Dolls and Soldiers

Dolls have been around for centuries and were produced in ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. In the past they have been made from clay, stone, wood bone, Ivory and any other raw material that the local manufacturer could find to successfully make a doll. Since 1959 the Barbie dolls has been the major doll purchased for young girls. She is a fashion model and of course the doll comes with numerous outfits that fit her perfectly and so the child can decide what Barbie feels like wearing on any particular day.

Bild Lilli a German relative of Barbie Doll

Barbie is made of vinyl and is produced by Mattel with the company now produces many other dolls that have emanated from Barbie. There has been global sales of over a billion Barbie’s over the years although recently sales have started to drop off in recent times. The Barbie doll was based on the German doll Bild Lilli who was a character from a comic strip drawn in the Newspaper Bild by cartoonist Reinhard Beuthin. Mattel had to pay the German company Louis Marx and Company 21,600 dollars in 1961 for the copyright and patent rights for the Bild Lilli doll.

The success of the Barbie doll has resulted in many lucrative spin offs. Books, cosmetics video games and she has even had her own animated series. She has also appeared in Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3. If over the years Barbie has been the prize possession for girls, then at the same time the Action Man has been the wanted  by the boys. First appearing in 1966 in the UK the model, or doll, was based on the American version GI Joe and in the early years competed with the Tommy Gunn doll.

What set Action Man apart from the rest were the sets of uniforms that were now available. All based on British military these sets included the military police, the parachute regiment soldier and the frogman. The Action man was famous for his flocked hair and his “eagle eyes” and his popularity in the 1970’s was helped by the release of limited edition sets. The beauty of the doll was that the children’s imagination played as much part in creating the fun as the model itself.

Action Man in his Mountain and Arctic set

In recent time Action Man has diversified into video games but the model does not appear to have the same effect on the screen as it does as a real life doll figure. Children have also had a fascination with small soldiers for a long time. At the start of the 20th century the William Britains firm started producing 2 and a quarter inches tall lead soldiers. These models copied the armies of England Germany and America and held the fascination of young children. Following the Second World War the models started to be made from plastic and were boxed needing painting. These were now sort after by most young boys and the plastic models did not share the same health concerns as the lead ones once did.

Strangely the anti-war feelings in the last 1960’s did affect the popularity of these models but demand has since recovered. The popularity of them is now helped by the collectors not necessarily being children but adults who remember collect the models in the childhood. What all of these dolls and models have in common is that they have set the base for children to have fun. However, the real enjoyment has been as a result of the child’s own imagination creating scenarios where their favorite figure can play an active role in. The releasing of the child’s imagination is surely what every toy and game is trying to do.

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