These are another example of a toy that dates back many decades, but which were still popular in the 1980’s, and probably are still popular today, if you can find where to buy one that is.
By Paper Dress-up Dolls what I am referring to usually came in the form of a book. The front or back page would feature a picture of a person, female or male, though usually the former, dressed only in their underwear. You cut this out (using scissors, making sure you got a grown up to help of course), along with a strip of card that had two slots cut in it. By slotting the strip of card onto the picture of the person you could make the figure stand up.
Doesn’t sound that much fun so far does it? Where the fun came in was in the pages of the rest of the book. This comprised various articles of clothing and accessories for the figure, each with little tabs coming off at various places. Cutting these out with your little pair of rounded end paper scissors was a bit of a fiddly exercise, especially around the tabs, but worth it in the end.Â By folding the tabs around the figure the clothes could be made to stay on, and so you could have hours of fun mixing and matching outfits to your hearts content.
Budding fashion designers could take things one step further by using the cardboard cutout figure as mannequin for showing off their own designs simply by tracing round a shirt, skirt or pair of trousers and drawing on their own design.
Whilst the vast majority of Paper Dolls were of young women or girls, you could also get male versions, and even the occasional odd one like dressing up a cartoon alien or a picture of a squirrel.
Over the years these simple playthings have gradually evolved from their humble paper beginnings through magnetic versions to virtual computer based ones.Â I have a cool set of Homer Simpson fridge magnets which allow you to dress up and accessorise the great yellow one in a variety of ways, and there are numerous web based paper doll collections for you to try, from the amazingly expansive Stardoll, that features paper dolls of celebrities from Britney Spears to David Beckham, to the more weird and wonderful, such as the aforementioned Â Virtual Paper Squirrel. Why not have a go now, with our embedded paper doll of Johnny Depp, courtesy of Stardoll.Â Unfortunately I’ve had to squash it down a bit to fit on the site, but it still seems to work OK!