Rescue Dolls: Reliable Doll 1960s

On Monday we went to Burnie to do a couple of errands and have a browse around the shops and we decided to visit a large City Mission Op Shop.

Naturally we went looking for the toys, Naomi for bears and me for dolls. I did find a couple of $2 fashion dolls who I’ll tell you about in another post but today I want to talk about the other doll that caught my eye. She was obviously much older than the other dolls there so I picked her up to have a closer look. I could see that she was a 1960s doll. She had the rubbery vinyl head and arms that I’ve only seen on dolls from the late 50s and early 60s. Her body was a thinner plastic like several of our other dolls from that era.

Doll marked Reliable Canada

I turned her over to look for a doll mark and found “Reliable” “Canada”. The poor girl was just wearing what looked like a child’s waistcoat and she was filthy dirty but otherwise didn’t seem to have any damage. I decided that she had to be rescued so I bought her. She was five dollars, one of those dolls you’d feel bad about leaving behind in that state because unless another doll collector came in nobody would ever love her again.

Connie when she arrived

When we got home, we decided to name her Connie because her curly hair and facial expression reminded us a little of our two BND walkers, Christine and Caroline. Actually, Connie is not really like them, she is not a walker, she’s a bent leg toddler and she has a nurser mouth. But the hair is similar and she is much of a size with them, I think. She hasn’t been down to visit them yet.

The next day I decided to get stuck into cleaning Connie up. I couldn’t stand to see her so filthy. I also wanted to see if I could do anything with her eyes which were very cloudy.

I started by washing her with dish washing liquid, I got out my good Morning Fresh detergent in the absence of Dawn. I used my Norex soft scourer which is very good for dolls as it is not too abrasive. I also scrubbed her with a toothbrush. Luckily it was mostly surface dirt and came off fairly easily. I decided to do one leg, one arm and half her face to show you just how dirty she was.

Connie is really in very good condition for her age. I think she had probably been in storage for a long time. She has all her rooted eyelashes, so unusual for an old doll like this. She has no splits in her vinyl either. The only thing that happened was that as I was cleaning her feet her heel cracked a tiny bit. I stopped rubbing it when I realised. It’s fine and won’t show when she is dressed.

I was able to partially clean her eyes. I didn’t want to get that area too wet so I used a toothbrush to scrub a bit, then a cotton bud and lastly some white magic which I held with a haemostat to rub it. The eyes looked better but not as good as I would have liked so I went to see what Mr Google could suggest. On one doll forum thread I found the suggestion of placing a funnel on the doll’s eye and using a hairdryer. I decided to risk it in short bursts. I did want to make sure the eye area was dry. Anyway, it seemed to work quite well. I wouldn’t recommend it for valuable old dolls but if you have a fixer-upper I think it is an acceptable risk so I may do a bit more to them later. You can certainly see an improvement.

I did not do a lot to her hair. It is quite coarse and in tight curls so I just washed it in the same dish washing liquid I used to clean her. I used fabric softener to condition it. Poured about a half a cup over her hair, combed it through with a wide tooth comb and rinsed it off. I think that the wash really brightened it up.


The next thing I need to do is find Connie a new outfit. I have a box of doll’s clothes for the larger dolls. I haven’t measured her yet but I’d say that she is 20-22 inches. She has bent legs so she won’t stand straight.

The box is somewhere downstairs. I have to remember where I put it. I think it is inside my wooden storage box which means I will have to move several dolls and bears to get to it. I’m pretty sure I will have something that will fit her, at least for now but if not, I will make her something or get a baby/toddler dress from one of the local Op Shops. I’ll show you Connie redressed in a future post.

Waiting for a new outfit.



  1. You’ve done an amazing job with Connie! I would never have imagined she could look so good, or so clean. The most extraordinary thing is the eyes which are such an improvemen. Very impressive! I hope you manage to find some clothes suitable for her. A nice knitted dress would look good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I don’t find something I like for her I will knit her a dress when I’ve finished my current project, an outfit for one of Naomi’s baby dolls. I was very pleased with the eyes because I don’t normally buy dolls with eyes like that but I was fairly confident that a lot of it was surface dirt. The hairdryer trick did work though.


  2. What an amazing transformation, especially her eyes. She is a lovely doll and would look good in a hand knitted outfit. Connie is lucky you found her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s wonderful to see the rejuvenated Connie. I’m especially impressed with how you were able to clean her eyes. And it’s so nice to see the condition of the eyelashes. Connie was obviously a loved doll that got forgotten. It’s so satisfying to see these rescue dolls come back to life.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.