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Hi, I'm Darryll and I live in Pullman, Washington with my wife and two kids. I'm a licensed Architect and am employed as a Project Manager at Washington State University. In addition, I have my own business doing residential designs in the greater Palouse area. I am a self-taught pianist, song-writer and singer and am involved in the music department at my local church.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Troll Dolls

So - I'm sure that I probably at least made mention of some of the toys that I grew up with here in my blog at one time or another, but I was just reminded of a certain one the other day.

Jimmy Fallon had Kyra Sedgwick on his show and she got to talking about how much loved those little Troll dolls.  And Jimmy loved them, too!  You remember them...the little yellow/fleshy skinned guys with huge frizzy wild colored hair and the funny little grin?!?

Notice the gemstone-less belly button!

Well, it turns out that there is quite a history behind these things.  The Troll dolls were originally known as Leprechauns, and were also known as Dam dolls, Gonks, Wishniks, Treasure Trolls and Norfins.  We only ever called them Trolls.  They were a huge fad from 1963 through 1965.  Their popularity faded out for awhile, but surged again for brief periods in the '70s, '80s and '90s and were made by a bunch of different manufacturers.

They were originally created in 1959 by a Danish fisherman and woodcutter named Thomas Dam - Hence the "Dam dolls" name.  He couldn't afford a Christmas gift for his youngest daughter and so he carved the doll from his imagination.  How cool is that?  These dolls that we all grew up with all came from him making a toy for his daughter!

Some of the clothes that the Troll dolls wore
We used to play with them - somehow it was ok for us boys to playing with "dolls" since they were Troll dolls!  We had clothes for them... we brushed their wild and colorful hair... we really did play with them.  Kind of weird now that I think about it.  But - it was a part of my growing up, it was a cool thing of the '70s (although I think I really did this more in the late '60s); and it's neat to look back on them now!

A boy Troll and girl Troll - It was all determined by colors

It seems like I couldn't find many pictures of the older ones.  The newer ones have gemstones in their belly buttons. Did you all have Troll dolls growing up?


joe said...

Had one. With red hair about 12 inches long. I took him in the pool and his hair came unglued.

LaraAnn said...

I never did have any of these but my friend had a couple. I do have to admit that they did kind of scare me a bit though. It's nice that you had such fun playing with them. It was interesting reading about the history of these dolls.

Darrin.. said...

These puppies DO have staying power! They seem to always pop up one or two times during each decade!

Anita said...

I STILL have some trolls! My BFF who lives in NYC (I live in NC) sent me a birthday troll on my b-day a couple of years ago. One Christmas I sent her a pair of Christmas troll earrings. They were dressed in green and had red hair and were small enough to fit on earring wires. I actually got myself a pair, too! We played with them when were about 9 or 10, and as the years rolled by, we found it funny to find trolls and troll things to send to each other!

Anonymous said...

My sister bestowed her beloved troll do to me. The original ones weren't called trolls. Anywho I loved that goofy thing... I was 5 or 6...

Anonymous said...

¿What were they originally called?

Blast from the Past said...

Hi, Anon!
...and thanks for the extra upside down question mark! :)

I didn't know this, but found it on Wikipedia :

A Troll Doll (Danish: Gjøltrold) is a type of plastic doll with furry up-combed hair depicting a troll, also known as a Dam doll after their creator Danish woodcutter Thomas Dam. The toys are also known as good luck trolls, or alternatively gonk trolls in the United Kingdom.

Of course there's a lot more on the page about them, but now I know what they were originally called! Thanks!!