Welcome Samantha!

Samantha in her meet outfit

I am now the very proud and happy owner of a white body Samantha doll!

I wouldn’t normally have looked for one, but I had recently been disappointed by what was described as a 1986 white body Molly and turned out to be a 2011 brown body Molly (I think the seller was very young and didn’t know the difference between them — she accepted the return without question, so no hard feelings). It made me wonder if there were other white body dolls being auctioned or sold so I did a search and found several offerings, including this one. The exchange rate is good at the moment and I just received a much larger tax refund than I had expected so I assuaged my disappointment with the earlier purchase by buying this one (at twice the price). I confess that apart from this photo session to show her off and compare her to my other Samanthas she’s probably going to be kept in her box and maybe petted from time to time.

She is absolutely amazing. In bookshop terms she’d be described as Fine, Near Mint — I don’t think you could find one in better condition at 35 years after her release. I feel as if she deserves some sort of honorific title for having survived so well for so long, which I would totally give her if she were British, but of course she’s American so she’ll stay plain Miss Parkington.

Preliminary note: the dressed photo is very yellow, as in my previous post. While my battery was indeed dying at the time, I noted the same yellow tint on this evening’s photos and was somewhat perplexed until I noted that the mode button had somehow rotated to the Personal setting — being completely uninterested in learning about photography I keep it on Intelligent Auto unless it’s absolutely necessary to change (video or an extreme close-up, for example). Given that I had undressed the doll I didn’t want to get her all dressed up again just for one photo, so I’m using the yellow one for that.

Samantha's box
Meet Samantha book

The box itself is in pretty good condition — the corners are bumped and there are a few scratches, but it’s great for its age. The paper band around the box was included and so was the “Meet Samantha” book inside, but no other accessories. I can always get her a hat if I want one but I’m not sure that I do.

Samantha's meet outfit
clothing labels

The frock is in perfect condition. The belt is stitched to the dress so not removable. It has a label stating “Made in West Germany 1986” which I initially thought meant it was a first release doll, but later I learned that it refers to the copyright date on the garment, not the manufacturing date, so the doll could have been made at any time between 1986 and 1991 when they switched to brown bodies. Unfortunately the fabric is completely synthetic — not quite “umbrella nylon” but not far off it, which is a huge disappointment.

Under the dress she is wearing drawers/pantalettes, which feel like cotton. The elastic has perished (hardly surprising) and there is some fraying around the seams but otherwise they are very good. The black knit tights are fairly thick and the elastic has perished there too. The shoes are black plastic “Mary Jane” type with one strap across the instep.

If I actually liked the dress I’d remake it in better fabrics but as it happens I am not at all fond of the pouffed-chest that the Edwardians found so attractive, so I think I’ll try and find something better from around 1890 or 1915 to make for her.

Samantha front
The vinyl is slightly tacky or greasy in feel – I’m not sure if the vinyl itself is starting to break down (unlikely) or if there is some residue from handling, cleaning or sealing. I’m going to try a gentle vodka wipedown and then proceed on to other cleaning agents if that doesn’t work.

As you can see, the body cloth is pristine. Stitching is good. Stuffing is not quite as firm as some other dolls (which may have been restuffed by the seller) but not too squishy. The ties are flat, not round. There is no tag — I think tags were introduced around the same time as they switched to brown bodies.

The arms and legs have no scratches or stains (not that I expected any). The vinyl is definitely a little softer than in later dolls.

Arm joint
The arm joints are a bit loose but the leg joints are reasonably tight and she can stand unsupported.

Samantha face close-up
Her eyes are brown with radial spikes and are still glossy (I wasn’t able to get a very good shot of them with the flash, but I’ll try in daylight when I do the comparison post). The eyelashes are longer, more curled and slightly softer than in the later Chinese-made dolls. The eyebrows are much lighter than I’d expected, almost a gold. She has hardly any lip colour — I always thought that the colour had worn off the other 1990s dolls I acquired, but it was obviously very subtle to start with. The teeth are visible but not a bright white so they don’t stand out as they do in later models.

Samantha hair
I’d heard that Samantha’s hair was originally much lighter but it still came as quite a surprise to see just how much lighter it is — I’d call it mid-brown or light chestnut at the most, and I suspect it’s as light as or even possibly lighter than Molly’s. It’s also quite long and wavy and still shiny, though a little dry at the ends. Her hair ribbon is from the same fabric as the frock.

Samantha neck stamp
The wig has a thick fabric band at the back with a few short hairs to cover it (not as much as later wigs). It seems to cover more of the neck than later wigs do. The neck is stamped “PLEASANT COMPANY” in what I’d term a medium font, and the arch of the lettering is gentle. I wasn’t able to identify an artist’s mark but it might be covered by the wig.

So, that’s my white-body Samantha.

I’ll do a formal mould comparison later on — I have a 1990s and a 2014 model Samantha I can compare directly with this one, and while I don’t have a Samantha from the early/mid 2000s I do have a Kailey from 2002, an Emily from 2006 (possibly the last use of the old PC mould) and a Saige from 2013 (the last named doll released prior to the Be Forever re-mould).