What is Blythe?
Part 1: Kenner Blythe the Original
Blythe is a fashion doll with an extra-large head made of hard plastic. You have seen her since you are on this site. She is 28 cm tall. With a tug on the pull string from the behind of the head, you can change the eye color!
In the early of the seventies, the doll designer Allison Katzman (of which I have had the pleasure to meet in 2014) created Blythe.
In 1972 Blythe met the world, or really, four countries: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan. In Japan her name was Aiai-Chan.
The producing company was Kenner so the original Blythe of 1972 is often called Kenner Blythe. The dolls were produced for the toy market geared to children.
The main inspirations were Betty Boop for the large head and big eyes and from Allison’s own daughter’s use of tinted contact lenses for the eye colors.
The original Kenner Blythe had four hair color options: blonde, red, brown, and raven black, rooted on a soft vinyl scalp.
The eye colors are always the following four colors: blue, pink, green, and orange.
The makeup is green eye shadow, pink blush, and pink lips. The exact hue of color and the vibrancy of the color varied throughout the production, mainly for the lip and blush colors.
There are dolls with other colors such as pale lip colors but then it is debated that those are prototype runs.
The vinyl body looks just like the classic Barbie doll body but a little smaller. There are rotating joints in the shoulders, the waist, and the pelvic area. The knees are bendable in three positions.
On the back of the original body you can read this following text:
Made in Hong Kong
There are two different texts like this on the original Kenner Blythe one with six lines like above and another with seven lines where the G.M.F.G.T line is expanded into General Mills Fun Group Inc, covering two lines. The last letter should be I, but on my doll it clearly says T.
Blythe’s main feature: the eyes
Just below the hairline on the behind of Blythe’s head, there is a hole from which a string hangs down. This string has a pull ring attached to it. Pull on the string and the eyelids go down and under the eyelids the eye color changes in the order of Blue – Pink – Green – Orange.
The blue and the green colors are side glancing, while the pink and the orange colors have a straight gaze.
The eyeball is round and on it, there are four eye chips for the iris color. The eyeball rotates horizontally one-quarter of its circumference every time you pull on the string.
Wardrobe and accessories
While I do not tend to write about the factory-made wardrobe and accessories on this site I wanted to write here. The four hair colors of Kenner Blythe came in their own wardrobe matched to the hair color.
There are a total of twelve fashion packages to buy, including the four seen on the release dolls. The style was quite groovy! These packages are called Blythe Boutique.
There were also fun colored wigs and matching sunglasses to buy. Wigs in the colors of lemon yellow, pink, light blue, and green. I just love the design!
Back in 1972, there were a lot of Blythe dolls made, but apparently they were not popular enough to warrant more releases. Blythe got forgotten… Until 2000.. but that’s for the next chapter!