"The one toy that was probably the most popular in the world in 1960 appeared during the summer in Japan. It was a little black inflated vinyl dakkochan ('embraceable') doll. Manufactured first as a baby's plaything, the odd little doll soon became a craze with teen-agers and housewives. The toys soon appeared in the United States where they are called Winkie dolls."Pictured above are two images of dakkochans. Note that the one product is labeled as "Black Girl Toys" and was made in Hong Kong.
An article from the August 29, 1960, issue of Time headlined "Dakkochan Delirium" offers some interesting background and insights on the dolls. It was probably also the source material for the Compton Yearbook entry. Some excerpts:
- "In the hottest craze to hit Japan since the Hula Hoop, Tokyo department stores were filled with scrambling, stumbling, shoving teen-agers fighting to spend 180 yen (50¢) for a squeaking, winking, black-skinned dakkochan ('embraceable') doll."
- "With over 300,000 dakkochans sold in the past two months, the odd little doll intended for toddlers now embraces Japanese teenagers' arms and handbags, housewives' broomhandles, children's strollers. It wriggles on the bodies of strip-teasers in burlesque houses, clings nonchalantly to girls clinging to their boyfriends on speeding motorcycles."2
- "The dakkochan is the brainchild of Yoshihiro Suda, 27, planning chief for Japan's toymaking Tsukudaya Co."3
- "Japanese intellectuals, who can be pretty crazy themselves, have been quick to discover social significance in the dakkochan's black skin. Citing the growing popularity of Negro jazz. Artist Setsu Nagasawa argues that 'a Negro culture wave seems to be sweeping Japanese youth.' Novelist Tensei Kawano, who has featured Negroes in four books, asserts: 'We of the younger generation are outcasts from politics and society. In a way we are like Negroes, who have a long record of oppression and misunderstanding, and we feel akin to them.'"
More information and pictures about the history of dakkochans can be found in these two 2010 posts on Femke Hiemstra's Femtasia blog: Winky Dolls and Dakko-chan. There's some great stuff there.
Now, changing gears, the 1961 Compton Yearbook "Toys" entry also included an interesting photo, which is shown below. The caption reads: "BEATNIK DOLLS. These unusual dolls, called "sweetniks," are shown with their creator, Yugoslavia's Lada Draskovic, in Rome."
We'll make that this week's mystery. Beatnik dolls? Sweetniks? Lada Draskovic? Do your best digging and report back in the comments. I'd love to know more.
1. "A Summary and Interpretation of The Year's Events to Supplement Compton's Pictured Encyclopedia."
2. That's some great writing.
3. I think the name of the company might have actually been Takara. The Wikipedia page for that company matches up well with other details.