10 Fun Facts About Kenners

Written on October 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm by Michelle
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Think you’re a fan of Kenners? Here are 10 fun facts about Kenners that you may not already know:

  1. Kenner Blythe dolls were only produced for one year, 1972.
  2. There were 12 original outfits produced for Blythe.
  3. For Blythe’s accessories, Kenner produced 4 wigs and 4 pairs of glasses, and an orange carry case.
  4. Kenner Blythe has holes on the back of her ears that the original glasses were able to sit into (so they stay on!).
  5. Four hair colours were made with different hair styles (chunky bangs, wispy bangs, side part, centre part) – blondes only came with a side part.
  6. The Kenner Blythe dolls featured in the advertisements were prototypes and not the dolls sold.
  7. Original retail price for Kenner Blythe was less than $6 USD. With inflation, that is about $35 USD in 2016. For comparison, the average minimum hourly wage was ~$1.60 USD in 1972 vs. $8.60 USD in 2012.
  8. Kenner Blythe’s hair came in a braid to keep it together in the box.
  9. Prior to the release of This is Blythe by Gina Garan and the Neo releases by Takara, Kenner Blythe dolls were sold on eBay for ~$30 USD.
  10. In the original television commercial, the colours of Blythe’s eyes were referred to as: bouncy brown [orange], green eyes and groovy, purple pretty as you please [pink], and beautiful blue.

Kenners are pretty amazing as they have survived through years of being unloved – hidden away in attics and buried in gardens. They’ve survived a lot! And many of them haven’t made it through the years unscathed, what with the melt marks, cracks in the bodies, and being chewed on by children and animals.

What’s a fun fact that you know about Kenner Blythe dolls? Share below in the comments!

Kenner Quirks

Written on July 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm by Michelle
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I find Kenners to be some of the most interesting Blythes in the hobby. Some Kenner Blythe facts for those who are relatively new to the hobby:

  • 1972 was the year that they were produced
  • Kenners were a marketing flop – they did not do well in sales
  • All Kenners were produced with the same eye chip colours (pink, blue, orange green)
  • Their bodies were mimicked with the “Excellent” body that all stock Blythes (aside from BLs, who have Licca bodies) have

These dolls have survived since the early 70s, making them all 44 years old. That’s a long time for a plastic child’s toy to survive. Many of these dolls have endured time as a child’s plaything, then being stuffed away in attics and in other places in less than ideal conditions. Each Kenner is amazingly different, despite their common and very similar beginnings in a toy factory. Each Kenner has their own quirks, and that makes them very unique. Some of them have seen trauma through their time – either from children or just the elements, while others have been lovingly cared for as a favourite childhood toy of the past.


All of my Kenners have their own quirks, but they’re all still beautiful to me. My favourite Kenner quirk is one of Prim’s. She has a far left eye lash for each eye that always gets stuck inside of her face plate because they’ve been bent, and if they’re out they stick out in a way that points away from the rest of the eyelashes. If it was one of my Neos, this would bug me, but for her it’s endearing – I could not tell you why.

Do you own any Kenner Blythes? What are some of their endearing quirks?

What Makes Dolls Turn Yellow?

Written on April 15, 2015 at 12:00 pm by Michelle
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Yellowing is a common problem with the vintage Blythes and other vintage toys. However, the Blythes manufactured in 1972 are not the only Blythes that are at risk for yellowing. Why does plastic yellow over time? It’s a good question because it’s an issue that affects anyone who collects toys or anything plastic.

Yellowing (or discolouration) of plastic is the result of exposure to sun/ultraviolet, extreme changes in temperature, as well as just plain old time.

20150415Yellowed vs. not yellowed – blonde 1972 Kenner Blythe dolls. Photo by Jen of Blythe Spa Time.

The thing to remember that plastic is made up of many components that gives it structure, colour, rigidity and its overall make-up. Over time, the components of the plastic can degrade. The process of degrading can result in changes in structure (like the melting that occurs with Kenners) and changes in colour. While plastic degradation is not the same as food decomposition (you are not going to wake up one day and find a pile of plastic pellets in the place where your doll once stood), it is still a process that cannot be stopped. However, the process of plastic degradation can be slowed down. Decreased exposure to sunlight helps, as well as keeping your dolls in a place where the temperatures do not vary (heat will speed up the degradation process). Many homes nowadays come with windows with ultraviolet coating, but I still wouldn’t keep your dolls sitting on your window sill if you hope to prevent the plastic from becoming discoloured earlier.

How can you help protect your dolls from yellowing? Don’t leave them in direct sunlight for long periods of time and don’t leave them in places with high heat!

The issue with time is that over time, oxidation can occur. Exposure of oxygen can cause degradation in some types of plastics. This is unfortunate for the most part because it is, without doubt, one of the issues that we cannot control – save for sending Blythe out into space in a box so light doesn’t cause her any damage. Oxidation takes a long time to occur, which is a great thing because it’ll be many (many!) years before we see oxidation effects on the plastic of our Neo Blythes.

Discolouration of plastic can be uniform or in patches. This is because sun/UV exposure may be only on one side, and it also has to do with the quality of the plastic. If the components are not evenly mixed throughout during the manufacturing process, then the plastic will discolour (or degrade) in patches because not all areas of the plastic are equal in their components. This can be especially true for more vintage toys because of the standards in quality and the science that was used to produce polymers at the time.

Kenners or Bust!(?)

Written on September 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm by Michelle
Filed under: Musings with tags:

I recently got asked by a friend if I prefer my (vintage) Kenner Blythe dolls over my (modern) Takara Blythe dolls, and I didn’t really have a straight forward answer for that.

See, if you were to ask me about my top favourite Blythes in my current collection, I would start talking about the same four as I am painfully predictable in that manner:

My Forever Four

Clockwise from top left: Primrose (Kenner), Eden Mouse (Punkaholic People, RBL), Emmalynn (Kenner), and Sophie (Cappuccino Chat, RBL).

But do I prefer Kenners over Takaras? To me, they’re sort of in different ‘classes’ of Blythe. Much like how I wouldn’t necessarily compare Middies to Neos/Kenners or Petites to Middies, because they’re in a different grouping all their own. There is something special about Kenners that has never been perfectly replicated in a Neo Blythe. Maybe it’s the fact that they are just so different even if you have the ‘same’ ones, or the smell, or the fact that I just adore the glow that they have, the sweet Kenner pip, and the ease of how they can look so sweet one moment and look like they’re rolling their eyes at me the next.

I love them for different reasons. By now everyone knows that the majority of my doll family is stock (or mostly stock) and that’s because I prefer stock dolls over custom dolls. But does that mean that I’m going to go up and sell my custom dolls tomorrow? Of course not, because I love them for different reasons. I appreciate the dolls for their own characteristics. Much like how I think of Kenners differently from Takara Blythes, I think of customs as being different from stock dolls – because they are.

Essentially it boils down to a few things for me. I play favourites with my dolls, I have fully admitted to this. But I still love my ‘non favourites’ just the same because they’re mine. Like a child who hoards the dollies from the toy box, I love all of my Blythe dolls. If I had to sell off all of my Takaras and only keep my Kenners, I would not be happy. And that would be true if the situation was revered with selling off all of my Kenners and only keeping my Takaras.

In short, I play favourites – but I still love all of my dolls and I welcome both Kenners and Takaras into my dolly family.

What’s so special about Kenners?

Written on January 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm by Michelle
Filed under: Musings with tags:

This is a question that I get asked often by people who a) aren’t into Blythe and are unable to tell the difference between Kenners, Takaras and ADGs and b) those who are into Blythe, but think that crusty old dolls don’t hold a candle to their shiny, new Neos. And, let’s be honest now, I didn’t think much of Kenners either. But I also thought that I wouldn’t have one because Kenners are a) expensive and b) all special and vintagey.

For those new to the world of Blythe, Kenners were the first Blythes to be manufactured (aside from the prototypes for the design). They have copyright information on the back of their torso that talks of General Mills, 1972 and the now-defunct toy company Kenner. They were also made in Hong Kong, when it was under British rule (history factoid for you all). Kenner made a lot of other toys as well, so if you’re looking up “vintage Kenner doll” on eBay, you’ll find other dolls besides the big-headed Blythe.

Prim love & updates

Blythe in 1972 came with 4 standard eye colours. If you’ve ever seen the original television advert, you’ll know that they referred to the orange as brown and the pink as purple. And, if you’re (un)lucky with your vintage Kenner dolls, you’ll know that sometimes with time (and perhaps poor storage over the years), the vintage eye chips will fuse with the white eyeballs that the dolls have. Short of chipping away at it to remove it, you’d be hard pressed to swap out the eyechips even if you wanted to. And yes, there are those who will customize the vintage dolls while others simply restore them to their previous glory.

Those who are turned off by Kenners for their imperfections don’t need to look far for photos of them with cracks and other faults. Pelvic cracks, missing legs, torso cracks, missing arms, broken necks, yellowed eyes, cloudy chips, missing pullstrings, scalp tears, missing plugs, frizzy hair that looks like dish scrubber. There are a lot of issues that a Kenner can end up with. And some dolls do need a lot of restoration work, if you want them to be more Blythe-like and less grunge-like.

I personally love Kenners. I have three of my own and they’re the gems in my collection (please don’t tell the others). I find that the older dolls tend to have more character about them, and the little quirks that they have from age make them more interesting to me. So while I may not have a family of just Kenners, I quite like them (a lot).

Like custom dolls though, they’re not for everyone. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes about all different types of Blythes. But there is no denying that there is a sense of allure when it comes to these older Blythes, and without them we never would have had the Blythe dolls that we know and love today.

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