Barbie, Barbie, Barbie. If you’re a doll and your name doesn’t begin with a B, life just isn’t a walk in the park, no matter what footwear your owner has chosen to put you in.
It’s a very B world out there: hard to get a non-B word in edgewise, hard to make a name for yourself if that name isn’t, well, you get where we’re going with this.
It was hard for doll-makers to get their foot in the door of the plastica fantastica fortress, because you-know-who reigned supreme. But for a handful of years in the 1960’s, the Ideal Toy Corporation’s Tammy doll, despite all the overcrowding, carved out a nice little niche for herself indeed.
Plenty of mothers were still leery of the mature and curvy Miss B as companions for their little daughters, so Tammy (with her more G-rated figure) presented a wholesome alternative.
Ideal was also hoping that consumers would associate their doll with the ‘Tammy’ they knew from the silver screen – a sweet country girl who was portrayed by both Sandra Dee and Debbie Reynolds in a series of comedies from Universal.
When the plastic Tammy swept onto the doll scene in 1962, she was twelve inches tall, fully jointed, the proud owner of slightly side-glancing eyes and high-heeled feet, and individual fingers on each hand.
The following year, Tammy’s family would come out to join her.
And soon, the kids were re-introduced with “Pos ‘N” arms and legs, which made them endlessly manoeuvrable.
Suddenly Tammy had a Dad, a Mum, a brother (Ted) and a little sister (Pepper). Tammy eventually gained another brother, a little tyke named Pete, and her sister Pepper started palling around with a girl her own age named Patty.
In 1965, Ideal gave way to the call of the curves, giving Tammy and Pepper more slender, womanly figures. Tammy got a boyfriend named Bud and found a new friend named Misty, who was more made-up and glammed-out than anyone Tammy or her kin had ever seen.
Pepper fell in with Dodi, who was very Skipper-esque (that’s Barbie’s sister, for those of you not in the doll know) and Black Tammy was introduced as well.
All told, there were eleven members of Tammy’s family. But alas, in 1966, the production of all things Tammy ceased.
Today, because she was a solid entry in the doll world and because some collectors like a breath of fresh un-B air, Tammy is popular among collectors.
There was an array of apparel, sewing patterns, girls’ watches, jewellery sets, books, carrying cases and games – and a lot of it circulates through doll collections today.