I’ll be perfectly honest. I didn’t know Polly Pocket until I met my wife. But now I’m well versed on the mega-following Polly Pocket had and still has.
Back in 1983 a guy named Chris Higgs wanted to make something for his daughter Kate. Like most parents he was probably fed up with paying for more toys so he decided to Macgyver something himself. He took an old powder compact and fashioned a tiny little house inside of it. BAM – the Polly Pocket was born
A company out of Swindon, England called BlueBird Toys licensed the concept and by 1989 the toy was in stores. The tiny figures have been getting lost between couch cushions ever since.
BlueBird had a distribution arrangement with Mattel in the early 90’s, and when things slowed down in 1998 Mattel made a full court press to acquire the exclusive rights to the toys. They held their ground as long as they could, but Polly was finally purchased later that year.
Once Mattel had the rights, they started to change things. The doll was bigger and had a straight ponytail in favour of the curly, bob thing she was rocking originally. I’m sure it made the Polly purists furious.
They added more characters, accessories and some new changeable clothing.
Like most of our favourite 90’s things, Polly Pocket lost momentum in the 2000’s, and numerous attempts to recreate the magic were unsuccessful. Polly was a shadow of her former self. Literally. She was like, 3x taller than the original at this point. The toy was discontinued in North America by 2015, breaking the hearts of 30 year olds everywhere.
But the story has a happy ending. On February 12th, 2018 an announcement was made that Polly was returning in her original (almost) 90’s form. Hopefully she sticks around long enough that in 25 years someone has a blog about how great those old fashioned 2018 Polly Pockets were.
If you still have an original BlueBird Polly Pocket set, you’re holding what’s considered a valuable collectible. I know this for a fact. When I threw my wife a 90’s surprise Birthday party I couldn’t find a reasonably priced Polly Pocket anywhere. Try being a grown man haggling with another grown man over a little girls toy from 1990 in a flea market that’s not even in your hometown. It was a low point for both of us.