The Happy Family was Mattel's African-American version of the Sunshine Family. I give kudos to Mattel for really being the first to do this. And also to give them their own identity instead of just the black Sunshine Family. In the 1970's it was rare to have black versions of popular dolls. Barbie hadn't gone black yet in the early 1970's. The Happy Family came out in 1975 a year before the second series of the SF. This Happy Family consisted of Hal the dad, Hattie the mom and Baby Hon.
One thing I never understood was why Hal is wearing a tank top. Steve is wearing a turtle neck and a long sleeved shirt. I remember driving my mom crazy with questions like that. Odd. Well anyway Hattie is wearing a very colorful skirt and top. Baby Hon is wearing a little outfit when Baby Sweets at this time is still in a sleeper. Baby Sweets outfit for the 3rd Series is the same as Hon's but with a brown bottom. This 1st version is pretty common and easy to find.
The Happy Family used the exact same mold as the Sunshine Family. The only difference being the skin and eye color and the dark curly hair.The Happy Family also had a 2nd version. It is super rare and when they come up for auction is always pricey. The last complete set I saw recently went for around $70 and really I've seen them go for much more. I don't have a complete 2nd series, I only have Hal and Toddler Hon seen below.
Toddler Hon is hard to find and I jumped for joy when I finally scored her! I found a photo on line somewhere to show you what the original set looks like, shown below. The baby in the 2nd series is just the same baby Hon so you can add anyone that you have. I do have more but I don't have that baby outfit. Hattie is also basically the same with a little color to her lips. She wears the same original shoes and the same hairstyle but her outfit is crazy hard to get!
I drove my mom nuts with begging for another Sunshine Family house so that the Happy Family could have their own house but she wouldn't go for it and said "They can all live together Jenny, what the big deal?" She never understood I wanted them to be neighbors and visit each others houses and stuff. Besides how do 4 adults, 2 babies and two sets of Grandparents live in a 4 room house when one of the rooms is a patio with 1 bed and 2 chairs? The Happy Family ended up living in Barbie's fold out townhouse but I always thought that Stephie was jealous of the Barbie furniture. ;0)
I'll post about the Grandparents next then I'll move on to the House and the kits and the other play sets. I hope you are enjoying my ramblings and please ask questions if you have any.
Well Mattel for some unknown reason went nuts and decided on the Sunshine Family Series 3 to completely make over all the dolls and even changed their name to" the Sunshine Fun Family". The African-American version was called "the Happy Fun Family". Mattel decided to change the whole Sunshine Family idea from slightly hippie, make it yourself, organic, handmade to a more materialistic 1980's idea. I guess they were going with the changing times but I really feel they ruined the dolls by doing this. Other must have felt this way too as the line of dolls ended soon after and Mattel went to a Barbie sized, looking doll line called ironically the Happy Family (the African-American version of the Sunshine Family was called the Happy Family).
This will be a longer post as I point out the changes made to the dolls. I hope all of this is informative to you. As a collector myself I need to learn these things to collect the correct pieces and series.
New box design and new name. Unfortunately this is the only box I have from any of the series. If you check out my very first post I have a photo of the original box for comparison.
On the box it says: "And now there are 4! Mom, Dad, big sister and baby brother having fun together!"The best thing about this series to me was that baby Sweets was now a little girl and there is another slightly different baby in the family.
Big change huh?
O.k. Steve has a new outfit and shoes and a Brady Bunch Dad Fro going on. Stephie has a new dress and shoes, longer hair (back to a more natural color) and eyeshadow and lipstick! Sweets is now a little girl. (I really love this doll) She has little orange shoes but they are super hard to find so mine is barefoot for now. And the new baby who is apparently a boy doesn't have a name and is a redhead. The baby's original outfit is a one piece jumper with a white top and brown shorts and kind of matches the dad's clothes.
Steve's curly fro.
Stephie has blue eyeshadow, eyelashes and lipstick.
The new baby is the same "Sweets" body just
with red hair.
Big Sister Sweets as she's known now has an outfit that coordinates with the mom's dress. Sweets as a little girl is hard to find and in her original outfit almost impossible.The ribbons in her hair are original too.
Mattel started offering different outfits sets for the Family at this time as shown on the back of the box. I do have some of them and will get to them at a later date. These sets were different than the DIY sets they previously offered for the original Sunshine Family that you had to finish making yourself.More to come on those later.
As the Sunshine Family became more popular or perhaps to make them more popular Mattel did a re-design of the clothes.
Steve was given jeans instead of khaki pants and another red turtleneck in a brighter color with different fabric. His shoes were also a darker color. Stephie had the more significant change. Her old fashioned dress with the apron was replaced with a more modern jumper dress over a short sleeved red shirt. Her hair was a little shorter on this version and styled differently too. She also had more blond color than the more natural blond of the original series Stephie. Baby Sweets remained the same and in the same yellow sleeper outfit.
The Third Series will be shown in my next post and had the most radical change for Steve, Stephie and Sweets of all. As a child I only had Series 1 dolls and never even knew about the second or third Series until I was an adult.. Which Series did you have? Which you you like best?
The original dress was a two piece outfit with a long sleeved bodysuit and a long to the feet skirt. The apron had pockets and was long. Then Mattel changed the apron to one without pockets. And finally changed the dress to a short sleeved one piece dress that was a little shorter and a smaller apron that was in my option very cheaply made. You can see the difference in the materiel when you physically compare them.
A little backround history of The Sunshine Family. These dolls were created by Mattel and were sold starting in 1974 until 1982. They were wonderful dolls who represented a simpler more laid back time when people made crafts and sewed their own clothes in the 1970's.
These dolls fit in perfectly with my childhood because my parents really did those things and encouraged me to make things too. My mother didn't approve of many toys but she found a way to buy these for me. (I only had one Malibu Barbie, Ken & Skipper-why would you need more was my mom's thinking).
The original name of The Sunshine Family Dolls was "The Good Earth Family". Glad they changed it cause I think Sunshine Family is just so much better!
The Sunshine Family consisted of father Steve, mother Stephie and blond baby Sweets.
Sunshine Family Original Series 1
The very first series edition of The Sunshine Family are very hard to find as they were only made a short time. Changes were made to the clothing and baby and then released as another Series 1.
Above is the Original Series 1.
In the original release, Steve had a looser turtle neck sweater and his pants had pockets. Stephie had a long sleeved ankle length dress with a long apron with pockets.
The biggest and rarest difference in the original series 1 is that baby Sweets was made from soft rubber and you could sqeeze and bend her. Also her outfit was made to come off easy for diaper changes. (all further series had a hard rubber Sweets body and a very hard to get off and then on again one piece outfit).
Sweets' outfit opened up in back.
Sweets was soft and you could squeeze her.
After I talk about the different Series of The Sunshine Family and The Happy Family, I'll move on the the great playsets and will show photos of the "Family" living their little lives. I'll also have a section on The Star Spangled Dolls which used the SF bodies and also all the fun clone dolls of the SF I've collected.
Hope you enjoyed what I have so far and please comment so I know someone's reading this, o.k.?