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 apparently 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

MORE: Ads for The Sunshine Family from Mattel

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 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

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About this story

Filed under: 1970s, Ephemera, Family & parenting, For children, Mementos & memorabilia, Original product packaging

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3 Responses

  1. Roy Perazzo

    Don’t know how I got here,but I sure want to come back,one of the best sites I’ve found !

  2. Carolyn N Tainter

    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.

  3. Debbie

    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


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