The Sunshine Family dolls & vintage playsets from the ’70s

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The Sunshine Family dolls and vintage playsets from the 70s

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

Hot on the heels of the flower child era, back in 1974, Mattel introduced a set of dolls that were sort of the anti-Barbie: The Sunshine Family. Though the new family members (the parents, at least) were about the same size as Barbie and Ken dolls, fashion and luxury living was not their thing.

Instead, the cute little mom, dad and baby — Stephie, Steve and Sweets — did stuff like riding around on their tricycle built for three, and running a craft shack out of the back of their camper. (They probably also made their own granola and wove macrame plant-holders.)

click-americana-christmas-sunshine-familyDespite the dolls’ hippie roots, there was nothing “free-love” about the family’s wardrobe: Stephie typically wore a very conservative long flowery dress, white apron and flat sandals; while Steve was perpetually attired in a sweater, khaki slacks, and brown work boots.

After the original toys achieved some success, the grandparents and some pets were introduced, and, soon thereafter, the neighborhood welcomed “The Happy Family,” the SF’s African-American counterparts — Hattie, Hal and baby Hon. Various other sets and family incarnations followed.

Sure, the Age of Aquarius doll concept sounds a little hokey now — but believe me: I adored the fold-up house, and was the happiest 6-year-old on the planet when Santa delivered the SF truck one Christmas. (That’s me to the right, intensely working to assemble the truck.) And on my next birthday, when I got the tricycle, too? Nirvana had truly been achieved. – NJP

The Sunshine Family Van with Piggyback Shack

A van full of fun sets out for the fair with crafts & things to make ‘n share. Belts & purses, flowerpots, too. There are so many things that you can do! There’s even an Idea Book of at-home projects from your own materials, too.

The Sunshine Family Van with Piggyback Shack - Vintage toys

The Sunshine Family Home (dollhouse)

A 4-room home you help design & decorate!  Kitchen/patio/bedroom/living room

The Sunshine Family Home (dollhouse) - Vintage toyts

Help the Sunshine Family dolls decorate their home

Add your ideas to these fun ones from the idea book!

  • Grow lots of potato plants. Plant them in tiny paper cups. They’re good for outside or inside the house!
  • Braid some yarn to make a braided rug!
  • Glue empty cardboard matchboxes togther to make a dresser!
  • Make a sofa out of a milk carton!
  • Try a chair, too!
  • Make an ice cream stick fence!

The Sunshine Family dolls: Craft Store

A big, friendly place… where you can help The Sunshine Family dolls make & sell crafts & share good times with friends & neighbors.

With spinning wheel that really spins! / With pottery wheel that really works!

The Sunshine Family Craft Store - vintage toy set

The Sunshine Family Surrey Cycle

Where one goes, happily they all go… on a tricycle built for three!

The Sunshine Family Surrey Cycle

Several sets of The Sunshine Family dolls & vintage playsets

1975 The Sunshine Family Collection - Courtesy of Mears Online Auctions

Photo from 2013 courtesy Mears Online Auctions

Like Hippie Barbie got married: The Sunshine Family wholesome dolls from the ’70s

Things to do and things to make, Sunshine Family style

This unique idea starts with our wholesome family of back-to-nature dolls. Mommy and daddy and their little baby. Neighborly folks. With homey family activities for your child to share.

But there’s a lot more to The Sunshine Family idea! Because each family of dolls and each Sunshine Family accessory comes with its own things-to-make Idea Book. Special little craft playbooks that show your child how to make a world of realistic things for her Sunshine Family dolls, just by using everyday odds and ends she’ll find around the house.

There are a lot of different Idea Books. And each one will spark hours of creative play for your child. She’ll discover the fun of making things for The Sunshine Family grandparents. And for their pets. And all kinds of handmade craft items to fill up the family Craft Store, too.

Then, day by day, she’ll be creating a world of her own, Sunshine Family-style. And that’s the whole, big, beautiful idea!

From Mattel

The Sunshine Family idea

Baby First Step, Betsy Wetsy, Swingy, Dancerina, Cheerful Tearful & other vintage dolls from the sixties

Introducing a whole new world of sunshine!

Say hello to The Sunshine Family. A unique new family of dolls whose world your children can share and create.

1. Mother, Dad and Baby have their own special house and furniture. But that’s only the beginning.

2. The dolls come with this book of “do it yourself” play suggestions. It shows your children how to make The Sunshine Family playthings and furniture with paste, string, scraps of fabric, crayons — and imagination.

3. They can, for instance, turn a milk carton into a table.

4. A berry basket becomes a crib, and a spool can become a planter.

5. Bit by bit, your children can create the Sunshine Family world. And as they do, they share the fun and excitement of their own family adventures.

The fun shines on and on.

The Sunshine Family from Mattel (1974-1978)

This wholesome family loves their potato chips

This Christmas, Lay’s can make The Sunshine Family part of your Family

Get a $1.00 refund coupon for the dolls when you buy Lay’s Potato Chips.

This Christmas, Lay's can make The Sunshine Family part of your Family

Barbie and beyond: Vintage Barbie & Ken dolls, friends, dollhouses, accessories and fashions from the '60s, '70s & '80s

The Sunshine Family fashions – Party time and at the beach

The Sunshine Family fashions - Party time and at the beach

The Sunshine Family in Germany

These dolls speak German, but live in exactly the same kind of American house!

The Sunshine Family in Germany

Milk the cow, how the garden on the SUNSHINE FAMILY FARM

Sunshine Family farm toys from the seventies - Sears

Fisher-Price would like you to meet our dolls (1974)

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Comments on this story

8 Responses

  1. I had these dolls, but lost them during my move from Massachusetts to California in 1975. Only thing I didn’t like about the dolls was they did not have the clothing choices like Barbie and Ken did.

  2. Daughter born 1/71. Must have bought one of first families(sunshines,grparents,pets,Surrey.)all still in great shape even with plenty of playtime. Daughter lives in CO,healthy living, exercise & food. Hippy & & basic to big degree. Love the Sunshines

  3. I found one of these dolls about 3 years ago in a thrift shop I believe I have the mom doll I was wondering if these are worth anything

  4. I just found the mama doll at a thrift store, I wanted these for my daughter so badly but just couldn’t afford them at the time, but I’ve found all the family, went to a new thrift store and found the house in their show case. Collection complete!

  5. Enjoyed playing with Stephie, Steve and baby Sweets growing up. I picked them out for my 10th birthday. We got to pick out our birthday gifts (anything under $20.00).

    I enjoyed making their bed out of Kleenex boxes and taught my daughter how to do this even with her Barbie dolls.
    I actually loved the name Stephie so much I name my daughter Stephanie and even today still call her Stephie.

  6. Just found this site. I have the whole family and a lot of extras. Can’t wait to make a nice display in my new sewing room, in my new apartment.

  7. My daughter, who is now 50, has been asking for several years if we have ever found her Sunshine family. She absolutely loved it. That was her favorite thing she ever received. I think my husband must have gotten rid of it. He has gotten rid of a lot of things that I have been upset over the years. I would give anything to find the whole entire set. She had everything that was ever made for it. I found the original house and three dolls a couple of years ago on EBay and I could kick myself for not buying it. I will probably never come across one again in as good of a shape as it was.

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