1949 Toni Doll Advertisements

Lovely New Toni Dolls

The TONI DOLL has nylon washable hair that can be washed, curled and combed. She is 14″ high and comes complete with a set of 12 plastic curlers, 72 end tissues, creme shampoo, and a bottle of Toni Play Wave solution.

Along with the ads for tricycles, coloring books, Lionel train sets, and a junior tea set that filled a whole page newspaper advertisement, there was Toni. It was 1949 and she had one small corner of that page filled with toys.

Dressed in a ruffled dress and shoes and socks, she poses as though ready to take a step. The price was $9.98.

1949 toni ad
The Post-Register (Idaho Falls, Idaho) 09 Nov 1949, Wed • Page 16

Another advertisement appeared about that same time. It features more prominently the Toni products to use in styling the doll’s hair. This ad says, “It’s fun to shampoo and curl the New Toni doll’s magic nylon hair.” It even shows three alternate hairstyles to inspire the recipient.

The 14-inch doll is $9.98 and in addition, there’s the 16-inch doll for $11.98. This seller gives the option to have the doll ordered through the mail.

1949 toni doll advertisement
El Paso Herald-Post (El Paso, Texas) 28 Nov 1949, Mon • Page 17

I’m not sure what advertising whiz thought mom’s and little girls would be impressed by how much nylon it took to make Toni’s wig. More intriguing, I’m sure, is the description of the Play-Wave kit and her clothing.

There’s enough Nylon in Toni’s wig to make 7 pairs of 15 Denier Nylon stockings. Toni has her very own little “Play-Wave” kit with curlers, papers, shampoo and harmless solution. She’s a dimple-cheeked beauty with her bolero sun-dress designed exclusively for her, lace-edged panties, slip, white shoes and socks. Toni is made of sturdy plastic with movable arms and legs.

I found several dolls on eBay dressed in this bolero dress so you can see the colors of it. This one is offered by eBay seller, viviandoll.

toni doll in bolero dress from ebay viviandoll
A P-90 Toni doll in her original bolero dress.

Rescuing a Toni Doll

A seller on eBay (janney52tells how a Toni doll rescue happened:

“This doll was sold to me with terrible face problems. I have an extra Toni head so I planned to change the head. When she arrived I found out she was a walker doll, not a strung Toni doll. The insides of the heads are different. So I decided to color match her face paint and it turned out nice. I added one eyebrow and added a new rubber band in the head.

Her hair and dress have been washed.  Also curled her wig. I’m glad I was able to save her. So my investment is $55 for the doll and shipping. $14 for color matched paint. A nice Ideal dress – can’t remember the cost, new panties $1 and shoes. I worked 2 days on and off on Miss Toni.

Also fixed the eyes. The weight didn’t get pushed further to the left. You have to get it far enough forward so it doesn’t catch on the rubber band. That’s why so many walkers have messed up eyes. The eye weight catches the rubber band.

rescue Toni with her fresh dress
This rescued Toni looks a lot happier with her freshly painted face, her dress washed, and hair curled.

So I have 3 sizes of walker dolls at one time. The paint color, beautiful blonde wigs, different eyes. They are very similar. I was even able to use the same paint on the P93 and P92 walkers.

I always Oxyclean the doll clothes. I started to boil the water and add the Oxyclean. I drop the doll clothes in the hot Oxyclean water. Sometimes it’s clean in minutes. No more having sinks full of doll clothes soaking for 2 days.

This Toni doll deserves a new Mama and home. I hope someone will consider my rescue doll. Thank you.”

See all the pictures of this rescued Toni doll on eBay.

Inside Toni’s Head

Have you ever wondered what’s inside your Ideal Toni doll’s head? I never gave it much thought, but there’s no way to find out without taking the doll apart. Obviously, I would never do that to my own doll. I’m such a klutz that I’d never get her back together again.

toni doll head ebay
This doll head is for sale on eBay by treasuresonmain.

Here’s a peek inside Toni’s head. The eBay seller showed different angles for potential buyers to decide if this is the one for them.

It’s still a bit of a mystery to me, but you can click on each image to see it better. There obviously needs to be something in there to connect the head to the torso. The dolls are held together by strong bands of rubber that loops together the arms, legs, and head.

If you peer through the openings, you can see the backs of Toni’s eyes.  There also seems to be a black metal bar with 2 hooks on it. That must be for the rubber band to secure the head but allow it to turn.

Since this doll is without her wig, you also have a chance to examine the skull. That sounds so clinical. Maybe I should say scalp. Anyway, you can see where the glue held the hair on the doll.

Our thanks to treasuresonmain for a chance to see these usually hidden parts of Toni. If you are in need of a head for your doll, you know where to go.

Can a Toni Doll Be Creepy?

Every now and then, someone will comment that they find dolls creepy. Here’s what my friend Soula said, “Is it just me, or do some dollies look really creepy – maybe I’ve seen too many horror movies! :)” My answer to her was, ” I have seen some doll faces that give me that feeling. The Toni dolls have a really sweet expression and reasonably natural features. I love them.”


It does distress me to see Toni dolls in poor condition with their hair matted and sticking out in all directions. To me, though, that’s not creepy, it’s just sad. It makes me want to adopt the poor dear and give her hair a wash and combing. Then, I’d make a new outfit for her to bring her back to her better days.

I did find one Frankenstein Toni doll on eBay. She disconcerted me with her non-Toni soft vinyl head attached to a Toni torso. The arms may just be discolored over the years or are from a different doll as well. The lack of clothes makes her a bit shocking at first glance, though she does possess socks and shoes.

frankenstein toni ebay wrong head
Possibly a mix-and-match doll made from part of other dolls.

Perhaps people who are uncomfortable with dolls are reacting to their unblinking direct gaze. She isn’t staring at you. Really, she isn’t.

Here’s what you can do about that if it bothers you so much: pose the doll with her head tilted so she is looking down or off to the side.



Make a No-Sew Doll’s Sundress

Easy Craft – Making Doll Clothes without Sewing

I bet you have all the supplies on hand to make this easy doll’s sundress. No need to get out the sewing machine or even the needle and thread.

If you have scissors, glue, an old short-sleeved shirt, and some double-stick tape, then you are ready to start making a doll dress. Some rickrack or trim adds a nice touch or some paint but those are optional.


This outfit is perfect for your doll to wear around the patio this summer or use for a cover-up for her swimsuit at the beach.

Steps for Making a No-Sew Sundress – for a Doll

For this project, you are repurposing the sleeve from a short-sleeved shirt.

  1. Find a shirt that you don’t mind cutting up. This one was stained, so it was headed for the rag-bag. This is a cotton-poly blend that shouldn’t fray much. That’s good as we don’t plan to do any hemming.
  2. Cut the sleeve off a short-sleeved shirt. Do this by cutting outside the seam where it was attached to the body of the shirt. Trim closely to the seam. Cut along the seam under the arm to end up with a flat piece like this.

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  3. Position the doll in the sleeve with the longer part in front. Wrap the material around the back of the doll. You want some overlap (1/2 inch or 1 inch). Cut off the excess. Since this is a sundress, it is backless.
  4. Add any trim and decoration that you want for the dress. Here I thought about making it with a sailor theme to use an odd piece I’d been saving. It would have looked good with blue rickrack trim.IMG_7671_edited-1
  5. Using a good craft or fabric glue, secure the decorations in place on the doll’s sundress. Most glues dry clear, so don’t worry about excess glue.
  6. I used a strip of velcro to hold the back of the doll’s sundress in place. The velcro had the sticky back so I just applied it firmly to the fabric.

    PROBLEM: the velcro is bulky so doesn’t look the way I wanted. I’m going to replace it with some double-sided carpet tape that I have. It is heavy enough to stick firmly and can be unstuck to change the doll’s dress. The carpet tape is much thinner and will not look lumpy. You could sew some small snaps to hold the back together.

  7. Cut some rickrack to use at the top of the dress. It needs to be long enough to easily tie behind the doll’s neck. Glue the tie to the dress. Make sure the glue is quite dry before the dress is worn.IMG_7683

Add a Special Touch to the Doll Dress

with a Painted Design

I chose to add a sun graphic to the sundress for the doll. First I practiced on a scrap of fabric to see what my design might look like. You can search online for ideas for your design. I just used my imagination.

The paints I used are leftover paint-by-number oil paints. You can often find these cheaply at yard sales. Special paints just for fabric are available too. Put a sheet of newspaper under the fabric before you paint. Sometimes the paint soaks through and could stain your work table or counter.

Lots of Choices for Fabric Paints

Use these to make summer designs on the doll’s dress. You can paint flowers or starfish or rainbows. Use your imagination.

Fabric Paint 3D Permanent 24 Colors Set Marker Pens Style vibrant color textile paints dye for Fabric and other usesFabric Paint 3D Permanent 24 Colors Set Marker Pens Style vibrant color textile paints dye for Fabric and other usesView DetailsBest Fabric Markers (PACK OF 24 PENS) Non-Toxic - Machine Washable Paint - Perfect for Writing on Clothes, Clothing, Jeans, Pants, and ShirtsBest Fabric Markers (PACK OF 24 PENS) Non-Toxic – Machine Washable Paint – Perfect for Writing on Clothes, Clothing, Jeans, Pants, and ShirtsView DetailsAdd dimension to your paint - Tulip 35148 Party Dimensional Fabric Paint (20 Pack)Add dimension to your paint – Tulip 35148 Party Dimensional Fabric Paint (20 Pack)View Details

Here’s How I Made the Doll Sandals

The doll wears flip-flops with her sundress.

Find a scrap of packing foam. Cut it to fit the shape of the doll’s foot. I painted it with the oil paint to match the decoration on the doll’s sundress. You could also glue the matching rickrack around the base of the sandal and across the strap. These don’t stay on very well, so not very practical for an active doll. The straps can be glued to the base or attached with straight pins (if only for display or for an older child who won’t be sticking themselves).

Toni doll in sundress

Would You Like a Doll Like Mine? – She’s a Toni doll from the 1950s

These can be pretty pricey on eBay but keep checking and you can find one at a good price. I was really lucky and found mine for just $30. Usually, they go for more than that.

Best of luck with your bidding. Toni dolls come in several sizes and with blonde, brunette and other colors of hair.

Collector’s Guide to Ideal Dolls

amazon toni doll books
Book covers courtesy of Amazon. More about these below.

If you want to get more information about your Toni doll and other dolls made by Ideal, you’ll want to consult the Collector’s Guide to Ideal Dolls. You’ll find copies of the second edition and third edition on Amazon and possibly eBay.

Keep in mind, that the third edition came out in 2003, so it’s already 15 years old. The book is great for identification purposes and finding out the details of when your doll was made by Ideal. For pricing, the fluctuation in values of collectible dolls changes over the years so consider the information on that as historical purposes only.

Collector's Guide to Ideal Dolls: Identification & Value GuideCollector’s Guide to Ideal Dolls: Identification & Value GuideCollector's Guide to Ideal Dolls: Identification & Values, 3rd EditionCollector’s Guide to Ideal Dolls: Identification & Values, 3rd Edition

What the Reviewers Said About the Guides

  • 4bonbon – “This is a LOVELY, hardback, glossy cover book with excellent photos and descriptions of dolls made by the Ideal Toy Company. I had collected dolls for many years and had some antique dolls that I was unable to identify until I got this book. It gave me the manufacturer, a photo of the doll, its history and helped me immensely when I had to downsize my collection and sell it on E-Bay. Using information from this book, I was confident in my selling endeavor, knowing I was using an accurate description and history of the doll. I found information in this book that I could not find any other place. After all my dolls sold, I even re-sold this book and it had great re-sale interest! I so enjoyed owning this book, because my friends and I identified many dolls we had as children that we didn’t remember the names of and we had a great “walk down memory lane”. If you are a doll collector or miss the dolls of your youth, this book is for you! Highly recommend!
  • Owl Glasses – “Collector’s Guide to Ideal Dolls: Identification & Values, 3rd Edition is a pure pleasure for the Ideal doll collector or anyone who would like to relive a little childhood nostalgia. It is a gorgeous book that is generously sized and filled with colorful photographs on nearly every page. Having owned two other editions of Ideal Dolls, the Third Edition is my personal favorite. Readers will find detailed information on hundreds of Ideal dolls, even those that are exceedingly rare, or those that were of limited production.Ideal Dolls is useful for collectors as a reference guide for identifying Ideal dolls, and genuine original clothing. The book is essential for seamstresses wishing to recreate authentic looking reproductions in garments. **Please note–that reproduction garments which are intended for sale must always be identified as such.

    Price estimates may help to orient newer Ideal doll collectors regarding scarcity and rarity of certain dolls such as hair color, unusual garments, etc. Even the most avid Ideal Doll collectors will find new information and variations in their favorite dolls in this very impressive book.

    The first pages of the book document the history of Ideal dolls, years of manufacture, and materials used. The appendix in the back is extremely helpful as it describes Ideal stamps on the dolls, and the corresponding years respective to the production of various dolls.”

(Reviews from Amazon)

Here are other books that cover dolls of that era, so they will include the Toni doll.

Baby Boomer Dolls Plastic Playthings of the 50's & 60's, Second EditionBaby Boomer Dolls Plastic Playthings of the 50’s & 60’s, Second EditionView DetailsHard Plastic Dolls, Vol. 1 (Revised)Hard Plastic Dolls, Vol. 1 (Revised)View DetailsCollector's Guide to Dolls of the 1960s and 1970s: Identification & ValuesCollector’s Guide to Dolls of the 1960s and 1970s: Identification & ValuesView DetailsCollector's Guide to Dolls of the 1960s and 1970s: Identification and Values, Vol. 2Collector’s Guide to Dolls of the 1960s and 1970s: Identification and Values, Vol. 2View DetailsDolls And Accessories of the 1950s (Schiffer Book for Collectors)Dolls And Accessories of the 1950s (Schiffer Book for Collectors)View Details