Sea Wees

Sea Wees

Since time immemorial, kids have dreaded the drudgery of bath time. Enterprising toy companies took advantage of that fact and produced a huge variety of tub and pool toys: boats, submarines, and solid plastic action figures. Most of these toys however appeal to boys and that left girls in the lurch. Enter Sea Wees, the Barbies of the sea!

Do you know what happens to a Barbie doll when you submerge it in water? The water seeps into Barbie’s empty head (no judgments here, the head is actually hollow) and the leg and arm joints. Good luck trying to dry it out, you will drip water in a nice guilty trail all the way to your room. Released by Kenner in 1979, the Sea Wees solved that problem as they were designed for aquatic shenanigans while retaining fashion doll looks.

They stood (floated?) at four inches, had long hair and each had different color fins. Also included was a comb—essential equipment for mermaids—and a sponge shaped like a lily pad. After their initial success, each Sea Wee was packaged with a baby Sea Wee of her own. The fathers remained at large.

The Sea Wees line developed further with the introduction of TropiGals hailing from, unsurprisingly, the tropics. Joining the original Sea Wees—Sandy, Coral and Shelly—were Flora, Camille, Oceanna and Pearl (the first African-American Sea Wee).

In addition to the sponge and the baby, TropiGals also boasted removable hula skirts and pets that were half-fish, half-other animal (dog, cat, etc.). From the tropics to the Arctic, the next Sea Wees were the IcyGals with molded fur coats to protect them from the polar waters. These little darlings also had a contrasting streak running through their hair. Also appearing in this toy line were ballerina Sea Wees, a Sea Wees ‘n Babies set and the Vanity Shell that accommodated all Sea Wees paraphernalia and the owner’s vanity items to boot.

Kenner stopped making Sea Wees in 1984 but the torch passed to the Disney mega hit The Little Mermaid which flooded the market with water-friendly toys. Even Mattel came around and released a mermaid Barbie specifically for water use. The bathtub would never be boring again.

Did you have your own collection of Sea Wees to accompany you during bath time? We’d love to hear your memories of these beloved aquatic toys in our comments section below.

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