Best Buy Clones & Clothing

By the mid-1970s only Montgomery Ward and Sears were still selling genuine Mattel Ken clothing through the Christmas catalogues. The other stores sold their own cheaper ‘clone’ clothing, sometimes in combination with a genuine Ken, but mostly independently. There were several different-looking male clone dolls produced in this period, but the classic Mod era Ken was now being widely copied and would continue to appear right into the 1980s.

Ultimately it was this mass of cheap clone clothing from Hong Kong which was responsible for Mattel’s own decline in quality. Forced to compete, they moved production from Japan in 1972. They introduced their own Korean-made cheap line called Best Buy Fashions, but even the supposedly high-end range of Get-Ups ‘N Go fashions were very poorly-made compared to the earlier Japan-produced clothing.

From 1974 JCPenney Christmas catalogue
From 1974 JCPenney Christmas catalogue
From 1974 Eaton's Christmas catalogue
From 1974 Eaton’s Christmas catalogue
From 1974 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
From 1974 Spiegel Christmas catalogue

BOB SCOUT BY KENNER

Kenner were clearly inspired by Mattel’s Brad (see the 1970 Boys section) when they produced the head for their Bob Scout doll.

1974 Bob Scout by Kenner
1974 Bob Scout by Kenner
1974 Bob Scout by Kenner with original packaging
1974 Bob Scout by Kenner with original packaging

From 1974 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
From 1974 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
1974-5 Montgomery Ward swimsuits
1974-5 Montgomery Ward beachwear
From 1974 Aldens Christmas catalogue
From 1974 Aldens Christmas catalogue
From 1975 Aldens Christmas catalogue
From 1975 Aldens Christmas catalogue
From 1975 JCPenney Christmas catalogue
From 1975 JCPenney Christmas catalogue
From 1975 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
From 1975 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
1975 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
1975 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
From 1975 Eaton's Christmas catalogue
From 1975 Eaton’s Christmas catalogue
From 1975 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
From 1975 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue

TONI/FRANK (GERMANY) & GARY (USA/CANADA)

Sold as Gary in the US, and Toni, Frank or Harry in Germany, this classic Mod Era Ken clone was also sold incognito through the Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogues from 1975 until 1980 (see also section Superstar Clone & Clothing). The basic look remains the same, but the details can vary, such as face-paint and body parts. Presumably companies ordered dolls from standard parts and had them assembled/packaged them as desired. They are certainly all produced in Hong Kong.

Cool Fringe for Gary (USA/Canada)
Cool Fringe for Gary (USA/Canada)
Reverse of US Gary outfit packaging
Reverse of US Gary outfit packaging
1970s German Toni doll
1970s German Toni doll
Reverse of Toni outfit packaging
Reverse of German Toni outfit packaging
German Kleider für Toni by Alme
German Kleider für Toni by Alme
German Frank Modische Kleidung
German Frank Modische Kleidung
1970s German Frank Doll
1970s German Frank Doll
1970s German Frank doll
1970s German Frank doll
1970s German Frank doll
1970s German Frank doll

This classic Mod Ken clone was also sold in many other guises. As a blonde he clearly resembles The Sun Set Malibu Ken.

Fireman Action and Jeffrey (Mod Ken clones)
1970s Fireman Action and Jeffrey doll
1970s James doll
1970s James doll

BOBBY ORR BY REGAL TOY LIMITED

Regal Toy Limited in Canada packaged two different dolls as Bobby Orr in 1975, though neither of them look anything like the blonde Ice Hockey champion. The one shown below is obviously the Toni doll as pictured on the reverse of the outfit packaging above. Like Joe Namath (see section Mod Clones & Clothing), Bobby Orr is one of the few celebrity/sports dolls to be given several separate fashion outfits.

1975 Bobby Orr by Regal Toy Limited
1975 Bobby Orr by Regal Toy Limited
1975 Bobby Orr clothing reverse of packaging
Reverse of Bobby Orr outfit packaging
1975 Bobby Orr Tuxedo by Regal Toys Ltd.
1975 Bobby Orr Tuxedo by Regal Toy Limited
From 1975 Simpsons Sears Christmas Wish Book
From 1975 Canadian Simpsons Sears Christmas Wish Book

FRED BY PLASTY (GERMANY)

In 1973 Plasty introduced a redesigned Fred, a slightly more boyish doll than the previous model (see section Mod Clones & Clothing). The first rooted hair version, called Fred Star, followed in 1974, and was obviously inspired by Mattel’s Mod Hair Ken. According to the Petra catalogues both versions were available until 1977 at least. Around 1976 a third doll, Super-Fred, was introduced. He had flocked hair, was more action figure-like and clearly based on GI Joe/Action Man.

1973 Fred #5793 with original packaging
1973 Fred #5793
1974 #5794 Fred Star by Plasty
1974 #5794 Fred Star by Plasty
c.1974 Fred Star identification markings
c.1974 Fred Star identification markings
From 1973 Die Neuen Kleider fuer Petra brochure
From 1973 Die Neuen Kleider fuer Petra brochure
c.1974-5 #5793 Fred by Plasty
c.1974-5 #5793 Fred by Plasty
1976 #5793 Fred by Plasty
c.1975-6 #5793 Fred by Plasty
From 1975 Petra & Fred Mode catalogue
From 1975 Petra & Fred Mode catalogue by Plasty
From 1976 Petra & Fred catalogue by Plasty
From 1976 Petra & Fred catalogue by Plasty
From 1977 Plasty/Airfix Petra & Fred catalogue
From 1977 Petra & Fred catalogue by Plasty/Airfix
1977 #5793 Fred by Plasty
1977 #5793 Fred by Plasty/Airfix
1975-77 Fred Star #5794 with original packaging
1977 #5794 Fred Star by Plasty/Airfix

Below is just a very small sample of the outfits available for Fred from 1973-1978. The numbering of the outfits is quite bizarre, as each year similar or identical numbers were allotted to totally different outfits. Most years had a single clothing line, but from 1975-77 Fred had two clothing lines, the regular one plus a ‘Men’s Shop’ line.

From 1975 Plasty Petra & Fred Mode catalogue
From 1975 Petra & Fred Mode catalogue by Plasty
1976 Petra & Fred catalogue by Plasty
1976 Petra & Fred catalogue by Plasty
1976 Petra & Fred catalogue by Plasty/Airfix
1977 Petra & Fred catalogue by Plasty/Airfix
1973 Fred by Plasty Neue Mode #5871
1973 Fred Neue Mode #5871 by Plasty
1974 Fred by Plasty Herrenmode #5878
1974 Fred Herrenmode #5878 by Plasty
1975 Fred by Plasty Herrenmode #5886
1975 Fred Herrenmode #5886 by Plasty
1975 Men's Shop für Fred #5904 (Special Offer) by Plasty
1975 Men’s Shop #5904 (Special Offer) by Plasty
1976 Fred by Plasty Herrenmode #5873
1976 Fred Herrenmode #5873 by Plasty
1976 Men's Shop für Fred #5902 by Plasty
1976 Men’s Shop #5902 by Plasty
1977 Fred by Plasty/Airfix Modellkleidung #5873
1977 Fred Modellkleidung #5873 by Plasty/Airfix
1978 Fred by Plasty/Airfix Modellkleidung #5886
1978 Fred Modellkleidung #5886 by Plasty/Airfix

(YOUNG SWEETHEARTS) MICHAEL BY MATTEL

In 1976 Mattel released this Michael doll, who looks like a younger version of The Now Look Ken. Four matching his ‘n hers outfits were released in conjunction with these dolls though, as Michael is much skinnier, his clothes do not really fit Ken.

1976 #9271 Young Sweethearts Michael and Melinda
1976 #9271 Young Sweethearts by Mattel
1976 #9587 Sunny Sunday
1976 #9587 Sunny Sunday by Mattel

From 1976 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
From 1976 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
1976 Montgomery Ward clothing set
1976 Montgomery Ward clothing set
From 1976 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
From 1976 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
From 1976 JCPenney Christmas catalogue
From 1976 JCPenney Christmas catalogue
From 1976 Aldens Christmas catalogue
From 1976 Aldens Christmas catalogue

(SUNTAN) ERIC BY IDEAL

Eric is the boyfriend of Tuesday Taylor, and the first male doll to come complete with a terrific personality! He was only produced for two years, and I don’t believe he had his own clothing range. The first two Erics are both dated 1976 on the reverse of card. Suntan Eric is from 1977.

1976 Eric and 1977 Suntan Eric. Tuesday Taylor's boyfriend
1976 Eric and 1977 Suntan Eric. Tuesday Taylor’s boyfriend.
1976 Eric by Ideal markings
1976 Eric identification markings
From 1977 Ideal buyer catalogue
From 1977 Ideal buyer catalogue

From 1977 JCPenny Christmas catalogue
From 1977 JCPenny Christmas catalogue
From 1977 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
From 1977 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
From 1977 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
From 1977 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
From 1977 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
From 1977 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
From 1978 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
From 1978 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue
1978 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue clone clothing
1978 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue clone clothing
From 1978 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
From 1978 Spiegel Christmas catalogue
From 1978 Aldens Christmas catalogue
From 1978 Aldens Christmas catalogue
From 1978 Aldens Christmas catalogue
From 1978 Aldens Christmas catalogue
From 1978 JCPenney Christmas catalogue
From 1978 JCPenney Christmas catalogue