This article was originally published in  Dollyworld, the newsletter of The Barbie and Sindy Club of New Zealand, and is reprinted with permission.  If you are interested in joining the club, write to The Barbie and Sindy Collectors Club of NZ, c/o Tanya Sheridan, 149 Arney Road, Remuera, Auckland, New Zealand.  Subscriptions cost $30 NZD (local) or $35 (overseas),  for six bi-monthly newsletters, and the chance to attend regular meetings.
The humble Debbie doll was essentially our own New Zealand "knock off" of the fantastically successful Barbie doll.  Sometime in the 60s, "Debbie the Elegant Doll" came onto the New Zealand market.  Debbie was a powder doll that had the same facial features as the early 60s Barbie doll, but instead of having legs like Barbie, she was made in a shape to accommodate storage of the talcum powder.

Her outfits were many and varied.  I remember choosing my own Debbie doll at the local chemist shop.  Not an easy task, as there were so many different splendid dresses as well as different hairstyles.

I could have had a bubble cut or ponytail.  In the end, a chose a platinum ponytail wearing, would you believe it, a knock off version of Benefit Performance.  Not a bad choice in retrospect!  I still have my childhood Debbie doll and I have added a mint boxed Debbie wearing the same outfit I bought as a child!  I have had fun comparing the Debbie outfit in mint condition to a similar condition original Barbie Benefit Performance outfit I have in my collection.  Although the Barbie outfit is far superior in quality, it is amazingly close in detail to the real thing!

Of course the resourceful Debbie doll manufacturer actually knocked off quite a few Barbie outfits.  An old Miller's magazine revealed that Debbie came in the outfit Magnificence too.  Who knows what other outfits they copied!  I would guess they bought some samples back from the States and used them in reproducing their own version of the popular Barbie doll, which begs the question, what happened tothose samples?! 

Information about this part of New Zealand doll history is scarce.  The only information on the box reveals that she was made in New Zealand and "Distributed throughout the USA by Diploma Distributors Inc Pier 39 Foreigh Trade Zone No. 9  Honolulu: Hawaii 96817".  So she was exported as

Deborah Wessel kindly shot these photos of her extensive Debbie doll collection to give an idea of the variety of Debbie dolls available.  I believe she was still available in New Zealand at least until the mid to late 70s.

I would love to hear from anyone who has any additional information on the doll.   I believe it is important that we retain information about our unique New Zealand doll heritage.
A Debbie With Legs?

Here's an interesting find: a MINT IN BOX DEBBIE DOLL WITH LEGS!!!

Her only markings are "HONG KONG" on the back of her head and on her stand and "KOREA" on her shoes. 

The box doesn't mention anything about talcum powder, or her country of origin, and has a stock number 6702.

As she is old store stock, one has to assume this is how she was sold originally.  If anyone has more information or has one like it I would be keen to hear from you!

By Tanya