Toddler dolls are dolls that resemble a young child, or toddler, in body type. A chubby figure, rounded tummy, and dimpled fingers and toes are characteristics of toddler dolls. Although many dolls in the 1930's and 1940's had these characteristics, toddler dolls became especially popular in the 1950's, when eight-inch toddler dolls were mass-produced by many different manufacturers.
The Ginny doll, made by Vogue Dolls, has been credited with initiating the toddler doll craze. Vogue started marketing their early toddler dolls, called Toddles, in the late 1930's and 1940's. These early toddler dolls were made of composition and had painted-on eyes; their arms, legs, and head were held onto their bodies with rubber bands.
In the early fifties, Vogue's toddler dolls were renamed Ginny. Around the same time, Vogue started using hard plastic to make their toddler dolls. Sleep eyes -- weighted eyes that close when the doll is laid on its back, and open when it's standing up -- were also added. Beginning in the mid-fifties, Vogue's toddler dolls were also walkers: when their legs were moved back and forth, as though walking, their heads turned side to side.
By the early to mid-fifties, toddler dolls had become so popular that many other companies were making them. Most toddler dolls during this period had glued-on wigs for hair, sleep eyes, walking mechanisms, and fashionable outfits typical of the era. Virtually all were made of hard plastic. Madame Alexander's Wendy, Alexander-kin, and Wendy-kin, Nancy Ann Storybook's Muffie, and Cosmopolitan's Ginger are just a few of the other major toddler dolls on the market. A number of other companies also offered cheaper knock-offs.
Many companies continued to manufacture their toddler dolls well into the sixties. Vinyl replaced hard plastic, making rooted hair possible, instead of wigs. Walking mechanisms were not used as frequently, and the dolls were often made more cheaply than before. However, although toddler dolls were still manufactured, fashion dolls had become the new craze.
Today, toddler dolls can be worth a great deal of money, depending on their manufacturer and condition. High quality dolls, such as those by Madame Alexander, Vogue, and Nancy Ann, often boast high values, while the lesser quality knock-offs tend to be worth much less. Also, the less playwear a doll shows, the more it will be worth. Toddler dolls that are "mint" -- meaning that they are virtually untouched, looking the way they would have when they were brand new -- are the most valuable, and therefore the most desirable.