Look-Around Velvet and Crissy

These mechanical versions of the popular Velvet and Crissy dolls were introduced by Ideal for the 1972 Christmas season; they were carried that year by the Christmas catalogs of the Aldens, JCPenney, Sears (right), Spiegel, and Montgomery Ward catalog companies.

The dolls are marked between the shoulders "(c) 1972 Ideal Toy Corp./Hong Kong P/U.S. Pat. No. 3,162,976/Other Patents Pending." The patent referred to is for the hair-winding mechanism.

The waist- and head-turning mechanism is operated by a thin stainless steel negator spring. Pulling the pullstring unwinds the spring, which turns the gears as it returns to its original shape. These springs are easy to fold or kink if you aren't careful during the repair, but will still work when straightened. The speed of the action is regulated by a silicone centrifugal governor riding in a cylinder molded into the bottom plate of the mechanism.

This page covers swapping gear mechanisms and replacing strings. Note that a doll whose head barely moves during operation is not broken: Most movement is at the waist--even new dolls only moved their heads slightly.

For instructions on how to open the torso (or just to see why the mechanism can't move the head), click here.

To get at the mechanism, just remove the three screws in the butt and pull it apart; set the legs aside. The result will look like the two Look-Around Velvet mechanisms above. The one on the left is a botched repair job. Someone disassembled it and bent the spring, then reassembled it wrong. It's still repairable, but I want to switch this mechanism with the good one on the right, giving the good mechanism to a doll that hasn't had a haircut.

Untie the pullstring knot at the butterfly, or cut the string close to the knot. This relieves tension on the spring and makes disassembly easier and safer. Remove the two screws holding the mechanism to the doll, hold it together with your fingers, and pull it off. It'll come off easily.

Switch the mechanisms, taking care to insert all the axles into their proper bearing holes, and replace the screws.

This is where the previous repairman messed up the reassembly. If you have to pull the spring takeup drum off its shaft, take care upon reassembly to insert the end of the coil spring (center) into the hole on the rim of the drum (barely visible on the right).

Thread the pullstring through the hole in the butt, pull out several inches of string, and clamp a pair of plastic forceps (or tape-wrapped metal ones) onto it to hold it in place and give you some slack. Thread it through the butterfly (pretend the cardboard above is a butterfly with the flat side up) and tie as in the three steps above.

I didn't replace the string on this particular doll. If you need to replace your pullstring, this is how to tie the knot at the pullstring spool. Original strings are 23" long, but it's okay if yours is shorter--the doll just won't operate quite as long. If the string is too long and the butterfly dangles, either shorten the string or pull it out several inches, clamp the forceps (see above) on it again, and thread it around the pullstring spool another turn.

If you already have some on hand, Chatty Cathy pullstring will work fine, but original Velvet string is a heavier 80-lb. braided dacron line (click on "order parts," above).

© Talky Tina Press, Medford, Oregon