Look-Around Velvet and Crissy

A common complaint with the Look-Arounds is that their heads don't move. A careful examination of the mechanism reveals that they never could have moved very much at all; the illustration in the 1972 Sears Christmas catalog is a gross exaggeration. Before repair, the Velvet dissected below barely moved her head (maybe two or three degrees); the movement was only visible if you held her torso still during operation.

There's no wear or damage to the parts in this doll that could account for this lack of movement; the problem is that there's just so much play designed into the plastic parts of the linkage (see picture below) that the "wiggle room" absorbs almost all the movement of the crank arm from the driving clockwork mechanism.

As an experiment I inserted an aluminum bushing into this linkage to remove the  play--with the result that the mechanism was unable to work at all. It didn't have the power to work without the looseness in the parts. My failed experiment did yield, however, the torso opening instructions below, which will be useful should you need to open the torso to replace the hair.

These torso opening instructions for Look-Around Velvet are essentially a subapplication of the instructions in the Chatty Cathy and Talking Barbie manuals. The instructions below are NOT a complete treatment of torso opening and closing techniques; please refer to the instructions in those manuals before beginning.

The first thing to do before opening any unfamiliar glued toy is to learn as much as you can how it's held together inside and find the sections of seam that will be more difficult to separate. Hold it up to a bright light. Holding the toy between you and the light will reveal dark spots that correspond to the thicker areas of the seams, reinforced by interlocking tabs and pins.

If you then hold the toy so the light just skims the surface, the shadows created will often reveal dimples and depressions where the thicker, reinforced areas of the torso shrank more than the thinner torso walls as it cooled just after leaving the mold. These dimples are often the locations of interlocking pins and sockets that align and reinforce the seam.

When you hold a Turn-Around Velvet to the light, you'll see two darker rectangles on the side seams and a dark line just below the armpit. The line is an alignment pin and its socket
(see photo of the torso interior, below). The dark rectangles are flanges; these flanges will probably give you the most trouble opening this particular doll.

Some Turn-Around Velvets are barely glued together; you'll hardly need these instructions. In such a case, flexing the side seams with your thumbs will often pop the flanges free of the inside surface of the torso. If they don't pop free, you'll have to cut through them. The Velvet pictured below was very well glued together and should be considered an extreme example.

Pour boiling water over a shoulder for four or five minutes; twist out the arm. (You'll have to help the arm flange come out with a small screwdriver.) Repeat on the other side.

Looking through an arm hole, you'll be able to see a flange on the shoulder seam. Reach into the arm hole with an X-Acto knife (not pictured) and cut through the flange along the seam line (it won't be easy).

Wiggle a single-edged razor blade into the seam and work it toward the neck until the seam pops open. Work slowly and carefully, and keep your free hand far away from the blade. If the seam doesn't pop open all the way to the neck, just leave that part for now. Open the other shoulder seam the same way.

If your Velvet is well glued together, wiggle a razor blade about this far (as pictured above) into an armpit seam, then very slowly, gently and carefully trace along the curvy side seam with an X-Acto knife. Gradually deepen this cut until you can cut through the pin and flanges. Cut through both side seams.

If the seams haven't popped open all the way to the neck, place a razor blade in the crack between head and torso (to protect the vinyl head), and cut with an X-Acto knife until the seam can pop open.

Now all that holds the torso together is the hair adjusting knob.  Place the doll face down on a cloth. Remove the knob by inserting two 1/8" screwdrivers under the head of the peg in the center of the knob. (Note that the molding seam in the peg head is vertical between the screwdrivers during this process.) Simultaneously press the tips of the screwdrivers down and in, then push the handles down to lever the head up. Pull the peg out, squeeze together the barbs in the center of the knob, and pull the knob out. Pull off the back of the torso.

Now you can repair any hair problems, and you can see the cause of the lack of head movement. In the center of the photo there's a plastic arm that connects the long neck tube and the mechanism. The pegs at either end of this connecting arm are near-cylinders, but those cylinders fit into cones instead of cylindrical bearings. This results in a very sloppy fit that absorbs most of the movement.

Before reassembly, lubricate the linkage with plastic-compatible grease.

You may wonder how the factory avoided gluing the torso to the neck tube, since you certainly don't want to do so. If you'll look carefully at the top and bottom surfaces of the torso's neck ring (above), you'll see from the rough surfaces that the factory did glue the torso and tube together. It looks like they twisted the head during the drying time so the neck ring didn't adhere to the torso. They probably needed to break them apart once the glue was dry.

Scrape off any rough extra plastic on the neck ring, and very slightly bevel the torso wall where it'll meet the neck tube; this will give the squeezeout a place to go before contacting the neck.

Reseal the torso as described in the Chatty Cathy and Talking Barbie manuals. If you had to cut the side flanges, there's nothing to guide alignment of the torso walls, so you'll want to reseal the torso walls a section at a time (allow curing time between each section). First do both shoulders, then do the sides, one side at a time. Be sure to insert the clockwork mechanism into the its recesses in the torso before sealing the last seam of the torso.

© Talky Tina Press, Medford, Oregon