GINNY - THE LESNEY ERA

GINNY - THE LESNEY ERA

PRESENTED BY MDBUTTERFLY

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, The Vogue Doll Company was a subsidiary of the Lesney Corporation. A number of attractive and interesting dolls were produced during this period; we are going to focus on only one, the ever-popular Ginny, who was redesigned and given a fresh, extensive wardrobe and numerous accessories.

There are several distinct variations on the Lesney, or “skinny” Ginny theme. The most numerous, which all seem to bear a 1977 or 1978 marking, sometimes both, are slender little girls with long blonde or brunette hair in varying styles, sleep eyes, and many well designed outfits. This Ginny had the proportions of a young school-aged girl rather than the toddler proportions of the “classic” Ginny. Square-cut hip joints permitted them to sit with knees forward, and bendable knees contributed to their poseability.

An African-American version was, for no discernible reason, marketed as “Ginnette” resurrecting the name formerly used for an infant doll “Ginny’s baby sister,” in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

A white plastic wardrobe, well outfitted with drawers, hooks, mirror, and even a jewelry chest, a headboard bed complete with bedding, a vanity with numerous tiny accessories, and a student desk with chair and study materials added to the playability of these dolls. For travel, there was a moped, which came with its own helmet, surely a progressive idea in 1978! For the athlete, there was gymnastics equipment, which I have seen ONLY in the 1980 Vogue doll catalog, and in some of the inserts that came with the dolls, showing fashions and accessories.

Around 1981, Ginny “went Sasson” with a signature hairdo, long hair with a thin braid around the crown. This doll came in sleep eye and painted eye versions, with the painted eye much more common. Sasson Ginny also had an extensive wardrobe, with each outfit featuring the Sasson name and/or logo. These dolls came in blonde, brunette, and a strawberry blonde. Some had much paler faces. They have the same body as the regular Lesney Ginny, and the clothes fit interchangeably. It is not unusual to see one type with the other’s clothing represented as “all original” on eBay, and it is an understandable mistake, since the clothing may be tagged “Ginny.”

Another thread in this tapestry is the “International Brides” series, a group of 12 dolls in wedding wear from all around the world, including Turkey, Israel, France, and the USA to name a few. These dolls have the same body as the other two types, and painted eyes, but the hairdo and face paint have been individualized according to the country they represent.

These could be interesting to collect as they make a limited set, and are quite charming.

The 1980 Vogue doll catalog also shows a series of 12 “Friends from Far-away Lands” who have plumper faces and toddler bodies. They include a Pioneer girl, and Austrian boy and girl, and girls from England, Norway, Germany, Ireland, Holland, Scotland, Poland, Italy, and Jamaica. Each has an individual appearance because of hairdo and clothing. Not pictured in the catalog is a Spanish version I have seen.

The “Friends” have hair that tends to become stiff and greasy feeling, but they are otherwise quite charming, and their costumes are well designed. Some of them are seen quite frequently, others I have yet to encounter.

The “skinny Ginny” is also prone to age-related problems. The hair is subject to severe “frizzies” especially if their little mommies did lots of hairstyling work. The Sasson dolls had instructions for numerous hairdo variations printed on their boxes, which would have encouraged experimentation. The wire in their knee joints tends to give them the dreaded “green knees.” And a few are literally falling apart...one at my house loses her head over trifles. Some of their faces have gone very pale, too...anyone want to try her hand at a repaint ala Gene (no eye shadow, please, these are LITTLE GIRLS)? I have several for you to practice on...

I believe these are underrated dolls. They are fairly readily available, although certain outfits can be hard to find in complete condition. They are not outrageously priced, which makes a collection attainable without a bank loan. Their small size and poseability lend them to creative displays, and they are not so rare or fragile that collectors who like to play with their dolls, or allow their children, grandchildren, or friends to play with them should feel intimidated about doing so. And they display well next to everyone their size from 1930’s compos to Robert Tonner’s Kripplebush Kids. They share clothes with Penny Brite and Madeline as well as the KBK’s. Everyone who visits me finds them appealing, and they are dolls it’s okay for visitors to handle. Everybody ends up happy.

My personal strategy has been to accumulate a stock for play and display and a limited amount of NRFB items as well. Those who buy dolls as an investment will probably do better with other types for the short run.

Note: all metal furniture not otherwise identified in the accompanying pictures is the work of noted Nebraska folk artist, Charles Childers, who also creates scale-model horse-drawn vehicles, with complete and accurate harness, to fit Breyer horses. This talented gentleman is my beloved father in law, who not only designs the pieces, but the tools needed to create them. However, that is another story.

Also, please understand this article is intended as an introduction to these dolls and not a definitive treatise. If I have facts wrong, let me know. The information in my Ginny books is sketchy at best.


“Ginny goes Sasson!” with this group, from 1981. These dolls, like the international brides, have painted eyes.


Ready for any kind of weather, these girls model outdoor clothes. I added the sled. I think the skater is my favorite in this group. All these dolls have sleep eyes.


Not Ginny, of course. Left to right, 1930’s Arranbee compo, redressed, Ella Cinders repro, and Tonner’s KBK Marni. The doll carriage was made by my father in law from a tin can (or two or three) and the tiny dolls dressed by his friend Ruth. Marni is very possessive of this carriage.


A Ginny with VERY nice coloring, and I love her party dress. The carriage is another by my FIL, Charles Childers. He was a youngster of maybe 85 when he designed this one. (He’s 90 now and still designing.)


Here are a few examples of the Sasson outfits that were available for Ginny.


These are “regular” Lesney Ginny outfits. I am really tempted to open the swimsuit set!!! The carry case behind is from 1979, and in good condition.


“Do I really look okay????” The vanity set has working drawers and doors, and it’s fun to play with!!


There were a LOT of outfits available for this doll. The green dress was available from JC Penney and by mail order. The bed is all original, and don’t you love the storage for books?


Here, Sailor Ginny has to decide if this is REALLY what she wants to wear. The small drawer unit is separate and all the drawers work. Wish I had had things like this as a child!


Three of the girls enjoy a patio set made by my FIL, and I admit I have a weakness for dollies who have bending knees!


Last but not least, two NRFB little dears. I think the Lesney Ginny is a very undervalued doll...but that might be a GOOD thing...there are still a few I don’t have. ;-)


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