Designed by Allison Katzman of Marvin Glass Associates and distributed by Kenner (which was later sold to Hasbro), the original Blythe doll was released in the United States in 1972 and pulled from toy-store shelves the same year due to a lack of interest. By all accounts, little girls were generally creeped out by the big-headed doll, whose eyes changed color when you pulled a string at the back of her head.
The original Blythe doll came in four hair colors, although another four wig-and sunglasses sets could also be purchased. The doll's 12 outfits were the fashion equivalent of a late-'60s "Feelin' Groovy" hangover—how else to account for getups like the Pow-Wow Poncho, Pretty Paisley, and Love 'N Lace. In short, the doll tried way too hard to be cool.
Blythe would have remained a footnote to doll history had it not been for the publication in 2000 of “This is Blythe” by Gina Garan, which helped revive the doll’s popularity. Beginning in 2001, two new lines of Blythe dolls were produced for the Japanese market—a Neo Blythe (11 1/2 inches tall and by far the more collectible of the two), and a Petite (four inches tall).
One of the most interesting things contemporary Blythe-doll collectors like to do with their dolls is to dress them up in custom outfits, some purchased but many created by hand. A few adventurous collectors even paint or carve their dolls, giving her a little grin, for example.