The first time I can remember seeing the aboriginal doll, Bindi, made by Metti was in about 1968. I can even remember where I saw her, in the window of a shop called Sands & McDougall’s at Elizabeth Town Centre in South Australia. She made an impression on me because I had never seen an aboriginal doll before. I remember wondering if there was any connection to Rolf Harris who I knew had a daughter called Bindi. These days I guess we would think of Bindi Irwin!
I didn’t know until many years later that Metti was an Australian toy company. As well as the Bindi doll and her little sister Picanninny they made a range of other toys including Humphrey Bear plush and plastic toys and nightlights. Humphrey originated in South Australia too but we’ll save Humphrey for another day.
As well as Bindi these dolls were also often found dressed in tribal costumes from Papua New Guinea. It is quite interesting to read how this came about.
For further information here are a couple of links which I have found helpful. The first one is to the Museum of Victoria and the second to a fellow blogger, Vintage Cobweb http://www.vintagecobweb.com/ who has a Metti/Netta page on her blog as well as lots of other interesting collectibles. Thank you Michelle for giving me permission to use some of your photos of Metti dolls in tribal dress.
In 1976 the Metti Company closed down as many Australia toy companies were doing at that time. Two former Metti employees bought the business and renamed it Netta. They continued to make Bindi and their factory in Newton, an Adelaide suburb manufactured dolls for many years. Ten years or so ago I heard that the owners wished to retire and later that the factory had closed and production had gone offshore. I’m not sure if this is true but Netta is still operating as a company manufacturing and importing dolls. http://nettaaustralia.com.au/
Most of my Australian doll collection is Netta dolls and I find them very appealing. Some of the first dolls I bought new as a collector were Netta’s.
As well as Bindi and her friends I have some large baby and toddler dolls. These dolls can be found with both painted and rooted hair. They are anatomically correct and come in several sizes and ethnicities.