Introduction: My Kenner Blythe Restoration

About: I'm a Designer, Creator, Inventor. #1 Hobby - brainstorming. I invented the Unicorn Poop cookie, as published here on instructables. And now I am a metalsmith. <3
Blythe was an iconic doll decades ago, and now she's back. Just as all fashions pass and revive themselves, there is a newly gained interest in the Blythe Doll.

Most people find it more affordable for them to pick up a newly produced version of this doll from Japan.  (I've seen them on ebay for $100-$600.)  But the true die-hards are the ones seeking out the 1972 Kenner version - the original.  These sell from $400 to $3,000.00 - lower end is for the dolls who are broken and need some TLC.  The higher end is for the dolls who never had any problems, and they are in great shape to this day.  My particular Blythe Doll is mid-range ($1,000.00 or more) because she is restored, and returned as close as possible to her best condition.  I've been passively selling her for a year or so, now.  As you can see - I don't mind if I end up holding on to her because they are so rare.  :)

Her story:  She came from my grandma's collection, I used to play with her when I went to visit and after my grandma passed away, she went to my mom, and then to me. At first I didn't think too highly of her because she was in pieces!  Her legs weren't attached, her butt fell off and she was a torso.  Not to mention - her hair was a rat's nest.  I did my research and I lucked into a technique to fix her hair - which you will soon read about! Everything else was trial and error, with a happy ending.

Her Stats: 1972 Kenner Blythe, torso fixed, legs are perfect, some orange spots on her head, eyes click perfectly, original pull string, restored/conditioned hair, missing less than 5 hair plugs, original thatching, perfect eyelashes, great eye shadow, faded cheeks, near perfect lips, original blue dress, no hair cuts.

Step 1: Blythe Hair Fix

I don't even know where I found this idea because it was hidden so deeply in the internet that it was just a lucky find. I have to bring it to life so that other people can use this technique on their dolls and whatever else may need help.  I am sure this would work on Barbies, too.  Maybe even wigs!  Imagine - taking a ratted old wig and making it look like new?  That was a great idea, thank you, SelkeyMoonbeam!

Blythe has synthetic hair, which is plastic, and plastic reacts to heat.  The way to do this is to barely boil some fabric softener in a pot that you aren't too keen about.  You want this stuff to be really hot.  And you want to choose a scent that you like, because your doll's hair will forever smell like it.

3 caps softener, 1.5 caps water ---- what I used.

Rig a bowl or a dish that you can test for depth.  You want to be able to put your doll into it, and let her balance on top because you don't want the fabric softener in her skull.  You just want to soak her hair in the heated liquid.  I put her into a wide measuring cup and I used her arms to balance her above it.  

Let her hair soak into this hot liquid until it's not hot anymore.  

Once cooled, take her to the sink and rinse her hair, carefully.  I tried my best not to get it inside her head, or her eyes, etc.  Use warm water and keep rinsing so that it is clean and smooth.

Grab your curlers and start GENTLY parting her hair into portions to be curled.  Her hair will still be wet/damp when you do this, which is fine.  Once her curls are set, put a stalking over her head to hold them in place.  Let her dry like this for hours or over night.

Next day, carefully remove the curlers and brush each one out.  You want to use the doll brush/kid brush and go very slowly.  You want to be sure to HOLD the hair that you are brushing so that there is no stress put on the scalp, which will remove the hair plugs.

Once you see the difference, you will be amazed.  You can repeat this process a few times to get it to the way you'd like.  I think I did this 2 or 3 times to my doll.  If her hair is so matted, you may want to do a pre-brush, which you will see in my video.

Step 2: Blythe Torso Crack Fix

This one was really difficult.  Because of the place that the doll was cracked (which is a common problem with them), there wasn't an easy solution to fix this.  A lot of people end up buying new bodies for their dolls, but I wanted to fix what I had.

I tried E6000, I tried super glue, etc.  Nothing was able to make a bond good enough to hold the torso together when I had to pop her legs back in.  There was a lot of trial and error in this fix because there wasn't a right answer, especially since I had to figure it out, lol!  (These were "superficial" fixes because they only handled the meeting of the plastics.)

What I ended up doing - was melting her.  I took a wood burner and I melted her torso back into itself.  This was NOT a pretty process and I was horrified while performing this procedure.  I thought it was totally screwed up, but it ended up being the perfect fix.

The trick to this is that you have to make sure not to mess with the leg holes because they need to stay the same size to allow them to pop back in.  ALSO, you want to make sure that you're melting enough plastic.  You have to make sure that the heat is on it long enough to melt layers below the "skin" when you are melting it back together.  If you just do a top layer fix - you aren't re-bonding it.

In terms of technique - there are no set rules because it will depend on where your doll is cracked.  My advice is to play with it, but don't overdo it because there is no going back.  Don't mess with the leg holes, and make sure the legs aren't IN the doll when you make the fix.  Other than that - I wish you luck and the perfect amount of melting.  :)

After your fixes are made, put her underwear back on - or buy her some new ones to be a proper lady.

Step 3: Cleaning Her Body

I know some people advise not to use nail polish remover - but it worked so well and there have been no side effects.  I just used acetone-free stuff and it worked  like a charm.  

I used cotton balls with some stuff on it to remove the layer of dirt on her legs, arms, body was pretty clean.  I was looking at her legs and I thought there was some kinda marks on her - but they were actually the internal mechanisms of her knees, showing through the plastic.  Strange!

Step 4: Her Laundry!

For her dress, I soaked it in cold water with some vinegar just to freshen it up.  I didn't see too much of a difference, but I did like the fact that it was clean, so that made everything better.

Step 5: Strike a Pose

Now that you have changed the path of your doll's life, you can enjoy it!

I spent too much money on ebay and bought some totally cool clothes and shoes, like a freak.  My favorite outfit is the sweet blue dress with the deer faces on it, along with the pink fishnets and pink converse.  :D  

Maker Moms Contest

Participated in the
Maker Moms Contest

Fix & Improve It Contest

Participated in the
Fix & Improve It Contest

Hurricane Lasers Contest

Participated in the
Hurricane Lasers Contest