Cool Vintage Toys: Kozmic Kiddles

by AnomalousArtist

Every now and then an unusual toy surfaces that stands out from the crowd more than the others. Behold, the happy-faced intergalactic little entities known as "Kosmic Kiddles!"

The early 1970's was a strange time. The era is perplexing to people who look back on it and try to understand what it was like; it was strange even to those of us who lived through the era as children.

The "everything can be perfect" 50s were over, the "let's challenge everything" 60s were winding down, the "if it feels good snort it" disco era was just beginning. In the middle of this came a short, strange little epoch known as the early 70s that spawned things like the Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Sonny And Cher Comedy Hour and Love American Style. Everyone focuses on the garish clothes and often-silly music; who remembers what it was like for a child, from day to day?

Well, if you WERE a child in the 1970s, as I was, I can assure you we weren't worried about Watergate and Vietnam and The Exorcist, we were thinking about...toys! And what a groovy selection we had to choose from!

One line of toys that was immensely successful, beginning in the mid-60s, were those divinely decadent little divas, the "Kiddles!"

1) A Brief History Of Kiddles

Long before "Brats" arrived, toy-producer Mattel's incredibly popular "Kiddles" line appeared sporting 1960s false eyelashes, huge hair and come-hither looks.  The illegitimate offspring of Barbie, these figures were miniature effigies of little girls who often came with their own furniture or vintage car or were enclosed in a perfume bottle (with scent!) or brooch.  They were well designed by sincere artisans who added wonderful, tiny details to the dolls designed specifically for little hands to play with. 

Unfortunately, sometimes those "little hands" stuffed those little dolls and their accoutrements into their mouths and down their esophagi and Kiddles fell out of favor before the mid-70s were over. 

But their reign was strong while it lasted; "Kiddles" command high prices on eBay today and the "Kiddle" brand gets revived every few years in an attempt to recapture the magic (and cash flow!) that happened in the late 60s and early 70s.

VIOLET Kiddle Kologne Mint (scent preserved)

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1967 MATTEL LITTLE KIDDLE KOLOGNE - Rosebud

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Liddle Kiddle Apple Blossom Kologne-Still Smells Good!!

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2) But Kiddles were only for girls...right...?

After the initial mid-1960s run of Kiddle dolls, depicting them as happy-go-lucky young girls about town, attempts were made by the Mattel Corporation to try to conquer the "dolls for boys" market.

One must keep in mind it was a different era; even though it was a time of great change, boys were just not ALLOWED to play with "dolls" in the early 70's unless there was some "macho" element involved (I'll be mentioning these toys in another article).

Mattel experimented with a boy Kiddle named "Bunsen Bernie," who was presented as an intrepid fireman and "Peter Paniddle," a diminutive recreation of the boy who refused to grow old.  If there was any red-blooded American father out there between 1966-1970 who would have been happy to gift his son with one of these long-lashed, blue-eyed, delicate-featured little dolls I'd be surprised.  They were, in fact, probably the first trans-gendered dolls; Bunsen and Pete were actually just girl Kiddles with short hair and "boy's" outfits!  As successful as the dolls were (and they were ALL successful, for a time), Mr. Bernie  and Mr. Paniddle were hardly the Clint Eastwood of Kiddles and it was back to the drawing board for the designers.

VINTAGE MATTEL LIDDLE KIDDLE PETER PANIDDLE CROCODILE GOOD CON...

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Vintage Liddle Kiddles Storybook Peter Pan Paniddle Doll Sword...

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Vintage Mattel Storybook Liddle Kiddles Peter Paniddle 1968 wi...

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3) The Kozmic Kiddle Is Born

I have no actual proof that the Kozmics were specifically designed to attract little boys, I only have the rumors and hearsay that you get from internet research, a cool documentary video I found, Kiddle forums and Paris Langford's exhaustive (and expensive) book on the subject.  But it seems clear the Kozmics were an attempt to branch out beyond the standard "precious little girl who loves too much make-up and stinky flowery cologne" mold. 

The Kozmic Kiddles were a breed unto themselves among the Kiddle line and they fascinate me to no end.  I coveted them with an obsession bordering on the psychotic, if indeed a 6 year old can achieve such passions.

4) Introducing...Kozmic Kiddles!

Born...or is it "hatched"...? like most of the dolls in the Kiddle family, the bodies of the Kozmics were designed from the same mold as all the others.  They were about an inch tall and made of soft plastic. 

This is where the comparison to any other Kiddle...or any other toy, for that matter, ends.

Kozmics were bright, "psychedelic"-colored/designed aliens that would have been perfectly at home in the world of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" cartoon.  Their heads were big, bulbous and...luminous in the dark!  They had googly "Cookie Monster"-type eyes, dimply smiles and little caps with antennae springing out of them that inevitably broke and fell off, driving down the price on eBay and driving collectors half-insane 45 years later! 

There were four members of the Kozmic Kiddles, two "boys" and two "girls."  I put quotes around the listed sexes of these creatures because the determination seems arbitrary.  The only way you know pink-trussed "Yellow Fello" is a boy is because of his name.  Similarly, "Bluey Blooper" is only identified as male because he shares the same design as his jaundiced twin.  "Purple Glurple" and "Greenie Meanie" (who has an incredibly sweet smile for such a designation) are, we are assured, the females in the quartet though the only real difference seems to be that their eyelashes are more spread-out than their companions'.

In truth, what we have here is an a-sexual, alien "Abba," a beguiling cotillion of interstellar anomalies that predated our present world of gender-blurring by some 40 years!  The Kozmic Kiddles are harbingers of a benevolent, ambisexual future yet to be realized!

Vintage Mattel Liddle Kiddles Kiddle Spaceship Kozmic Kiddles ...

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RARE !Vintage 1968 Kozmic Kiddles Bluey Blooper With Tag And R...

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Vintage Liddle Kiddles Martian Kozmic Kosmic Little Bluey Bloo...

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5) Yeah, but what do they DO?

The creators of the Kozmic Kiddles set them up with all sorts of interesting "playability" options.  For starters, they make a great display.  Each one sits on his, or her, or "its," purple rock proudly proclaiming that it is, indeed, a "Kozmic Kiddle" in shiny silver 1960s-version-of-the-future lettering.  There is a small cross carved into the rock and subtle lettering informs us that this is a "Kiddle" stand; presumably you can invite not just your fellow Kozmics to be on display but your OTHER Kiddle friends (but will they need oxygen helmets, one wonders?)

Each Kozmic Kiddle sits in a small, efficient spaceship in assorted Day-Glo "love power" colors.  You can detach the spaceship and fly it around with your hand (at the age of 35 I found myself actually doing this, to the horror of my officemates at work) but there's a special surprise waiting for a Kozmic enthusiast not immediately visible; the scientists who crafted the inter-stellar pods the Kozmics travel in had the good sense to make them ROLL as well!  And if you decide to roll your Kozmic across the terrain of an unknown planet (or a smooth enough surface) you will notice that your Kozmic Kiddle responds in a way that can only be described as...enthusiastic!

"Don't worry," the Kozmics seem to be saying as they wave back and forth, "We come in peace, man!" 

6) You mean there's MORE...?

But it keeps going from there...you can actually un-latch the plastic dome of a Kozmic's spaceship and release the little critter from its stand, take it out, hold it and love it!  This is probably where most of them lost their antennae in the 70s, a bizarre bit of un-planned obsolescence; you have to be careful when you open a Kozmic's spaceship dome or you will brush the head of the little doll and break its antennas off.  Doing so, you risk a good $50-60 of the re-sale value on eBay!

Once unencumbered and terrestrial there's not much more a "Kozmic" can do than a regular Kiddle; their heads swivel and that's about it--they don't have any joints.  But you can shake them and their eyes spin around...can you do that with a vintage Cabbage Patch Doll, I ask you? And again...Kozmic Kiddles have heads that glow in the dark.  What more could you want, really?

antenna-less Greenie Meanie
antenna-less Greenie Meanie

7) Kozmic Kiddles today

Some time around 1973 I remember seeing my first Kozmic Kiddle in a department store and being absolutely transfixed.  I am sure I begged my parents to buy me one and I'm sure they did NOT purchase one for me because it was not a toy that was appropriate for a little boy.  But I showed them!

Twenty-six years later the generation just before mine, "Baby Boomers," were re-discovering their childhoods and Kiddles re-emerged as a gold mine of lost childhood memories and dreams.  The combination of Boomers being middle-aged-stable and existing in a world where the economy was healthy led to a boom of consignment shops and on-line market places that was further fuelled by auction sites like eBay and Yahoo.  Where early 70s toys had long been cast aside in the techno-trash 80s, suddenly they were being appreciated anew in the "I can afford it so I'm getting it!" 90s. 

I had completely forgotten about the Kozmics by the time I ran across my first vintage one in 1999.  I fell in love with it instantly--my mind was flooded with memories of the "anything goes if it feels good" 1970s.  The attention to detail, the bizarre 1960s-influenced color scheme...the un-familiar "familiarity" of it all drove me to purchase my first Kozmic Kiddle and eventually led me to an obsession to "collect them all." 

In no time I became a bit of an expert on the subject and found OTHER such extremists; I came to understand that "Kozmic Fever" wasn't unique to myself and I did not need to feel alone in my fervor to gaze longingly at the glowing heads and odd back-and-forth rolling behavior of these peculiar little plastic pals.

Liddle Kiddle Martian KOZMIC MEANIE GREENIE vintage alien doll...

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8) Kozmic Kiddles tomorrow

Eventually I had a complete, mint collection of these remarkable little toy friends; it cost me plenty but again, at the time, that wasn't such a big deal.  While it struck me as a bit odd that there was a 100% mark-up on the things (they were originally priced at $1.99!) there was something...noble...about belonging to a club of "Kollectors" who really KNEW what we HAD--the most unique little toys that ever existed!

In the last five years or so I've sold all but one of my Kozmics.  My mind has turned away from sentimental visions of the past and towards a more sober future.  I sold three of my Kozmics for ridiculous mark-ups on eBay and was glad to know the market for these wonderful little plastic extra-terrestrials hasn't dwindled since my re-newed fascination with them began in the 90s.

I don't know that interest in the Kozmics will be maintained now that Boomers are beginning to mature and that is, I suppose, just the way of things, but it would be a shame if future generations couldn't properly appreciate the fine craftsmanship and love that went into these silly little mass-marketed toys.

I've been to many toy and figure shows over the years and I've still not seen the like of the "Kozmics" anywhere.  In 2001 a company reproduced all four Kozmics in keychain form and that leads me to believe there MUST be more to the Kozmic mythos than the sentimental feelings of people born in the late 50s and early 60s, but only time will tell.

I, for one, choose to believe that the Kozmic Kiddles are, in spirit in anyway, still sailing around the universe spreading their benevolent good cheer with their goofy, googly-eyed, smiles, swaying side-to-side with plastic-magic motion and gently glowing, phosphorescent heads!

RARE Set 4 Basic Fun Liddle Kiddles Kozmic Kiddle Spaceship Ke...

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Updated: on 10/17/2013, AnomalousArtist
 
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AnomalousArtist on 05/20/2013

A few years ago I saw a great home-made video of a "Kiddle Konvention" in the 80s and they interviewed the designers of these things, only a couple of people came up with ALL of them! And they were so sincere--there was so much love put into them, you could tell--all I could think was how much fun it must have been to have been a part of these creative teams! (And thanks, Lisa! Ha!)

Lisa on 05/20/2013

I sold most my old Kiddles on ebay, how ever I did keep my purple martian Kiddle :) If I had known I would have given you first dib :)

fitzcharming on 05/20/2013

I remember Kiddles but not the Kozmic version. I have 2 dolls from the early '70s - Kenner Blythe, and Emerald the Enchanting Witch by Girls World. They are quirky toys that didn't quite make mainstream marketing and were discontinued within a year. Highly collectible now but they make you wonder what toy designers were smoking back then. Great article.



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