The first Barbie doll was sold in 1959 and was only available in the USA. This doll had very mature features and some of the parents didn’t want their children to play with them. Also, some little girls couldn’t identify with these dolls.
So Mattel launched the first Skipper – the straight legs or SL Skipper – in 1964*. Skipper dolls were sold also in Europe and Canada.
The first years Barbie and Skipper were produced, are called the “vintage years”. They range from 1959 to 1966. Some collectors also consider the years up to 1973 as “vintage”, others refer to them as “mod”.
Unlike Barbie, Skipper looked like a young teenage girl. Her eyes were blue and glanced to the right. She was produced with straight legs that do not bend and a tan skin tone. Skipper had long straight hair with bangs and was sold with three hair colors: blonde, brunette and redhead. There were some variations to these hair colors (please see chapter “HAIR COLORS”).
* "In 1964 we also introducted Skipper, Barbie's little sister. While little girls tended to perceive Barbie as being six or seven years older than themselves, they saw Skipper as close to their own age. What made Skipper so special ... was her connection to Barbie and the beauty of the doll and her accessories." ("Dream Doll - The Ruth Handler Story").
Before the SL Skipper dolls were mass produced some test market Skippers were sold (and/or handed out to Mattel employees). These dolls are slightly different from the "mass production" dolls. For reference please see chapter "Sample/Test market dolls":
The very first SL Skipper dolls produced have the markings Skipper © 1963 Mattel, Inc.
They were sold in a cardboard box with a liner, golden or black brass wire stand, booklet, white comb and brush and wore a red and white swimsuit and red shoes (marked Japan).
Skipper also came with a gold brass headband which often caused the dolls' head to turn green because of oxidation.
Why was this doll named Skipper?
According to Ruth Handler ("Dream Doll -The Ruth Handler Story"), this doll was named "Skipper", because: "Incidentally, we gave Skipper (and her soon-to-be-introduced friend Skooter) their names because cute nicknames were in vogue in the mid-1960s, thanks to television shows like 'Gidget', which starred Sally Field."
booklet, brush, comb
0950 Skipper was sold in
boxes stating "Brunette",
"Blonde" and "Redhead",
however she was produced
with special haircolors also,
all of these are hard to find
(please see chapter
Straight Leg Skippers were also sold in "Dressed Doll" boxes. Dressed dolls wearing the fashions #1900, #1901, #1902, #1903, #1904, #1905, #1906, #1907, #1908 and #1909 were part of the #1082 Master Assortment"/"Skipper Ensemble Pak Assortment #1300" which consisted of 24 paks mentioned in the 1964 Mattel dealer catalog.
Some more dressed dolls in their boxes were available covering fashions from #1910 - #1922.
You can find more detailed information and lots of photographs on the following page:
Dressed Box Skipper doll wearing #1904 Flower Girl
Skipper was smaller than Barbie and needed her own wardrobe. However, the first outfits created for her match some of the early Barbie outfits. Lateron, Mattel designed a stand-alone wardrobe for her. Just like Barbies wardrobe, Skippers outfits were made in a very good quality with many details and came with precious small items like flower bouqets, handbags, gloves, socks, caps, jumping ropes, jojos, birthday cakes and candles, etc.
Skipper booklet showing the German version (above) and the English version (below). Some names of the fashions weren't translated 1:1. The German name for "Sunny Suity" for example is - correctly translated - "Sunflower". "School's Cool" is named "School Time", "Chilly Chums" is named "The New Coat", "Eeeny, Meeny, Midi" is "Children's Party" ....
Back of the packaging
Fun Time #1920 from 1965/66
You can find all of the regular vintage and mod Skipper outfits as well as many rare variations or production samples, on the these pages:
FASHION PACK A1520:
In addition to the regular clothing line, numerous "FASHION PACK" sets were available from 1965 until 1971 which contained clothes and accessories which all had the same stock number (#A1520). These items were sold on card.
SEARS EXCLUSIVE FASHIONS
In 1968 the first "Sears Exclusive" fashion for Skipper was sold ("Confetti Cutie"). From 1970 'till 1973 Sears sold it's "Young Ideas" Skipper fashions, which were produced in many fabrics (often recycled from fashions used in other Barbie & family fashions before). There are also some Sears Exclusive fashions that were only sold in Gift Sets, like the 1968 "Skipper Perfectly Pretty Set". (For further information on these gift sets please click on the button below).
MATCHING/COORDINATING OUTFITS for Skipper and Barbie, Ken, Francie, Tutti, and other family members :
When Skipper was introduced to the market in 1964, Mattel offered a wardrobe for her which mostly matched Barbie's fashions. It soon turned out Skipper was a success, and buyers didn't neccessarily look for matching outfits to buy, so she got her own wardrobe and accessories... This is why there aren't any Skipper/Barbie matching outfits between 1967 and 1970 (however, there's one match with Francie).
Starting in 1971 lots of matching and coordinating fashions were produced again, and also some outfits matching or coordinating with the outfits of other Barbie family members. One of the reasons for this was to use up fabrics.
Skipper #1920 Fun Time/Ken #1416 College Student
For a list of matching/coordinating fashions, please klick here:
Five gift sets with a or for a SL Skipper were available:
1964: “Barbie’s Wedding Party Gift Set” #1017
1965 and 1966: #1021 "Skipper Party Time Gift Set"
1965: #1032 "Skipper on Wheels"
Around 1966: #1952 “Skipper and Skooter on the Beach” Double Case Gift Set
1967: #2001 “Skipper and Skooter Polka Dot Case”
In 1964 and maybe in 1965 the Straight Leg Skipper was also sold in "Dressed Doll" boxes. On the boxes it states: "Doll, Clothing and Wire Stand included".
These Skipper dolls were all exceptiuonally beautiful tan skin Skippers dressed in the regular fashions available at that time (probably from #1901 Red Sensation to # 1922 Town Togs). They have the markings "Skipper © 1963 Mattel, Inc"
The boxes differ from the regular Skipper boxes, unlike the Japanese dressed doll boxes which included the Japanese Skipper. (For more info on the Japanese dressed doll boxes please go to the chapter "Japanese Skippers".)
U.S. market dressed doll boxes came without box liners. The dolls were sewn into the boxes with either red or black threads, that's why the box bottoms have two small holes in them.
A gold oval sticker with the writing "Skipper GENUINE BARBIE'S LITTLE SISTER DOLL By MATTEL 19xx - NAME OF FASHION" and the Mattel logo was affixed to the clear cover which was placed over the box bottom.
On the pictures below you can see how the graphics/writing of these boxes differ from the regular boxes. The hair color of the Skipper doll included isn't mentioned anyhwere on the box. Dressed doll boxes are extremely rare.
Pictured above: Dressed doll wearing #1905 "Ballet Class"
In Japan, the U.S. issue Skipper was also available. Additionally, the Japanese Skippers # S950 were sold from 1964 until around 1966. These dolls had dark brown eyes that glance to the left. They came in dressed boxes also. They are extremely rare and probably the most expensive SL Skipper dolls to be found on the market.
Skipper © 1963 Mattel, Inc. (Tan Skin) or
© 1963 Mattel, Inc. (Tan or Pink Skin)
For more information on these dolls please press the button:
In 1965 the regular SL Skipper was produced with new markings: © 1963 Mattel, Inc. all other features remained the same. Mattel needed to change the markings because in 1965 they introduced Skipper's friends Ricky and Skooter, which had the same body as Skipper. They all have the same markings. However, some Skipper dolls with the old markings "Skipper © 1963 Mattel, Inc" were sold simultaneously - probably until 1966.
In the second half of 1966 until 1968 SL Skipper dolls were manufactured with a pink skin tone also. Unlike the tan skin SL Skippers, they do have blush. Dolls with this skin tone usually have discolored or yellowed lips and skin.
They came with the same box and accessories like the first straight leg Skipper dolls.
Pink skin Skipper dolls are almost as hard to find as Japanese Skippers. Just like the Japanese Skipper dolls, it is almost impossible to find one in mint or near mint condition. Japanese and Pink Skin SL Skippers share the same body.
I believe they were not produced in those large quantities as the early Straight Leg Skippers because as of 1965 other Skipper dolls were also available.
Pink Skin Skippers seem to have mainly been sold in Europe.
Body markings: © 1963 Mattel, Inc.
Sample pictures of a 1966 pink skin SL Skipper doll (notice the discoloration showing in the last picture taken with flash light). This is the condition most of the dolls you find nowadays come in. Most of them also have faded lips.
This redhead and the blonde doll above are wonderful examples of pink skin SL Skippers.
Adorable brunette Pink Skin Skipper from Europe.
Pink Skin Skipper dolls showing all the available hair colors (titian, blonde, brunette). All three dolls were found in Europe.
Mattel discontinued selling vintage straight leg Skippers in 1969. A bendable leg "BL" Skipper #1030 had been launched in 1965 and was sold simultaneously with the SL Skippers. The BL Skippers were on the market until 1967 and were replaced by the 1968 "Twist and Turn Skipper" #1105 which was the first Skipper doll with rooted eyelashes. This doll was sold until 1970. In 1970 Mattell issued the "(Dramatic New) Living" Skipper. She also had rooted eyelashes and was very movable. Also in 1970, another Skipper with straight legs was sold (pls see next chapter).
Also in 1970, the "Reissue" Skipper #0950 - with the same features (with a small exception) as the SL Skipper and "pink skin" sold until 1968 - appeared on the market.
She is very hard to find (extremely hard to find in good condition).
Body markings: © 1963 Mattel, Inc.
For more info on this doll please go to the page "Reissue Skipper" by pressing the button below.
In 1972 the pink skin "European Skipper", "German Skipper" or "Twist 'n Turn Skipper Europe" #8519 was sold in Europe only.
She had straight legs and all the features of the SL Skipper dolls, but in addition she had a twist and turn waist.
She's very hard to find, and so is her swimsuit.
Her markings are:
© 1967 Mattel Inc. U.S. Pat'd. U.S. Pats. Pend.
For more information on this doll please click on the following button:
European Skippers were the last Skipper dolls which were produced with the early SL Skipper head mold AND side-glance. All future Skippers had centered eyes.
Many collectors are confused and don't quite know how to find out whether they have found a "Pink Skin Straight Leg Skipper", a "Re-Issue Skipper" or an "European Skipper". Let's start with the eyes:
If you have a doll with eyes like the tan SL Skipper dolls, but her face and body are pinkish, you have a "Pink Skin Straight Leg Skipper":
If your doll looks like this, it's a Pink Skin SL Skipper.
(Black eyeliner only on top).
Body markings: © 1963 Mattel, Inc.
If your doll looks like this, she could be a Re-Issue or
European Skipper. (Black eyeliner also on the inner
corners of the eyes).
The doll on the left is a Re-Issue Skipper. Her hair resembles the hair of the vintage SL Skipper dolls. Her body markings are: © 1963 Mattel, Inc.
The doll on the right is a European Skipper. Her facial colour is very pink, her hair looks more synthetic than the vintage SL Skipper's hair. Her bangs tend to part in the middle. Many of these dolls have very long and unevenly long hair. About half of these dolls have a factory flaw: One of their legs is longer thatn the other leg. Other than the pink skin SL Skipper and the Re-Issue Skipper, her face doesn't tend to discolor. She has straight legs and a twist and turn waist. Also, her body markings are different: © 1967 Mattel Inc. U.S. Pat'd. U.S. Pats. Pend. Made in Taiwan
If you've got a doll with red/titian hair, she can only be a pink skin or re-issue Skipper, since the European Skipper dolls were only produced in blonde and brunette.
Ruth Handler, "Dream Doll - The Ruth Handler Story": "Skipper had a flat chested child's body. In fact, we used that same body mold not only for her female friend Skooter but also for her male friend Ricky. Bot of these Skipper friends, introduced in 1965, were freckle-faced and many girls considered them brother and sister or that one or the other was - or both were - the younger sibling of Midge."
In 1965 Ricky #1090 was introduced as Skipper's friend. He was sold till 1967 (1965 in the tan skin tone, starting 1966 in the pink skin tone). Ricky had the same body (and markings) as the SL Skipper doll. He came in a box stating "Skipper's friend Ricky by Mattel" and was dressed in blue shorts, a striped jacket and red cork sandals. He had his own "Ricky" wrist tag. Included in the box were a black metal stand, liner, and booklet. No bendable leg Ricky doll was ever produced.
Ricky had his own tagged clothes. There were six Ricky fashion sets. You can see them by pressing the following button:
Also in 1965, Skipper got a girlfriend named "Skooter" #1040. Skooter also had the same body as Skipper (and Ricky) and she could wear Skipper's clothes. She was sold with a tan skin tone in 1965, and with the pink skin tone starting 1966. She also came with Skipper's basic hair colors "brunette", "blonde" and "redhead". She was sold until 1967.
This doll was sold in her own box stating "Skipper's friend Skooter by Mattel" and was dressed in a two piece swimsuit and two red bows in her pigtails. She had her own "Skooter" wrist tag. The accessories in the box were the same as Skipper's.
In 1966 and 1967 a bendable leg Skooter was sold (in a new box and with a different swimsuit).
For more information on Skooter, please go to the following page: