Remco’s Brown Eye Dolls and Sweet April

Name: Brown Eye Dolls and Sweet April by Remco

Made by and When: 1968, 1969, and 1972

Material: Vinyl and rigid plastic

Head Marks and Height:

  • Brown Eye Baby Know-It-All: 288/17 EYE/E12/REMCO IND. INC./19©69; 16 inches
  • Brown Eye Billy: 3311/U4/REMCO IND. INC.19©69; 16 inches
  • Growing Sally: REMCO IND. INC./19©68; 6 inches, grows to 6-3/4 inches
  • Strolling Sweet April and Sweet April: 3389/REMCO IND. INC./19©71; 5 inches
  • Winking Winny: SE19/REMCO IND. INC./19©68; 15 inches.

Hair, Eyes, Mouth, and Function(s):

  • Brown Eye Baby Know-it-All: Short straight black rooted hair, brown stationary eyes with upper eyelashes, smiling open mouth with two lower sculpted teeth, has dimpled cheeks; battery-operated doll – when she likes something, she jumps up and down; when she doesn’t, she shakes her head “no.” Includes a feeding chair, a magic slate, and picture cards that prompt her reactions.
  • Brown Eye Billy: Short black curly rooted hair, brown sleep eyes, smiling mouth with parted lips and molded teeth
  • Growing Sally: Black yarn wig attached to a vinyl wig cap styled in two side pigtails with bangs, and an extra short black synthetic wig with bangs; painted brown eyes, smiling closed mouth; holding the doll’s neck with one hand and the legs with the other and pulling the legs down makes Sally grow approximately ¾ of an inch. Removing Sally’s wig and replacing it with the new one changes the hairstyle.
  • Strolling Sweet April and Sweet April: Short straight black rooted hair, brown inset eyes with a hole in the inner lower corner of each eye for tears, drinker mouth; Strolling Sweet April walks and makes tears. Sweet April makes tears.  When guided in the stroller with the guiding wand, Strolling Sweet April walks. A baby bottle was included with both dolls. After the bottle is filled with water and the water is squeezed into the dolls’ mouths, pressing the button on their backs raises the arms and forces water from the eyes. The arms can be manually raised to create tears after the doll is given water.
  • Winking Winny: Short black rooted curly hair, brown sleep eyes – the right eye winks when the belly prong is pressed, closed smile

Clothes:

  • Brown Eye Baby Know-It-All, Style #3229: Red and white plaid romper, white ruffled tied-on bib, white molded-on rigid plastic shoes
  • Brown Eye Billy, Style #3311: Multicolored dashiki that snaps in the back, orange pants with a snap on the side of the lower ankles, black faux suede sandals with foam soles
  • Growing Sally, Style #3295: Black belted sleeveless dress that has a yellow and white striped bodice and an orange, white, and red hopscotch printed skirt; white panties, and white vinyl slip-on shoes; to wear when taller is an extra full-length coral gown that has a white fabric rose at the waist.
  • Strolling Sweet April, Style #3365: Tan sun suit with matching white-lace-trimmed bonnet; the romper has a white vinyl bib attached. The legs of the romper are piped with beige fabric.
  • Sweet April: Gold and white floral-print dress, gold lace-trimmed panties
  • Winking Winny, Style #3260: Multicolored floral-print dress, white panties, molded-on white hard plastic socks and shoes; yellow and blue plastic beaded necklaces and bracelets

Other: Although Remco did not make Black dolls exclusively, the company recognized the need for Black dolls for Black children. In the late 1960s, African American doll designer Annuel McBurrows created a series of ethnically correct Black dolls for Remco to fulfill this need. Some of McBurrow’s dolls were included in Remco’s Brown Eye doll series. McBurrows also designed other Black dolls for Remco that were not part of the Brown Eye series. A photo of McBurrows appears on the boxes of some of the dolls he designed. With the exception of Strolling Sweet April and Sweet April, all dolls in this installation were designed by Annuel McBurrows. See Remco’s ad that features some of these and other dolls designed by McBurrows here.

A woman, presumably a worker in the Remco doll factory circa 1968, holds Tippy Tumbles, one of the dolls in Remco’s Brown Eye Doll series designed by Annuel McBurrows.
The title and caption of this 1968 photo that appeared in the November issue of Ebony magazine reads: Manufacturers have found market in socially significant playthings; Winking Winny, the imp in the pop dress cuddled by the young lady above, has no white counterpart. “Ethnically correct,” she signals a new age in the production of dolls for black children.

These widely advertised dolls were featured in Ebony magazine as illustrated by the above 1968 image of a child kissing a Winking Winny Doll.

A Winking Winny boxed paper doll set was also available.

Slideshow (swipe, right-arrow through, or click/tap the dots below the first visible image to advance to next picture).

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Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

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