About Me

My photo
No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 60-year-old Aspergic gardening CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees, but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. Likewise, I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds', to remind it why it feeds.

Dancing Dolls!

The World Dolls

Or…to give them their correct titles;

Dolls of Our World [Commonwealth]
Dolls of Faraway Lands [Commonwealth / Doll Bodies Inc.]
Dancing Dolls [Van Brode Mills]
Women of the World (Les Femmes dans le Monde) [Codec France]
Female Costumes of the World (Trajes Femeninos Del Mundo) [Codec Spanish]
Mini/Miniature (?) National Dress [Commonwealth / Sanitarium]
Mini Exotic National Costume [Commonwealth / Sanitarium]
Miniature National Costumes [Sanitarium]
Free Dolls of the World [Frito Lays - Commonwealth]
? [TasteeFreeze - Van Brode]
Dancing Dolls? [Luckies/Duckies (?) Puffed Wheat - Van Brode]
? [Unknown Ice Cream Company - Commonwealth]
? [Nabisco - Commonwealth]
? [Café Nadi - Commonwealth?]
? [Gas (petrol) Stations - Van Brode]
Toy Shop [clearance bags - Commonwealth]
Tiny Teen Dolls of all Nations [Jak-Pak from Commonwealth]
Party Favors [Grandmother Stovers - 25mm Commonwealth]
Dolls of All Nations (display card only) [Gumball 25mm's - Commonwealth]
? [Unknown polyethylene premiuns with plain plinth-base - French?)


PS…they're not rare!



A complete departure from my usual style with this page, as instead of 'original copy' and high-res images or collages, I've gone with low-res screen-capchas of images I've hoovered-up from the Internet, coupled with my own figures. The reason for which is that while - as someone who complains loudly of plagiarism when I'm the target - it's a bit rich to use other people's images without permission, it is legal to use other peoples work for research provided they are credited which they will be - in the text and at the end.

By reducing them to thumbnails and then presenting them in low resolution I am offering them up as/for that 'research purpose' and as I say; there are some figures from my collection among them!

In addition it's a way of getting the number of images needed on this page without either breaking my Internet Credit bank for a fortnight, or rendering the page impossibly slow to load. There are (at time of writing) 60+ images to load already and as low-res it'll happen faster. If you want hi-res images; start collecting the figures - if you're not already!

It was also the only way to tell the story of these common but badly recorded figures, from four different manufacturers/main issuers, and a dozen or more other outlets. Produced from what may be the late 1940's (Commonwealth) until at least 1979 (Sanitarium), there are millions of them out there, literally. And they remain a great favourite with some collectors.

The figures all go back to one set (which I'm confident was the Commonwealth ones), and the subsequent three 'new' sets all hark back to them both in height (50+mm without bases, closer to 60mm all-in), and sculptural style, being quite two dimensional (without being flat), unpainted and coloured in the 'Ivorene' style, not to mention all having similar deep, heavy bases with both the models title and the issuing companies name somewhere upon them.

The Commonwealth figures were warm, charming natural-looking sculpts, the Van Brode poorly sculpted and a bit cartoonish. Codec were re-sculpted to the higher standards allowed by the later technological advances, over what was a decade or two from Commonwealth's originals, while the Sanitarium figures were either licensed from of copies of the first set, or - in the case of some of the new poses - rather blobby 'pillars'.

As with all my 'in-depth' articles this page has many a 'possibly', 'probably', 'maybe', 'might have', 'seem to' and question marks…lots of question marks! Plenty of work remains to be done on these figures, if you're looking for something non-military to collect on a limited budget or with limited space, you could do worse than to start tracking these down and filling some of the blanks as a specialist single-issue collection, or what James Opie charmingly refers to as a 'Cameo Collection'.

I will list the more obvious remaining question marks near the end somewhere.


Commonwealth, Hong Kong x4 and Sanitarium


The Companies

One of the problems researching these companies is that - while they were at some point all quite big and were quite long-lived (two of them still exist in some form), so there is plenty about them on the web - they were not specifically toy companies.

Commonwealth and Van Brode made a few novelty toys - in the 1940's (Commonwealth) and 1950's (both) - but actually Commonwealth made all sorts of plastic goods and were far busier selling both injection moulding machines (the famous 'Lester') and other tools/supplies to the nascent plastics industry, while Van Brode (initially) and Sanitarium (primarily) ran cereal mills and were 'processed' food producers, with Van Brode then developing a 'plastics division'; dealt with below.

The following thumbnail histories therefore are lacking a lot of real substance as far as the actual figure sets are concerned, but clues exist which help with drawing some conclusions, if only my own conjecture, and there is - as I've said - more to dig from these three seams.

The forth was a chain of grocery stores with little history of commissioning premiums (three or four other known promotions were run) so need not occupy too much of our time, the figures having no doubt come from someone else, which is were that digging need to be directed.

Commonwealth Plastics Corporation, Leominster, Massachusetts, US of A

Still going as Commonwealth Toy & Novelty Co., Inc.; a small licensed-product toy maker, they were founded before the Second World War and were producing modern plastic containers, components and toy novelties by the late 1930's, of Bakelite-type composition to begin with (ash-trays), but well into petrochemical/industrial polymers by the time the war started.

Most sources state the company began in 1935, however the current company states it was in 1934 - and they should know! William Lester, one of the biggest names in early plastics, was invited to join the fledgling joint-venture with an equity stake in 1935, and after accepting the partnership offer, spent a mere ten weeks inventing a fast, semi-automated, hydraulic, injection-moulding machine (the 'Lester'), which revolutionised plastics in the US, just as war loomed.

While they have ended-up firmly in the toy industry, back at the start, toys (really 'novelties') were a small part of their business, with general household goods being as important, while their bread and butter in the 1940's and 1950's seems to have been selling hardware and supplies to other plastics start-ups.

Commonwealth seem to have used other trade-marks to shift product (Paragon may be a late example?), the Dolls of Our World reappearing in Dolls Bodies Inc. (of New York) packaging, quite early in the moulds life (see the links to Kent Sprecher's 'web site), with other products branded to Play Mate and Admiration.

Van Brode Milling Company Incorporated, Clinton, Massachusetts, US of A

The first thing to get out of the way is that they didn't 'invent' the Spork, probably weren't the first to produce one in plastic and let their registration of the name lapse after 20 years, but…it IS their real claim to fame!

In 1941 the old firm of American Cereals were sold to husband and wife team David and 'Goldie' Brody who renamed the operation Van Brode, they moved into the old Bigelow subsidiary; Clinton Wire Cloth company's premises, part of the Lancaster Mills complex (now a protected historical site) in Clinton, Massachusetts, and continued American's business of milling cereals and making breakfast foods.

Various stories exist for the re-naming; that he (Brody) was of Dutch extraction; that he felt people were more likely to buy breakfast cereal from a company with a Dutch identity than a Jewish one (there's no evidence of Jewish involvement in either Biglow, American or Clinton Wire?), and so on…without empirical evidence; I won't take any of them with less than a large pinch of salt!

The company remained a medium-sized player in the breakfast cereal market, both with its own products and as a contract manufacturer for other private-label brands until 1981 when it was bought as a going concern by one of its past clients; Weetabix.

At some point in the early 1950's a subsidiary company was set-up; 'Clinton Manufacturing', to produce - it seems - non-cereal goods as part of a US government contract for the supply of ration packs (C 'rats') for the forces fighting in Korea, these would have included canning and packing sections, along with a plastics operation.

The plastics would have included the spoons, 'sporks' and spare lids the packs contained, and over time, while the cereal business held its own against the bigger branded rivals, it was the plastics division which took up more and more of the order-book's pages, making them a target for the eventual Weetabix takeover, as the plastics - while being important to Van Brode - were a drop in the ocean of the wider US polymer industry.

Consortium des épiciers du Centre (Codec), France

Codec [or: CODEC], were a chain of small to medium-size French convenience stores and/or small supermarkets (supérettes) originally set-up by a consortium of grocers in 1924 under a Msr. Jean Moreau-Dupuy. Their history is the same as many supermarket brands, starting small with the originating grocer's premises and slowly building to a local then regional chain of both co-operatives and franchises including supermarkets (supermarchés).

Modernising after the war, to eventually become the recognisably 'modern' streamlined model of the last few decades with the opening of their first proper supermarket in Brittany in 1962 (Saint Brieuc), each time the company went up a gear it changed its logo with about six generations of corporate identity found by me, roughly: one facelift per decade.

The company ceased trading as a going concern in 1990, filing for bankruptcy and the stores were off-loaded to various rivals; Promodès Group (the Prodim 'local' store division of Carrefour) buying the bulk, with others going to Shopi and the rest to Market U Express (now 'U'), the last Codec shop-front seems to have been taken down in 2003.

The World Dancer figures were one of several premium promotions and would have been made by someone else, Siku are often in the frame for this sort of cream/white plastic work, but many other makers were serving the European premium demand of the 1950's and '60's and as these are a bit 'chunky' for Siku - who specialised in flats - it could have been any one of the others!

Sanitarium Health Food Company, Sydney, Australia

Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to produce breakfast cereal for the Seventh-day Adventist Church….

Kellogg's Battle Creek sanatorium (small 's' and an 'o') passed their knowledge of breakfast cereals (then all day, every meal, wholesome 'health-foods') to Sanitarium (big 'S' and an 'a'), the fledgling health-food company in Australia, they in a roundabout fashion - involving South Africa and a back-stabbing or two (no honour among thieves when you're all going to be born again!) - begat Weetabix in the UK, who entered an agreement with American Cereals who then changed their name to Van Brode who would be bought by Weetabix! But no! As far as the sets of figures are concerned…there's no connection!

Weetabix ended their connection with Van Brode in 1947 only to buy them outright in 1981. Any connection with Sanitarium and Van Brode exists outside the likely dates of the figure set, which is why they (Sanitarium) carried the Commonwealth ones!

But the above is really for fun, it also serves to show you how the global breakfast-cereal and health-snack market is sewn-up by a Born-Again Christian 'mafia' and is more strictly a Weetabix connection, not a Sanitarium ('Weet-Bix') one.

The truth as far as we are concerned is that Sanitarium were an established cereal and dry foods producer with their own antipodean market, who sourced the figures from/ex-Commonwealth as a traditional (by the 1970's) free gift/premium to add to their breakfast cereals in order to increase sales. The question is how they did that, and what their relationship was with either Commonwealth or the mould tools!

There being a very real likelihood that the mould tool/s for the Commonwealth set having found a way to Hong Kong (or Macau, Singapore, Taiwan?), after all - we know there were pirated sub-scale gumball inserts in two sizes and larger key-rings (chains, fobs) coming from the colony by the 1970's.

Certainly also: there is a marked difference between the moulds used by Sanitarium and the Commonwealth originals, cruder detail and heavy bases with larger title stamps which are in relief rather than the closer, recessed letters of the earlier issue.

Also: there was a local antipodean plastics company: Commonwealth Mouldings who may have had a connection with Massachusetts, but, one feels it's likely to be a different meaning/use of the term 'commonwealth' leading to natural coincidence of names and it's as good a bet?


Bases, simplified / over-emphasised for clarity


Needless to say, J.G. Garratt has nothing to say about any of them, nor; Dolls of the World, or World Dolls! Fuller accounts of all four companies will appear on the A-Z blogs soon.

Also; it's interesting to note that while both Van Brode and Codec adopted similar pictorial logos/trademarks (of a boy and girl), so too - off the top of my head - have Bandai (toys), Bisto (gravy granules), Clarks Shoes and Daelmans (stroopwafels)…clearly a popular trope back in the day!


Timeline of Significant Events
  • 1891 - Quaker Oats invent the premium with ceramic inclusions/gifts
  • 1898 - Kellogg's muck-up a batch of granola!
  • 1898 - Edward Halsey founds Sanitarium Health Food Company in Melbourne, Australia
  • 1906 - Kellogg's as we know it founded
  • 1924 - Codec Formed
  • 1926 - The Grain Company launches Weet-Bix, in Australia.
  • 1928 - Sanitarium acquires Grain Company and the Weet-Bix brand.
  • 1932 - Three (or four) Seventh Day Adventists from South Africa arrive in England and form Weetabix Limited to produce and sell a U.K. version of Weet-Bix, and later enter production agreement with American Cereals Company in the United States.
  • 1934 - Commonwealth Plastics Founded
  • 1935 - William Lester joins Commonwealth and 10 weeks later the 'Lester Machine' revolutionises plastic injection moulding
  • 1941 - David Brody acquires American Cereals and changes its name to Van Brode Milling
  • 1941 - Commonwealth having labour disputes re. Union membership
  • 1947 - Weetabix ends agreement with Van Brode.
  • 1949 - Commonwealth survive a copyright infringement suit about novelty whistles
  • 1962 - Codec opens first modern supermarket
  • 1971 - Sanitarium issue 1st set
  • 1973 - Sanitarium issue 2nd set
  • 1979 - Sanitarium issue 3rd set
  • 1981 - Weetabix acquires the Van Brode Milling Company
Timeline of the Sets (approximate)
  • 1940's - 1970's - Commonwealth
  1. 1940's-50's - Painted - single cards and boxed sets
  2. 1950's - Unpainted flesh-coloured - Doll Bodies
  3. 1950's-60's - Ivorene coloured premiums to other contractors
  4. 1950's-60's - Toy Shop stock-clearance bags
  5. 1960's-70's - Multicoloured figures
  • 1950's - 1960's - Van Brode
  1. 1950's - Own-label premiums
  2. 1950's-60's - Other contractors premiums
  • 1960's - Codec

  • 1970's - Sanitarium

Right-click and click again (couple of typos)

The Figure Sets

All the sets hark back to the Commonwealth set, although the Van Brode set is mostly of original sculpts, it clearly 'band-wagons' the earlier set, with several poses being of or from the earlier, albeit of poorer styling. Codec have copied the Commonwealth set, but as new, more anatomically correct sculpts, and one feels they may have had permission or a license, but any evidence for that is currently lost in the mists of time. The Sanitarium sets are dealt with above, and below.

They seem to have been first issued in the late 1940's or very early 1950's as single factory-painted 'novelty' figures on cards, probably aimed at the tourist/museum trade. They had a prefix code of 133/ being present on the card along with a unique number for each figure in the set and the title.

Later they were sold, also painted but sometimes with a reduced scheme, in sets of 8 or 12 figures in boxed sets, probably throughout the 1950's. There were two sets of twelve for sure; there might have been a third after the name-changes giving a total of 36 names, but it might have been a 10-figure issue or none at all? There were probably 4 sets of 8-figure boxes for 32 in total. The problem with the maths and the name-changes is one of the reasons to account for why some are commoner than others, as they were probably only in one or other issue.

We then get the unpainted sets in fleshy coloured plastics (the same colours as the painted versions), which vary from a salmon-pink to a tanned-yellowish colour. It is during this phase that the name changes seem to have occurred and the mouldings were supplied to Doll Bodies Inc. for a paint-your-own set. The set illustrated on Kent's site clearly states 'MFD [manufactured] by Doll Bodies Inc., New York 10, NY', but I suspect this is the manufacturing of the paint and box, being rather (deliberately?) unclearly claimed! The production of these could extend from the late 1950's into the 1960's

They then appear in a more modern styrene, with a glossy surface (early flesh-coloured ones can be glossy if mint or near mint, but tend to a matt finish), and there seem to have been two marketing lines, the one - of white, cream or ivory colours is probably the commonest way to find the figures, and coincides with their use by European and Australian companies as premiums (1960's - Nadi (?), 1970's - Sanitarium), the other - of bright colours.

These (bright coloured ones) seem to have been issued contiguously, as coloured ones were being sold bagged with fleshy ones (Toy Shop bag on Kent's site - late 1960's?) at the same time as the ivory/whites were appearing as premiums elsewhere in the world. Also many are of a lesser quality; this seems to be connected to the Sanitarium issues and possible Hong Kong/Far East involvement.

I used to think all these late ones were probably produced in Hong Kong, just because they look (and some can be…) little less detailed, but actually it's often only their shininess, making them look smoother. Although, it would make sense with the connection to Sanitarium to get the moulds over the Pacific somehow, so it may well have been that someone in the Far East got the job…see the Sanitarium section above for more thoughts on the connections/poorer figures.

Mentioning Sanitarium…the last incarnation of these was theirs not Commonwealth's, when in 1979, 12 figures including 4 new poses and 8 simplified versions of previous figures were issued in a white or greyish-white soft polyethylene with a new base design.

There was some definite Hong Kong involvement with the aforementioned gumball 'minis', PVC key rings and tourist trinket versions with added plinths, all coming from the toy-pirate colony.

The total is fluid, but a core of 32 figures was always extant. Name changes and question marks over names/re-naming means a total 'total' still escapes me, however, leave all name-changes out of it and the total number of sculpts is still 32! Late sets (bright, unpainted colours) may have only managed a count of 30 though, due to the apparent dropping of the Cowboy and Indian (Native American).

Each has the name title of the figure on the rear edge of the base in neat incised lettering. Some of the later ones with an origin question mark have larger relief marks in an engineer's stamp font.

133/1 - [America] Eskimo
133/? - [America] Cowboy
133/13 - [America] Cowgirl
133/17 - [America] Early American (became 'England')
133/? - [America] Indian (Native American)
133/? - Argentina
133/? - Austria (became 'Switzerland')
133/7 - China
133/? - Cuba
133/14 - Czechoslovakia
133/11 Denmark
133/3 Egypt
- England (reissue of 'Early American')
133/16 - Finland
133/10 - France
133/8 (?) - Germany
133/4 - Haiti
133/6 - Hawaii
133/15 - Holland
133/? - India (Sikh?)
133/19 - Italy
133/? - Japan (male)
133/23? - Japan (female)
133/? - Java
133/25 - Korea
133/20 - Mexico
133/12 - Norway
133/18 - Portugal
133/24 - Scotland
133/22? - Siam
133/? - Spain
133/9 - Sweden
133/21 - Switzerland (female)
- Switzerland (male, reissue of 'Austria')

Van Brode
All male-female couples, 16 pairs for a total of 32 different figures, being marked with the nationality on the front edge of the base, and a company moniker (either: 'Brode', 'Van Brode' or 'Van Brode Co. Inc.') on the back edge or underside. They are of poor style and cartoonish execution; I find several of them to be faintly ridiculous figures.

I'm sure these followed the Commonwealth figures by some time as a 'good idea' and would go so far as to say there may be as much as a decade between the first Commonwealth and the first Van Brode figures. The decoration of the first - painted - Commonwealths is similar in every way to the early products of Bergan Toys (Beton), using similar materials and technology (at the same time?), while the shiny Van Brodes are clearly of a later era.

The Van Brode premiums are linked to various other issues/issuers including Crisp Rice, Luckies Puffed Wheat (in both 1955 and 1956), Fritos (?) and TasteeFreeze. This last one may be where the unknown ice cream premiums sometimes ascribed to Commonwealth are actually residing?

- Bali
- Burma
- China
- Cuba
- Egypt
- England
- Hawaii
- Holland
- Hungary
- Ireland (nation unique to VB)
- Italy
- Mexico
- Scotland (female is reverse of Commonwealth sculpt)
- Spain
- Turkey
- West Indies (nation unique to VB, but female based on Commonwealth sculpts)

24 figures, all female, all based on Commonwealth poses, marked CODEC on the front edge of the base and the nationality on the rear. Some poses are changed from the Commonwealth use. The figures are very well finished, more detailed than the originals, but tend to a stiffer attitude, they seem more wooden and without the softer charm of the originals.

- Esquimaux*
- Cowgirl
- Early American (may be 'Lorraine')*
- Indian (Native American)
- Bali (Uses Commonwealth's Haiti pose)
- China
- Cuba
- Czechoslovakia
- Denmark
- Egypt
- Finland (Uses Commonwealth's Sweden pose)
- France (may be 'Lorraine')*
- Germany
- Hawaii
- Holland
- Hungary (Uses Commonwealth's Finland pose)
- Italy
- Japan
- Mexico
- Norway
- Portugal
- Scotland
- Siam
- Sweden (Uses Commonwealth's Switzerland pose)

*Name not 100% sure

Sanitarium - as described above - may or may not have been in touch with Commonwealth back in the states, or a Commonwealth on their own shores, but the poor quality of some of the Commonwealth poses in the first two issues, along with the 'all new' nature of the third issue suggests they were probably working alone.

Also the late date of even the first set, compared to the 1940's-early 1960's of the other three makers' first outings seems to leave all other connections between Sanitarium and both Commonwealth and Van Brode (via Weetabix) no more that a weird set of co-incidences, brought about by the position in both toy and cereal industries, held by the 'premium'.

A further puzzle is that while the 1973 additions are clearly by a new sculptor, nondescript pillars of plastic compared to the Commonwealth originals, the - later - 1979 set with another five new poses, adds figures which could have been designed by the original 1940's sculptor. See also notes under Hungary below.

Three sets, details in brackets:

1971 - Mini (or a full 'Miniature'?) National Dress (hard polystyrene, all old Commonwealth sculpts and all depicting European nations)
- Czechoslovakia
- Denmark,
- England
- Finland
- France
- Holland
- Italy
- Norway
- Scotland
- Spain
- Sweden
- Switzerland

1973 - Mini Exotic Dress (hard polystyrene, five new poses, all Asia-Pacific or Pacific-edge nations)
- Burma (new pose)
- Ceylon (new pose)
- China
- China Mandarin (new pose)
- Hawaii
- India
- Japan
- Japan Kimono (new pose)
- Japan Samurai (new pose)
- Java
- Korea
- Siam

1979 - Miniature National Costumes (soft polyethylene with cavity-bases, five new poses, eight simplified old poses, all European nations, some repeated from '71 issue)
- Czech [Czechoslovakia]
- Germany
- Greece (new pose)
- Holland
- Hungary (new pose)
- Italy
- Portugal
- Scotland
- Spain (new pose)
- Switzerland
- Turkey (new pose)
- Yugoslavia (new pose)


Nations of the World

Alaska, Aleut, America, Arctic, Eskimo, Esquimaux, Inuit, Iñupiat, Yupik - Commonwealth, Codec
[America 1]

Originally called Eskimo, he/she (as Commonwealth - this is the most androgynous pose in all the sets) had the name changed (probably at the same time as the other three name changes) to Alaska. This is one of six figures from what is the United States today, of which two are named after states (See note below), the other four being named for their ethnicity.

Some will say (race) that the name was changed because the term 'Eskimo' was considered derogatory, and there's an element of truth to that, but I think this was the over-sensitive voice of early PC'ism, striking America in the 1960's, rather than a fact.

You will find almost as many pages telling you it isn't offensive as pages saying it is on the 'web, but my understanding is that Eskimo (or the French spelling; Esquimaux) remains a perfectly acceptable word in some places, for some of the arctic (Inuit) peoples, but that the PC lobby have won the debate in Canada and to a certain extent in the US, although the Alaskan tribes happily still use Eskimo.

At the end of the day the word comes from several Northern/Forest Indian words for their neighbours to the far North, and was codified as a written word, from speech, by Europeans, none of the natives having (or needing) a written language or formal alphabet.

The Codec pose is - like all Codec's figures - more anatomically correct and more obviously a male hunter. As 'Alaska' the Commonwealth figure survived for some time and can be found in glossy colours.

Some sources use this figure and Hawaii - and the date of accession of both, as full States of the Union (1959) - to bring forward the issue date of the Commonwealth issue to the same period as the Van Brode premiums, but both states would already have been in the 'Statehood' process, so I think it's a bit of a red herring. Particularly as one of those sources is talking about Van Brode who didn't issue Alaska, while both states were called what they were called (and are still called) before becoming United 'States'. Indeed: it may actually date the Commonwealth name change/s, as this one was apparently called Eskimo first?

America, Cowboy, Westerner - Commonwealth
America, Cowgirl, Westerner
- Commonwealth, Codec
[America 2 & 3]

The cowboy, along with his…twin sister? Wife? Seems to have been dropped by the glossy coloured issues, again the contentiousness of the subject matter (This guy's got both his guns out!) to the PC-brigade may have had a hand in that? The Indian also only appears in the early formats of painted, or the flesh-tones, and of the trio (Cowboy, Cowgirl and Indian) - this cowboy pose was never attempted by the other manufacturers.

The Cowgirl is another uncommon pose from Commonwealth which doesn't seem to have made it past the mid/late 1960's? The early carded ones having a blue/yellow scheme, the later (boxed?) ones having only the blue. She's got her lasso out, but with no cattle in the set, that Indian girl's got to be worried, did the PC-lobby in the boardroom say "No!"?

However Codec resurrected her, and again the Codec figure is anatomically more realistic, but the pose is a bit wooden and the loop on the lasso is pathetic!

American, Early American, Louisiana, New Orleans - Commonwealth, Codec
[America 4]

One of the few figures in 'historical' rather than ethnic, cultural or 'national' dress, this figure was anachronistic in its first guise as an American, and was renamed to England. I think the Codec version is the better with this one, she really looks like she's holding her skirt out of the dirt with the little tag they had for the purpose, and the skirt's not so full.

I don't have this figure so the name of the Codec one is a bit questionable, I believe it's called plain America but sources mention (French) Lorraine, or 'Louisiana', another source even mentions New Orleans?

America, Indian, Native, Native-American - Commonwealth, Codec
[America 5]

Again not sure on the names here, was it 'Indian' or 'American Indian'? God forbid that either company put 'Squaw' on the base (race again!). Another Commonwealth pose which didn't seem to make it to the bright-coloured issues, and I think a better pose than the Codec attempt, in which she looks like she's dancing, not creeping-up on a deer or something.

Argentina, Gaucho - Commonwealth

Unique to Commonwealth, this moulding ran through to the end. Not a lot to say about it, no name changes or other excitements…I think the Bolas are a bit big for swinging round your head and throwing at a cow! And the only figure from the whole of Central and/or South America!

This is quite a common figure, and as the Hawaii is a similarly common pose to find, I wonder if the first (1940's) versions on single cards have a 'tourist market' factor to their seeming popularity; with larger numbers of certain cards perhaps being ordered/sold in certain places as tourist keepsakes.

Austria, Lederhosen - Commonwealth

A real mystery this one, it was renamed (probably at the same time as the other three), seemingly at the end of the unpainted flesh-colours period to 'Switzerland'. As there was already a Swiss lady there was no real need for the rename, and if association with the recent war had anything to do with it that doesn't explain a German lady in the same early line-up, remaining?

Also I would have though the dress is most associated with Southern Germany, although it is worn throughout the region; in Austria, Bavaria, Baden Baden, Baden-Württemberg, German-speaking Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and the South Tyrol. So why not rename it Germany to have a pair of them instead of a pair of Swiss? Or Liechtenstein, to add a new nation to the set…or just leave it as Austria (and not lose a country to gain a pair)! All a bit odd if you look at it logically?

Bali - Female, Batik, Kebaya, - Codeg, Van Brode
Bali - Male, Batik, Kebaya, - Van Brode

The first nation not involving Commonwealth has the first pair from Van Brode and a copy of the Commonwealth 'Haiti' girl renamed Bali from Codeg. The Van Brode figures both catch the look of Bali's national dress very well, the Codeg figure just looks like a poor rural/plantation worker; pretty much from anywhere you care to place her!

Burma - Female, Kachin Dancer, Lungi, Sarong, Yaw Longyi - Sanitarium, Van Brode
Burma - Male, Kachin Dancer, Lungi, Sarong, Yaw Longyi - Van Brode

The second pair from Van Brode, this time the variant being Sanitarium's hard styrene addition to the Commonwealth line from 1973. Again the Van Brode figures are quite good representations of the subject at hand; Burmese Kachin dancers/performers, the Sanitarium figure in her sarong could be from anywhere in Asia if not further afield, and has shades of the pre-existing 'Haiti' woman's sculpt, with the basket of produce on her head.

Ceylon - Female, Tea-picker, Sri Lanka - Sanitarium

A late addition to the cannon of 'World Doll' figures is this polyethylene sculpt from Sanitarium's 1973 issue, which contained 12 figures from Pacific islands or Pacific-rim countries which it could be argued had boarders with a direct line-of-sign to Australia? Like all these late poses, she is in one way a bit of a blob, or post-like, but the addition of a tea-pickers basket makes her instantly recognisable to any student of 1950'5, '60's or '70's geography text-books!

Strangely Ceylon (which I keep writing as Cylon…altogether a different kettle-of-ball-game-killer-fish-robot-alien!) had been renamed Sri Lanka, the year before this set came out as a cereal premium, which probably only shows you more about the lead time for a plastic product back then than any deliberate desire to offend, or ignorance on the part of the issuer!

China - Female, Cheongsam, Hanfu Performer, Tang Suit - Commonwealth, Van Brode
China - Male, Cheongsam, Hanfu Performer, Liuqin, Loar, Mandarin, Tang Suit - Commonwealth, Van Brode

I think the flower seller (?) from Commonwealth is wearing a tailored Tang suit, while the dancer of Van Brode's is in a close cut Cheongsam for performing, but I must stress I don't know (or care much), I'm not a student of foreign dress; the captions are primarily for search-engine optimisation!

She is one of the commonest mouldings from Commonwealth, having been included in every issue including the Sanitarium 1973 set. She is also the only full-sized Hong Kong one with an added plinth in my collection, although I'm pretty sure I've seen others on the Wibbly Wobbly Way. Van Brode have gone with a fan-dancer or performer of some kind, in line with most of their pairs. The Codec version is - as always - slimmer and more anatomically correct

China's male becomes problematical when you search the Internet as some sources state that the Commonwealth moulding of the Japanese male with broom/bamboo stick was marked 'China' at some point, however the more you search the more you find him described as 'Japan', so I've dropped him from this file.

This leaves Van Brode leading the field for several decades with a male Chinaman, before Sanitarium dropped one into their final 1979 issue. Although, the Sanitarium moulding is another nondescript one, of a guy in an Asian gown, where he comes from is not immediately obvious and there is nothing to suggest he's a Mandarin bureaucrat, as the gown is so devoid of collars, official's 'mandarin squares' &etc.

The Van Brode offering is paired with the performer looked at previously, and is playing a Chinese Mandolin; a Liuquin or more probably four-stringed Loar?

Cuba - Female, Rumba Dress - Commonwealth, Codec, Van Brode
Cuba - Male, Rumba, Maracas - Van Brode

Commonwealth started the ball rolling with a nice animated Rumba dancer in frilly sleeves, copied by Codec, the Van Brode girl has a similar pose and was clearly influenced by the original, but has lost the sleeves and been given a pencil skirt for a more alluring pose, which looks 'Caribbean' but not specifically Cuban! Dare I suggest; she looks more African and less Hispanic?

As does her male companion (energetically playing the maracas for her to dance to) exclusive to Van Brode as one of their pairings.

Czechoslovakia - Folk Costume, Hanakia, Moravia, Czech, Slovakian - Commonwealth, Codec, Sanitarium

Running from the original individually-carded sets through to an ethylene simplification under Sanitarium's auspices, this nice figure was also copied by Codec, more naturally sculpted but - as often - less animated, the Commonwealth moulding looking quite feisty, while Codec's looks nervous!

Denmark - Falster-Møn, Funen, Jutland, Peasant Costume - Commonwealth, Codec, Sanitarium

Another nice figure from Commonwealth with a slightly preferable version from Codec, no exceptions, histrionics or other notable events, carried as standard (ivory-coloured polystyrene) by Sanitarium in '71.

Egypt - Veil Dance, Pre-Ptolemaic, Pharaonic - Codec, Commonwealth, Van Brode
Egypt, Pre-Ptolemaic, Pharaoh - Van Brode

So - to Africa; Commonwealth lead with their most risqué pose, an Egyptian veil-dancer in her layers of transparent frippery, one of the common poses that went through all the phases of production and was copied by Codec, but not run by Sanitarium.

Van Brode followed with a pair of frankly horrid cartoon-like caricatures of Tomb paintings with impossible wrists…yuk?

Aaaaaaand…..that's where we leave Africa!…I told you race would raise its ugly head again! It is a fact that out of 98 sculpts (by my reckoning?) from 38, 39 or 40 countries, states and provinces (depending on how you count them?), giving 59 headings here, there is not a single sub-Saharan African state, country, region or ethnic or cultural group, tribe or recognised traditional or folk-dress represented by any of these makers (with the possible exception of the two Van Brode Cuban plantation workers!) in any of the figures.

That both the Commonwealth and Van Brode sets come from a place that was still - in the 1940's and 1950's - stiflingly racist (and still is - some will happily argue/point out) is no accident to the lack of African subjects in these ranges of figures. Firstly, there would have been a white workforce who probably wouldn't have considered adding [the] "N-word's" to a set of toy 'dolls', and secondly if the senior staff had given voice to any thoughts on it, in pre-production meetings; probably wouldn't have wanted examples of African 'culture' falling into the hands of African-American kids!

You may find the above two paragraphs distasteful, even unfair and with Haiti and the West Indies to come below you'd have a point, but one can't do justice to a page like this without addressing that hidden…nay; glaring omission.

No Maasai, Zulu, Hottentots, Matabele, Ibo, Ashanti? Not even (with the exception of the veil dancer above) Arabic examples; no Tuareg or Malian, no Algerian/Moroccan/Tunisian types. These sets are a fine example of what is known as 'institutional racism'.

You could also imagine that while the missing tribal 'folk dress' are thousands of years old, most of the 'traditional' costumes on this page were actually created, codified and laid-down as 'absolute' during the great European age of colonisation and nationalism from 1750-1900, and are constructs, 'costume' telling the near neighbours that the royalist or governmental flag-waving and poking going-on has a 'cultural' root!

England - Female, British, Edwardian, Regency - Commonwealth, Sanitarium, Van Brode
England - Male, British, Edwardian, Regency - Van Brode
[UK / Éire 1 & 2]

As an Edwardian lady strolling through Hyde Park in her 'Sunday Best' the Commonwealth figure works much better than she had as 'Early American', so of the name changes this one seems the most obvious, especially as there was no figure for England in a set that covers all the main European nations. I guess they thought they'd covered the 'oohkay' with a Scottish girl! Appearing during the flesh-colour, unpainted phase she remained 'England' until at least 1971 and the first Sanitarium set. Nevertheless she remains in 'historical' dress and anachronistic against most of the other figures.

Van Brode went with a historical pair from the Regency/Georgian period, doing that Bronte/Austin, formal dancing, in the ballroom, up at the big house type of stuff, foppish, poor scupts. [French] Codec dropped this [British] nation from their issue...I wonder why! Clue - they were still trying to keep us out of the EEC at the time!

Finland - Mouhijärvi, Pornainen, Suomi - Commonwealth, Codec

The Commonwealth costume is not bad (given that all the female European costumes can look similar; flowing-skirts, bodices, with blouse under, and/or jacket over, some kind of headwear/scarf), and best resembles the regions I've added to the caption; Mouhijärvi and Pornainen. This is another of the common figures that ran through the decades without drama.

Codec took Commonwealth's 'Sweden' pose, a silly move as it's clearly a summery affair, with the arms bared, while all the Finnish regional costumes have one thing in common - encompassing layers of warm or heavy cloth.

I've given some thought as to why Codec made the four changes they made with pose-v-nationality, and can only assume that having decided to copy the American range (further assuming no license to do so), they felt that if some of the countries didn't directly 'line-up' they might have more chance of getting a good barrister to convince a half-sozzled intellectual-property judge - keen to get back to the golf course - to believe (or rule!) no infringement had taken place, should the need ever arise?

France - Alsace, Folk Dress, Lorraine, Nancy - Commonwealth, Codec

One of the ones with a naming question mark; is it 'Lorraine' or 'France', Commonwealth or Codec? Otherwise a nice figure which lived-on through the years of the Commonwealth inventory and - given the relaxed nature of the pose - the Codec one with its reversed shepherd's crook is the preferable.

Germany - Fresia, North Tracht, Schleswig Holstein - Commonwealth, Codec, Sanitarium

I originally thought she might be from somewhere SO specific I couldn't find her with an amateur and brief Google! But you can see in the headdress some influence of the Dutch national costume, so I Googled again…

…and it seems that having sent the Austrian to Switzerland with his Bavarian Lederhosen, they've gone with a German woman from the Nord Deutsch, specifically Schleswig Holstein, instead of the fun of heaving busts and beer steins in Bavaria, we get a wet fortnight in Oldenburg! Been there, done that! I also found women from Frisia with similar but hanging 'hat-flaps'.

One of the figures improved by Codec's treatment and then simplified to something even more generic by Sanitarium in soft plastic. Painting the 'hat' black will give you a passable Hanoverian 'big-bow' and red will pass for Oberfranken. Basically: the rule is; if a North German region's had a cow-breed, a beer or both named after it; a bit of paint will help this figure represent it!

Link - German Folk Costume

Greece - Aegean, Albanian, Foustanella, Tsolias - Sanitarium

Seeming to be a more Albanian costume than anything purely Greek, this chap can pass for an Aegean, or fellow from Cephalonia or the Cyclades, and was part of the last set from Sanitarium in soft ethylene with the hollow base.

Similar comments apply to the Sanitarium Yugoslavia and Turkey poses (see below), and the three could be easily converted and/or just painted to represent dozens of states or regions in the Balkans and Southern-Eastern Europe/Near East

Haiti - Commonwealth

After my comments on racism above, you were thinking…"Yeah! What about Haiti?"

Well, the exception that proves the rule? A near-neighbour and US holiday destination? Must have some 'black skin' in the set? Quickly dropped from the range? The land of escaped slaves giving hope to African-Americans of some sort of 'American Dream' or that modern phrase-de-jour for continued growth and planetary destruction; 'aspiration'?

Codec moved her to Bali and Van Brode didn't bother at all. I don't know if it was dropped from the range early, but have failed to find late versions and Sanitarium didn't carry the moulding in their sets.

Hawaii - Female, Hula Dancer - Commonwealth, Codec, Van Brode
Hawaii - Male, Hula Drummer - Van Brode
[America 6 & 7]

The female appears to be the most popular of all the figures and seems the most common in all guises; she's also one of only two I've found as derivative key-rings (the other being Scotland). However, the male was only attempted by Van Brode; as one of their pairs.

Back to the girl and Van Brode reversed the pose and added a scarf or broken Hula Lei (Hawaiian necklace) thing draped across her arms, while Codec managed another of their anatomically better, but stiffer versions!

See also note with Alaska about dates/states and States!

Holland - Female, 'Brode' Dutch, Netherlands - Commonwealth, Codec, Van Brode, Sanitarium
Holland - Male, Dutch, Netherlands, 'Van' - Van Brode

Another common figure was the Dutch girl…and attempted/issued by all four originators. The Commonwealth pose being copied a tad stiffly by Codec and getting the simplification treatment for polyethylene injection-moulding of the last Sanitarium set in the swan-song issue of 1979.

Van Brode went with someone (Ms. 'Brode') resembling a demented Viking in their rendering of their logo 'in the flesh' as it were, and gave her a Beau (Master 'Van' damn-I'm-dumb-looking!) of equal cartoonishness or caricature! As company logos tend to change infrequently, it also helps produce the gap between Commonwealth's and Van Brode's first figure issues, pushing the Van Brode's issue to the other end of the 1950's from Commonwealth's.

Hungary - Female, Kalocsa, Bács-Kiskun, Magyar - Codec, Van Brode
Hungary - Male, Kalocsa, Bács-Kiskun, Magyar - Van Brode, Sanitarium

Van Brode's rendition of the girl is reasonable (although it's the men who wear the high cavalry or 'jack-boot', the girls tend to have a polished sandal for dancing in. Codec? Well Finland's a long way from Hungary, so a 'fail' there - as people put it these days - with their reuse of Commonwealth's Northern lass!

The men are both reasonable, I prefer the Sanitarium version, a lot of Van Brode's figures are a bit over the top and this chap is a good example, while the Aussie issue is just standing there quietly looking the part.

The more astute of you may by now (just over halfway through the list) have noticed that it would appear some (not all) the 'new pose' figures for/from Sanitarium - both hard (1973) and soft (1979) plastic - are aimed at figures which Commonwealth never did, but that Van Brode had. I wonder if - assuming a connection between Commonwealth and Sanitarium - this was a conscious or unconscious payback/point-scoring by someone at either company?

Also the sculpting of this late figure seems the same as for the earlier issue (not so the pillar-like sculpts), which raises three further points of interest…what did they - as artist - feel about waiting six years for the second lot to appear, if that was the case? Did they design any other (un-issued) poses? And is he/she the same person who produced the large flat/semi-flat WWII figures with the similar style down under? This would be a pointer to production moving from the US in/around 1975'ish.

India - Male, Sikh - Commonwealth and Sanitarium

I'm not sure if he is supposed to be in purely military dress (although the salute would suggest he is), or if he is modelled on more of a colonial administration / Civil Service attire, formal dinner-dress or a policeman? Anyway, he's a reasonable figure and with his Turban; reveals himself to be a Sikh.

Some sources state he was actually called 'Sikh' at some point but I've only found readable examples with 'India' on the base, if he was called Sikh, why? Few of the others (outside the US foursome) are named for their ethnicity, so why him? The Sanitarium one is clearly a copy of the original, in poor condition with the marking re-done in large engineers letter-stamps, standing proud of the mould (in relief), unlike the original neat, recessed, , letter-block with its DIN-like font, of the Commonwealth figures.

Ireland - Female, Eire, Erin, RoI - Van Brode
Ireland - Male, Eire, Erin, RoI - Van Brode
[UK / Éire 3 & 4]

Van Brode only for this pair of rural country-dance types; cross-border pollination with Ulster coupled with the English sculpts and Scots dancers' end-up making Britain next best represented state after 'The States'!

As Van Brodes go they are quite reasonable sculpts, casually posed, with the feet suggesting a small 'jig' is in progress! The costumes fit the day dress of the lower classes of mainland Britain through the latter half of the 19th Century, so the figures could be used in a vignette with the Early American/England lady.

Italy - Female, Southern Italy, Molise, Puglia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria - Commonwealth, Van Brode
Italy - Male, Organ Grinder - Van Brode

The Commonwealth sculpt has a soft head-cover which seems to be more from Southern Italy and would also look OK in parts of the Northern Balkans (Bosnia or Croatia), while the Van Brode sculpt has no relationship with Italy at all, being more of a Ukrainian headdress?

They miss just as much with their male sculpt…what's going on? An old man with a something on a stick…letching after young girls? I think it's supposed to be an organ-grinder with a small musical-box and his monkey….but still; an odd choice of an odd sculpt when all the others are interacting pairs of similarly aged young people?

Japan - Female, Geisha, Kimono - Commonwealth, Sanitarium
Japan - Male, Rural Peasant, Samurai - Commonwealth, Sanitarium

All-four are reasonable figures; the earlier woman being in full Geisha regalia and the later Sanitarium effort being a simple 'everyday' Kimono. The men are a typical rural worker and a later Samurai.

Both the Sanitarium poses are the simple pillar-like sculpts but will paint-up decently enough, while a question mark remains over whether the chap with the broom was ever named 'China'

Java - Male - Commonwealth

One of the more generic figures, he could be from pretty much anywhere in Asia on a hot day, working in the fields, nothing wrong with him, but nothing to shout 'Java'!

Korea - Male, Gat, Durumagi - Commonwealth

Nice attempt at the typical traditional dress of a Korean male with the high Gat (hat) and Durumagi overcoat with its loose sleeves, the pipe is wonderfully accurate.

Link - Korean Pipes

Mexico - Female, Chiapas, Tabasco, 5 de Mayo - Codec, Commonwealth, Van Brode
Mexico - Male, Guayabera - Van Brode

There is great variation in Mexican dress as it's a big, modern, cultural melting-pot of a country, but Google suggests all these women are recognisably Mexican, sombrero's can be worn with it, as are  scarves or cowboy-type hats, I think the headdress is more regional while the Chiapas dress is more universal/national.

The guy is great - for Van Brode - and looks Mexican without any Spanish kitsch! He also looks like he'd turn nasty if you made his sister cry…

Norway - Female, Bunad / Bunader - Commonwealth, Codec

This sculpt is a reasonable rendition of the correct Bunad dress, however the shoulder straps given to the painted figures don't truly replicate the jerkin/waistcoat that is actually worn with the dress, although both makers have got the step between apron and dress at the bottom, just right.

Portugal - Female, Domingar - Commonwealth, Codec, Sanitarium

The apron doesn't seem to be as large as it should be, but with several variations of sleeve evident in a Google-search, I assume there are some shorter aprons somewhere in Portugal. Headscarf is correct and there are no issues with the figure. Codec's may be the preferable here, while Sanitarium's simplified one can be given a miss.

Scotland - Female, Sword Dance, Highland Dress, Dirk, Fling, Targe - Commonwealth, Codec, Van Brode, Sanitarium
Scotland - Male, Bagpipes, Pipes, - Van Brode
[UK / Éire 5 & 6]

The girl dancing on swords (yes - those two lumps are supposed to be swords), is the most copied pose after or alongside Hawaii. This dancer can be found as a base-less key ring, and baseless gumball toys exist in the smaller size, yet is not one of the best sculpts, Commonwealth's being almost as poor as Van Brode's later example!

Also, you would probably expect one dancer to make the cross with sword and scabbard, rather than two swords, although it's acceptable, four dancers would use four swords I think? The Dirk dance involves the more militaristic practice of holding the knives! A Targe dance is a fast one carried out atop a small shield.

Van Brode takes the swords away, so she's just dancing a targeless-fling! However - the chap from Van Brode is a risible figure with a Bay City Roller's comedy hat, so best not mentioned again!

Siam - Female, Thailand, Siemreap, Niramit - Commonwealth, Codec

Before the 1940's one version of this dress was a rather risqué topless costume with hat and lower-body shift/toga only, this wouldn't have gone down well with 1950's schoolgirls; so she is dressed in the tourist version, rather than the traditional garb. Headdress is the identifier though and well modelled by both makers.

Conversion possibilities with this include male versions of the costume with a heavy pull-round coat, and simpler versions of both hat and dress without the ornamentation seem to have been worn as everyday 'town' dress in the past. The pose though is stylised and statue-like with the dress (and headdress) almost too ornate, and ones feels it's based on temple statuary rather than living examples?

Spain - Female, Flamenco, Andalusia - Van Brode
Spain - Male, Matador, Gaucho - Commonwealth, Van Brode, Sanitarium

The female is a lovely sculpt for a Van Brode, and paints-up well, she would also make a good Cuba? The guy is equally passable although I'm not sure if Van Brode's costume is that of a Gaucho or a Matador, but I've found sources using either moniker, while 'Flamenco player' covers it! Commonwealth's is much clearer!

Sanitarium though? The random guy in a business suit! He could be anyone from anywhere…when I used to see him on eBay, knowing Sanitarium was behind him, I assumed he must be a 'modern' Australian (or Japanese) businessman! Yet despite three issues and several new/original sculpts they never modelled themselves.

Sweden - Female, Bunad/Bunader - Commonwealth, Codec

Very similar to Norway's dress (neighbours) and the same name, Google reveals several different headdresses or none, but more importantly a modern trend/move toward everyone wearing them in a white, blue and yellow scheme (the colours of the Swedish flag), although other colours are still seen and historically - all colours were used.

Codec uses Commonwealth's Switzerland pose, complete with (truncated) alpine horn! No reason for this other than those I posit elsewhere, but it works (less the trumpet!), being the 'universal' blowy skirt with pinafore/apron.

Switzerland - Female, Schweizer, Trachtenfest - Commonwealth, Sanitarium

Alpine Horns are about six-times longer than the instrument she's holding, and usually blown by men! Other than that the costume seems OK for a side-on pose, and would - in any event - be similar to several others we've looked at.

I can't find anything like her headdress though, the closest are the ribbons Polish brides wear as part of their traditional dress, this looks more like a night-cap? Perhaps if painting one of these figures judicious use of colour to suggest a pony-tail leaving a scarf would be the correct trick!

The re-named Austrian male is fine, just puzzling as speculated-on above. And, to be fair: the Swiss male's more correct traditional costume includes long breeches meeting high-socks just below the knee rather than the full Lederhosen shorts?

Turkey - Female, Wedding Outfit, Belly Dance - Van Brode
Turkey - Male, Sword Dancer of Bursa, Fez - Van Brode, Sanitarium

Similar to the more demure traditional wedding outfit, this is clearly actually a belly dancer with her bloused pantaloons and brassier. So having avoided the risqué in Siam, we get it in Turkey anyway!

While the man is a nice rendition of a sword and shield dancer, even down to the crested hat and shoulder flaps, representing early Ottoman battle-dress. With paint, this could be one of the nicest pairing from Van Brode, while Sanitarium's figure is an everyday Turkic with a Fez, again one of the better figures from these new pillar-like sculpts.

West Indies - Female, Mardi-Gras - Van Brode
West Indies - Male, Mardi-Gras - Van Brode

Right at the end of the list and Van Brode give us a new nation…or rather collection of disparate islands! They'll do! She looks the part, a bit Spanish, a bit Mexican and Google shows similar.

But...the chap seems to be straight from Mardi-Gras, Google wouldn't give-up a straight match, so: true 'costume', rather than traditional or folk-dress? he also reminds me of a trade-mark character...coffee or bananas? And Bertie-Bassett the liquorice-allsort mascot!

Yugoslavia - Male, Bjelasnica, Gabela, Bosnia, Herzegovina - Sanitarium
(Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Dalmatia)

The final figure is one of the last additions and one of Sanitarium's unique contributions, another 'pillar' sculpt and a bit generic, he's good for several areas of the Balkans, but if they say Yugoslavia, he's Yugoslavian…except that now that country has ceased to exist and fragmented back to its constituent states for the umpteenth time. He's really more Bosnian with that Fez pointing to Islamic influence.

I should add (while trying to avoid the whole Balkan-nationalism can-of-worms) that both Serbian and Croatian costumes are similar, but the 'pyjama' trousers of this figure's are more Bosnian, the hat is closer to the Croatian one than the Serbian one, the Serbian sash is worn further round and not tucked-in…and…and…!


Other nations have 50mm plastic costume 'dolls' too!
 Welsh National Dress

Van Brode Foreign Issues - One website describes the Van Brode figures as having been made available in Australia and Germany " …which are different from the ones that were distributed in the U.S.", they weren't. The Australian figures are Sanitarium from the Commonwealth sculpts (not necessarily from Commonwealth), while the 'German' figures will almost certainly be the French Codec premiums.

Cracker Jacks - The Van Brode figures have been connected to Cracker Jacks, but they are far too big for the sort of things Cracker Jacks usually included, and Van Brode as a private label manufacturer would not have been keen to provide succour to a big-brand rival, especially with the same figures it was using to promote its own-name brands. Cracker Jacks may have carried the small ivory-coloured Hong Kong copies in 20mm, but I doubt it.

Ration Pack Figures - Some sources state the Van Brode figures were included in the C-Rations, I think this is very unlikely and can find no evidence other that those evidence-lacking statements for it. Can you imagine what a soldier in his freezing foxhole in Korea would make of finding a random-packed Chinaman in his MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat)!

Bonux - One source thinks they issued the Commonwealth figures with stands, the source is an unreliable plagiarist, and I've found no other clues to the issue [they did, now found independently], the same source mentions 'Russia' for the Hungarian pose.

Mali - Is mentioned as a nationality in one source, there is no other evidence for it having ever been used, this is probably a confusion with the reuse of Commonwealth's Haiti pose by Codec for their Bali?


- Karen Steph Stephens' Photobucket Albums
- Kent Sprecher News (top of the page and half way down, as at 2016, they will move down over time)
- Kent Sprecher Premiums (toward the bottom of the page)
- Commonwealth are also toward the top of the other makes page.
- Prize'n'Side - watch the myths
- eBay
- Etsy
- Delcammpe
- Todocollectione
- I also used a lot of images from a Pinterest or Tumblr site I now can't find, well Pinterest has turned to shit with lock-outs, pop-ups and sign-up crap, so maybe it was there? If anyone thinks they know the one I mean...it had them grouped in colours and singly, with a few painted ones in several albums/on several pages?...let us know the link.

Other Links
Commonwealth Labour Relations 1941
Modern Commonwealth Website
Van Brode Logos
Spork, History of
History of Weet-Bix
Shady dealings
Modern Sanitarium Website
Doll Bodies Inc. (other products, provided by Commonwealth?)
Costume Blog
Codec on the A-Z
Commonwealth on the A-Z
Sanitarium on the A-Z
Van Brode on the A-Z


Burmese; Burmese Dancer; Commonwealth; Commonwealth Plastics; Dancers Dolls Of The World; Dancing Dolls; Dolls of the World; Hong Kong; Japanese; Made In Hong Kong; Myanmar; Siamese; Siamese Dancer; Small Scale World; smallscaleworld.blogspot.com; Thai Dancer; Thailand; Van Brode; Van Brode Plastics; World Dancers;
Brian Wagstaff sent these to the Blog, one a duplicate of the example in my own collection (see above), the other a new sculpt, seemingly a local design, with elements of Commonwealth's Siamese lady (Thailand) and Van Brode's Burmese dancer (Myanmar), but really; all new.

Unlike the fully round sculpt of the Japanese Geisha, it has the semi-flatness of the Van Brode kachin dancer, about all it has in common with that sculpt, and a costume with elements of the Commonwealth Siam sculpt.

It raises an obvious question or two, to wit; 1) what other sculpts were included in the set and 2) were they all (or mostly) Asian figures, suggesting a local tourist keepsake set which happened to pull on some, or - at least - one; commonwealth sculpt?

Gum-ball prizes - Commonwealth sculpts, 18 used, apparently

Questions Marks Remaining;

  • Name/s of the Eskimo, especially the Codec version?
  • Name/s of the Early American, especially the Codec version?
  • Identity of Codec's Lorraine figure? (if at all; France or Early American)?
  • Name/s of the Commonwealth Sikh-India figure
  • Was the Commonwealth 'Japan' male ever labelled 'China'?
  • Was the Commonwealth 'Hungary' ever labelled 'Russia'
Letter-opener or 'sword' style cocktail sticks;
borrowing from Commonwealth - but not a close match

  • Content Lists for all the Commonwealth and Doll Bodies boxed sets
  • Who came first? [I'm sure it was Commonwealth]
  • Who came second, Codeg or Van Brode?
  • Where did Sanitarium source its first two sets of hard polystyrene figures?
  • Where did Sanitarium source its last set of soft polyethylene figures?
  • Who copied, who licensed?…and who pirated!
  • Sculptors? - All!
That's 45 pages (at A4) or a small book!

I think it 'nails' the subject but doesn't put all the queries to bed so if anyone thinks they can clear-up a question mark or two, let us know in the comments section, and send any evidential images to me, I'll add them at the bottom of the page (with full credits) for now, as the cross referencing of text, pictures, screen-catpchas and the table would be a nightmare to deal with - one answer at a time. I will return to the page in a few years for a full update, when - hopefully - all (or most) of the question-marks can be put to bed.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Small Scale World - that's made it sooomuch clearer!


Hugh Walter said...

Glad to have been of help Emily, but there's 'Clearer' and there's 'full clarity' and the latter still escapes us!


BB Whimsies said...

Excellent analysis, helps clarify many questions. Thanks so very much. Have just begun acquiring a few (mostly Van Brode) for some tiny art boxes.

Do you know much about the 100 Doll Co? Did they ever change their molds? Are duplicates common in the box of 100? Thanks again for all the information.

BB Whimsies said...

Oh, sorry. Just found your page on the 100 Dolls listed differently. Thanks again for the information!

Hugh Walter said...


There is some variation in the make-up of the 100 dolls, but it seems to be more about the difference between US issue (100, set contents) and other users of the moulds or copies (European premiums/Hong Kong - cracker toys) where contents can differ, or figures come individually?

Early sets had a sheet of red vinyl stickers with which you could decorate hats, skirts etc . . . all sticky and misshapen now!


Kent Sprecher said...

Nice job. I had put these figures on the back burner but about two weeks ago I found the Sanitarium connection and they sent me a nice picture of the back of the Oriental dress cereal box. The development of plastics and better injector machines in the 1940s caused the plastic toy market to boom. There were several chemical companies making new hard plastics in the mid to late 1940s. The Bergen Toy & Novelty Co (BETON) used an earlier plastic tenite that came out the mold mottled and had to be painted. I think Commonwealth used one of the new plastic (ad Feb 1951 in PLAYTHINGS magazine) and Van Brode a different plastic. Their molds may have been made by the same mold maker. Van Brode was involved in the making of army C rations and as the Korean War was the United nations vs China I think the act of including a figure in C Ration packs holds water as they were not as much toys as they were collectibles. I think Van Brodes figures were first made in 1951 or 52. I have had painted SIKH figures. I also found a catalog selling used mold and it had a 24 cavity mold of what appears to be 24 Commonwealth figure cavities. Once again nice job.

Hugh Walter said...