Mom’s purse was always filled with an assortment of strange devices – such as those little compact containers, complete with mirror and that ever-mysterious make-up. And if mom had a need to carry these things around, the first thing a young girl was likely to think was “I want one too!” But as intriguing as a dollop of colored powder might be, imagine the appeal of having the same little cases to carry around, just like mom, but have them filled with a delightful little secret world filled with tiny and adorable dolls. The temptation would be almost impossible to resist.
That was the thought process of a man named Chris Wiggins who, in 1983, took a small plastic compact case and created a miniature abode for his tiny doll named Polly. Standing less than one inch tall, Polly and an assortment of friends inhabited these small but luxurious dwellings that, when combined, created a wondrous little world. England’s Bluebird Toys liked the idea enough to market the Polly Pocket concept and the first toys hit the shelves in 1989. Across the Atlantic, Mattel Toys decided to distribute the toys in the early 90s and, following their success, eventually purchased the rights to the toy in 1998.
Polly and her friends (including Dana, Billy, Stephanie and Becky, to name but a few) were each removable, made of hard plastic and could bend at the waist. Besides their little plastic carrying-case residences, an assortment of other items were available as well including lockets, hair accessories, and a plethora of playsets that could all be combined to create an ideal community for Polly and pals. From shops and houses to carnivals, zoos and portable dinner and pool parties, Polly and her Lilliputian cohorts had a tiny but impressive area to explore – all of which could be safely transported within the pockets of their young owners.
When 1999 rolled around, not only had the collection of Polly accessories grown to astronomical proportions, but even Polly had grown a bit. They created a larger version of the doll with a more life-like appearance. They also released the Fashion Polly! dolls, utilizing the same familiar characters but in a much larger size of 3 ¾ inches tall, complete with “Polly Stretch” garments made of stretchable rubber. Mattel even allowed their iconic Barbie to be shrunk down to Polly size in a special assortment of Polly products.
Over the years, these little compact dolls and their tiny dwellings have caught the attention of many a collector, assuring that this little community will continue to thrive and giving Polly and her pals the longevity they deserve. If you once sported your own Polly Pocket collection, we welcome your memories in our comments section, as we fondly remember this popular 90s toy.