Tuesday, April 9, 2024

H: The Heart Family

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter H

The Heart Family

The basic family sets (above and below).
 Both dads used
previous Ken head molds, thus bearing a
slight resemblance to Ken.

The Heart Family was introduced in 1985 and were said to be friends of Barbie. Yet many did not see or even know the connection, as the Heart Family had their own blue packaging as opposed to Barbie's trademark pink packaging. Before Midge and Alan's Happy Family line, there was this family--Mr. and Mrs. Heart and their twin boy and girl babies, none of whom had names.The family was made in both Caucasian and African American versions. Grandparents were also made (but only one set, and no grandparents for the AA family), as well as a family dog. The kids were soon joined by several cousins and neighborhood friends, all of whom did have names. And long before the pregnant Midge Doll, the Heart Family had a New Arrival Set, with a new baby. Another toy that was pre-social media. For whatever reasons, the New Arrival Baby was never seen again after one year.

The family could be purchased in deluxe sets (all four dolls) or in sets with one parent paired with one baby. Originally the mom came with the baby girl and the dad with the boy, but the two later switched babies, presumably to make the dad sets better sellers, since female dolls sell best. Numerous sets of the family were sold over five years of production, including a basic doll set (shown above), and with themes such as birthday parties, "Kiss and Cuddle," school, bath time and a Disneyland visit (in 1990, for the park's 35th anniversary). Numerous playsets, such as a house, car, and a nursery (and too many others to mention) were available, as well as different outfit sets. The Heart Family also had several toys that were sold only on foreign markets. I so would have wanted this line, but I was too big for toys when it was out! And I likely would never have been able to get all the different sets!

The Disneyland sets (left and right),
and one of the baby cousins (middle).
Dad was once again packaged with the boy,
and Mom
 with the girl.
The cousins and neighborhood kids each came with an accessory,
 such as a rocking horse, wagon, walker or high chair.

The grandparents came with presents 
for their grandchildren.

The Heart Family was something of a modern-day spiritual successor to Mattel's 1970s line The Sunshine Family, (and their AA counterparts, The Happy Family, not to be consumed with the Midge line of the same name), a sort-of hippie alternative to Barbie. Strangely, there was a Barbie Babysits set in the Sunshine Family to establish a link between the two lines. But there were no "Barbie Babysits" sets with the Heart Family. If they were in fact her friends, then why did she not babysit for them? Perhaps Skipper could have sat for them (she would later get a babysitting line). A tie-in like this could perhaps have made the link to Barbie a little more clear. According to the link above, the "Barbie's friends" backstory was soon abandoned, perhaps because no one seemed to make the connection. No fancy Corvette or dream house, rather a Volkswagen Cabriolet and a basic four-room house (both pictured below) for this family. Certainly not indicative of a Barbie lifestyle. 

Despite not having a clear connection to Barbie, I decided to include this line since the Heart Family was something of a precursor to the Midge and Alan Happy Family line. Even before the Heart Family, there was a one-time bride and groom doll in the Barbie line in 1983, named Tracy and Todd, who may have served as a prototype for the Heart Family. (And I won't get started on how many times the name Todd has been thrown around in the Barbie line).  And an originally planned line of Alan and Midge with twin babies (seemingly inspired by the Heart Family following its cancellation) never came to fruition--more on this later.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

What I'm learning from your posts is that there was a bewildering profusion of dolls and doll sets that I have never heard of before!

Jamie Ghione said...

And this won't be the only one! A lot I learned later when I was too old for these things. And some that came out before I was born, and other that came out when I was too little to be aware. if these had been at another time, I may have wanted them.

Liz A. said...

It's too bad they didn't make more of a connection to the Barbie line. It might have made the dolls more popular. But I don't think that era of toy executives really realized that.

Elephant's Child said...

Another that I haven't heard of before.

Bernadette said...

Wow. I wasn't aware of a lot of these! I do remember having Peaches and Cream barbie though. Always wanted the Barbie car but instead had the Barbie kitchen. Great memories.

Sandra Cox said...

Also unfamiliar with the Heart Family. Interesting info.

My name is Erika. said...

Those outfits caught my eye. Boy have styles changed, haven't they? hugs-Erika

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Wouldn't have known they're connected to Barbie by the packaging alone... Not great branding on Mattel's part.

Ronel visiting for H: My Languishing TBR: H