Renovation of Skipper

9 Jan

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, recently we found a bag of old dolls in the loft, mostly dating from the early 90s (some of them date from quite a bit earlier so I assume they were hand-me-downs). A few of these dolls were instantly very promising, and I could see potential in a lot of the others. Not so Skipper.

I nearly got rid of Skipper instantly. I like the idea of having an age range in my doll collection, but most of these 90s dolls were much too sugary and sentimental for my taste. Additionally, she had been roughly beheaded. I could hear the securing mechanism rattling round in her head, and when this happens its usually “game over” for the body in question (I`m sure some clever clogs has figured out how to overcome this, but if so Ive not read about it).

However, I started to think about what it is that turns me cold about these dolls. I decided it was the sheepdog fringe. This fringe absolutely horrifies me. It didn`t ever suit anybody, although it was practically compulsory to have one in the early 90s. It certainly doesn`t suit a child doll who is meant to be – what? – surely under thirteen? So I decided to experiment on the busted Skipper, to see if getting rid of the hideous fringe would make me feel better disposed towards her. Here she is before her haircut, while I was conditioning her hair:


Getting rid of a sheepdog fringe is problematic. The hairline is strangely and rather randomly rooted on these dolls, and when the fringe is flattened (it took me two boil washes to do it, by the way) this means that some areas look a bit bald. As this Skipper was rooted to have a ponytail, I swept it back into a sort of 60s bouffant and added a ribbon headband to disguise this – I think it worked out OK. I also trimmed the fringe down with nail scissors and gave it a slight sweep to the side.

I found that yes, this did make me feel happier with her, so much so that I decided to make her a dress too. The dress took me a long time; I had a very clear idea of what I wanted from the start, and stubbornly plowed on with it even though I had to re-do the sleeves (New year`s resolution – make dresses with sleeves!) about seven times because I`m still not using patterns and I found it hard to work out. I got there in the end, although the shoulders are a bit ratty from all the unpicking. By the way, when I got to the end I noticed that actually, I had sewed the sleeves on upside down (with the seam at the top) but I couldn`t bring myself to do it again. As I don`t have any skipper-size shoes (is it me, or do HSM dolls on eBay go for much more money if they have shoes on?)I did start making her some sandals, but stalled after the first one. I do want to make more Skipper-size outfits, so maybe I`ll go back to it one day. Anyway, here she is after her revamp:





I`m going to keep her now. At the moment, her head is perched precariously on top of her body, which means she`s not very poseable, so I`m planning on rebodying her to a HSM body when I can get hold of one.

ADDITIONAL: I got my HSM doll body and found that it was significantly bigger than the old Skipper body. Her childish head looks completely wrong on it, so its back to the broken body for the moment, and back to the drawing board too …


9 Responses to “Renovation of Skipper”

  1. Lon April 10, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    This is actually my favorite Skipper mold. Part of it might be because it’s what I had growing up, but I always liked her prefered her over Barbie and her big eyes make her kind of like a forerunner to all the anime-style dolls I have now.
    About the neck: It’s not super clever and you lose a bit of articulation but I usually fix that sort of thing by getting some epoxy clay like Milliput and sculpting a ball or cone on to the top of the neck. Like the old-school bodies had, before they switched to the more complicated set ups that let you tilt the heads. <- Something like these

    • barbielea April 11, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

      Hi Lon 🙂 I wasn’t too sure when I wrote these posts but I love these Skippers now – I have a whole host of them. Strangely, a lot of them seem to have broken necks and unfortunately its hard to replace the bodies. So I am REALLY grateful for this tip and I am definitely going to give it a go, I ordered some Milliput today after reading your comment. I’ve been wondering if I could make some kind of repair with clay or resin but I’d not thought of just making a ball. Its a great idea, thanks so much.

      • Lon April 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

        Yeah, I actually started reading your blog somewhere near the half way point of the old entries. Then I read the newer ones and saw all the Skippers XD Milliput is marvelous stuff. I have used piles of it because it cures rock hard and doesn’t need baking. You just have to be careful to mix a ball of each part that’s more or less the same size, pare off any “skin” from the rolls because it doesn’t really mix in properly and make sure the two sides are well combined. If it’s going on and on and not curing, try boiling some water, putting it into a cheap bowl and leaving the part in it. It can work as a last resort, but I’ve only ever had to do it once.

  2. Holly May 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    Great job revitalizing Skipper.

    I also love that dollhouse. I tried to find similar items online, but I’ve had no luck so far (“doll dollhouse” and “toy dollhouse” won’t get one very far). Would it happen to have a company name I could track back to see if they are currently selling any similar items?

    • barbielea May 9, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

      I think they are known as “Funtime” accessories, and are commonly sold in bargain-basement shops in the UK … I’m afraid I’ve thrown the boxes away, but next time I’m passing through one of these shops I will try to remember to check the packaging for you (they do lots of stuff).

      • Holly May 9, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

        Thank you.


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