The Barbara Ann Scott Skating Doll
After Sonja Henie and before Carol Heiss and Peggy Fleming, Barbara Ann Scott ruled the ice.
Barbara Ann Scott was born in Ottawa, Ontario, on May 9, 1928. Her first skating assignment came when she was 6 years old and she skated as Raggedy Ann in the Ottawa Skating Carnival. In the following years, she won many championships, culminating in the 1948 Olympic gold medal.
That medal was quite an achievement. The skating events were held in an outdoor rink. Two hockey games had already been played there, and the ice was rutted and rough. To add to Barbara's problems, the recorded musical accompaniment for her program stopped and she had to start her performance over again.
When she won, all Canada seemed to glow with pride. Large parades attended by emotional crowds were held in her honor. It had been only a few years since the end of World War II, and the country was looking for something like this wonderful event to help put their hardships and tragedies of the war behind them. .
One Winner Produces Another
The Reliable Toy Company of Toronto commissioned famed American doll designer Bernard Lipfert to design a doll portraying Barbara Ann Scott.
In business since 1920 under the ownership of Alex Samuels, Reliable was the largest toy manufacturer in the British empire and had become famous for its many different dolls. Its most famous doll was the Shirley Temple doll for which Reliable held the Canadian license. Reliable manufactured composition Shirley Temples in many sizes in the 1930s. The company was famous for its attention to detail and its quality products.
From 1948-1954, the company produced the Barbara Ann Scott doll in her skating outfit. She was also a very popular doll. At one time, almost every little Canadian girl had her on her Christmas list.
The composition Barbara Ann Scott skating doll was 15" tall. In later years the Reliable Toy Company would become famous for its plastic toys, but the Barbara Ann Scott doll continued to be made of composition. It is difficult to find one in mint condition today due to the fragile nature of the material. Over time the doll - especially the face - begins to craze; large cracks may even appear.
Barbara Ann Scott is jointed at the shoulders, neck and hips. The composition head has blue sleep eyes, lashes and painted brows. her cheeks and knees are tinged with red; she appears to be wearing her "stage" make-up, ready to go onto the ice at any moment.
Her hair is honey blond - just like the real Barbara Ann Scott's - and her open mouth reveals teeth. She wears a large smile. Markings on her head read: "Reliable/Made in Canada."
Variations in Costuming
Though the doll was always composition, her skating outfit did change. In 1948, the first doll wore a blue lace skating outfit trimmed with maribou feathers, a pearl coronet had and figure skating boots - the boot type which can be taken off, put back on, and laced up. The metal skate blades are attached to the bottom of the skate boots with little rivets.
The other unique item is a small skate tag which hung from her hand. It reads "Barbara Ann Scott" (printed in red), then "Doll" (printed in blue) and then "Barbara Ann Scott" again (again in red). On the skate blade, "Reliable Toy company Limited, Toronto" is printed in red.
The 1949 version wears a blue costume and a tiara.
The 1950 version also had a hat and a velveteen skating costume. It should be noted that each of the costumes was nicely trimmed with maribou feathers.
The 1951 Barbara Ann Scott wears a blue outfit with gold dots and the maribou trim. A second version is pink with gold dots.
As befits an outfit for skating in the cold outdoors, all of her costumes are long-sleeved.
The doll's box is not elaborate. On the side panel is printed "Barbara Ann Scott Doll" with the Reliable Toy Company information. On the right side of the label panel is Barbara Ann Scott in a skating pose, looking up. The label also has the color stamped on it.
Canadian Winter Athletes as Dolls
Canadian skaters and dolls excel!
Given the long winters, it is no wonder that winter sports are so very popular in Canada. It should not be surprising, then, that outstanding winter athletes have been honored as national heroes.
Canadian toy companies have a long history of honoring their nation's winter athletes. From the late 1940s to the 1980s, manufacturers produced several dolls representing famous female competitors. The most famous was Barbara Ann Scott doll, modeled after the renowned figure skater. She was marketed by the Reliable Toy Company of Toronto from 1948-1954 as mentioned earlier.
Reliable's Anne Heggtveit
But besides Barbara Ann Scott, several other dolls were produced. In 1961, Reliable manufactured the Anne Heggtveit doll. The doll's namesake won fame during the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., when she won Canada's first gold medal in alpine skiing.
The Anne Heggtveit doll is 16" tall. she has a plastic body and legs and vinyl arms. She is jointed at the hips, neck and shoulders. Her vinyl plastic head has saran hair, and like many Reliable dolls, she has blue sleep eyes with painted lower lashes and a closed mouth.
Reliable's mark is on the doll's body. An original Anne Heggtveit should have a tag which reads, "Canadian Olympic Ski Champion/ Anne Heggtveit Doll - made by Reliable in Canada."
The most important aspect of this doll is her wardrobe. Two outfits were available for the Anne Heggtveit doll. She came wearing a zippered print ski jacket, gloves, slacks, ski boots and the nice accessories of sunglasses and tiny skis.
A second outfit, no doubt designed for walking around the Olympic Village after the day's events, included a blue pullover with matching pants, gloves, black felt boots, and a white headband.
The key to this doll's value are these two outfits which set her apart from other dolls. The tag is an important consideration as well in determining the doll's mint condition.
Karen Magnussen from Regal Toy
Toronto's Regal Toy Company produced a Karen Magnussen doll in 1974, honoring the world-famous skater. The real-life Karen Magnussen wowed audiences in Canada and around the world from the late ‘60s though early ‘70s, winning the Canadian Women's Championship in 1968 and a silver medal at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, before winning the World Championship in 1973.
Regal was a younger company than Reliable, founded in 1959 by the Frank Samuels family. The company produced plastic and vinyl dolls.
Their plastic Karen Magnussen doll stands 18" tall. her vinyl head has rooted blond curls, blue eyes and a closed mouth. The body is jointed at the neck, shoulders and hips. Her permanently affixed eye shadow is a nice extra touch, giving her the appearance of being ready to set out onto the ice at any moment.
The doll is stamped "Regal Toy/Made in Canada."
Her box reads, "Karen Magnussen World Champion, Star of the Ice Capades" and "Every little girl loves a Regal doll." The same information is also printed on the box in French, befitting the bilingual nature of Canada's population.
A picture of the real Ms. Magnussen in a skating pose graces the middle of the box.
The most recent female skater doll of a collectible nature was manufactured following the the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics when Elizabeth Manley doll was produced by the Star Doll and Distinctive Dolls of Canada.
Stands 17" tall, and her plastic body has jointed hips, neck and shoulders. Her vinyl head has short, rooted, curly blond hair, and brown eyes with lashes.
She is marked, "Elizabeth Manley - 1989/Star Doll."
Her white Stetson hat is the most important feature of her outfit. Every member of the Canadian olympic team wore a white Stetson as a part of the national uniform for the Calgary Olympics. It served as a fun reminder of Calgary's long heritage of western tradition, and its role as host of the annual Calgary Stampede, an enormous rodeo festival.
Dolls of Canada - A Reference Guide by Evelyn Strahlendorf. Book Lore Publications, 1986, Ottawa, Ont. Comprehensive history of Canadian dolls.
The Charlton Price Guide to Canadian Dolls by Evelyn Strahlendorf. Charlton Press, Toronto, Ont.
Jim Trautman is a freelance writer for magazines and television. He is presently working on several projects. Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org