Dusty was made by Kenner during the mid-1970's as a competitor to Barbie. She was a bit larger than Barbie at approximately 12 inches tall. She had a tan skin tone which was popular with fashion dolls during this period.
Unlike Barbie who primarily focused on fashion, Dusty was geared to a sports oriented theme. Various Dusty sets and fashions were sold which depicted her playing tennis, baseball, golf, volleyball, gymastics, and horseback riding. I do not have any original clothes for my Dusty doll. She is larger than Barbie and does not fit in her clothes. I have her dressed above in a present day Ken jogging suit.
Here is Dusty again in another Ken sports outfit playing basketball. Note her jointed wrists. She also had a twist waist. When Dusty was placed on a special pedestal that came with the doll, you could position her to swing a tennis racket, golf club or baseball bat, and also swing a a volleyball. The tennis and volleyballs would hang from a string mounted on a pole in the pedestal.
Above is a simulation of Dusty in her "Awards Night" fashion. She is actually wearing a current Barbie evening gown and is carrying a trophy obtained from a 1990's Sabrina the Teenage Witch "Harvey" doll. Note the resemblance to the actual Dusty advertisement.
Speaking of ads, click the pictures below to see a full size version of some actual Dusty 1974/1975 ads from various children's comic books. Note that the second advertisement pictures "Skye" who was Dusty's black friend.
I never had Dusty when I was a child, but I do remember her very well. She was heavilly promoted on TV and in print and catalog advertisements. I once came "this" close to buying a Dusty doll while shopping in Kmart during a summer trip to Cape Cod. I just couldn't bring myself to buy her. To tell you the truth, she was pretty darn unattractive (Sorry! I appologize to any Dusty fans out there).
I don't know what Kenner was thinking when they made her. I can see that maybe they wanted to market dolls to girls that were into sports. Actually, I don't think many girls who were really into sports played with dolls anyway. Plus, because of her size and shape, she appears rather masculine. She couldn't fit into Barbie's clothes (as I mentioned above, she is wearing Ken's clothes. I don't know how I managed to squeeze her into Barbie's evening gown in the photos above.). So I think young girls really into the glamour aspect of Barbie, were kind of turned off by Dusty.
I purchased the Dusty above in a grouping of old dolls on Ebay. When she arrived at my house, my two young daughters were immediately confused when seeing her. "Mom, isn't that a boy?", they asked. Everytime they happen to see her or a picture of her today they ask the same thing and kind of laugh. I personally find it funny that the ads describe her as a "Knockout" and "America's Most Beautiful Doll".
Anyway, I kind of feel bad for Dusty now. I'm sure some young girls had fun playing with her when they were young. Maybe I'd feel differently if I had purchased her on that summer day in 1975. Oh well....
If you are a TRUE DUSTY FAN, click on the logo below to see a great website dedicated to Dusty.
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