Thursday, October 23, 2014

Polish American Heritage Month in Playscale

October is Polish American Heritage Month. (Among other ethnic groups, but this post is about Polish American dolls.) Time to bring out the Polish and/or Polish-American dolls. Right. Cough. I have a small problem: Mattel only produced ONE Polish Barbie.

Mattel Polish Barbie 1998
Mattel Polish Barbie 1998

Mattel Polish Barbie 1998 face only
Close up of Mattel Polish Barbie 1998

Yes as in o-n-e. One. Amid the many Irish, Italian, French, and British dolls. Then again, if you had asked me about Poland before I wrote this post, I would have been hard pressed to comment about Polish America. I have eaten kielbasa and pierogi. A Polish American teacher told my class that surnames ending in "ski" or "sky" were Polish. I remember being told that there was a Polish resistance movement during World War II. Oh and we have a Polish American Cultural Center in Philadelphia! No, I have never been there, but I know it exists and where it is. More importantly, for this post, though is finding playscale Polish American dolls or action figures. Where can we find them?

1. We could "borrow" dolls from Mattel's Dolls of the World Europe line from neighboring countries like Germany, the Czech Republic, or the Russian Federation.

2. Find celebrity dolls who are Polish American. Ding, ding! A few hits!

Hot Toys
Silken Floss; Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)

Lord of the Rings Arwen (Liv Tyler)
High School Musical Troy (Zac Efron) - more than 1 version; I like the grin-faced one best

Play Along, Ltd. 
Hairspray Link Larkin (Zac Efron)

Toy Biz
Lord of the Rings Arwen (Liv Tyler)

3. Or we can find dolls or action figures from different backgrounds. Here are some figures I considered. Let me know which ones you think "work."

Mattel Skipper as Velma from Scooby Doo
Mattel Scooby Doo Skipper (as Velma)

I suggest Scooby Doo Skipper (Mattel) for her fair complexion, auburn hair, and blue eyes. 

YNU Group, Inc. Mixis doll Houda in profile
YNU Group, Inc. Mixis doll Houda

Houda? Yes, her stated ethnic mix is French/Lebanese. How about her profile? 

What about these two action figures? They are Revell GmbH& Co. KG Benjamin Lauth (left) and Jakks Pacific Van Helsing (right). Would you use them in playscale roles for Polish Americans? Let me know in a comment. (As always, thanks for your comments.)

Revell GmbH& Co. KG Benjamin Lauth (left) and Jakks Pacific Van Helsing (right)
Revell GmbH& Co. KG Benjamin Lauth (left) and Jakks Pacific Van Helsing (right)

Profile of Revell GmbH& Co. KG Benjamin Lauth (left) and Jakks Pacific Van Helsing (right)
Revell GmbH& Co. KG Benjamin Lauth (left) and Jakks Pacific Van Helsing (right)

Additional subject reading wanted? Try this article by Matt Soniak or this article by Matt Kiebus. My favorite Polish American contributions are Häagen-Dazs frozen treats and sound in film. 

P.S. Bonus link to a Barbie-clone named Joanna produced by Polish company Krawal shown on here and here.

So Mattel's Polish Barbie need not stand alone in your Polish American display.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Mixis Houda could be Polish :-)! Poor Polish Barbie would be so lonely on her shelf, I would add the last doll too to keep her company!

Smaller Places said...

Joanna in the curly-hair version is unutterably fabulous.

jSarie said...

It's funny (because it's probably a narrow stereotype based entirely on the handful of newly-arrived Polish kids that I knew in high school) but I would never have thought to class Velma or the Jakks Pacific Van Helsing that way because I don't know that I've ever met a Polish non-blonde.

Of course the flip side of that would be that most of those standard blonde Barbies work as Polish for me! ;)

Barb the Evil Genius said...

I have a friend who is Polish/Croatian. She is very petite, with dark hair.

Another important thing that came out of Poland was the Solidarity movement.

D7ana said...

Hi Night Owl, Smaller Places, jSarie, and Barb the Evil Genius! Thanks for your comments.

@Night Owl - Polish Barbie thanks you for sending company her way.

@Smaller Places - yes, she is ;-)

@jSarie - yes, it's tricky, avoiding stereotypes when assigning ethnicity to dolls. Especially when you (or I) have not had heavy exposure to a group. My Polish American teacher had light brown hair, light blue eyes, and pink skin. He had a high bridged nose, too. Velma is a lot paler than he, but so is the Polish Barbie. I added the Van Helsing figure because he reminds me of Neil Diamond who is listed as Polish American.

I didn't tag additional blond Barbies - that could be done using the German, Czech, and Russian Barbies - because I wondered if their profiles would work. Are their features too "English?"

@Barb the Evil Genius - in another comment section, someone (Jewel snake?) wrote that Polish people are not all blond. Plus, there are people who are Polish plus some other ethnicity like your friend.

Oh, yes, the Solidarity Movement was/is vital in uniting workers and striking a blow against Communist rule.

jewel snake said...

Thank you for writing such post!
I think you chose dolls very good, personally I would add to this list a new Katniss, Chip Farnsworth III ( they both look very slavic and polish) and Western Plains Barbie ( her colors are in my opinion the most common in my country$T2eC16VHJIQFHHbwpOTEBSEObON%29,g~~60_57.JPG ).
As for typical polish look - brown hair and blue/green eyes are the most common. I'm polish and I have very dark brown hair, very pale skin and green eyes (colors of Scarlett O'Hara).
Of course all hair and eye colors happens (my father for example had natural black hair + darker skin + blue eyes).
Those famous blond hair + blue eyes are more Nordic than slavic, polish people are obvioulsy mixed with Germans, so some of them have very fair blond hair, but it's not as popular as all shades of brown. Good example is Monika Jagaciak, polish supermodel
Excuse me this long comment about colors.

billa's dolls and fashions said...

Hi, Benjamin reminds me a bit of Zbigniew Boniek, so he could pass for a Polish guy. And if you don't look too close at Van Helsing's eyes I think he's a good choice too.....besides they're both handsome guys, if I was Barbie I would pick up both to keep me company on the shelf....LOL

D7ana said...

Hi jewel snake and Billa's Dolls and Fashions! Thanks for your comments.

@jewel snake - you are welcome. I enjoyed writing this post. Thanks for sharing the other dolls that you would add and the links. It is helpful to receive feedback from you. Thanks for your color comments: we learn by exposure.

@Billa's Dolls and Fashions - thanks for mentioning Zbigniew Boniek. His coloring is as jewel snake describes.

LOL at the thought of Barbie winding an arm around each handsome guy. I think her smile just got a little wider ;-)

Muff said...

I LOVE Haagen-Daz. I didn't know the creator was polish.

Thanks for this very interesting and informative post.

Phyllis said...

I am half Polish. My mother was 100%. My mother had red hair. Her mother and father (both Polish refugees during WWI) had dark hair. Her siblings had dark or brown hair. I am a blond, but got that from my father's side of the family, which is French, German, English, Irish and Scotish.

A couple of other famous Polish Americans who I believe have action figures - Jared Padlicki (Sam of Supernatural) and Nicholas Cage -- I have seen several Action Figure variations of him. I do have the Polish Barbie, so maybe I need to seek out these guys for her so she doesn't feel so lonely!

D7ana said...

Hi Muff and Phyllis! Thanks for commenting!

@Muff - I LOVE their stuff, too. Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream or their tiramisu gelato ... no, won't think of them now.

@Phyllis - I vaguely remember there being a Nicholas Cage action figure - merci mille fois for the reminder. I'll check for the manufacturer. The Jared Padlicki figure is new to me. I'll look him up and update the list this weekend.

Barbies are sociable: she'd love to have those guys and probably some gals as well. Good company all around ;-)


Hej! Nie wiem,czego uczą was w szkołach, ale na pewno nie do końca
całej prawdy ;)
Jeśli masz ochotę to zerknij ;
jestem pewna, że troszkę rozjaśni
się wiedza na temat - Polski :)
Twoja Barbie jest jak najbardziej
Pozdrawiam :)

Natalia said...

Well this is kind of stereotype that Polish people are blonde:) In my office i have more than 20 people, and only one has natural light hair. I think that the most popular hair are from light to dark brown, however nowadays is very hard to describe real hair color because a lot of women is dying hair:)
I have to say that wen i look on dolls, i don't realy care so much about doll characteristic. I'm more in to details of outfit. Polish Barbie wears cotume from Cracov if I good remember. Well that's good that there is almost one Polish Barbie. There is no Ukrainian Barbie for exapmple, but i'm working on it;)

D7ana said...

Szanowny ŚWIAT PORCELANOWYCH LAL, dzięki za tych dodatkowych informacji.


Dear ŚWIAT PORCELANOWYCH LAL, thanks for this additional information.

D7ana said...

Hi Natalia Tadra and thanks for your comments.

Others have commented also that all Polish people are not blond ;-) When I was young, the first person who told me that he was Polish American, he had light brown hair and light blue eyes.

I laughed at your reminder that many people dye their hair blond today. That is a good point to remember.

Usually, I choose a doll by her face, then the outfit. But that depends on what I want at the time ... sometimes, I will choose the outfit.

Good luck getting a Ukrainian Barbie ;-)

The grandmommy said...

Well, if they only made one at least she is pretty! I would like to take this opportunity to thank Poland for one of the most delicious ice creams out there! I looked it up and there are lots of exported products from Poland. Thanks for those too! :-)

D7ana said...

Hi The grandmommy! Yes, Polish Barbie is pretty. She says "thank you" for the compliment. I thank you for your comment.

sinestro said...

Greetings from Poland :D You need to add Stefan from "Vampire Diaries" by Tonner to your doll list - actor who plays Stefan is Polish American too. ;-)

D7ana said...

Hi Sinestro and thanks for sharing that information about "Stefan." My list only has playscale - Barbie/Fashion Royalty-sized dolls.

I had to limit myself so that I did not overextend my hobby ;-)

I am sure that there are lots of Polish and Polish-American dolls and action figures available in smaller and larger sizes though.