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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Throwback Thursday review: Topper Suzy Cute

Add another item to RagingMoon1987's list of eccentricities:  in addition to loving vintage dolls, this chick loves vintage toy commercials.  YouTube has tons of them, and one was an advertisement for 1964's Suzy Cute.  The commercial features the doll, cute kids playing with the doll, and...Louis Armstrong???  Yep, good ol' Satchmo is dancing and singing right along with a trio of little girls, extolling the virtues of the pint-sized baby doll and appearing to enjoy it.  The combination surprised me a bit until I learned that Satchmo loved kids.  Suzy's jingle is downright catchy too!  It was catchy enough that I walked around singing it for three days before finally finding and buying a Suzy Cute doll for myself.  I was fortunate enough to get a doll that came with a bunch of accessories, so this review should be interesting.  Here's what the child looks like.
Suzy is from Topper, the company that produced Penny Brite (under the name Deluxe Reading) and Dawn.  This company produced some enormous dolls during the Deluxe Reading years, but Suzy is not one of those.  She is about seven inches long from head to toe, meaning that she's quite a bit bigger than the other baby doll I've recently reviewed, Red.
Suzy is vinyl all over and has a few gimmicks as dolls of the sixties and seventies often did.  She can drink and wet, and she should also be able to raise her arms when her chest is pressed, but my doll's last gimmick no longer functions.  I can feel the mechanism in her chest when I press, but nothing happens.  No biggie, I can live with that.  Like most of my vintage dolls Suzy is a blonde, but her hair is not the same shade as that of my other dolls.  Before I washed it her hair was a dingy gray-white shade, but after a washing it's a perfect shade of baby blonde.
Suzy originally had her hair styled in a bob, with a side part on the left and a bow or clip on the right.  The basic style is still in place but after fifty-three years this hair isn't in great shape.  It's dry and frizzy, and it appears to be thinning in the back.
The root job is surprisingly thick, especially for baby hair, so the thinning isn't terribly noticeable.
Okay, not all babies have thin hair.  My sister and I both had a ton of it, and my mother had none at all when she was born!  Suzy falls between the two extremes, so her hair can be considered appropriate for a baby.  Plus, I think Suzy is supposed to be an older baby anyway.  She has a big, dimpled smile with two little teeth painted in.
This doll has a bottle mouth, which hearkens back to a comment I made in my review of the Lalaloopsy Diaper Surprise dolls.  Blossom didn't have an expressive bottle mouth, which I found disappointing given the cheerful visages of her fellow Lalaloopsy dolls.  Suzy does have an expressive bottle mouth, proving that it can be done.  Just for grins, here's how Suzy and Blossom compare.
If both of these were on store shelves today, which one would you pick???  I haven't even completed Suzy's review yet and I think I know who I'd choose.  Suzy's small size, sparkling eyes, and beaming smile are head and shoulders above Blossom's large, rigid body and blank, slightly unsettling gaze. 

Oh yes, Suzy's eyes.  I forgot those.
They're shiny blue-gray inset eyes with molded lashes and very light brown eyebrows.  These eyes look like they'd open and close, but they don't.  That surprises me a bit since most of the vintage baby dolls I own have sleep eyes.

Now to the body.  Being a baby doll, Suzy has a baby body.  Big surprise there (LOL, NOT).  She has the five joints that prevent her from being a figurine:  hip, hip, shoulder, shoulder, neck.
Don't let this baby's cute face fool you; she's tough!  She's made out of thick, hard vinyl that would easily resist the teeth of some little brat that wanted to chew.  Her torso is a little softer than her limbs, probably to accommodate her gimmick.  She's not as wrinkly as baby dolls sometimes are, but she does have a few creases on her sides and around her butt.
She's also got a bit of a tummy sticking out, and some cute little fat rolls on her chest.
Her arms are straight and a little skinny.
Her fingers are pressed together, with indentations but no separations between.  There's a fair amount of detail in the knuckles and palms, and the backs of her hands have little dimples.
Suzy's arms are jointed at the shoulder, but due to her (non-functioning) gimmick they always move in tandem.  It's either both arms up or both arms down for this little gal!
Suzy's legs are molded in a similar manner to her arms.  Her knees are bent, so like most baby dolls she can't stand.  There's not a great amount of detail in these legs; they've got some rounded knees and some creases at the ankles, but not much else.
Like the hands, Suzy's feet are highly detailed.  They have five little toes with five little toenails, plus creases and dimples where the joints would be.
Her soles are completely flat.  No creases or lines or anything, except for the bottoms of the toes.
Aside from her non-functioning gimmick and her frizzy hair Suzy is in decent shape.  If she ever was owned by a child the child obviously was the kind that took good care of her toys.

As with most dolls of the sixties and seventies, Suzy had a fair amount of accessories that one could purchase.  There were items like a swing, a crib, a stroller, and of course, little clothes.  When I was shopping for my doll I ran into several eBay listings that offered the doll along with various accessories, and indeed I ended up with one of these sets myself for a very reasonable price.  My particular doll came with a carrying case, a little bag of toys, and several outfits.  Not a bad haul for thirty-five bucks!
Since there really wasn't much to discuss with Suzy herself, let's look closer at these items.  The carrying case is covered in shiny plastic and will thus be tricky to photograph, but I'm going to give it the old college try anyway.  Mine is blue, but apparently these came in black as well.  Both colors have Suzy's image printed on the front, along with her name and her slogan.
One of my favorite things about this case is the copyright information.  The bottom right corner has the Topper Toys logo...
...but the bottom edge shows something else!
Finally, some concrete proof for this blog that Deluxe Reading and Topper are one and the same!  Well, there's also the marks on Suzy's back, but her markings just say "Deluxe Reading," without a word about Topper.

Back to the case.  Unfortunately the plastic is cracking at the corners...
...but these problems are largely cosmetic, and the eBay seller was honest about this so I knew what I was buying.  The case itself is structurally sound, especially along the hinges, where structural integrity is important.
The plastic handle is holding strong as well.  Given the fact that it's bolted to the top of the case, I'd expect nothing less.
The side latches closed, not unlike a suitcase I had when I was a little kid.
The case opens up to reveal four compartments.
The leftmost compartment is where I keep Suzy when she's not being played with or reviewed, the large compartment on the right houses the bag of clothes, and the bottom compartment is appropriately labelled "Suzy Cute Accessories."  I'm unsure what the compartment on the bottom left is for.
The interior is lined with just a layer of loose, smooth plastic.  A thicker lining would've been a nice touch, but it probably would've driven the cost up.  I shouldn't gripe too much; the interior is smooth, so it won't catch on any clothes or scuff any vinyl.  The clothing compartment has a small rack to hang clothes on, presumably so these clothes could either lie flat or hang and not get wrinkled.
Cute, but unfortunately I haven't seen any hangers yet.  That wouldn't be a big deal if I didn't have any extra outfits...but I do!
According to online pictures, the outfit below is Suzy's original one.  Suzy wore something similar all the way through the review, but this one is apparently what she came in.  It's a pale blue smock top with a matching pair of bloomers
The edges are trimmed with lace, and the dress itself has a pink rose sewn on.
The back closes with snaps, as most doll clothes back then did.
Having grown up in an era where snaps were fairly common, I always enjoy seeing these on doll clothes.  I can understand why they are not used much anymore, as they can fall off, tear holes in the fabric if pulled on, or be hard for small fingers to undo, but they're a lot less likely to snag the fabric or randomly stop holding together like Velcro can.

The rest of Suzy's clothes appear to be factory-made as well, as I've seen online pictures of these in their boxes.  The blue dress that she wore for most of the review is unfortunately showing a lot of wear, having loose seams and holes galore.
I love the way this dress looks on Suzy, so it saddens me to see it falling apart.  I do hope I can mend it.  Luckily if I can't, Suzy has plenty of other little outfits...and wouldn't you know, I think my favorite of Suzy's little outfits is missing parts.  She has this cute little elephant pinafore, but I don't see a dress or anything that matches it perfectly.
I don't guess it matters much, since it looks cute over Suzy's original dress, or with the bloomers from that dress.
Elephants are important in my family, so I'm glad Suzy has this little outfit.  My dad had a huge collection of elephant figurines, and he would've gotten a kick out of this.

I'm not going to go into the rest of Suzy's clothes too deeply since they're all constructed similarly, but I'll at least show them for the sake of completion.  She's got a yellow duck-themed outfit that's similar to the elephant dress, a red snowsuit, a little pink romper, and an after-bath set consisting of a hooded robe and a diaper.  The diaper is interesting, because it closes with a snap, but it also needs a small safety pin to hold it closed, just like real cloth diapers do...did...does anyone use cloth diapers anymore?
Guess who needs to dig out her safety pins and get a little one?  LOL, I used to use safety pins as fashion statements, but...I chose to put them away after they became a friggin' political symbol!!!  They were the perfect size for Suzy's diaper, too...but I'll need to coat them with something because guess what?  THEY'RE BRASS!!!  Brass and vinyl don't mix too well.

Ahem...where was I?  Oh yes, that takes care of the clothes, and to keep this review from being any longer I'll just give the toys a quick looksie.  Most of them are just plastic bits and bobs anyway.
I think most of these toys were accessories for the outfits.  This little ball and dog came with the red snowsuit, for example.
In addition to the toys themselves, I also found these.
Four little hangers!  I won't be able to hang bloomers on these, but the dresses will fit.  The bloomers can probably go into that small cubbyhole on the bottom left.
That looks much nicer!  Instead of everything being crammed in there, these little outfits are hanging up all nice and neat, MUCH better than my own closet!

That concludes Suzy's stuff, so it's time for good stuff and bad stuff.

*Hair is frizzy and thin in places
*Arm gimmick doesn't work
*One dress is coming apart at the seams
*Case is also showing age, though not a lot

*Cute face with lots of character
*Lovely eyes
*Hair, once washed, is a nice shade of blonde
*Sturdy; except for the arm gimmick this doll is showing few signs of age
*Well dressed; if she hadn't come with a ton of cute little clothes I don't know what I'd do, because I don't have a lot of small baby doll clothes.
*Clothes are reasonably well-made; one dress has holes as I said above, but the others are holding up
*Case and accessories are holding up as well, aside from a few cosmetic problems

Y'all never would've imagined that I suffered from a nasty case of writer's block when I typed this up, would you?  I was desperate to tie this in with last week's review somehow, and I'll have to find some way to tie it into next week's review as well.  Whaaaaat, y'all thought I was done with Topper and Deluxe Reading?  No way, Jose!  Anyway, Suzy is a deceptively simple little doll.  She's essentially your everyday drink-and-wet baby doll, only on a smaller scale and with a cuter face.  She's got two minor problems with her thinning hair and her arms that won't move when activated, but I can overlook that.  She makes up for it with her impishly cute smile and her cache of accessories.  The add-ons show some signs of age here and there, and unfortunately I don't know how to mend the cracking plastic on the case.  My only option for now is to treat it gently and not stress it.  But overall this is a great little doll; I really had to nitpick to find flaws with her, and one of those flaws isn't even with the doll herself!  So if you like vintage dolls and baby dolls, Suzy Cute will be perfect for your collection.  She's relatively easy to obtain, unlike some other dolls I've got on my wish list.  Seriously, I've never even seen an Ideal Trilby listed for sale, and even if I did I sure wouldn't get her for thirty-five bucks!

Brief commentary on the state of my family.  First Uncle had a lidocaine shot in his hip to get some relief from the pain, and I'm hoping that'll calm it down enough so that he can work out whatever kink he's got.  Mama is weaning herself off pain meds, which make her sick to her stomach and light-headed, but she still doesn't have much of an appetite.  She voiced a desire for corn dogs, so tomorrow night we'll go and do that.  Grandma is no better or worse, though to hear Second Uncle talk she's on death's door.  One of my bosses says that she may feel useless now that she's retired, and that it would be wise of me to make her feel more needed than ever, so that's what I'm going to try to do.  I know that I certainly WANT her still, even though she and I will be ninety and thirty come our respective birthdays in the fall.  Not very many young men and women can say that they still have a grandparent at the age of twenty-nine so I'm grateful for that, but I'm still not ready to let Grandma go.  I know it's coming eventually, but it'll still be a bitter pill to swallow when it does happen.

God bless,

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