Holiday History! The Christmas Frenzy That Was Shirley Temple Dolls


Javier SerranohobbyDB super user Javier Serrano, aka Fjaviserr gets in the holiday spirit with a look at the Christmas frenzy that surrounded Shirley Temple dolls. Read more of his wonderful guest posts here!

Christmas is coming and beyond the magic of these days, and as every year is not difficult to stop thinking about which toy could be the hit of the present year, in case we had one.

From time to time and bearing in mind the comedy “Jingle all the way” (1996), the passion and the craziness take over people around the World to get a specific toy, it is sometimes difficult to understand, and there is not a logical explanation or a marketing strategy which could predict which one could be, it just happens.

But the question is, when this irrational love for toys first happened. We must go back to the early 30’s, when the people sadly lived the hard times of the Great Depression. However, a glimmer of hope captured the hearts of millions of moviegoers, Shirley Temple. The young actress helped to avoid the problems from the harsh realities of those years, becoming one of the greatest stars of the Seventh Art at that time.

In 1934, Ideal Toys and Novelty Company negotiated a license for dolls, patented and launched their Shirley Temple doll. The impact of the Shirley Temple doll was an instant success, even considering the economic situation of those days, being the first and the most wanted toy in the 1934 Christmas season and catapulting Ideal to the most profitable company in the United States in 1935. Everybody desired to have one, starting a social phenomenon never seen before.

The first edition of the beloved doll was presented wearing the polka-dot dress from the classic movie “Stand Up and Cheer” (1934), highlighting every single detail, including the original and charismatic Shirley Temple’s ringlet-curled coiffure.

And the success went on through the following years and Shirley Temple dolls realized the relevant figure of $45 million in sales before 1941. Ideal introduced new costumes and accessories same as it was producing it in different scales being a staple for several generations.

From the 70’s, other brands such as Montgomery Ward and Danbury Mint released commemorative versions, based on the original Ideal’s design, specially focusing on the collector’s market, spotlighting that Danbury Mint created most of the porcelain versions of the doll.

The Shirley Temple doll revolutionized the toy concept at Christmas forever, charming the imagination of the United States audience and becoming some of those timeless models that still hold the most enthusiastic doll collector’s captive. In the end, as its own slogan used to say, “She is a wonderful doll… She is Ideal.”

I hope you find this information helpful. Have an excellent week. Let me know if you’d like to know more in the comments below and Merry Christmas to all of you.

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