It was a bold and groundbreaking move when the first boy's doll was introduced in 1985 by Hasbro, a concept intriguing enough to prompt the reintroduction of the toy marketed as the Playskool My Buddy doll in the 1990s. The 80s toy doll underwent a few cosmetic changes in the process but retained the All-American boy persona.
Hasbro My Buddy Doll
About two decades after the feminist/women's rights movement was in full swing, many social pundits noted, some with enthusiasm and some with disdain, that society's males were being forced into revealing their soft, nurturing sides. Even with this notion being bandied about, it was fairly revolutionary when Hasbro introduced the My Buddy doll line. The company claimed the intention of the doll's creation was to teach boys how to be more caring towards their friends. They went even further by adding the Kid Sister doll to the collection to encourage boys to be nice to their little sisters instead of engaging in the traditional teasing of their younger female siblings.
The original construction of the My Buddy doll was similar to old-fashioned rag dolls, with a body stuffed with pillow-like material. His clothes were removable, like a traditional doll. He wore a long-sleeve multi-colored striped shirt, red overalls with the "My Buddy" logo displayed on the front, blue or red shoes decorated with a white stripe and a red or blue baseball cap. The doll's head was available with straight brown or blond hair or with a curly African-American hairstyle. Eye color choices included brown or blue, and all the faces had button noses and freckles highlighted by a bright smile.
In addition to the Kid Sister doll, Hasbro sold a Wink 'N' Blink My Buddy doll that had moveable eyes. The company also offered My Buddy coloring, sticker and paper doll books, all of which are available at auction websites, along with Hasbro and Playskool My Buddy dolls, both used and still in their original packaging.
Reintroducing the Playskool My Buddy Doll
When Playskool reintroduced the doll, his clothes were sewn to his body. This was a cost-saving measure that enabled quick assembly line production and eliminated the need to manufacture separate clothing. Despite consumer dismay at not being able to dress the doll in different outfits, Playskool stood by their design.
New Dolls for Boys
Dolls aimed at the young male market continue to be manufactured to promote warmth and friendship. A significant number of companies sells them at varying prices and in assorted sizes.
Around the turn of the 21st century, Bratz started selling a doll for boys called Prince Iden as part of their Bratz Boys series. The 10-inch doll has changeable clothes and comes with a comb and boy's wallet.
Big Boy Doll
This 30-inch doll is handmade in Montana and constructed totally of cloth stuffed with soft batting material. It only weighs three pounds and is available for sale online for around $50.
Best Friends Club, Ink
These Best Friends Club (BFC) dolls, made by MGA Entertainment, are 18-inches tall, dressed in trendy clothes and come with a boy purse, a hairbrush and a BFC membership card. The clothes are removable and the other outfits available for purchase include cowboy and golfing clothes. The doll costs around $30 and the extra outfits sell for about $20 each.
Big Brother Boy Doll
This soft-bodied plush doll is 14-inches tall and marketed as a good gift for little boys who are becoming big brothers for the first time. Tee shirts with the Big Brother logo are sold separately in sizes to fit small boys and match the shirt worn by the doll. Big Brother dolls are made by Adorable Originals and retail for about $18.
Opinions abound on the effects of boys playing with dolls. Some profess the practice will eliminate the "manly man" façade to the ruin of all humankind, and others maintain that promoting nurturing characteristics is a positive for both genders. Before investing in a boy doll for a gift, be sure and check how the child's parents weigh in on the subject.