For my fourth Christmas I was given a “walking” doll. I called her Christine, another Christmas doll a year or so later was named Christopher but that’s another story.
Christine is still with me today so let me tell you about her. She stands twenty inches high and I believe she is what is known as a transition doll. Her body, arms and legs are made of hard plastic but her head is a softer material although it is more “rubbery” in feel than later all vinyl dolls. Her head is very highly coloured which contrasts oddly with the pale pink of her body. She looks as if she has sunburn or as she comes from England, wind burn.
There were a lot of dolls like this being made in the late 1950s and early 60s as manufacturers used up all their stocks of hard plastics. The hard plastic dolls were not cuddly but they were quite sturdy and that made them good “walkers”. In case anyone thinks these dolls walked on their own, they don’t. You would hold one of their hands and the mechanism in their leg joints made them make steps as you propelled them along. Christine also had a “Mama” which sadly doesn’t work now but I guess at 52 she is a bit old to be crying for her mother.
I don’t know who Christine’s manufacturer was as she is unmarked as were many dolls at that time. My reading suggests to me that she is a Roddy but I was once told that she might have been made by BND (British National Dolls) A couple of years ago my sister, who often frequents op shops, tip shops and markets looking for things for her own collections, gave me a smaller, non walking doll she’d picked up somewhere whose face was so like Christine’s that they could have been sisters. I think Little Sister, looks like a Roddy but haven’t been able to verify this as she has no distinct markings either. Her bodyseems to be made of the same material as Christine’s head.
I have to admit that I don’t think Christine is as pretty as some of the Pedigree Walkers of the same period. I would so love to get one of those. However, as my first “big” doll she has a special place in my collection. She has fared reasonably well over the years. In her early life my sister scribbled on her face with a blue biro. She didn’t have anything in particular against Christine but she’d just discovered biros, fairly new in the early 60s, and she told me many years later that she just liked the feel of the pen on the plastic. Mum tried to get it off but only succeeded in fading it. However, after twenty years or so it faded away on it’s own and now you would never know it had happened.
Later on the elastic holding her arms together broke but I made a temporary repair with a big rubber band which is still holding. Her eyelashes are mostly gone now and so are her eyebrows. Mum, who alway liked to improve on things, darkened them with a pen or marker I think, I ‘m sure her eyebrows were light brown. There is no Dolls Hospital in Hobart so she will have to go interstate for the work to be done.One day if we go to the mainland on the ferry with our car I will have to bring her along to be given a makeover in Adelaide where she can stay with friends or family if it takes longer than our visit.
One thing I would not change is her hair. It is that coarse nylon, not soft and silky like many doll wigs but there is nothing wrong with it. A neighbour I showed her to said I ought to change her hair if I had her restored but I feel that if I did she wouldn’t be Christine any more.