When Naomi and I were little we were given baby dolls one Christmas. I can remember how they looked when they were new. They came in plastic bags and both dolls were about 20 inches long. They each had a one piece jumpsuit in a soft fabric like flannelette, mine wore pink and Naomi’s wore blue. As I already had Theresa who was the same size I decided that despite the pink outfit my doll would be a boy and I called him Christopher. Naomi’s doll was named Peter.
These dolls had hard plastic heads with sleep eyes, open mouths showing two teeth and a moving tongue. Their hair was molded and painted brown. Their bodies were a thinner plastic and their arms had wrists that turned.
Years passed and I gave Christopher away during a teenage doll cull. I’m sure many of you went through that stage where you either felt you were too old for dolls or relatives told you that you were or sometimes just took them “because you don’t play with them any more.” I chose to let Christopher go rather than Theresa because she was my favourite but I should never have split them up. Peter also suffered a similar fate.
When I became interested in collecting dolls I learned that Peter and Christopher were made by Kader Industries Company Ltd, a company that produced dolls at their factories in Hong Kong and Thailand. The company was started in 1948 and began making toys and dolls in 1954.
Kader Industrial Company Limited was founded by Mr. Ting Hsiung-chao in 1948. He had previously established the Wei Ming Flashlight and Battery Works and the Pau Chiu Light Bulb Factory, both successful businesses in Shanghai before 1949. Mr. H.C. Ting believed that success is built upon diligence and a dictum that nothing short of perfection was acceptable.
Being an unusual entrepreneur, Mr. H.C. Ting not only designed his own products, he also developed the machines that made them to streamline processes. Kader’s products carried the “OK” logo, a trademark devised by Mr. H.C. Ting to emphasize the reliability and quality all products made by the Company.taken from webpage of Kader Holdings Company /History
As well as exporting the dolls to the UK they were also sold widely in Australia and New Zealand which meant that it was not too hard for us to find replacement dolls so now we have a new Peter and a new Christopher. Kader made this doll in many sizes too ranging from about 10 inches up to large ones of 25 inches or more which were sometimes bought by stores to display baby wear.
Kader also made the same doll with black skin and either amber or the rarer blue eyes. You can see some examples in the links at the end of this post. I did an image search for Kader dolls and I think that the most striking thing about them is always their eyebrows and their big round eyes. Kader did make a few other styles of dolls but these babies were by far their most popular. Here you can see a couple of other types. If you want to search for one of these babies they are designated B35 followed by the size so our two would be B3520.
According to one seller of vintage dolls Kader later left the Kader logo off the dolls and they were just marked “Made in Hong Kong”. I have a couple of small dolls who I think might be Kader but I can’t be certain. They could also have been made by Evergreen or another Hong Kong based toy factory.
When Naomi brought Peter here last week it was the first time I had seen him and Christopher together and to me they do look a little different to each other. My photo of Christopher is an old one and not very flattering but when we have sorted out the doll room I will sit them side by side for a comparison photo. I did make both of their little outfits from a booklet of vintage doll patterns.
You can read more about the history of the Kader company in the links below. It still exists but today they are more involved in making model railways.