This time around, we have another one of those comic-book advertisements that should bring back memories for folks from a particular generation...
Yes, it's 100 dolls for $3 (plus 50 cents for postage and handling). This half-page advertisement was jam-packed with fine print and breathless pitches. There are more types of dolls than there are types of shrimp dishes, as described by Bubba Blue. Why, there are baby dolls, nurse dolls, dancing dolls, costume dolls, ballerina dolls, Mexican dolls, Indian dolls, clown dolls, cowboy dolls, bride dolls, groom dolls ... and so many more. They all come in "lilliputian cuteness," according to the advertising copy. Then it gets laid on really thick:
"Your daughter or your niece or the cute child next door1 will love you for this gift. She will play with them for months and not grow weary of them. What a family for a little girl! Just think of it — 100 exquisite little dolls ... at this unbelieveable [sic] price!"And in case you think this is all some scam to separate you from your $3 — which would have totally bought you 12 to 15 candy bars in 1978 — there is this guarantee...
So it was legit, right?
The Pulitzer-winning journalists at The New York Times blew the lid off this too-good-to-be-true offer back in that same summer of 1978. In an article titled "Mail‐Order Products: What Do You Get?" Ralph Blumental wrote:
Over recent months, The Times has conducted its own inquiry, sending for two dozen items, from dolls to diet pills, offered through comics and magazines. ...Gotcha, doll peddlers! Too bad, though, that none of the kids who begged their parents for $3.50 to send off to East Orange, New Jersey, were also readers of The New York Times.
Another ad with a money‐back guarantee, this one appearing in a Jughead comic, offered 100 little dolls for $3, plus 50 cents postage and handling, from The 100 Doll Company in East Orange, N.J. Blurry illustrations showed costumed dolls while the copy described them as “expensively molded in true dimension” in “genuine styrene and synthetic rubber.”
What arrived in a small box the size of a transistor radio were a jumble of inch‐and‐a‐half‐high yellow plastic figures, mostly dancers, on little stands. They were barely three‐dimensional, with difficult‐to‐discern costumes and features. The “100” turned out to be 98, including one broken figure.
1. Does that really seem like a good idea? Walking next door with a bag full of little plastic pieces and saying: "HELLO CUTE CHILD NEXT DOOR. I'M YOUR NEIGHBOR. I THOUGHT YOU WOULD ENJOY THESE PLASTIC DOLLS THAT I READ ABOUT IN A MAGAZINE. LOOK, THERE ARE INDIAN DOLLS AND CLOWN DOLLS. LOTS OF CLOWN DOLLS. WAIT ... WHY ARE YOU RUNNING, CUTE CHILD?"