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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: possible Valentine Polly Play-Pose

RagingMoon1987 again, and today I'm going to merge Throwback Thursday with one of my many dolly idiosyncrasies.  As you saw with Gerda and Kate, I love Barbie clones.  I love these cheap alternatives to Barbie; they almost always bring a new face to my growing crowd, and nine times out of ten they can wear at least some of Barbie's clothes.  Today's clone dates from the late sixties, and she's the doll I introduced as "Polythene Pam" in Starr's review.  I originally thought this doll was a Debbie Drake doll from Reliable, but Debbie has white hair.  Based on what I've learned about Valentine's dolls, I'm fairly confident that this is Polly Play-Pose.  Early Valentine dolls were marked with (surprise, surprise) a valentine, but Polly is a later doll so she's not marked. 
While it's obvious that Polly is not a real Barbie, she's definitely got the aesthetic.  I'll show that in a bit, but first let's look at the hair.  The bubble cut hairstyle was en vogue at the time, and Barbie was on top of that, of course.  As a result, many of the clone dolls at that time (this one included) also wore a bubble cut.  Polly's hair is very soft, thick, and full, not coarse or woolly like the hair of other vintage dolls.  The color is that color that seems to crop up a lot in dolls of this era:  sandy blonde.
Most of the dolls I've found online have this same cut, but there are also Polly dolls with ponytails or hair that was long and loose.  Moving on, Polly's face is very much like that of a 1960's Barbie.  I also threw Gerda in for good measure.
Polly's jaw is wider than those of her cronies, and her eyes are centered rather than looking off to the left, but she's got the basic Barbie look down pat.  Now let's let Polly fly solo.
Her eyebrows are a little too dark to match her hair, though they're not as poor a match as Gerda's eyebrows are.  Some of the Polly dolls I've seen have eyebrows that look bored or sorrowful, but my doll looks surprised, like she's heard a bit of juicy gossip.  The eyes themselves are blue with dark molded eyelashes, the lips are red, and the cheeks are lightly blushed.  Polly is not painted as well as Barbie is; notice that she's ever so slightly walleyed, and that the blue paint in her eyelashes has run a little.
Polly's paint job may not be 100% precise, but I still prefer her job to Gerda's.  Polly's eyebrows match her hair fairly well, and her lipstick follows the contours of her lips better than Gerda's lipstick does.

Polly's ears have tiny indentations, but they are not pierced.
Neither Polly nor Barbie have their original clothes, but I know for a fact that they can share duds.  In fact, Polly's black and plaid dress happens to be the outfit that Barbie usually wears.  Polly can also wear Tressy's red dress...
...and Mary Makeup's butterfly dress...
...and Gerda's dress...
...and Barbie's flowered dress...
...and the green Cut 'n' Style Barbie dress...
...AND these dresses, which I knitted following old Barbie dress patterns.
The silver belt in the third picture is a Barbie Basics belt.  I wasn't expecting that to fit, but it does.  Shoes are a little iffy; these white Fashionista wedges fit but have to be rubberbanded to Polly's feet.
These yellow closed-toe shoes from the nineties don't fit at all...
...while these open-toed yellow mules fit but slip off easily. 
I also have a pair of green shoes that came with a reproduction Midge set, but much to my chagrin, this one broke when I put it on Polly's foot.
So Barbie and Polly are of a similar size, that much is certain.  With the exception of shoes, clothes sharing is pretty consistent.  However, shape is one of the only things these bodies have in common.  Polly has a strung, fully jointed body, something that Mama's old #3 Barbie doesn't have.  Hence her full name, Polly Play-Pose.  She has a swiveling waist...
...ball-jointed shoulders...
...jointed knees...
...jointed elbows (notice that the elbows have "peanut" pieces)...
...hips that are jointed in two places...
...and jointed wrists.  Notice that Polly's fingernails are manicured like Barbie's are.
Strangely, Polly's toenails are NOT painted.  Barbie's are.  Someone evidently tried to paint her toenails, but they ended up painting the creases between her toes instead.
I had to throw that in somewhere.  Anywho, back to joints.  Polly's joints leads me to wonder if Sears was trying to compete with both Barbie and with Uneeda Dollikin, who was extensively jointed.  Unfortunately Polly's joints don't stay in these poses very well.  Poses as simple as crossing the arms or lying with hands behind the head require rubber bands.
I don't have a Living Barbie or a Dollikin to compare joints, but I do have my modern-day Made to Move Barbie, Cassandra.  Cassandra can get into all the positions that Polly can plus plenty others, AND she can hold them without having to use rubber bands.
Despite having two joints, Polly has little lateral motion in her hips.  The upper joints allow her to sit...
...and the lower joints allow her to rotate her legs inward or outward.
Also, Polly's wrists can't bend.  They only rotate.
While not perfect, Polly's articulated body is a nice departure from the uptight dolls of the first half of the sixties.  It was 1964 before Barbie and her cronies got bending knees (Polly Play-Pose dates from earlier in the decade), and the first Barbie with bending knees (Miss Barbie) apparently didn't sell well.  My main concern with Polly is durability.  If she is as old as I think she is, and if she's strung with elastic like I know she is, then she should be getting loose and floppy.  Oddly enough, Polly is NOT floppy at all.  Her elastic is very thick and it still has a lot of stretch in it, so my concerns about durability may be completely unfounded.

I should probably touch on the quality of Polly's material.  Her limbs and body are made of hollow, stiff plastic that makes an ominous clicking sound when tapped with a fingernail.  The edges of the plastic are bent back along some of the joints.
I assume some little kid tried to force a joint to move in a way it didn't want to move, and this warping occurred.  It's not a huge problem, but it looks a little rough.  Surprisingly, I was not able to get this plastic to bend.  Granted, I didn't try too hard, but this plastic is tough stuff.  It's very different from the plastic that cheap clone dolls are made of now.  Even clone dolls were built to last back in the sixties!

Now time to sum it all up.

*Eyebrows are a little goofy and eyes are slightly wonky.
*Joints don't hold a pose without help
*Plastic is bent back a little along the joints
*Strung.  I fear that one day the string will come apart...and then I'll have to restring her.  I hate restringing dolls.

*Matches the Barbie aesthetic very well
*Hair is nice
*Makeup isn't 100% perfect, but better than that of other clones.
*Joints may not be perfect, but they are there.  This puts Pam ahead of Barbie, who wasn't jointed until 1965.
*Can share clothes with Barbie and like-sized dolls.  Shoes are hit and miss.

I'm a clone doll enthusiast so it pleased me that my friend included Polly with that load of Starr stuff.  She's not exactly like Barbie, but she's close enough that she'd have cut the mustard for me if I'd been an early sixties kid.  Her hair is soft, her face is nicely painted, she doesn't look quite as haughty as earlier Barbie dolls, and she can wear Barbie's clothes.  She can't wear Barbie's shoes, but Valentine was one of those companies that cared enough about their products to produce extra outfits, so Polly would not have had to go without.  The posing body is very durable and a nice novelty, but it can't hold too many poses without some kind of support.  Still, Polly's body was a lot more limber than Barbie dolls of her day.  She's worth owning if you can find her, if for no other reason than a flexible model for Barbie's vintage clothes.

Best wishes,


  1. Wow, I've never heard of this doll. I would've mistaken her for a 60s Barbie for sure. I'm shocked by how poseable she is and that is a win for me!

    1. I'd never heard of her either until I started doing research for the blog. I had her misidentified as another clone doll. Her joints are indeed impressive, though she needs quite a bit of help holding certain poses. Nonetheless this doll was a very thoughtful gift and I'm grateful to my friend for sending her to me. Sometimes dolls like this turn up in flea markets too, if you want to find one of these.