Polly Pocket and her miniature friends have sparked imaginative play for decades with various incarnations delighting generations.
The beautiful concept was born when Chris Wiggs lovingly made his daughter, Kate, a tiny house play set from an old powder compact in the early 1980s. Mattel now own all rights and have developed the brand ever since (I will try to appear impartial here by not putting “developed” in inverted commas and I will try not to insist that they ruined an otherwise perfect product).
But the undisputed golden age of Polly Pocket was when Bluebird first produced these magical teeny houses in 1989, With forests, riding schools, fairytale castles, hair salons and fast food diners to name but a few themes, whatever a little heart desired, there was a Polly Pocket to suit and a little world to explore.
POLLY’S TOWN HOUSE 🏡💕 1989
This square, orange compact was the first ever Polly Pocket toy that I got my sticky, little, 8 year old hands on which sparked a slight obsession. Just looking at it gives me warm nostalgic feeling thinking of my childhood bedroom where I would line up the 3 compacts that I had under the radiator to create a little street.
It was one of the first available toys from Bluebird and there was a red version too - Polly’s Town house 1989. The dog is a replacement and the kitty is missing but I thought this nineties style bedroom was SO cool because she had a tv in her room AND was allowed posters on her wall!
The lovely little story from the packaging...
“Polly's house in town is neat and tidy, and all of her friends love coming to stay. Polly love to entertain them all and arranges exciting trips to the cinema and theatre. Sometimes all the friends have a great time together at parties and stay the night at Polly's house. Polly's town friends are always dropping in for a cool drink and a chat, and if they stay long enough, she'll make them a lovely meal. Everyone's welcome!"
I am now excited to say that I have one complete set and both colour ways of Polly’s Townhouse - eep!
MIDGE’S PLAY SCHOOL 👶🏼🚘 1989
This is my Midge’s Play school (or Nursery) 1989 and it is complete but for a teeny weeny red truck that probably went up a vacuum a few decades ago. Midge must be a grade A childminder with eyes in the back of her head with that ominous looking paddling pool there! 💦 Nineties kids were pretty tough. This is the lovely little story that Bluebird added to the packaging ...
“Midge has a play school for little children where she loves to go and play with them. There are lots of things to do: playing with buckets and spades in the sandpit, splashing in the paddling pool, riding around in the pedal car and whizzing down the slide. If it's wet outside, everyone plays indoors. Midge loves to tell them stories while they are having their milk at break time. It's such fun at the Play School that sometimes the children don't want to go home, so Midge says "Don't worry, you can come back tomorrow and we'll play some more special games"."
POLLY’S PRETTY HAIR PLAYSET 💁🏼♀️ 1990
I had 3 Polly Pocket compacts when I was little andthey didn’t survive unfortunately. But thanks to eBay and other people’s mother’s that put cherished toys in lofts, I’ve managed to buy a VIPP (that’s a very important Polly Pocket). One that is very close to my heart and has entertained me for hours.
It’s Polly’s Pretty Hair Playset from 1990. It has the mirror, comb and both hair barrettes and comes with Polly in a turquoise dress and black dog. Unfortunately Tiny Tina with her blonde bunches doesn’t live here anymore, however, the lovely seller included some extra Pollycana and added some dolls from other sets, a necklace charm and a few of the bathtub and car rings. I’m so very pleased to own this beauty again as part of my collection and in such good condition too.
EDIT (August 2020) Tiny Tina has moved back home! The set is totally and utterly complete now! Yay
BABYTIME FUN 1994 👶🏻💦👶🏼
Prepare to feel quite old when I tell you that Matt and Susie, the babies that live in the Polly Pocket Babytime Fun compact, are 26 years old! 👶🏼👶🏻❤️
This was an eBay purchase and although it’s not in perfect condition, I like the feeling that this was a loved toy that has been played with - lots! This set in particular has lots of little moving parts which delight me even as a grown up.
For this 1994 set to be complete I need a lilac adorned Polly holding a baby bottle and the little space above the cot should have a mobile that you can use tiny child-sized fingers to twirl and that same mechanism also moves the baby bouncer chairs either side, up and down.
When I went to my friend’s houses to play, the most exotic Polly Pockets were the bejewelled Princess Polly ones. Now, big, old, grown up me has just bought myself the full set from our beloved online auction overlord, eBay. Oh-ho baby! 💎
Circa 1992 we have the blue Princess Polly’s Undersea World/Adventure with what I thought was a chewed up tiger - No, it’s ‘Diver’ but Mattel and Bluebird can’t agree what the animal actually is, one saying otter the other saying beaver *snigger*
The pink one with the (probably not genuine) Ruby is the Eastern Paradise aka jewelled Palace with Chatter the monkey wearing a teeny weeny red Fez.
The Jewelled Forest/Woodland World/ Emerald Paradise, whichever name you prefer is the green one with the adorable toadstool (squee!) but in my set, Scamper the squirrel has done one. Fickle things plastic squirrels.
And last but not at all least is the lilac Polly’s Ice Kingdom with the imaginatively named, Snowy the polar bear.
All of these sets came with special matching Polly dolls that have tiny jewelled crowns on and some of the compacts still have the original chains so you can wear them as lockets. Although I’ve a much stronger neck nowadays, I’ll probably not do that but I suppose oversized jewellery was very much the style at the time.
STARLIGHT PALACE ⭐️👸🏼🤴🏻🦢1992
Is it my imagination or does Princess Polly look a tad irritated with one raised eyebrow here? Don’t you think?
Maybe because she has lost her horse and carriage, her microscopic swan has inevitably flown away and goodness knows what Prince Caspian has been up to but he’s unable to stand up anymore and is technically bed bound.
This particular Polly Pocket is the one I sent as reference for my tattoo when it was being designed so I had to grab it when I saw it for sale, in all its shabby chic glory.
You’d think living in the idyllic Starlight Castle where you can sit in a crystal gazebo and watch the stars light up would be heaven. But maybe the years have taken their toll and it’s not as magical for this pair as it was in golden days of 1992. Thank goodness there’s a few secret compartments for personal space and a coat or armour when you need a hiding place.
POLLY’S SCHOOL ✏️📚 1990
Polly’s School looks like a lovely jolly place to learn. I bought this adorable (and complete) set recently from the good people of eBay.
Miss Polly, in her periwinkle suit and hat, ensures there’s no running in the halls and with the help of a stern looking Mr Marks with parted pomaded hair, they welcome the children through the door. The duo take care of the pupils in the brightly adorned school rooms, offices, kitchen, bathroom, cafeteria and even a pool area. (Perhaps Mr Marks has some speedos on under his suit and green tie).
FUNTIME CLOCK ⏰ 👵🏻👴🏻 1991
Bluebird toys said "Father Time and Mrs. Chime live in the secret play house on top of the Funtime Clock: lift the lid and you'll find them there! When Rainy Day Polly and Sunshine Midge come for a visit, they get a welcoming wave through the arch."
I’m very lucky to have two of the Polly Pocket 1991 Funtime clocks, both in working condition too. The blue one is complete with all four figures but has faded to a fetching mint green colour and I’ve a peachy orangey one that was once upon a time, the pink version. There is also a third glittery pink one that exists too.
I guessed this because previous little owner decorated it with some bang-on-trend, nineties style, stick-on earrings which I’m amazed have hung in there all these years, they were notorious for not really sticking to skin longer than 2 minutes! Peeling the ones on the clock back a little reveals the original pinkness of the plastic in all its glory. But as a lover of stick on earrings, I’m keeping them on there as they’re a source of delight all on their own.
NANCY’s WEDDING / BRIDESMAID POLLY 1991 Fuelled by childhood nostalgia, at first I intended to replace the three Polly play sets that I had as a little girl. Then I started buying the ones my friends had that I remembered playing with. Now, there is no real limit to this ridiculous obsession but it’s the 1989-95 sets, the original ones made by Bluebird, that hold the real magic for me.
When you buy ‘vintage’ toys you expect them to be in used condition and as my collection grows, I realised that the ones with the most wear were my favourites.
There are four incarnations of Bridesmaid Polly and this pink one is a very loved Nancy’s wedding from 1992 where Polly is bridesmaid to Nancy and Peter in a lovely little chapel with an organ, top table and even confetti on the floor. Nancy’s dress is almost threadbare with the white paint almost half flaked away leaving little to the imagination!
It’s so satisfying to have have the nearly perfect, complete sets in pristine condition, but there’s something special when I open an eBay parcel and it’s a compact that is a little bit bashed about and the dolls are a little worse for wear. Once upon a time it made someone so happy, maybe on Christmas Day or at a birthday party and they played with it for hours and hours for it then to be doomed to a few decades stuffed in a loft, untouched and forgotten. Maybe I’ve just watched Toy Story a few too many times.
As we are all thinking about heading back to school, it seemed apt to show you my latest arrival, the 1992 Polly Pocket Stampin’ School Playset *squeee*
This lovely little set is near complete and I snapped it up quickly as most of the sets on eBay have lost the little desks (which double as stampers) along the way and the ink pad still works!
When Bluebird released this toy they added this to the packaging...
"Ms. Kelley shows the students how to make their own stamp-art! She will put them out for everyone to see because she is so proud of all her students!"
And on the pink variation set it says...
"Polly and her friends Tiny Tina, Midge and Matt are in Miss Wright's class at school. Have fun playing with them in their busy school, and there's loads of things to do in the big classroom. You can decorate your school notebooks or letters to your friends with the pretty ink stampers, too!
POLLY’S MUSICAL CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND ❤️☃️🦌🛷 1991
Polly’s Musical Christmas Wonderland complete with Polly in a Santa suit, Rudolph with sleigh, Topper the Snowman and an almost microscopic pair of lavender skis from circa 1991.
Usually, not a terribly difficult find but when it’s a complete set, quite a pricy one! Even more so if you can find a working musical version as the batteries weren’t designed to be replaced. Luckily, I’ve been an extremely good girl this year (mostly) and mine plays a garbled underwater-like version of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer making it likely to be the 30 year old Mattel version as the earlier Bluebird set plays Jingle Bells, so legend has it.
GImpressive considering that it’s the day after Boxing Day and I’ve already slung a few parts of my son’s new toys away as they’re broken beyond supergluing. To have a toy that will works after three decades isn’t too shabby!
This is a real little gem of a playset and I don’t know how many presses of the musical button it has left in it.
This is the lovely little blurb from the packaging that I thought you might like too...
“It's Christmas, and Polly Pocket is having a great time with her friends Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Topper the Snowman. There is so much to do in Polly's Christmas Wonderland - first Polly's going skiing then Rudolph is going to take her for a ride in his sleigh, wrapped up warm in her Santa outfit! Later, she's going to sit in front of the roaring fire, have a lovely hot drink, and open her presents.”