Thursday, October 22, 2009
Chatty Cathy Dolls (one of my many favorites)
Mattel was well-known for their talking toys and doll in the 1960s, and Chatty Cathy was the doll that started it all for them. Although there had been attempts at "talking" dolls for 60 years (since the time of Jumeau's Bebe Phongraphe) Chatty Cathy was the first sure-fired talking doll hit. With her pull string talking mechanism and phrases such as "Please brush my hair," she captured the hearts of an entire generation of little girls.
Mattel also re-issued Chatty Cathy dolls twice, in 1969 (with the voice of Maureen McCormick from the Brady Bunch) and again in 1998 and 1999 for collectors.
Mattel, best known for the Barbie doll, produced Chatty Cathy Dolls. All Chatty Cathy dolls are made of vinyl. The dolls have a soft vinyl face, except for the later dolls made in 1964 which have a hard plastic face. Collectors generally prefer the soft vinyl face. All Chatty Cathy dolls are 20 inches tall.
You can find lovely Chatty Cathy dolls in excellent condition (but generally mute) for $300 to $400. Dolls with flaws sell for much less. Rarer Chatty Cathys, including truly mint dolls, black dolls, Canadian dolls and #1 Chattys (which have no marks) can sell for considerably more, with mint Black Chatty Cathys often selling for over $1,000 and mint in box Chatty Cathys often selling between $600 and $900. Pigtail hairstyles are also desirable.
Mattel based all of their talking dolls in the 1960s on a pull-string mechanism. Chatty Cathy's mechanism was truly innovative--it allowed the doll to say a phrase completely at random when the string was pulled. The internal system consisted of a needle, small turntable, and record. Over time, the governor belt (a glorified rubber band) in most of these dolls has snapped, rendering the phonograph system inoperable and the doll mute.
If one talking doll is a hit, then a family of talking dolls is better! Or, so Mattel thought. After hitting a home-run with Chatty Cathy, Singin' Chatty, Charmin' Chatty, Tiny Chatty Baby, and Tiny Chatty Brother were also produced. None were as popular with children in the 1960s or with collectors today as the original Chatty Cathy.
All Chatty Cathy dolls are marked on their backs. Marks include the copyright date and generally the doll's name (Chatty Cathy, Chatty Baby, Tiny Chatty Brother, etc.) Only the #1 Chatty Cathy has no body marks.
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