1975 - 1981: TV Character Dolls, Part One

All of the dolls in my collection that are based on TV shows have been included here on this page (Part One) and on the "TV Character Dolls, Part Two" page: http://mikeysdolls.blogspot.ca/p/tv-character-dolls-part-2.html

Other TV character dolls are shown on the "Talking Dolls" page: http://mikeysdolls.blogspot.ca/p/talking-dolls.html

Six Million Dollar Man, 12 inch dolls by Kenner, 1975 - 1977
The Bionic Woman, 12 inch doll by Kenner, 1976 - 1977

The Bionic Woman, Six Million Dollar Man and Oscar Goldman dolls by Kenner
 
The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman dolls were a popular toy series made by Kenner years before their line of Star Wars toys came into existence. Each of these dolls are based on a TV series of the same name, with the Bionic Woman being a spin off series from the original show, The Six Million Dollar Man. Both dolls have "bionic" features such as the Six Million Dollar Man's bionic eye (as small hole through the doll's head filled with clear plastic for kids to look through). The Bionic Woman doll (alter ego Jamie Sommers) is missing the logo from her jumpsuit, but I have it put away somewhere safe...I just have to remember where that was! Her shoes are also missing. She came with a special mission purse, which is shown, but I don't have any of the contents. Several fashion outfits were also available for the Bionic Woman.
 
The Six Million Dollar Man, also known as the Bionic Man or Steve Austin, has a long red lever/button on his back which I've only recently learned (see comments posted below) controls the right arm when the doll's head is turned to the right. A set of arms and legs for the Six Million Dollar Man were also sold separately along with a lab playset.
 
The third character above is Oscar Goldman who appeared on both TV shows. This doll came with an exploding briefcase, which I'm missing. Oscar's office playset was also available. There were several additional 12 inch dolls available in this series as well for a total of six dolls in the collection. These included two villains for the SMDM: Bionic Bigfoot and Maskatron, the latter of which had a removable face and two different masks. (In 1978 Kenner made a large-sized figure of Chewbacca from Star Wars which looks quite similar to the Big Foot figure, however Kenner did not reuse any parts, rather each figure is unique!) The Bionic Woman's villain was Fembot, which also had a removable face and two additional masks. The villains are considerably less common to find than the three dolls shown.
 
 
Here's a closer view of the SMDM's face and the decal on his shirt. Click the image for a larger view. I've also included a side view to show the computer gadget on his arm. This is actually a separate square piece of hard plastic that is removable. In fact this piece falls out quite easily, so I'm lucky that it hasn't been lost. There is a smaller computer gadget on the inside of this right forearm, but that one seems to be attached. You can also see the red lever on the doll's back.
 
Another view of the leaver on the back of the SMDM doll. Here are the shoes for the SMDM, which have a very 70's style to them. I'm not sure if the doll is supposed to have socks or not. The bottom of the pant legs were also gathered with an elastic to look like jogging pants, which is a nice detail.
 
Here's the SMDM next to another Kenner doll from that period, the 9 inch Craig cub (wearing the Steve Scout outfit). The 8 inch Mego Spider-Man is in the photo as well for size comparison. I have more info about the scout doll on my "Other Dolls" page, at this link:
  
Here's a closer view of the Bionic Woman doll which has two Bionic thing-a-ma-jigs on her right arm, similar to the SMDM. It's not very noticeable in the photo, but her hair has a greenish tint to it, rather than being regular blond hair. I'm not sure if that was intentional, or if it's just a result of the toy aging over the years, as most synthetic materials tend to break down over time. The side view shows the Bionic gadget on her arm.
 
Here is a closer view of the mission purse. Click on the image to see a larger image. The side view of the mission purse shows the top flap open and the bottom of the purse, which has copyright and manufacturing info, which you don't often see on the accessories.
 
Here's a closer view of Oscar's face.
 
This is the gun the doll had in it's hand when I found it at the thrift shop to mid 1990's, so I just left it there. The doll was in exactly this condition just lying on a shelf, which was quite a lucky find as it's in such good shape. I think I paid les than 5 dollars for it! I'm not sure if this gun originally came with the doll or not. It certainly fits in the doll's hand nicely, and actually hasn't been removed for over 20 years!
 
Here are Oscar's shoes and socks. You can also see the detail in green thread on his pant leg.
 
In 2013 the toy company Bif Bang Pow produced as series of 8 inch Mego style dolls based on the Six Million Dollar Man TV show. Characters included the Six Million Dollar Man/Steve Austin in red outfit, Bigfoot, Oscar Goldman, Fembot, Steve Austin in brown outfit (this version came with a moustache and without), and Dr. Rudy Wells with three different head sculpts based on each of the actors who played the character. The planned releases for 2014 include Steve Austin in astronaut outfit and Barney Hiller, but I'm not certain if they were ever made.

The Waltons, 8 inch dolls by Mego, 1975

This is a well done series of dolls that is unfortunately often overlooked by collectors. As "Waltons" starts with a "W" this doll series is often banished to the back of toy guides. However, I find that when collectables are organized by date it gives a better idea of the over-all (no pun intended!) history of the toys in a collection. This was actually one of Mego's first attempts at an 8 inch doll series based on a TV show, aside from the usual superhero and sci-fi characters, which makes me wonder... if the Waltons doll series did poorly would we have had the other Mego TV character dolls that followed, such as Happy Days or Dukes of Hazzard?

From 1975 to 1976 Mego made several toys based on the Waltons TV series. There were six dolls in the collection: Jon Boy, Mary Ellen, Pa, Ma, Grandpa and Grandma.  A truck and two playsets were also available. So far, I only have the Jon Boy doll in my collection. Mego did a nice job on him and included a fabric hat (this is the only 8 inch Mego to have a hat that is not plastic). The face is an excellent likeness of actor Richard Thomas. They even gave him a mole on his cheek. The Jon Boy Mego was made with a few variations. It can be found with the hair painted either light brown or yellow. I have the one with light brown hair, shown above. I've also seen different patterned fabric used for his shirt. The red and blue checkered pattern shirt shown here seems to be the most common shirt variation. He has the same black shoes that were used for the Penguin (Batman villain), which would later also be used for two of the Happy Days Megos. A prototype for a larger plush Jon Boy doll with a plastic head was also made, though I suspect it was never produced. It was similar in style to the large plush toys Mego made based on the Wizard of Oz.
 
Happy Days, 8 inch dolls by Mego, 1976
In 1976, Mego made a doll based on "the Fonz", also known as "Fonzie", from the TV sitcom Happy Days. The Fonz, of course, is played by actor Henry Winkler. The fourth season of Happy Days aired from Sept 1976 to March 1977, and was likely the period during which Mego's "Fonzie" doll was first available in stores. According to Wikipedia, it was during this season that Happy Days was #1 in the ratings.

Fonzie Mego in Mint condition. Ayyyy!

While the doll was in stores during season five (1977-78), the character of Fonzie would meet an alien named Mork (Robin Williams' break through roll), Scott Baio would join the cast as Chachi to become a major teenage celebrity, and the infamous "Jump the Shark" episode would air for the first time. Why Mego never made a Mork or Chachi doll to go with their Fonzie is beyond me!

Fonzie is the very first Mego that I ever owned! It was a present for my birthday in Nov 1976 when I turned 3 years old, and started my obsession collecting Megos and other dolls. Unfortunately it was lost at some point, but I remember the face of my first Fonzie Mego being quite different than the commonly available Fonzie doll, and the jacket was different too. I suspect that the Fonzie doll I had was like the one seen in the Sears catalogue advertisement (scroll down the page to see the ad below).

The first wave of the Fonzie dolls to reach toy stores in 1976 were sold in a box, shown above. The first boxes have a prototype of the doll pictured against a red background (Mego's pointy Star Trek boots can be seen on the prototype Fonz doll, and the jacket is sewn closed at the waist). Boxes were later updated to show the actual product against a yellow background. By 1978 the Fonz doll was sold on a "bubble card" which, according to many random searches on e-bay, is more common than the boxes. There are language variations of all three packaging styles, for example the box shown above has French and English with a black Mego logo. I've also seen an English only version of the same "red background" box with a white Mego logo. Distributor logos on packaging create even more variations. Below is the back view of the English and French box from my collection.

 
Earlier produced "red background" boxed Fonzie dolls had brown hair, same as the prototype. At some point, likely in 1977, the brown hair was changed to black for the remaining production run. The carded Fonzie dolls have black hair.

Some of the earlier brown haired dolls wore a "leather" jacket that was slightly different from the later, standard version of the doll. The earlier jackets were made with brown fabric, which had a black film-like shiny coating over top. This thin film eventually peels off as the doll is played with and handled, it does not crack the way the "leather" on the standard version of the jacket does.
 
Today, only untouched copies of the Fonzie doll would have a mint, undamaged jacket. Near-mint boxed versions of the Fonzie doll can be found but the jackets are less likely to be perfectly mint as the boxes can be easily opened. Therefore, one of the benefits of the carded Fonz doll is the Mint, untouched jacket.

So far, the variations that I've noticed for the Fonzie Mego doll packaging includes:
 
Red Background Box (Dolls in these boxes tend to be the brown hair version)
1) Black Mego Logo on front, white English and French text (this box might be exclusive to Canada)
2) White Mego logo on front, white English text (this box might be exclusive to the USA)
 
Yellow Background Box (Dolls in these boxes have either brown or black hair)
1) White Mego logo on front, white English text
 
Card with plastic bubble (Black hair version only)
1) Black English text with a white Mego logo
2) Black English text with a Wiggins Teape Logo, no Mego logo (this card is seen on the Mego Museum website)
3) Black Italian text only with a Herbert logo on the front and back, no Mego logo

I've also noticed a distinct variation of the carded Fonzie's shirt that has a tall collar. This version looks like the Fonz is wearing a turtle neck. In terms of collecting, none of the packaging or doll variations has made any one variation more valuable than another.

The Fonz Mego doll appeared on an episode of Happy Days!
To my knowledge, the Fonzie Mego has the distinction of being the only Mego doll that appeared in an episode of the TV series that it is based on!

During season six of Happy Days (1978-79), the Mego Fonzie doll was featured in a Halloween episode titled "The Evil Eye". In this episode, Al believes that he has been put under a curse by a witch (played by actress Mary Betten). At the climax of the episode, in order to convince Al that he's not cursed, Fonzie pretends to be under a curse himself when the witch uses the Mego Fonzie doll as a voodoo doll. At the beginning of the scene, the Fonz takes the doll out of his jacket, holds it up next to his face and says "It's a very good likeness". Then the witch takes it and turns the doll's head as the Fonz himself turns his head. Then she moves the doll around and throws it on the ground, as the Fonz moves around and falls to the floor. After it is revealed that Fonzie was just pretending to be under control of the witch, the old woman who played the witch asks Fonzie in earnest, "Can I keep the doll?" The episode aired October 31, 1978 while the Mego doll was still available in stores. (Although it was originally released in 1976, the Mego Fonzie doll was still being produced in 1978 and was included in the 1978 Mego catalogue, as shown at this link from the Mego Museum website: http://www.megomuseum.com/catalog/1978/happydays_001.shtml ).

Season 6 of Happy Days was released on DVD Dec 2, 2014, and includes "The Evil Eye" episode.

Fonzie's Motorcycle
When the Fonzie doll first became popular in 1976, the Ideal toy company was quick to make a version of their Evel Kneivel chopper using gray and black plastic which they marketed as a generic toy motorcycle. This motorcycle was advertised in some store catalogues (Sears and JC Penny's) as being the motorcycle that went with Mego's Fonzie doll before Mego was able to get their own official "Fonzie's Motorcycle" produced. The Mego motorcycle, which has spinning action, is shown above in an original ad that I found online, while the ad for the ideal chopper is shown below. Mego responded by producing three TV commercials: Two featuring the Fonz doll and the official Fonzie Motorcycle, and the third commercial for the complete Happy Days toy line including the four dolls, Jalopy car, motorcycle, and the Garage playset. Ideal's black chopper can still be found today though it is quite rare.

This advertisement is from the 1976 Sears Wish Book. I found the image on this remarkable website of Happy Days meorabilia: http://www.sitcomsonline.com/memorabi.html This is a somewhat confusing image for a number of reasons. Firstly this NOT Fonzie's motorcycle, as this toy was made by Ideal. Second, this doll has a different head sculpt than the one on the standard Fonzie Mego (the hair and face are quite different). The jacket and pants are slightly different as well (the jacket is attached in the front as though the zipper is half way up rather than being being left completely open, and the pants are bell-bottoms). It's likely that this was another prototype, though it confuses me as to why a department store would be using prototypes for their catalogue photography. Perhaps one of Mego's distributors supplied the image and was also associated with Ideal in some way? Its a mystery to me!

The Mego Museum website has also posted photos of yet another prototype for the 8 inch Fonzie head: http://www.megomuseum.com/the-mego-fonzie-prototype/ Photos of an unproduced 12 inch Fonzie doll prototype are also found at the Mego Museum site.

In 1978, Mego reused their "Fonzie's Motorcycle" as the police motorcycle for the 8 inch dolls based on the "Chips" TV series. However the Chips motorcycle does not have the spinning action. Although I'm a huge Happy Days fan I still don't have Mego's "Fonzie's Motorcycle" in my collection
but I do have the Chips motorcycle, as seen above with the Fonzie doll and below in the Chips section without the doll. You can see one of the original Mego TV commercials for Fonzie's motorcycle on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQAWAuQJf_8

Happy Days Gang
When the Fonzie doll was introduced in 1976 it was sold as a stand alone item. Mego later added three more characters to the Happy Days line: Richie, Potsy and Ralph (played on the show by Ron Howard, Anson Williams, and Don Most). I'm still missing Ralph from my collection. These additional Happy Days Mego dolls were never as popular as the Fonzie Mego and are less common than the Fonzie doll, though they are not anything close to being rare. As they were released after Fonzie, they have different bubble card packaging and were never sold in boxes.


The back of the Happy Days assortment cards shows the four dolls and Fonzie's motorcycle.
 
In addition to making Fonzie's Motorcycle Mego produced "Fonzie's Jalopy" (a hot-rod car). The car that Mego modeled this toy after was actually Ralph's car from the TV series, so a more appropriate title for the toy would have been "Ralph's Jalopy" or "Ralph's Hot-Rod", or even "Fonzie's Hot-Rod" as the Fonz would never drive a jalopy! In any case, this car is an awesome addition to the collection. Unfortunately it's another item that I don't have yet. The car was sold individually by itself and was also included with the garage playset.

"Fonzie's Garage" playset was the final item Mego produced for the Happy Days line of toys. Unfortunately this playset didn't look anything like how Fonzie's garage appeared on the TV show, so I find it to be a rather lazy effort from Mego. They took the time to model the car after Ralph's car, but didn't think Fonzie's garage warranted the same attention. Mego also never made Fonzie's mechanics outfit, which makes the garage playset even more odd. Mego's planet of the Apes Astronaut jumpsuit, or an Action Jackson jumpsuit would have done nicely as a mechanics outfit in grey fabric. So it wouldn't have been to much effort for Mego to throw in the mechanics outfit with the playset.

What about Chachi, Al, Mork, Laverne and Shirley?
For some reason, Mego never made a playset of Arnold's Diner, which seems a more logical choice than the garage playset. The character of Al would have also suited the collection nicely, and if a playset of Arnold's Diner was made the Al doll could have been included with it (which is what Mego did with their Emerald City playset and Wizard doll from the Wizard of Oz series). Al joined the show in the fourth season, while the Mego Fonzie doll was being introduced in stores.

It's also odd that Mego never expanded the series with characters such as Al, Chachi and Mork, all of which were very popular during the time that the Happy Days Mego collection was available in stores. I forget where I read this, but it's been suggested that the mediocre response by fans to the Richie, Potsy and Ralph dolls discouraged Mego from adding more characters.

However, considering that Scott Baio as Chachi and Robin Williams as Mork both became huge celebrities while the Mego Happy Days toy line was still in production, it's quite baffling as to why dolls of those characters weren't made by Mego. Williams even had his own spin-off TV series debut (Mork and Mindy, Sept 1978) while the Happy Days dolls were still in stores! These new TV stars came along just at the right time to boost the popularity of Happy Days and the sales of Mego products. I find that it would have made good business sense to expand the Mego series at that time with two or three new dolls to cash in on Baio and Williams' new fame. It seems that the folks at Mego missed a major marketing opportunity!

Yet, in 1978 Mego did produce dolls from another Happy Days spin-off, Laverne and Shirley. In fact, Mego even included the supporting characters Lenny and Squiggy! So this makes it even more bizarre that dolls of Chachi, Mork and Al were never made by Mego.

Unfortunately there was a major goof up with Mego's Laverne and Shirley dolls! While the folks at Mego did many things really well, sometimes the company did strange things too! It's understandable that competing toy companies would make their dolls different sizes, as in the case of Mattel's 9 inch Mork doll (made much later in 1980, shown below on this page). However, in 1978 Mego made their Laverne and Shirley doll series in a 12" format, making them incompatible with their own series of 8 inch Happy Days dolls...a series that was still on the market! As a huge Happy Days fan I find this goof up really frustrating as the Laverne and Shirley dolls would have been awesome in the 8 inch format.

According to the Mego Museum website, the dolls were planned to be 8" but at the last minute a decision was made to make them 12 inches. None the less, I still find these dolls are note worthy as collectables, though I don't yet have any of them in my collection. You can see pictures of the Laverne and Shirley dolls at the Mego Museum here: http://www.megomuseum.com/teevee/laverneandshirley.html

Welcome Back Kotter, 9 inch dolls by Mattel, 1976


In 1976, Mattel tried to compete with Mego's Happy Days Fonzie doll by producing a series of 9 inch "Welcome Back Kotter" dolls that were far less articulated or pose-able than an 8 inch Mego. The complete set is shown above: Washington, Mr. Kotter, Epstein, Barbarino and Horshack (played on the show by Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Gabe Kaplan, Robert Hegyes, John Travolta and Ron Palillo). Mattel issued the Welcome Back Kotter dolls using the male doll body from their "Sunshine Family" series of dolls, that had first been produced in 1974 as a series of girls dolls. This explains why the dolls have very limited articulation and posability, and are a far different product than Mego's 8 inch dolls. That same year, Mattel used the same doll bodies for their "Space: 1999" series (which I don't have in my collection), and later for "Mork and Mindy" in 1980 (shown below).
 
A classroom playset/carry case was made for this series, which included the student's desks. A less common Sweat Hogs Motorcycle was also produced, though this was simply a recycled toy from Mattel's Big Jim doll series.

The Epstein doll shown here is not wearing the original shirt, which is light blue. I like the fact that Horshack comes with his lunchbox (unfortunately the card was cut off around the bubble by the previous owner). Unlike Mego's bubble card packaging which used a strong cardboard, these cards were made with a thinner cardboard and are quite fragile making it difficult to find undamaged cards. The leather-like vinyl jacket Mattel made for the Vinnie Barbarino doll did not have any issues with cracking or flaking the way Fonzie's jacket did. However, the vinyl fabric is also much more rigid and would not have accommodated the "thumbs up action" on the Fonzie doll.

Warning to collectors about the Vinnie's vinyl jacket: don't leave Vinnie's jacket in contact with any other plastics as the vinyl can sometimes react and damage other items, which melt and take on the pattern of the vinyl. I've had this happen to a Mego General Lee! The rubber arms on Big Jim dolls do this too, so I now keep any Mattel dolls wrapped individualy when I put them in storage.

Here is a view of the card artwork. Each character had their own catch-phrase in a balloon above the figure, yet the dolls do not have a talking mechanism. This was done just for the sake of package design. Washignton's card says "Let's Boogie". His basketball and shoes were the same as those used for Mattel's Big Jim series.

Starsky and Hutch, 8 inch dolls by Mego, 1976

In 1976, the same year the Fonzie doll was first produced, the Mego company also produced another TV series line based on the action/adventure program "Starsky and Hutch". Three dolls from this line, Starsky, Hutch, and Huggy Bear, used the same pants as the Fonzie Mego, and two of those, Hutch and Huggy Bear, also used Fonzie's boots. The same boots were also later used in 1980 for Mego's Dukes of Hazzard doll series, on the main characters Bo and Luke Duke (shown below in thier own section). Therefore, in regards to the doll clothes, only the shirts, vest and jacket are unique to Mego's  Starsky, Hutch and Fonzie dolls. Maybe they all shopped at the same store?

Mego's Starsky and Hutch from 1976. Starsky is shown here with Fonzie boots but he originally came with brown moccasins, which I'm missing. (They were the same moccasins previously used for Mego's Planet of the Apes series and the Wild West series).
 
McDonaldland Characters, made by Remco, 1976, Huckleberry Toys, 2008
Having grown up in the 1970s with McDonalds fast food commercials, I have always enjoyed these goofy McDonaldland characters. I'm especially a fan of Grimace. What the heck is Grimace? He's just a big purple blob! Ronald had long been the mascot for McDonald's, and in 1971 he was joined by his new friends in their first of many TV commercials. They were seen on TV until the 1990's, though merchandise based on the characters continued to be made until at least 2000. After that their appearances in any medium, be it television or promotional items, became much more rare.
 
In 1976 Remco produced a complete series of dolls based on McDonalds characters. Shown above is the 7.5 inch Ronald McDonald doll missing his costume, and the 6 inch Hamburglar doll missing the large brim for his hat. These were sold in toy stores rather than at McDonald's restaurants.

The dolls have a lever on the back to make the head turn side to side. Hamburglar's lever comes through the back of his cape.
 
In 2008, Huckleberry Toys produced this series of 8 inch McDonaldland dolls, which is based on the Remco McDonaldland dolls but they are not identical reissues. Shown above, L to R, is Captain Crook, Ronald McDonald, Hamburglar, Grimace, and  Mayor McCheese. The back of the box is the same for all five and is shown below. All of the characters are plastic dolls with removable cloth costumes with the exception of Grimace, which is a stuffed toy.
 
The back of the box also says "Look for series 2 coming soon" but a second series was never produced. I've seen pictures online that show prototypes for Bic Mac, Birdie (Early Bird), Professor and several Fries Kids which I assume would have been series 2. It's too bad they were never made as they looked well designed. I've also seen pictures online of all the series one dolls on card packaging, but I suspect these are also just prototype images or a collector's hand-made "customized packaging". It seems however that Huckleberry Toys did produce a carded "1971" version of Grimace with four hands as a limited edition of 500. There is also a 12 inch Grimace made in a limited edition of 300. Both of these limited edition Grimace items are stuffed toys.

Here's a look at the set out of the box.

Here's a comparison of the Remco Ronald and the Huckleberry Ronald. When placed side by side it's easy to see how different they are. Of course, one of the key differences is that the Huckleberry dolls do not have the lever on the back to control the heads, which the Remco dolls have.

Here's a comparison of the Remco Hamburglar and the Huckleberry Hamburglar. It looks like Huckleberry reused the same head but painted the eyes and mask differently. Huckleberry also made the tie out of fabric and sewed it all around the edge onto the costume, while Remco has a loose tie made of vinyl that is only attached at the top near the neck.

Donny and Marie / The Osmond Family Show, 12 inch and 10 inch dolls by Mattel, 1976 - 1978

Donny and Marie Osmond hosted a very popular TV show from 1976 to 1979 which prompted Mattel to produce 12 inch dolls of the duo in 1976. Donny is shown above on the right in the purple outfit. I'm missing his shoes and microphone. Their younger sibling Jimmy Osmond joined the show later on in it's run. Mattel produced a 10 inch doll of Jimmy in 1978. I'm missing his microphone. Both dolls are wearing classic 70's disco style outfits! A TV studio playset was also produced along with several fashions for the 12 inch dolls. The 10 inch Jimmy doll had to be content with the clothes he was issued in.

Sesame Street, assorted sizes of rag dolls by Knickerbocker, mid to late 1970s
 
Here are the many different sizes of Ernie and Bert rag dolls made by Knickerbocker in the 1970s: Bert came in 27", 15", 10", 7" and 4.5". Ernie came in 25", likely 14" (to match with 15" Bert), 9", 6", and 4". I'm missing the 14 inch Ernie doll. The 15 inch sized Bert and 14 inch Ernie were available as talking or non talking dolls. I recall a toy store here in Ottawa once had a giant sized version of the Bert rag doll that was about five feet tall sitting down! Likely there would have also been a matching Ernie. Needless to say, those giant sized dolls are quite rare. The clothes (shirt and pants) are removable from all of these dolls except for the smallest size.
 
This is the 14" Talking Count rag doll that went with the similar sized talking Bert and Ernie dolls. A talking Betty Lou doll was also made for this set. I've shown the Count below next to the 15" Bert for size comparison. Unfortunately my talking Count doll is broken and no longer talks, but originally it had a pull string on the back.

That's one! One missing pair of pants! Ah! Ah! Ah!
 

The next size down is the 10" Bert and 9" Ernie dolls, both of which were made with variations. Bert has two variations for both his shirt and pants while Ernie only has a variation for his pants. If I'm not mistaken Betty Lou was made in this size as well.

The next size down had some different variations as well. Here is a 7" Bert with removable shirt and pants next to a 6" Ernie with removable shirt only. The pants are sewn on as part of the doll. The last 6" Ernie (on the far right) has the clothes printed.

Here is the smallest sized rag dolls. Bert and Ernie have printed clothes but I've noticed there are two variations for each. The illustration for Bert's collar and the length of this shirt changes, while the stripes on Ernie's shirt are wider on the second Ernie (on the right). This smallest series also had other characters, including Oscar, Big Bird, the Count, and the 3" Cookie Monster shown here. Plastic toy trucks, a bicycle (or it may have been a motorcycle), and other accessories were also available. A plush car was also made for either the 6 inch or 4 inch dolls (I'm not sure which).

The Muppet Show, 13 inch doll by Bendy, 1977-1978
 
The Muppet Show was first broadcast in 1976 and was a huge success, lasting 5 seasons. This 13" Gonzo doll was made by Bendy Toys in either 1977 or 1978, and is somewhat of a rare item. This is the very first doll of Gonzo ever to be made. It is part of a series of dolls that were only available in Europe. I was quite lucky and found this one in a nostalgia shop in Toronto during the 1990s. The other figures in this series include Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, and the Swedish Chef.  A smaller sized series of dolls included Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, and Rowlf. Puppet heads of Fozzie, Statler and Waldorf were also made.

Bendy Toys products are all made out of synthetic foam. The dolls have a bendable armature embedded inside the foam figure, which is painted and then dressed in doll-like clothing. As these foam figures are now over 30 years old they are quite fragile. If you have one of these in your collection, or manage to find one, I would avoid bending it into any new position. Foam is not made to last more than 15 years. I suspect the reason why the Gonzo doll has not yet crumbled into powder is because the entire foam figure has been coated in paint, which is acting like a sealant. Poor Gonzo! I've also shown the back view of Gonzo with a doll stand base for support.

Chips, 8 inch dolls by Mego, 1978

Shown above is the complete set of three Chips dolls made from 1978 to 1981. The collection includes Ponch, Jon and Sarge, with Sarge being the less common figure. Mego re-issued Fonzie's motorcycle as a police motorcycle for this series, but without the "spinning action" feature. The back of the package is shown below. There are at least two different packaging variations with regards to the white text above the character's name and next to the Mego logo.

 
Mego also produced a series of smaller action figures along with their 8 inch dolls.
 
Here is the Chips Motorcycle that went with the 8 inch dolls.

 

Battlestar Galactica, 12 inch figure by Mattel, 1978

This is really a large size action figure rather than a doll, however it originally came with a tan fabric vest, so it sort of qualifies as a doll. Mattel produced a series of small Battlestar Galactica action figures based on the popular TV show. Two large size figures were made as part of this collection. Above is the Colonial Warrior which is simply a re-issue of Mattel's Captain Laser, originally produced between 1966 and 1968 as part of the Major Matt Mason series. In this case different colours of plastic were used but the figure is otherwise the same. In addition to this, Colonial Warrior was not an actual character on the program, which makes this figure a very poor effort from Mattel. (They did a much better job on the smaller action figures.) The other large size figure is the Cylon Centurian which somewhat resembles the villains on the TV show. This figure has the same body as the Colonial Warrior only in black plastic. 
 
The Colonial Warrior has a "laser firing" feature which is controlled by a backpack attached to the figure. Batteries go in the bottom of the backpack and then the button at the top is pressed to make the laser gun "fire" and light up. Originally the figure came with a short clear rod that is inserted at the front of the gun so that it would light up. I'm assuming that the large size Cylon had a similar feature.

The Hardy Boys, 12 inch dolls by Kenner, 1979

In 1978, the same year that Kenner produced their 12" Star Wars dolls of Han Solo and Ben Kenobi (and a year after they first offered a Luke Skywalker doll) they used the same doll body to make two dolls based on the Hardy Boys TV series. Shown above is the 12" doll for Joe Hardy, as played by Shaun Cassidy. This version of the doll has the hair painted brown. It was also made with the hair painted yellow. The other doll in this series is Frank Hardy played by Parker Stevenson. In 1982 Kenner would again use this doll body and the Han Solo head to make a doll of Indiana Jones based on the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Mork and Mindy, 9 inch dolls by Mattel, 1980

In 1980, Mattel acquired the license to make dolls of the popular Happy Days spin off  TV series Mork and Mindy. This was unfortunate as Mattel made their Mork doll 9 inches tall, which towered over Mego's 8 inch Fonzie making the dolls incompatible. In fairness to Mattel however, by 1980 Mego's Fonzie doll was no longer in production and was likely not available in stores. As with their Welcome Back Kotter series, Mattel re-used their Sunshine Family doll bodies for their Mork and Mindy set. And, once again, the dolls have very little articulation compared with a Mego.

Above are Mattel's Mindy and Mork dolls from 1980. Mindy is more difficult to find than Mork. Mork came with a "talking" back pack with a pull string that played several sayings such as "Hello I'm Mork from Ork, Na-No, Na-No" and "Shuzbut!" Mork was an odd character who would often sit on his head. Mattel was clever to deliberately package the doll upside down in its box.

It's unfortunate that Mattel's Mork is too tall for Mego's Fonzie! That, and Mork's head is really friggin' huge! It`s odd that Mattel didn`t make a Fonzie doll to go with their Mork doll in 1980, as Mego had stopped producing their doll in 1978. In January of 1980 Happy Days was about half way through its seventh season, with another four more seasons to come. Alas, it seems that matching Fonzie and Mork dolls just aren`t meant to be!
 
Sesame Street, 5 and 6 inch dolls by Knickerbocker, 1981

Following the success of the Sesame Street rag doll series produced during the 1970s, Knickerbocker produced a series of plastic dolls in 1981 that range in size from 5 to 6 inches. Above is the awesome five inch doll of Ernie. The shoes are attached as the doll's feet but the shirt and pants are removable. The doll has very basic doll joints with limited movement. Ernie's head turns and the shoulders and hips are jointed. The matching Bert doll is on my "to find" list.

The box has a copyright date of 1981. An original price tag sticker on the front of the box says $6.79.

This is the back of the box showing the other dolls available in the set: Big Bird, Cookie Monster (with chef hat), Bert and Ernie. A closer view is shown below. Big bird was not made to scale with the other characters.
 
This series of dolls are not as common as the Ernie and Bert rag dolls (shown above). It's too bad more characters weren't included in this series. It would have been awesome to have The Count, Roosevelt Franklin, Super Grover, Sherlock Hemlock, Oscar the Grouch and others in this style. For example, Knickerbocker could have reused Ernie's body in purple plastic with black shoes for the Count, adding the new head sculpt and costume. Bert's body could have been reused for Roosevelt and Sherlock. Bert and Ernie's bodies could have also been used to make the construction workers, Biff and Sully. Cookie Monster's body could have been modified to make Herry Monster, Oscar, Frazzle or the Two-Headed Monster. That would have been cool!!!

Dukes Of Hazzard, 8 inch dolls by Mego, 1981


This is most likely the last, 8" doll series that Mego ever made. In 1981 Mego made six characters based on the Dukes of Hazzard TV show: Luke Duke, Bo Duke, Boss Hogg, (all shown above) and Daisy Duke. Later they added Coy Duke and Vance Duke to the series. It's very bizarre that Mego didn't make the famous "General Lee" car (a Dodge Charger) for this series as they had made one for their 3 3/4 inch figures. They also made the car for the Starsky and Hutch 8 inch dolls in 1976, and it could have simply been reissued in orange plastic for the Duke boys. Mego missed out big time, and so did Dukes of Hazzard fans!

Mego's Bo Duke doll from 1981 in mint condition on a very mangled package.


Next is Mego's Luke Duke doll from 1981 in mint condition on a card that's in much better condition than Bo's. Luke is a new addition to my Mego collection and finally completes my set of Bo and Luke! Considering the value of these Mego dolls today, it's very interesting to see the original K-mart price tags, which actually mark down the doll to clear it out! The 1980's price was $5.97, marked down to $4, and again down to $3. I'm not telling what I paid! 


Here is Boss Hogg who comes with a plastic hat. Boss is my all-time favourite TV villain. It would have been nice to have an 8" Rosco Mego to go with him as Boss and Rosco were really a modern day Laurel and Hardy type of team. Figures Toy Company (the parent company of Classic TV Toys) announced in the fall of 2013 that they would be releasing their own set of Hazzard Mego-style dolls (all new designs), with Rosco included in the first series.

The back of the cards for the Duke of Hazzard dolls shows the same artwork as the front. The Dukes of Hazzard is an awesome TV show. I have all seven seasons on DVD and still fantasize about owning my own General Lee. Too bad the movie was so awful. It was completely miscast. But the TV show is legendary and will never be outdone!

See more TV Character Dolls on the next page of this blog: "TV Character Dolls, Part Two"!
 
 
Text and Photos © Mike Artelle

4 comments:

  1. I loved your write-up. I'm in the process of reviewing my doll collection and thinning it out. I'm happy to say I have all the dolls you show in this blog and I feel the same way you do about them - especially the Waltons. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Hi Melissa Thanks for your kind comment, glad you liked my doll blog. Best of luck with thinning out your collection, I find that very hard to do. I'll open a box and find a bunch of stuff that I forgot I even had, then think "wow this is cool, I'd better keep it!", and back into the box it goes. :)

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  2. great blog - my main interest in SMDM - with your figure turn his head to the right and press the red button - this should lift up his arm - you are missing his motor which via the red button would be picked up by his bionic arm

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    1. Hi Paul I finally found my SMDM doll in storage and tried what you said. Wow, that's cool! Never knew it could do that! I had always wondered what that button was for and thought it was just broken. Glad to know how it works, thanks!

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