Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Doll-A-Day 28; Penny Brite

  Today's doll is Penny Brite.
   This is my Penny Brite from when I was a kid. I was forced to name her Penelope by my sister.

My 'Penelope' on the left,in her original dress and shoes. My sister's Penny on the right, in the Penny Brite fashion Velvet Princess.(Notice Penelope's legs. I could never get them to restraighten after I bent them.They always strayed to one side.) I still have their hair bows and Penny's dress.
  She got to name hers Penny because she was older. I guess she figured she got there first, in general, and therefore was entitled to have first dibs at everything. (As I've mentioned before, even though we got our Barbie's at the same time, hers was Barbie and mine had to be Barbita, and we got our G.I. Joe's at the same time and hers was Joe and mine was John.I guess I could appreciate the fact that it forced me to be creative.)
  Penny was made by Topper/Deluxe Reading. (Topper was the parent company and they produced toys under a variety of names. Deluxe Reading was one of those.) As far as I can find out, she was produced from 1963 to 1970. She's approximately 8" tall. Supposedly she has bendable legs, and---SURPRISE!---bendable ARMS! I always knew she had bendable legs, but even though I've had a Penny nearly my whole life, I never realized her arms were supposed to be bendable until I read it recently. That's probably because her limbs are just about the most unposable poseable things I've ever come across! I can imagine all the kids across the country who owned a Penny Brite in the 60's, struggling to bend those arms and legs. They're basically the same construction as a Tutti doll: rubbery vinyl limbs with wire in the middle to make them hold a bend. Except that Penny's arms and legs are a lot firmer than Tutti's. In a way I guess that was a good thing, because I've never seen a Penny Brite with her wires poking through like a Tutti. (No kid could have possibly bent the arms or legs enough to wear them out!)
  Penny came wearing a red and white dress with flower appliques, (These vary sometimes from dress to dress.), a red hair bow, (straight pinned into her head! Ouch!)and white shoes.

   Her original 'box' was a plastic case with a blue bottom half, and a clear top. The handle folded down into the case to become a bar for hanging clothes. I remember mine, but Mom threw it away when I was a kid.
  She was popular enough that Topper also produced a case, which came in various colours,quite a few outfits for her, and several playsets, including  "Kitchen Dinette",  "Bedroom Set",  "Beauty Parlor", School Room", and "Travel Set".

She should be wearing the school room outfit.Sorry about that.

She even had her own car! How old was this kid? She goes to elementary school, yet she runs a beauty parlor and drives a car. This is Travel Set.

Somehow I have amassed quite a few Pennys! I just wanted some to display the outfits on and it led to this.They were all so different I couldn't decide which to get rid of.Back row, L to R:Winter Princess with the boots from Singing in the Rain,the sweater and skirt from the Schoolroom playset,original dress, Chit Chat,and  Smart Shopper. Front row L to R: The Pajamas from the Bedroom set with the pink shoes from Flower Girl,the dress from the Kitchen and Dinette playset, and another original dress.
  We never owned any other Penny Brite outfits.In fact, as the only place we ever shopped was a couple of grocery stores, (We bought our Penny's at the Big Bear grocery.), a Revco drugstore, and the 5 and 10 Store, I don't think we even knew they sold any other clothes.
"Penny Brite's world is everywhere..." Her world couldn't have been 'everywhere'. It apparently wasn't where we were.

  Penny has cute side glance eyes, molded dimples, and painted teeth.The variety in Penny Brite dolls is kind of surprising. They were obviously not hand painted, but variations in the darkness and sharpness of their  eye paint,the brightness and amount of their lip paint  as well as the differences in the prominence of the teeth and the way their hair lays, gives them different personalities.

No two Penny's are exactly alike!  
Middle Penny doesn't have any eyelashes.What happened there? Left side Penny has big, fluffy hair.Right side Penny has a unique center part.
  Her head has a ball joint, so it can tilt in cute ways, including up, down, and to the sides,  as well as turn from side to side.
No blush, blush, no lips. These girls do it their way!
  It isn't that easy to tell when you find a Penny Brite outfit. They aren't well marked. Alot of things are attributed to other dolls. That red and white gingham dress is often listed as belonging to Skipper, the Flower Girl dress to Tammy's sister Pepper, etc. In fact, sometimes Penny is mistakenly identified as being part of  Ideal's Tammy family. She does kind of look like she could be related. A cousin, maybe...
"Hey, wanna be my sister?" Penny on the left, Pepper on the right.In case you forget that, it's written on her shirt.

Go away kid, you bother me...
Penny even has the stiff bendy legs that would later be used on the 'Posin' series of Tammy dolls, including Pepper and brother Pete.Her hair is a very similar fiber too.
  Everything that's popular gets copied, and Penny had her own clone doll in Miss Cindy by Cragstan. Miss Cindy even had her own fashion sets, and they weren't bad.

'Teenage'? They don't look teenage to me.

  A lot of people must have fond memories of Penny.In 2007 she was reproduced by Charisma dolls.They made a Penny doll, and several of her vintage outfits.(Winter Princess now has SPANDEX pants!Say it isn't so!) They were cute, and close to the original. It just wasn't the same though. They were too perfect somehow. Or maybe just too expensive looking. (And actually expensive too!) They were also identical.That's something you definitely don't get with the old ones.They also went on to produce Penny as Tinkerbelle, Alice in Wonderland, and Snow White.But I'll keep my old Penny. In fact, Ivy wanted a Penny when she was little, but she hated the new ones too. She got a vintage Penny instead.You can't repeat the charm of the original.


  1. You are so funny! I really enjoyed reading about Penny and your history with her. I appreciate the info. Thanks! Lisa P. :)


Thanks in advance for your comments.