Vintage Find at the Market


In this post I’ll show you the other two dolls I bought at Wynyard market on Sunday. I rarely find vintage dolls at the market and wasn’t looking for any that day. I was looking for cheap dolls to fix up. Almost as soon as we arrived at the market, we spotted dolls on a stall with some other stuff. Two in particular looked odd to us because they were larger than most fashion dolls. They were lying naked on the table and at first, I didn’t see the wrist tags on them but we realised that they must be Littlechap Family dolls. The seller, a young woman confirmed that they were Lisa and Judy Littlechap. They were $A28 each but as you practically never see Littlechap dolls in Australia I didn’t hesitate to buy them. This morning I looked up prices for them on eBay and the prices I saw suggested that $28 was a fair asking price. Especially as I would not have to pay the $30-$50 postage from the USA where all the dolls were located. I don’t love the dolls enough to pay that kind of money for them.

The girls are not in bad shape for their age. The seller told us that her mother has a big collection of dolls so she must have been selling off a few surplus ones for her. They are a bit grubby; Judy has a gouge in her nose and Lisa’s hair needs fixing. the biggest problem will be clothes because they are so large. I’m not sure if I have anything that will fit them so I may have to make something. I know that I do have a sewing pattern for Littlechap fashions in one of my books. Otherwise, I’ll knit something for them.

I am sure that most of you from the USA, at least those of the Boomer generation, are familiar with the Littlechap Family. For those that came in late, as they say in the Phantom comics here is a quick rundown.

The Littlechap Family dolls were produced by Remco for one year only, 1963. The dolls were Dr John Littlechap, his wife Lisa, a former model turned housewife according to their backstory, older daughter Judy, a high school student and younger daughter Libbie. It is said that Dr John resembled President Kennedy. I can’t see it myself but the whole family represented the ideals of the 1950s and early 60s. Lisa ran the PTA, Judy was an Honours student, Libbie at least was allowed to be a bit of a scamp. I wonder why they didn’t include a son? The line was discontinued after the assassination of JFK. Maybe this was out of respect but more than likely because the dolls were not very successful. They were so much larger than existing fashion dolls that they could not swap and share outfits with Barbie or Tammy. I don’t know if the Littlechaps were ever sold outside of the USA. I doubt it because I think that their appeal would have been limited. The two that I have had been bought from the USA. They are not the most attractive dolls when compared to the Tammy Family IMHO but they did have some fabulous outfits and playsets. I’ve included a couple of links at the end with photos.

Now let’s see how we can improve the girl’s looks.

Both dolls got a bath, shampoo and conditioning. Judy really didn’t need anything else. I have no idea what to do about the nose gouge. Maybe there is something it could be filled with. On the other hand, do I want to do something intrusive to a vintage doll? I don’t know.

Lisa is a bit more of a problem. I combed the tangles out of her hair gently but some still came out. It still feels very coarse and at present I’m considering whether to condition it again or oil it like I did for the Ideal baby doll. I’m not sure if I want to risk a boil perm. Lisa has what we call a “billiard ball head”. Her hair is rooted around the outside while the top of her head is bald. She will have to have her hair styled to cover it so I will try to recreate her updo. Her face is slightly discoloured but I don’t think it’s from marker. I think it might be discolouration of the vinyl.

Although I cleaned Lisa and Judy before I started on the other dolls I got that weekend I did not go any further with them for several days.

First of all was the problem of Lisa’s hair. I really didn’t know how to fix it. I found a few tutorials for how to make a beehive on a human and another on an American Girl but I also read that Lisa’s hairstyle was built round a plastic insert and she had a hairnet. I could not find my tiny bobby pins either. In the end I gave her a makeshift updo and will revisit it in the future if I think I can do better.

For clothing I went to our box of miscellaneous vintage clothing. Naomi and I both had homemade outfits that were too big for Barbie and we hoped that some of these might do. Sadly, hardly anything fit them properly. I was able to get a couple of outfits onto Judy. They were snug at the back but I was able to do them up.

I would have liked to give Lisa a pencil skirt but nothing we had would go over those enormous hips. In fact, I hardly found a thing I could put on Lisa. I have put her into this crochet dress but I’m not really happy with it. I see Lisa as a sort of Stepford Wife and she should be a lot more elegantly dressed. For those of you who are maybe too young to remember “The Stepford Wives” was a movie that came out originally in 1975 and was remade in 2004. It was about a little town where all the married women were perfect housewives, perfectly dressed, good cooks and did whatever their husbands wanted. When I read the backstory of the Littlechaps that was what immediately came to mind.

Lisa in temporary outfit

Anyway, social commentary aside, I will have to make Lisa something better and maybe Judy as well.

Further Reading:

https://www.fabtintoys.com/littlechap-family/

20 comments

  1. I’m intrigued by the Littlechap family. I’ve never seen any. How tall are they? I had tended to assume they were 11-12”. I don’t think you see them in the UK either. I like the faces actually. They aren’t as vacuous as a lot of dolls. I think Lisa should be wearing a stylish suit, with knee length pencil skirt and probably a hat for 1963! Judy would probably be in a wide or ‘A-line’ dress, or possibly tee shirt and pedal pushers ;). Good luck with the hair. I bought a 60s clone doll with lots of hair 8n a bubble cut and was horrified to find it coming out by the handful in warm water. It obviously loosened the glue. I cooled the water and took great care not to agitate it and most of it seems to have settled down.

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    • The Littlechaps are much taller and broader than other fashion dolls of the era. I think Judy is 13.5inches and Lisa and Dr John are a whopping 15 inches according to their advertising. I haven’t measured them myself but Lisa is certainly taller than Judy. They have really wide hips and hard legs with makes dressing them in anything snug tricky. I agree with you about Lisa’s outfit and if you look at the link to Bold Dolls at the end of my post you can see that is pretty much what she had. Their faces do have character don’t they?

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      • Thanks for the introduction to the Bold Doll. The article on the Littlechaps was fascinating- what a wonderful idea and such a pity they got the scale wrong. I’m sure it would have sold otherwise. I love all the faces on them, and the clothes are perfect. Lisa’s suits are just what I would have imagined and .Dr John’s Mac and hat are perfect. The blog is such an interesting read too. I’ve been delving into Daisy doll, and the wonderful Quant exhibition. Such a pity I missed it.

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  2. Oh, the Littlechaps are marvellous! What a wonderful find. I got the Littlechaps one at a time and with some clothing. I had to pay more than I usually do for dolls this size, but for some reason these dolls intrigue me. I think Lisa looks too strong-minded to be a Stepford Wife. She’s more likely to control Dr. Littlechap’s life. The original clothes are very nicely made with little metal zippers so worth lollking for. However, I really like the dresses you chose for Judy. They’re perfect! I’d suggest leaving the gouge in Judy’s nose as is since it’s not very noticeable. I definitely would avoid a boil perm for Lisa. My Lisa’s hair is still in her beehive style, but it’s a bit messy. I haven’t done anything with it because the hair looks fragile to me. The references to the Kennedy family have always puzzled me, but I guess people see what they want to see.

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    • Sorry – “lollking” should have been “looking” We’re in the midst of extreme cold here so I’ll blame my mistake on brain freeze. 🙂

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    • I don’t think I will try to fix Judy’s nose. I’m sure anything I did would stand out more than the original flaw. I think her dress quite suits her but I do need something better for Lisa. After I piled up her hair I just sprayed it with hair spray. It is still quite flyaway but I don’t want to mess with it too much. I’d love to find some of their outfits because they look really nice.

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  3. One of my doll collector friends has The Littlechaps, but I’ve never seen them outside of his collection. They seem to be quite rare. They’re kind of intriguing, but, yes, I imagine clothes are hard to find for them. Your girls turned out nicely.

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    • I found a few on eBay in the USA for not unreasonable prices, the dolls I mean, the clothes seem to go for more. The shipping cost makes buying them from there unaffordable for me. However, they are very rare dolls in Australia as they were probably not sold here.

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  4. Fascinating and clearly a lucky find! I don’t remember these dolls at all, despite being an American Boomer. But 1963 was close to the end of my interest in dolls – the year I turned 11. I did get a Skipper in 1964 but didn’t play with her as much as admire her beautiful hair. I wished so desperately mine was like hers! After that, I was done until my granddaughter reintroduced me. So I think these dolls are a real find! And you’ve done a stellar job on them. I use fabric softener in warm water to condition hair. Don’t know if that would help.

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    • I usually use either fabric softener or human hair conditioner on dolls hair. I think I used fabric softener these two. Judy’s hair was nice anyway, I’d never seen a beehive deconstructed so was not sure how to do it and it sounds as if Lisa’s had some kind of plastic insert it was wrapped around. I do remember donut like things ladies used for buns in the 60s. I guess it was like that. I got my Skipper in 1967 when I was ten but I kept on playing with dolls for several more years before stopping during my later teens and twenties.

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  5. I never knew about the Little Chap dolls, till I started collecting dolls. I didn’t like their looks, but their size didn’t bother me. I saw 1 doll at a thrift shop, not interested at all. Perhaps, clothing for the original Jem and the Rockers (Hasbro dolls) or Maxie(Hasbro also) doll line which those dolls were a little taller with wider hips might fit them, but they wouldn’t be the right clothing style since Jem is from 1985 and Maxie 1987. Several of the knitted skirts you’ve made and sweaters could start you out more nicely dressed dolls. 1960’s plaid skirts were popular! I had some during that time as well. Dr. Chap doesn’t look like President Kennedy to me! Mrs. Chap’s some of the outfits remind me of Jackie Kennedy. Maybe a Knitted Barbie pattern with adding 2-3 stitches for each side of a skirt might work with the same needle size required hopefully might fit without adding too much bulk to the garment, just guessing. I kind of try a sample with scrap baby yarn to see if changing amount of stitches or needle size gives me what I need, or thicker/thinner yarn or even both. Or create my own adjusted pattern. It’s fun to create doll stuff and not just buy it all!

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    • I think that’s what I ‘m going to do Helen. I have baby wool and 2-3 ply cotton so it would not be hard to knit a pencil skirt and a sweater for Lisa. I do have a dress pattern in one of my sewing books that is meant for the Littlechaps so will try to find that. In any case something like a plaid skirt would not be hard to make even with my mediocre sewing skills.

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  6. I have heard of these dolls but did not realise they were larger than Barbie so cannot share other dolls wardrobes. Shoes can also be a problem My Jem doll from Jem and the Holograms is 12inches and has huge feet. So I have lots of shoes but not one pair will fit her. I would leave Judy nose as it is, it does not look too bad.

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  7. A great find! I have always liked these dolls, they are so different than the other dolls from their era, and I like their faces a lot. I was thinking of the clothes: maybe the retro looking clothes from the vinyl Franklin Mint fashion dolls may fit? I mean, from Jackie Kennedy perhaps? The shoes might fit as well.

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  8. Love these dolls. They wear everything “not Barbie” Tammy dress on Lisa,,started with Kens stuff,and large Mego Candie, Gene Dolls sheath pattern from a magazine, Trents stuff,plus size Kens scrubs for John.(alittle short but w/ high-top tennis shoes and socks good enough to do rounds). Ken and Gi.Joes rubbery shoes and madam Alexander slip on /fairytale shoes. MyJohn is 14 1/2 inches, LLisa is 13 1/2″, Judy is13″ and Libby10 1/2..mine are shoeless except for JJohn. Also..my second Dr. made a great body doner for my Harry Potter Hagrid doll, to make him Taller than Dumbledore and display better with Harry. Fun blog/great links!

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  9. These gals are a dream in knit wear and sweaters. I think the daughter has a Jackie look to her. I think she will look good in a full fan skirt. I’m looking for some Ken collared shirts and more Tammy tops for them to wear.

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