Ideal's Playpal Family of Dolls
In 1959, Ideal Toy Corporation began issuing a wonderful and beautiful series of dolls that were the size of actual children. In doing so, they ushered in the era of true "companion" dolls...realistic looking dolls that were the same size as the kids who were playing with them. A little girl could dress Patti in her own clothes and have tea parties and play house with a doll that was her size.
Along with 35" Patti (size of an actual 3 year old), there was 32" little sister Penny (2 year old), 28" toddler sister Suzy (1 year old), 24" baby brother Johnny (3 months old) and his 24" twin baby sister Bonnie. In 1960 they all got 38" big brother Peter. The line continued to be made for 2 years until 1961.
That year also saw the introduction of the 38" and 42" Daddy's Girl dolls. Although she was not technically part of the Playpal family...she makes a wonderful big 12-year-old sister. She is one of the most beautiful dolls Ideal ever made. Other Ideal Playpal sized dolls were Lori Martin from the popular TV series "National Velvet", 36" Betsey & Sandy McCall and a new Saucy Walker in 28" and 32" sizes.
One of the rarer members of the family is Patitte. She is a beautiful 18" miniature version of Patti and came in various hair colors and dressed in a downsized Patti outfit. She is a favorite of collectors and quite hard to find.
There were many copies and knockoffs made of these large dolls by various other doll companies...but the original Ideal dolls are all marked Ideal on their necks and bodies.
Of special note are the Canadian Patti Playpals made by Reliable of Canada. These dolls resemble the Ideal Pattis in body and head molds, but are marked Reliable. Their heads are generally made from a softer vinyl than their American sisters are. Many of them came dressed in variations of the Ideal outfits.
In 1981, Ideal reissued Patti using the original molds. These dolls have fixed rather than sleep eyes and are really quite beautiful in their own right. This was the only time Ideal issued a black version of Patti. She is absolutely wonderful. Both dolls came in a red checked dress with attached white pinafore that is evocative of one of the most popular original 60s outfits.