It's been 20 years since I last dragged my favorite uncle to buy me an outfit for my "Ginny-doll". Eight lovable inches tall, she wore a red velvet skating dress, white-trimmed in what I thought was real fur. In her ice skates, she was the darling of the neighborhood doll set.
Unlike her successor Barbie, Ginny-doll sported chubby legs, a round childlike face, and no sign of puberty. I think Ginny-doll even befriended a Barbie once. A little racy, but good company.
What would Ginny-doll think of dolls her size today? They all have one plastic foot in the future.
She'd be lost in the Bionic Beauty Salon ($8.97 at Toys "R" Us). The comb, brush and drier she would understand - but imput, output and readout? Would she plug the wires connected the Bionic Woman's arm, leg and ear into the right sockets on the glamor console? Would she help the Bionic Woman ($7.96) find a place for her "new Mission Purse"? Perhaps there's a little girl somewhere whose Christmas wish is, as promised on the package, to "diagnose Jaime Sommers' systems." Alas, poor Ginny-doll, a doll's life has gotten so complex.
And boys. To Ginny-doll, they were preadolescent fantasties, and toy manufacturers kept them that way. If boys had been around, I can say with authority, she wouldn't have trusted "Suntan Tuesday Taylor's boyfriend", Suntan Eric ($6.97). He is shallow and vain. Each tan, directions say, takes just minutes. After a brief stay in the mini-van, or the closet, for all it matters, he fades back to winter white. No doubt Eric and Tuesday sometimes combine catching rays with babysitting for her sister, Suntan Dodi.
The some guys will do anything to impress. This is especially true of "Stretch Armstrong" ($10.97 at Wards): "You can stretch him, tie him and twist him, and he'll return to his normal shape right before your eyes."
I suppose GI Joe started all this boy-doll business. Remember when he came out with a blond crew cut? The Superjoe Adventure Team has acquired some new members since then (all $4.97). There's Gor, King of the Terrors, with his red Destructo Ray. And Nightfighters named Lumings. It is said (on the cardboard backing under their transparent wrapper) "They fight by night, with light".
Ginny-doll and I together used to watch Clark Kent on television after school. But supermen these days are so mechanized. Not only can you buy a 6 Million-Dollar Man, but for him a pair of extra "Critical Assignment Legs": a first and kit leg, and an with the instruction: "You choose the arm and the assignment." ($5.96 per set.)
GI Joe himself has gone atomic in at least one appendage."Atomic arm spins helicopter", one model promises. This new Joe competes with, among others, Pulsar: The Ultimate Man of Adventure - "You activate his 'vital systems "($7.96).
I have no doubt that if Ginny-doll were here today, that is exactly what she would aspire to do.
Then there is the outre branch of dolldom: Micronauts - fearless mini-astronauts in fantastic shapes, some battery-powered, but all, all delayed in their Christmas lift-offs by the New York dock strike.
In case anyone is wondering where the Star Wars team is this Christmas, it's still on paper. Manufacturers couldn't get the toys ready in time for Christmas, but you can purchase an early-bird gift certificate ($8 to $10 in stores) to reserve a set of four miniature figures (Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2 and Chewbacca) to be mailed to you after the holidays.
Enough to strike terror into the most securely love heart of Baby Hearbeat ($10.96 to $14.99) are the two-foot-tall Shogun warriors - Raydeen, Dragun and Mazinga (from $10.86 to $13.88). They are muticolored Japanese robot-warriors. They are, too much.
But even they, I predict, will go the way of all dolls. At 12 I passed Ginny-doll on to my little sister, who has no recollection whatsoever of her - or her wardrobe.