes, but I remember all these dolls being loose.) There were all sorts. I remember thinking the blonde ones looked cold and ugly, and falling in love with this girl

My sister named her for some unknown reason. She called her Cocoa, and I went with it. I was 6. Most of the names I thought of were still so weird and convoluted I had a hard time remembering them, so it's just as well.

 Newborn Thumbelina only came in the 9" size. I had had two other Thumbelinas, the large 18 or 20" doll, and the smaller, 14"  Tiny Thumbelina. By the time I received Cocoa I was a single Thumb owner. My first Thumbelina had been relegated  to the trash pile in the woods near the house years before I got Cocoa.(That's where unburnable trash went in those days, as we had no trash pickup out in the country.) I don't know why my mom threw her away, but I can still clearly remember her on top of the trash pile. She had white hair and I begged my mom to let me get her down.My second Thumb (That's what we called her.) is still here, in my closet usually. She's the kind with the plastic knob you crank to make her move 'like a real baby'.Of course, my mom threw her knob away. Anything that wasn't attached and looked useless or broken was history if Mom found it.I didn't leave Thumb's knob in her back because I used to play with it as other things. It was frequently a sucker.(Don't ask me why.) Newborn Thumbelinas didn't have a knob. They were all modern, with pullstrings in their backs.

Her arms and legs are vinyl, like her head. Her body is cloth, and very soft.Most of her mechanism is in her head.

 Cocoa's hair is still in amazingly good condition.

It's a smoother hair that doesn't get crispy and break off like Tiny Thumbelina's.(My sister made Thumb a wig from one of Mom's old stockings and some yellow yarn. Her heart was in the right place, but it looks like a thatched roof and never stayed on very well.I still have it though.

Cocoa still works. Not as well as she did before I let Unsentimental Niece play with her for a while. When her string is pulled she moves her head slowly, (accompanied by a mechanical whirring sound that would set any real baby bawling.)

  Like most people who collect, I don't usually leave something good behind when I find it at a yard sale or thrift store, even if it isn't something I want for myself. At a yard sale a few years ago I found a blonde Newborn Thumb and  bought her for a quarter or whatever. I took her apart, cleaned her, put her back together. She worked. I sold her to a lady who told me this story: When she was a little girl she had seen the blonde Newborn Thumbelina in a store while out shopping with her dad. She wanted her badly. Christmas was coming,but things were hard for them at the time, and there were a lot of kids in her family. She knew she would never get the doll, but she still wanted her. Here it was, almost Christmas, and she had spotted my sale and it all came out again. Now she could give herself what she had wanted for so long. She was so happy. When she told me this, before I had mailed the doll, I wrapped Thumby in Christmas paper and put a tag on her; "To **** From Santa". She sent me an email when she received her in the mail. She said she had put her under the tree just like that and wasn't going to open her until Christmas morning. She was so excited. It was so nice to make someone so happy. That's one of my favourite stories.


  1. Thanks for posting a comment on my Childhood Dolls of the Past post. I enjoyed reading your Newborn Thumbelina post.

    Wrapping the blond version you repaired and sold as a Christmas present to the buyer was a very nice gesture.


    1. Thanks.You acted on my post very quickly! Make sure to check out Growing Sally,as I got it posted a minute ago. I've enjoyed many of your posts too. I need to get around to becoming a follower.

  2. Hello, I bought a doll, second hand, i searched about the logo on its back and its a turtle with N in the middle.. Just found out it is a Nakajima doll.. Looks similar to the photos above.. I wanna show you the photos i have of the doll but i dont know how. Thanks

    1. I looked up Nakajima dolls to see if I could spot one like Newborn Thumbelina. (Now I want a Canna Chan doll!). I'm not sure how you could send a picture. Maybe send a link to a Flickr account if you have one and post a picture on there.

  3. Hello Tam.. I received a notification about your response through my Gmail account and i replied; attached a photo of the doll I was talking about.. Hoping you could see it.. Best regards ��


    1. I had a look. She has a body very similar to a blonde doll I have from when I was a kid. A bit big headed with an all vinyl body instead of Newborn Thumbelina's stuffed cloth body.


Thanks in advance for your comments.