Francie Fairchild was a fashion doll issued by Mattel from 1966 to 1976 and re-introduced in 2011. Marketed as "Barbie's MODern cousin", the doll had an amazing line of "mod"-style clothing. Her fashions highlighted bright colors and geometric patterns similar to fashions associated with London's swinging Carnaby Street in the late 1960s. At 11¼ inches tall, Francie was shorter than Barbie, but taller than Barbie's little sister Skipper, making the character presumably between the two in age.
In the late 60s, Mattel wanted their Barbie line to better reflect the times. However, fearful of losing their core customer base, Mattel decided to produce a "test" doll first, and introduced Francie in 1966. She featured a body reflecting that of a young teen, with a flip hairdo, rooted lashes and a slight figure. Some believe that the Francie doll may have been based on the character "Gidget", whose real name was Frances Lawrence (sometimes called Francie). Francie was such a smash hit that she led the way for Barbie's makeover and MOD debut in 1967.
Francie came in several models over her decade-long run, beginning with a straight leg model (1966–1968) who came in a red and white swimsuit and a "bend leg" doll (1966–1967) who was dressed in a geometric print swimsuit. "Twist 'N Turn" Francie was issued in 1967 and she could twist at the waist. She wore a striped one-piece swimsuit with pink bottoms. These three versions looked very similar. Then Francie was updated in 1969 with a short flip hairstyle and again in 1971 in a no-bangs hairstyle. All of these dolls were available in blonde or brunette and had rooted lashes, except for the straight leg dolls, who had painted lashes.
In the 1970s, several hair-related variations of the Francie doll were issued: a blonde "Hair Happenin's Francie" (1970–1972), a blonde "Growin' Pretty Hair" Francie (1971–1973); and a brunette "Quick Curl Francie" (1973–1974). A tanned version, "Malibu Francie", was produced from 1971 to 1976 with blonde hair and blue eyes. She used the Casey head mold. "Busy Francie" (1972–1973) was a blonde doll designed with a hand that was able to grip small objects. 1975's brunette "Baggie Francie", so called because she was sold in a clear plastic bag as opposed to a box, was the last of the Francie dolls produced.
This photo is of my 1970 Hair Happenin's Francie in the hard-to-find 1973 Best Buy Fashion #8644. She has a twist and turn waist, bendable knees, short blonde hair with bangs and a blue ribbon headband (my doll is missing the headband). She comes with four extra blonde hair pieces: Mini Curls, a topknot with large curls; Swingy Swirl, double flip curls on headband with an orange ribbon; Twisty Twirls, a braid on a headband with two banana curls and pink yarn bows and, lastly, Fluffy Whirl, a green riccon headband with short curls. Hair Happenin's Francie comes dressed in a blue dress with white crochet trim and aqua low heel shoes. The 1970 version has straighter hair while the 1971 and 1972 models have fluffier hair and paler lips.
"Black Francie", first issued in 1967, was the first doll in the Mattel line with a dark complexion. But, the doll did not have stereotypical African American features, since it was made with the same head molds as the white Francie doll. Because of this, a doll named Christie, first issued in 1968, is often considered the first true African American doll in the Barbie line.
A German variation of Francie (1972) was made with a different head mold, but the same body type as her US counterparts. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed German Francie was sold only in Germany and was only produced as a standard doll and a "Busy" variation.
There are also Japanese variations of Francie and she was hugely popular in Japan. Japanese Francie and her exclusive fashions are the most valuable and sought after items amongst collectors. The rarest of all the Francie dolls is the Japanese Sun Sun Malibu Francie. She is a Malibu Francie with a deep suntan, and uses the original Francie head mold with rooted lashes and long brunette, side-parted hair. American-issued Francies used the Casey head mold, with blue eyes and blonde side-parted hair with no rooted lashes. The Japanese Francie dolls were produced in a very limited quantity so command a price of up to $4,000!
Francie has been reproduced by Mattel three times: in 1996, as a brunette bend leg doll with a reproduction swimsuit and Gad-Abouts outfit; in 1997, as Black Francie (limited to 5,000 dolls) wearing a reproduction of The Wild Bunch; and in 2005, as a blonde, no-bangs Francie, wearing a reproduction of Smashin' Satin.
Which Francie is your favorite?! Would love to hear from you, dolls!
Article source: Wikipedia 2014
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