This Feature Story appeared in the Keeping Ken Ken News! on February 14, 2002.

Keeping Ken  Ken News Feature Archive 

A Sentimental Journey

Gone, But Not Forgotten

This feature will take you through a collection I received from Janet.  While Janet still loves her childhood toys, she felt it was time to pass them along.  The feature will entail the discoveries I found in her toys.  It's not really about what you find or the value.  It's discovering how much love is involved!

Thanks to Janet and her Mother for inspiring this story, and thanks for the wonderful gift! The pictures in this story showcase a small portion of Janet's childhood toy collection.

The memory is an old one, but never forgotten.  When the memory is freshened, it is a time to reflect.  Many non-collectors will eventually come across their childhood toys when they become adults.  By trying to recapture their lost memories, many will become collectors themselves.  A part of their cherished toys will be lovingly stored away by their parents.  A large bulk of it will be passed down, donated, or disposed of.  Parents play a big part in determining which toys to keep, and seldom do they seek the child's advice.  They already know which ones to keep.  It's a process parents and grandparents make through generations, as children grow out of their toys.  Somehow, parents usually make the right choices.  Though the memory of a favorite childhood toy will eventually escape your mind, the memories they make are the things that make you whole in adulthood.

LEFT:  Fashion Queen Barbie with original swimsuit and wigs.  BELOW:  Allan doll with original outfit and stand.
Passing along childhood toys to someone who is interested in them, is a difficult and a hard decision.  The decision is usually made by the grown child and the parent.  Some grown children won't want to part with their toys, while others do.  The ones who do ask themselves a lot of questions.  Is their any value? Would they want to sell them? Many do decide to sell, in a quick transaction that in turn is quickly forgotten.  But what happens if you truly loved your toys, but felt it was time to part with them? What if a cold, quick transaction didn't appeal to you? What if you wanted the memories they created to live on?

There may come a time, as a collector, that childhood toys are passed along to you.  It's an unselfish act by the original owner or parent, and a very difficult one.  By giving their toys to you, they are encasing their memories.  Knowing their toys will be well loved and cared for puts them at ease, and makes the transition easier.  It can also bring joy and peace of heart by knowing that someone else will love them as much as they did once, and still do.

If you are lucky to receive a collection, it could be from any era, but usually a time span of five years is normal for a collection.  This makes it easier to identify the dolls and the clothing.  If there is more than one child involved, you may get an eclectic mix from several eras, making it more difficult to determine what dolls you have and matching accessories and clothing pieces together.  The collection itself may be in several states of condition.  The dolls and clothing may be very well played with, or a doll from Grandma's house that was only touched when the child was visiting.  

LEFT:  Unknown Skipper doll wears a genuine Mattel fashion "Rainy Day Checkers" #1928 from 1966.  The outfit is complete except it is missing the tiny plastic black and red checkers.   BELOW:  This non-Mattel outfit "purrrs" for attention.  I have still not determined if a manufacturer made this outfit, or if it is indeed a hand-made creation.


The dolls are the easiest to identify, while the clothing can prove to be difficult.  Clothing and accessories usually fall into three categories:  genuine Mattel, other manufacturers and hand-made.  

Genuine Mattel:  Determining whether the items are genuine Mattel items can be very difficult.  Looking for the "Genuine Barbie, Ken Skipper etc. tag is you first clue, but some tags come unstitched, and some knock-off outfits and accessories are pretty close to the genuine articles.  I find that reference books and websites are the best source for identifying and then matching clothing with accessories.

Other manufacturers:  Depending on what era your dealing with, there was a lot of competition dolls out there with fashions of their own! This category is the hardest when trying to identify pieces, mostly because labels are not included inside! Post some pictures of your pieces on bulletin boards and ask for identification help! Someone in the collecting circles will have the answer you are looking for.

LEFT:  FQ Barbie doll wears a hand-made wool sweater ensemble  that is in pristine condition.  She looks toasty and fashionable! 

Hand-made:  Probably the easiest items to identify are the items made at home for the doll.  Just because they aren't the genuine article or manufactured, don't discredit the hand-made items.  You can find a lot of high fashion and accessories!  I find the heart in a collection from the hand-made items, simply because someone took the time to make them.  You will find many levels of tailoring in these items from exquisite to the inexperienced.

BELOW:  Allan wears a non-Mattel knock-off fashion modeled after  Dr. Ken #793.  The material is much lighter weight and does not have a zippered pant.  I have still not determined what manufacturer made this outfit, but I know it is not a Dr. John Littlechap fashion.

BELOW:  Accessories galore! You'll find personal touches in the accessories as well from the original owner like the Allan "picture" in the center of the photo below.



Most collections like this will be in loose form, from the dolls to the clothing.  It is your job to piece everything back together.  The biggest tasks are the accessories.  The same clothing categories apply here as well.  While quite a task, just be thankful they survived at all.  Most of these pieces could have been lost years ago.  Complete outfits with these pieces while identifying them.  Fishing tackle boxes are perfect for storing these tiny pieces so you won't lose them yourself.  Use them now or save them for later...but keep them all!

As the keeper of a gifted collection, it is up to you to decide what steps you'll take to continue to care for it.  Just remember that this gift was given so you could get as much love out of it as the original owner did.  Give back this love by restoring it to it's former glory or using it to make your personal collection shine!  And most importantly...start making some new memories!