O is for Opening Gifts

Everyday, Toni is asking when she can open her Christmas gifts. Several times, I’d explained that Santa would bring them Christmas Eve while she was sleeping. Then she could open them on Christmas morning. I remember how impatient I was as a kid, waiting for that big day to arrive.

When the mail came, there was a package. I showed it to Toni and said, “it’s from my sister and your cousin, Belinda. (Belinda is my sister’s Toni doll)

She wanted to open it right away, so being curious myself, I gave in and opened it. Inside was a vintage 1950s Toni Doll booklet. We sat down to read it together. The cover said, The Story of the new Toni Doll her play wave kit and her wonderful Fashion Wardrobe.

We opened it to the first page. The inside of the cover had an advertisement for the Play Wave Kit. “That’s on my Christmas list that I sent to Santa,” Toni said, “and look, it’s only one dollar.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that was in 1958 dollars and would cost a lot more today.

Later, I looked the kits up on eBay and some were $20 to $35. The kit included curlers, a brush, a cape to protect the doll’s dress, and the Toni permanent solution. One kit had this exact same booklet in it.

The drawings showed some of the hair styles popular with girls in 1958. I’ll have to try some of those on my Toni. I remember some of these from my childhood, though mostly I wore my long hair in a ponytail.

We looked at the first page after the ad, and it showed a comic book style story of two girls with their Toni dolls. One girl said, “Why don’t we have a Toni doll fashion show?” The other girl thought it was a great idea and they could invite all their friends. Before that event, they felt the need to give one doll’s hair a treatment with the Play Wave kit.

Toni’s eyes got big and I could tell she was getting lots of ideas. Before she had a chance to speak, I said, “we’ll have to wait for Santa to bring your permanent that you have on the list.” She agreed that it would be good to give her hair the full treatment before inviting people over for a fashion show.

To head off any other ideas, I slipped the booklet out of her hands, saying that we would read 2 pages each day leading up to Christmas. I could tell that she wanted to read it all right away, but didn’t fuss. She really is anxious to stay on Santa’s Nice List.

H Is for Hair

angelfare toni red dress etsy (2)
Toni doll in a red dress from the Angelfare shop on Etsy. Look how beautiful her hair is!

Toni dolls were the first dolls with hair designed to be washed and curled and given different styles. The dolls date back to the 1950s and 1960s so the current owner may be a bit wary of dunking the doll in the sink. I acquired my vintage doll a few years ago and felt that way.

I asked the advice of a specialist in the care of these old dolls. Mariann often features Toni dolls on her Etsy store, Angelfare. Here are her tips on sprucing up the hair.

  • Since the wigs are synthetic I use either regular shampoo or liquid hand soap followed by hair or laundry conditioner/softener.
  • Hold the doll over the sink and try to not get the wig base wet.
  • Squish out the excess water with a towel but don’t wring it.
  • Let it air dry without applying heat and then set with rollers.
  • Use perm papers for the ends, roll up with perm rollers and let it fully dry.
  • Have fun lightly combing or brushing out with wide tooth comb or brush.
  • You can lightly use hairspray or lusterizer if the wig is dull.

angelfare toni doll beauty salon (2)
Toni dolls getting their hair styled before they get featured in the Angelfare store on Etsy.

I wasn’t familiar with lusterizer, so I looked it up on Amazon. Here is a sampling of what I found. Users of lusterizers said they found it tamed their frizzy hair and made it smooth and silky. Click on any picture to read the reviews on the products and decide for yourself.

RUSK Deepshine PlatinumX Lusterizer, 4 oz.RUSK Deepshine PlatinumX Lusterizer, 4 oz.View DetailsSFactor Smoothing Lusterizer, 6.76 oz.SFactor Smoothing Lusterizer, 6.76 oz.View DetailsDemert Wig Lusterizer Pump, 8 oz.Demert Wig Lusterizer Pump, 8 oz.View DetailsRUSK Deepshine Lustre Shine Enhancing Lusterizer, 4.4 oz.RUSK Deepshine Lustre Shine Enhancing Lusterizer, 4.4 oz.View Details

PS – to see the details on the 14-inch blonde doll at the top of this page, go to her sale page on Etsy.