Monday, September 16, 2013

Memory Lane: Mattel C.U.T.I.E. Dolls

Thanks to eBay and Goodwill, I've ended up with quite a few toys from my childhood.  I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts on some of these special finds.  My hope is that you, my readers, will either rediscover a long-lost beloved toy or be introduced to toys from another era.  I'm going to try to do at least two of these posts per month.  Ready for the first "walk down memory lane"? ;)

For today, we'll start with a toy that I had nearly forgotten until I ended up on an eBay rabbit trail about a month ago:  Mattel C.U.T.I.E. dolls. :)


The Mattel C.U.T.I.E. dolls were introduced in 1986 as a girl's alternative to the popular M.U.S.C.L.E. men figures already in production (which you can see and read about HERE).  C.U.T.I.E. stands for "Coolest Ultra Tiny Individuals on Earth".  The figures stand at about two inches tall and are solid-colored plastic (in trendy 80s colors, of course). ;) 

The C.U.T.I.E.s were released in small packages of four figures, like the ones pictured in this post, and in large packages of ten figures.  The large packages each had a theme to them, and there were five themes that I'm aware of:

1. "Gym Dollies" featured full-figured women in workout clothes lifting weights and exercising.
2.  "Lovey Doveys" were all dancers or singers or moms...very feminine and sweet.
3.  "Tiny Trendies" were just what they sounded like, figures wearing "cool" fashions of the times (some of which are pretty hilarious now).
4.  "Rockity Rollers" featured rock star-type women performing on musical instruments...some of them featured mohawks and other wild styles.
5.  "Bitsy Babies" were all cute little babies and toddlers.  They were a larger scale than the other C.U.T.I.E.s, making them look like an invasion of giant babies. ;)

The smaller packages did not have themes, but featured random figures from each of the five categories.  Interestingly enough, according to what I found on eBay, each individual figure in the ten packs was always the same color from pack to pack, but figures with the same mold in the smaller packs were different colors.

I don't even remember how I stumbled across these again, but when I did, I instantly remembered having them as a girl.  When I found a few packages for a reasonable price on eBay, I knew I had to have some for my 80s and 90s toy collection. :)

Here is one of the individual packs from the front...

...and the back.  From the price tag, it looks like this originally retailed for $1.99.

An explanation of the C.U.T.I.E. line.

You could send in this part of the box for a free C.U.T.I.E.s poster.

More package details:


So here's a close look at one of the cuties.  She is one of the "Tiny Trendies", and her name is "Rani Rad".  Yeah.  It was the 80s. :}  In the ten pack, she was yellowish orange instead of purple.  

Here's a view from the back.

And this is the guy that I saw by accident online and went, "Oh my goodness, I had that guy!!"  And then the search began. ;)  My mom must have gotten me one of the four packs, because I don't remember having very many of these, and mine was purple like this one, while his color in the ten pack was a red orange.  (Plus, Mom wouldn't have been into getting me figurines with mohawks, and there was at least one in the ten pack he came in.) ;)  He is also a "Tiny Trendies", and his name is "B. Cool".  Since I didn't have the big set, I didn't know his name (and I wouldn't have liked it, anyway), so I always called him Jeff.  

A back view of "Jeff". 

He stands nicely on his own.

I ended up with two sets from eBay, one to keep in the package and one to open.  The little gym gal in the front (whose name, I discovered, is "Sweaty Betty") is a little random.  As near as I can tell, that's the way she's supposed to be, but it sure doesn't look like a proper way to weight train. ;)  There was also at least one figure that didn't stand up like she was supposed to (the pink guitar player in the back).  

Unfortunately, while the M.U.S.C.L.E. men were very popular, the C.U.T.I.E.s were not so successful.  As a result, not many people know about them.  I always thought they were fun, though.  I had a weakness for small toys I could take along with me everywhere. :)  And the nice thing about them being fairly unknown is that they're very reasonably priced on eBay, which is great for collectors on a budget like me. ;)

While doing some research on these, I found a YouTube video that has pictures and names for every single C.U.T.I.E. figure made.  I thought you might enjoy seeing them all, so I went ahead and linked it HERE.  

I hope you enjoyed this first look at toys of the past.  Did any of you have C.U.T.I.E.s?  Is there another 80s or 90s toy you'd like to reminisce about?  Let me know in the comments! :)

13 comments:

BlackKitty said...

Wow, I bet these would look wicked painted! But the crazy colours are cool, too.

beastsbelle said...

They would be a fun paint project, wouldn't they? Providing you had a nice, tiny brush for the facial features. ;)

My daughters had the same reaction, by the way. I shared one C.U.T.I.E. with each of them, and they asked if they could paint them someday. :)

BlackKitty said...

Did you say yes?

Anonymous said...

Dear Beastsbelle,
I didn't actually own any C.U.T.I.E. figures when I was growing up in the 80s. I found out about this line in a book called "Thirty Years Of Mattel Fashion Dolls" by J. Michael Augustyniak. Incidentally, if you're looking for photos and information on The Heart Family, She-Ra Princess Of Power, or Lady Lovelylocks, this book is the place to find it. Anyway, I've actually been compiling a list of 80s and 90s toys: things I had, things I wanted but never got (I always asked my parents for way too much come Christmas), things in my current collection, and things that my brother and sisters had. I've also been researching what years these toys were made and which companies made them. My idea is to someday make a scrapbook with photos of my 80s and 90s toy collection. I would've liked to post my list here, to inspire you, but it's over a page long.
Sincerely, T'Ley

beastsbelle said...

BlackKitty, I gave them a "someday" yes, if that makes sense. I don't mind them painting them, we just have to find the time and borrow supplies from Grandma. ;)

Hi T'Ley, nice to meet you. :) Thanks for the tip on the book...it sounds great! :)

You can always email me the list, if you'd like. I know how fun it is to share about your finds. You can reach me at nevergrowup.beastsbelle@gmail.com

Just a warning, though...I'm horribly behind on my email correspondence, so I might not get right back to you. :}

Thanks for stopping by!

madhu said...

Wow this is really a great collection of toys used here.

Barbie doll house in India

beastsbelle said...

Thanks. :)

Jessica M. said...

I don't exactly remember these, and yet I have a wrinkle in my brain that thinks it might have seen one at one time. I know they were not on my radar screen. I LOVE 80s toys! I was mostly into Barbie, Strawberry Shortcake, Carebears, My Little Pony, but also had Monchichi, popples... do you remember the charm necklaces with the little plastic charms? LOVED those! I kept mine thinking someday I would hand them down... not yet. Thanks for sharing!

beastsbelle said...

Hi Jessica, thanks for stopping by.

I loved the same things you did! :) Monchichi!! I'd forgotten about those! I just had one of the little PVC figures, the one with the pink nightcap and the blanket.

I never ended up getting into Popples, but a lot of my friends had them.

I do remember those necklaces, although I never owned one personally. How fun that you still have yours! :)

Have a great day. :)

Megan Dunham said...

Wow i have all of them but couldnt remember what they were called till now!! Thank you!

Mark Patraw said...

I remember C.U.T.I.E.s, but, being a guy, I never had any (I shudder to think of the ridicule that I would have been subjected to if I had been caught in the possession of any kind of "girls" toy by the other boys at school or in the neighborhood--of course, now that I'm grown up, I own all sorts of dolls and don't care who knows it). I did have a small collection of the M.U.S.C.L.E. figures (I held on to those for years, but, I eventually gave them away to my younger brother's girlfriend's son--I kind of wish that I'd kept at least one of them though, just for nostalgia's sake if nothing else). As they were manufactured in Japan, I have to wonder if the C.U.T.I.E.s were actually characters from a manga/anime like M.U.S.C.L.E. were (Kinnikuman in their case) that were repurposed for North American consumers.

Monsters in my Pocket was another similar toy line of unarticulated, rainbow-hued mini-figures, that came out a bit later, that I liked.

beastsbelle said...

You're welcome, Megan! :) I was the same way until I accidentally ran into these again online. It was so fun to relive old memories. :)

Hi Mark! Isn't it nice being grown up and being able to collect what you enjoy without constantly worrying about others? ;)

It would be interesting to see if the C.U.T.I.E.s were based on an anime show. I remember the M.U.S.C.L.E. guys...one of the kids in my neighbor's daycare had them and used to let me play with them. I never knew they were based on actual anime characters, though.

I'll have to look up Monsters in my Pocket now, too. :)

Thanks for stopping by!

beastsbelle said...

Whoops...it's been a while since I've read this post. Obviously you already knew I'd heard of the M.U.S.C.L.E. guys since I mentioned them. :} Sorry!