Illco Kitchen


Today I want to share something that I just acquired through a Facebook doll page. As I’ve mentioned I subscribe to a few Facebook pages mainly as another source of information and to be part of the doll community online but occasionally I buy things. I’ve been lucky that all the sellers I have dealt with have been lovely too.

This kitchen had just been posted when I saw it and I immediately said: “Sold”. I thought I’d better not waste any time or it might be gone as most people seem to do FB on their phones and check it constantly. I don’t and didn’t want to miss out. The seller, Lynda, was in another state and she actually went to the trouble of constructing a box that would fit it exactly as well as wrapping everything tightly in bubble wrap and filling the box with pieces of cardboard and packing beans. She said it took her over an hour to do it. The postage was a bit more expensive than we originally thought it would be but I was happy to pay the extra.

Here it is.

1:6 scale kitchen by illco Toy Company.
1:6 kitchen for fashion dolls made by illco circa 1977

When I first saw the photo I assumed that this kitchen was from the late sixties or maybe very early seventies. In fact, it’s not quite that old. As much as it pains me to call anything made when I was already an adult vintage, this unit was made in 1977. I think we’ll call it “Contemporary Era” as they do on eBay. I should have guessed really as the colour scheme is very reminiscent of our first house which David and I bought in 1978. We had woodgrain cabinets and a brown and yellow carpet. Kitchen carpet. I still don’t know why anyone thinks that’s a good idea but I digress.

I asked Lynda if she knew much about the piece and she said that she had only managed to find one picture on Pinterest. I had about the same amount of luck. What I can tell you is that the company seems to have made a lot of licenced toys mostly for pre-schoolers like Disney and Sesame Street characters. I could not find any early history of the company. They were eventually acquired by Tyco who was acquired by Mattel and are now no more.

It is a nicely made toy, all overhead cabinets open as does the dishwasher and the oven. Even the little knobs for the hot plates turn. The kitchen has some working parts. The blender plugs in and the hot plates are wired to glow. It is powered by two size D batteries. The sink has a working drain so you can fill it but it doesn’t look as if the tap is meant to work. When I get the correct sized batteries I’ll test it and if it works I’ll take some more photos.

The blender plugs in but using it could be messy.

I think this kitchen would still look good with the mod era Barbies, or with Sindy, it’s not unlike some of the Scenesetters that Marx was making around the same time. However, today I thought I’d display it with some Barbie’s from the appropriate era.

Equestrienne Barbie, foreign issue in the Illco 1:6 scale kitchen.
Naomi’s Equestrienne Barbie in the Illco Kitchen.

The accessories look rather out of scale to my eyes and of course, they are all yellow so for a diorama I would probably replace them with more realistic looking pots and pans. The orange casserole pot is made of metal and probably not original to the set but actually a much better fit. There is also a small wooden platter that looks like a ring in but I like it.

I think I was very lucky as this set hardly has anything missing. The lid to the blender is gone so I wouldn’t advise Barbie to make any smoothies in it and I think there is meant to be a shelf in the dishwasher but for a forty year old toy that is pretty darn good.

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19 comments

  1. What a fabulous find – congratulations! Let’s give Ken the benefit of the doubt and say he actually made dinner as opposed to just feeling proud because he found the pot. Have lots of fun with your new kitchen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome kitchen! I wonder how the Sunshine family would match-up scale wise? Some of them wear similar colors any way,..also a great size for Skipper and friends learning to cook, like a test kitchen or home economics class. (Also most motor homes have the scaled down kitchens.) Does it take standard batteries or button type?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have this kitchen. You’re right,you almost never see it. I don’t have any of the accessories, so it was interesting to see the blander.I’ve been wondering what the outlet was for. I didn’t realize the stove burners were supposed to light up either. Since I had nothing to plug in, I had no reason to test it with batteries. It does look early 70’s as opposed to late. Maybe Illco’s designers were behind the times.

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    • Maybe they were. As there seems to be very litte out there about it we don’t know if it was based on an earlier one. The seventies were all about geometric designs and you did see a lot of yellow, brown and orange even in the latter part of the decade.

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    • I’m hoping we might find a few more people who have it or used to have it and know a bit more. It seems very unlike what Illco was making later and I wondered if there was any more doll furniture.

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  4. This kitchen is almost identical to Pedigree’s Sindy Action Kitchen unit, so I would say it is the generic version, possibly made by the company that manufactured for Pedigree. Interesting though, that they didn’t even bother to change the colour scheme, only replacing the Sindy logo on the cupboard door with the Illco one. I’ll email you a pic of the Sindy version.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a nice accompaniment to your post on Barbie’s Dreamhouse, so now the resident can cook. Also like the feminist take: Barbie brings home the bacon and Ken cooks with a pot.

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