These two cuties are neighbours on the doll shelf and apart from being two of the more modern of my dolls the thing that they have in common is that they were both acquired from collectors in the USA who I met online. I think that one of the nice things about our hobby, especially amongst the people who frequent Thrift Stores, markets and garage sales, is that they are often happy to help out a fellow collector by doing a swap or selling a doll without looking for a big profit.
I had not seen either of these dolls prior to becoming a collector but I took to both of them immediately I saw photos of them online.
Let’s talk about the BabyFace dolls first.
According to the website BabyFaceDolls.com the creator of the Baby Face doll line is Mel Birnkrant. His idea was to create dolls with emotional expressions, he added jointed limbs to make them more poseable. In 1990, in partnership with Kiscom Toys, he licensed his Baby Face doll designs to the Lewis Galoob Toy Company. Thirty six different dolls, all with names starting with “So” were produced over the next two years before Galoob discontinued them while they were still at the height of their popularity. They were bought both as children’s toys and by collectors. You can read more about how the Baby Faces were created in an article entitled “How Baby Face Was Born”. It is very long, practically a book, but entertaining as it is tells the story of how the dolls were created, the problems in getting them on the market and why they were withdrawn. If you want to cut to the chase and get straight to how Baby Face was created start at part 11 but it’s really interesting to read about Mel Birnkrant’s early career in his own words so I’d recommend reading the whole thing if you have the time.
I just like them because I think their faces are very cute, faces are important to me. I think my doll is So Delightful Dee Dee from the first series of dolls. I seem to remember that’s what the person I bought her from told me too. I like the jointed limbs, I think they do add to her charm.
Baby So Beautiful
Baby So Beautiful by Playmates were produced from 1995 to 1996 and designed by J Shackleford. Like the Baby Face dolls Baby So Beautiful was made with many different hair and eye colours. Mine looks like her eyes are two different colours in the photo but really they are both light brown. I do like the wispy hair which to me looks more realistic. I’ve looked at a few photos of other dolls and I see that not all of them have this. Some have wigs with quite long, thick hair which means they don’t look as much like babies.
I haven’t been able to find a lot of information about them on the internet so far but I wonder if that J Shackleford may be the cloth doll artist Jan Shackleford.
There is another J Shackleford in the toy industry, Judy Shackleford who worked for Mattel in the 1980s. I couldn’t find out what she was doing at the time that BSB was created but she seems to have been involved in a different area of toy production. If anyone knows perhaps they could drop me a line.