Doll Digest

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BONGO TOMMY in the Land of the Lemonheads

By John Medeiros

At some point last year, odd and alien looking creatures began to show up on toy shelves where the Kelly & Friends dolls once were. Gone were the classic cute and adorable little friends of Kelly we have grown to love. They had been replaced by big headed and taller dolls with heads shaped like footballs. It was suspected that due to the success of their "My Scene" Barbie line, the younger members of the family were also being made more "cartoon-like".

Collectors reacted violently.there were huge protests Internet-wide against what Kelly fans had come to refer to as the "Alien" or ""Lemonhead" Kellys. Boycotts were organized and online flame wars erupted.

One of the lines released during this low period of Mattel's history was the Kelly & Friends "Sun Fun" set. The collection included

Hula Maria, Surfer Kayla, Snorkel Kerstie and Bongo Tommy. Dressed in beachwear, these dolls were first found in the dreaded lemonhead style. Yet, on the back of some boxes were photos showing the characters in their "classic" form.

Soon, collectors across the country were turning up the classic versions at various stores, but they were in short supply and classic Bongo Tommy was nowhere to be found. Then one day, someone at the Yahoo Kelly Klub found one and the search was on. Folks looked everywhere, but the L'il guy was very elusive. Occasionally, one would show up on eBay. That is where I finally broke down and bought mine at an inflated price. I was not unhappy, as the doll is great and I am happy to have him in my collection.

Classic Bongo Tommy comes with the regular sized head and body and has shoulder-length surf-blonde hair parted in the middle.

He is molded of the pinkish vinyl and has blue eyes with subtle rust colored lips. He wears a sporty tropical print Hawaiian shirt, tan clam diggers with frayed cuffs and white sneakers. His accessory is a neat pair of tiny bongo drums.

The packaging is bright and colorful with a full view plastic top for those who like to keep their dolls boxed.

Now, the good news. It looks as if we may have seen the end of the lemonheads. Not only is Bongo Tommy showing up more often, but speculation is that Mattel has perhaps realized the new dolls were a huge blunder. They have all sat on shelves collecting dust since their release. Let's hope that 2005 will bring a full return of the "classic" Tommy, Kelly and friends.