Polly Pocket play sets were first developed by the Bluebird Toy Company in 1989. These sets originally included consisted of miniature dolls with painted features and minimal accessories. In 1998, Mattel took over production of the Polly Pocket line, modifying several aspects of the toy's appearance. As of 2011, hundreds of distinctive Polly Pocket items are available. Identifying dolls and accessory pieces can be easy or challenging depending upon which Polly Pocket play set they come from. However, a few characteristics can help you distinguish one set from another.
Look at the dolls to identify distinctive features. Dolls manufactured between 1989 and 1997 are less than 1 inch tall and have smiling faces. Dolls from this period have hinges in the middle, and their clothing is not removable. Polly dolls from this period have blond, curly hair. Tiny Tina Dolls have blond hair in pigtails. Midge dolls have straight, light brown or strawberry blond hair. Buttons and Kate dolls have short, wavy blond or brown hair. Wee Willie dolls have blond hair. Other male dolls have brown or grey hair.
Check the doll for a number. Dolls manufactured between 1998 and 2002 will have one that identifies the doll itself, but not the play set from which it comes. These dolls have hinges in the middle and are 1 1/4 inches tall. Their clothes are not removable. Polly dolls and friend dolls from this period have a wide variety of hair colours.
Look for removable clothing items. Dolls manufactured after 2002 may have rubber clothing that can be removed and interchanged among dolls. These dolls may have movable legs and arms and are 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall. Polly dolls and friend dolls may have blond, brown, black or red hair.
Check for accessories and pets. Play sets made between 1989 and 1994 may include cats, dogs, horses and cars. Play sets made after 1994 may include butterflies, fish, flowers, purses and suitcases. For example, the 1989 Country Cottage play set is the only Polly Pocket set to include both a mustard-coloured cat and a black and white dog.
Look at the play set's carrying case. Most Polly Pocket sets manufactured before 1998 come in pink rectangle, circle or heart-shaped compacts. Polly Pocket sets manufactured after 1998 have exteriors shaped like flowers, cars, aeroplanes or rectangular compacts.