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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Ideal Tammy and Pepper

Who is the girl with the sweetheart smile?  It's Tammy, the Ideal Teen!
I'm RagingMoon1987, and the weather has been horrendous here in Missouri!  Here it is the second day of March and tornado season has already begun with a vengeance.  My hometown came through okay, but a couple of towns farther north did not.  Anywho, this is Throwback Thursday, and we're going back to 1962 for this one.  When I was young Daddy would tell me stories of four dolls available during his childhood that he paid attention to.  Tammy was one of them, with Tressy, Barbie, and an elusive creature named Popi being the other three.  Daddy liked Tammy the best, describing her as a doll that "just looked cute," without a lot of gimmicks.  Tammy was created by Ideal, and she was apparently Ideal's response to comments that were made about Barbie's lack of domesticity.  She was in a sense the first "anti-Barbie," attempting to create a "girl next door" image.  I've always hated the "girl next door" image, by the way.

Regarding the doll, Tammy had a mom, a dad, a brother, and a sister.  As y'all may have seen but probably don't remember, I own Pepper, the sister.
Tammy and Pepper are both cute dolls, but I was a bit surprised by their quality, which turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag.  The heads are very nice.  They're made of soft vinyl and have saran hair.
Like Barbie, Tammy and her family were available in a few different hair colors.  During my research for this post I found images of a pale blonde, and Tam at PLANET OF THE DOLLS has a very becoming little brunette.   I even found a Pepper that was a redhead!  Unfortunately, my dolls are not redheads.  They sport the dark blonde shade that Ideal seemed to be quite fond of during the fifties and sixties.  Pepper's hair is straight, short, and a little darker, while Tammy's is curly and comes to her shoulder.  I'm not delighted with my Tammy's hair.  
She's already had a hair wash and spent a few nights in THE PLASTIC BAG OF DOOM, but her hair is still frizzy.  A reroot may be in her future.  No huge deal, though; frizzed curls are inevitable when a doll is an aged plaything.

Ideal's attempt to make a "girl next door" doll extends into Tammy's face.  Like Barbie, Tressy, and several other dolls of the era, Tammy and Pepper have side-glancing eyes.  Unlike Barbie, the Ideal girls have softer, more youthful faces with rounded eyes, button noses, and soft, slightly pursed lips.  Ideal heads are also quite a bit bigger, and their coloring is better...or at least, my particular Tammy's coloring is better than that of my mother's old #3 Barbie.  The earliest Barbie dolls do tend to fade, so this difference was no surprise.
Being a teenager, Tammy is allowed some makeup, girl-next-door image or no.  Her lips are red and her cheeks are rouged.  Her eyes blue-gray and have long, painted eyelashes.

Pepper, being younger, doesn't wear much makeup.  
Her lips are a natural shade of pink, her cheeks are ever so slightly blushed, and she sports a nice set of freckles.  Her eyes are blue-gray like her sister's, with matching long eyelashes.  There's something about Pepper that makes me like her face more than Tammy's.  While Tammy looks serene and confident, Pepper has an ever-so-slightly mischievous look about her.  Indeed, Pepper's commercial implies that the younger Ideal sister is a bit of a pill.

Remember when I said that these dolls were a mixed bag in terms of quality?  I meant it.  The heads are nice, but the bodies are...nothing but hollow plastic!  Just like a clone doll!  Both dolls take on the "bimbo on Quaaludes" pose when I seat them.
Okay, I take that back.  The bodies and legs are hollow plastic like a clone doll's body.  The arms are soft vinyl, just like the heads.  These dolls have realistic hands, very similar to those of my Little Miss Revlon doll.
Neither Tammy nor Pepper wear any sort of nail polish, so I have no idea where that red stuff on Tammy's palm came from.  Given her age those stains could be from anywhere.

Tammy's body is curvaceous, but her figure is not as exaggerated as Barbie's.  When compared to Victorine (reproduction American Girl), it's easy to see the differences.  Tammy has a thicker body overall, and her feet are bigger than Victorine's are.
My Tammy can squeeze into some of Barbie's nineties-era duds, but they're pretty tight.
Tammy didn't share Barbie's clothes in the sixties at all, from what I've been told.  She certainly can't wear the few things I've got for Mama's old doll, or the reproduction astronaut outfit that Victorine originally came with.  The sleeves are too narrow in both cases.  Sleeves are a problem with a lot of the outfits that Tammy can potentially wear, in fact.  If the dress in question has wide sleeves or no sleeves at all, then the outfit has a prayer of fitting, like this flowered dress does.
I would leave Tammy in this, but that would leave Barbie hard up for clothes.  In short, if the dress is fitted at the top, has wide sleeves or no sleeves at all, and has a full skirt, then Tammy can wear it with few problems.  This little experiment has left me dying to see what Tammy would look like in Suburban Shopper, one of my favorite vintage Barbie dresses.  

In a similar category with Barbie is my Little Miss Revlon doll, Wendy.  She is an Ideal product like Tammy is, and she has a few dresses that Tammy might be able to wear.  Unfortunately all I have within reach right now is the outfit Wendy is wearing.  She has a houndstooth coat with a striped blouse and skirt on underneath.
Neither Tammy nor Pepper are Wendy's size.  Tammy is taller and Pepper is shorter.
As an aside, see my Wendy's hair?  She has dark blonde hair, just like Tammy and Pepper.  Ideal must've had a lot of fiber in that shade back then.  Anyway, Wendy's shoes are a no-go for Tammy since her feet are mostly flat, but the rest of the outfit is worth a shot.
The dress set is almost a dead ringer, but the skirt is a little loose around the waistband.  Notice that a bit of Tammy's tummy is visible.  The jacket is tight on Wendy and tighter on Tammy.  In fact, it's so tight when fastened that the threads are strained.  So overall this is a no-go for Tammy, but it's made me optimistic about the fit of some of Wendy's other dresses.

Now Pepper takes her turn.
The dress set is a bit too big on Pepper, but her short stature makes this a bit less obvious.  Notice that her tummy doesn't show like Tammy's did.  As for the coat...well, it fits, but it drowns Pepper.  So I'm calling the dress set a yes and the coat a no.  Once again this makes me optimistic about the rest of Wendy's dresses.

I had hopes that Pepper and Penny Brite could share clothes, but as it turns out Pepper is too tall.  Notice that Penny ALSO has dark blonde hair, even though she is not an Ideal product.
At the last minute I remembered my LIV dolls.
How could I forget this one???  I'm not sure how well this will work since Daniela is slimmer than Tammy and taller than Pepper, but again, the dresses are worth a shot.
Surprisingly, this dress was too small for both Tammy AND Pepper!  It looks good on Tammy from the front, but the Velcro won't fasten in back.  Pepper has the same problem, plus the added problem that the dress doesn't look as nice.  It's a bit mature for a doll as young as Pepper is supposed to be anyway.  So this particular LIV dress won't work.  However, that does NOT rule out my other LIV items, some of which are quite loose in the bodice.  Once I dig those out they'll be worth a looksie.

Since I have no original Tammy clothes to review, it's time for good stuff-bad stuff.

*Poseability is not impressive.
*Tammy's hair is not impressive either.
*Neither doll can wear Barbie's clothes with any consistency, despite being of a similar scale.  Shoes are also a problem.

*Cute, well-painted faces
*Short, kid-friendly hair
*Well-constructed.  Sometimes a high number of joints means more places that the doll can break, so Tammy and Pepper's lack of mobility may be a blessing in disguise.
*Can wear some of Barbie's vintage clothing, and some items intended for Little Miss Revlon.  Select LIV pieces might also work in a pinch, but I haven't verified that yet.

In short, my father's description of Tammy was spot on.  She is a cute doll.  She's got a sweet, approachable face and from what I've read she even had a good-sized wardrobe with lots of accessories.  Tammy and Pepper were and still are perfectly acceptable little playthings; if I had a child I would have no reservations about using these as toys, especially since they're already in played-with condition anyway.  Unfortunately Tammy clearly did not catch on like Barbie did, or she would've stuck around longer.  I conjecture that Tammy's eventual demise was because she offered nothing that Barbie didn't also have.  Tammy had a car?  So did Barbie.  Tammy had a cute house?  So did Barbie.  Tammy had an adorable younger sister that appealed to smaller children?  So did Barbie, eventually.  Tammy had a wardrobe full of nice little fashions?  So did Barbie, and her clothes were more glamorous, easier for a child to play games of make-believe.  In addition to those things Barbie had a boyfriend, and as the sixties progressed Barbie slowly accumulated more gimmicks that allowed her to "do things," like color her hair, swap wigs, sleep, dance, and talk.  As far as I know, Tammy never did any of these things.  She was just a doll that looked cute and provided an alternative for parents who were afraid of Barbie's buxom build.  Still, it's hard to fault Ideal for trying to do this, as back then little girls were still very into playing "House" and pretending to do adult domestic things.  Tammy was the perfect companion for games like this.  I personally have an easier time picturing Tammy being a homebody than I do Barbie.  While Barbie was dashing off to some glamorous party or some date with Ken, Tammy could relax at home with a book or a basket of knitting or a few records...just like normal sixties kids did.  So Ideal wasn't too far off the mark with Tammy, and they made an acceptable product that withstood the test of time.  It's a pleasure to have Tammy and Pepper among my crew.

Very truly yours,


  1. Really enjoyed your thorough review. Excellently illustrated with plenty of info.
    I used to have a Miss Revlon, ages past, but she's gone now.

    1. Sorry you lost your Miss Revlon doll. Those dolls really are nice. Luckily they're fairly easy to find if you ever want to replace yours. So glad you liked the review!