Ideal made a wide variety of composition dolls including babies, toddlers, children and characters, beginning in 1906, and continuing until the late 1940s, when they switched over to hard plastic. The following is a list of Ideal's most notable composition dolls. Photos of dolls not pictured here can be seen in the third edition of Judith Izen's book "Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls," unless otherwise noted.
Click on a photo to view a larger version.
Yellow Kid, reportedly made in 1907, was the first of many comic strip character dolls that Ideal made over the years. It was based on the character from the "Hogan's Alley" strip by Richard Felton Outcault. Yellow Kid is bald, with large ears and wears a long yellow gown. This must be an extremely rare doll - it is not pictured in any reference books.
Uneeda Kid - a tie-in with the Uneeda Biscuit Co., this was the first of many licensed characters for Ideal. He wears a yellow raincoat and hat and carries a box of biscuits. A few years later, Zu-Zu Kid, another advertising doll, appeared. She wears a yellow satin clown costume decorated with stars. Both dolls have compo head, hands and boots, with a cloth body.
Liberty Boy - this 12" all composition doll's brown WWI Army uniform is entirely molded on, with the exception of his hat.
Soozie Smiles is a two-faced doll with smiling and crying expressions. Compo head and arms with cloth body and legs.
Snoozie, designed by Bernard Lipfert, has an unusual face with yawning mouth and nostril holes. Her head is composition, her limbs rubber, and her body cloth. She was made in four sizes in 1933 and '34. Snoozie returned in 1951 in a vinyl head version, with "magic skin" latex rubber limbs and cloth body.
Betsy Wetsy - Ideal continued its hot streak with this drink and wet doll, patterned after Effanbee's Dy-Dee Baby. The composition Betsy was first introduced in 1937, but she was sold in many different versions over the years.
Deanna Durbin was Ideal's second big movie star doll. They claimed that she was the first "teenage" doll made. She was all composition with a brown human hair wig and brown eyes, and a smiling expression. She was sold in four sizes in a variety of outfits. The Deanna doll was also used with a blonde wig for Queen of the Ice (a skating doll), Miss Liberty (to promote war bonds) and with black hair as Gulliver from Gulliver's Travels. The rarely found Judy Garland teen doll was very similar to Deanna and is hard to distinguish from her.
Gabby, King Little, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket were animation character dolls sold by Ideal in 1939-40. They were designed by Joseph Kallus of the Cameo Doll Co., and may have been made by Cameo as well. (Their wood-segmented bodies with name decals on the chest were exactly like the dolls Cameo was making at the time, and completely different from any other Ideal products.)
Sources for this page include:
- "Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls, 3rd edition" by Judith Izen
- "Collector's Encyclopedia of American Composition Dolls, 1900-1950" by Ursula R. Mertz
- "Dolls, Teddy Bears and Accessories of the Twenties and Thirties from Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalogs" edited by Margaret Adams
Copyright 2007 by Zendelle Bouchard.