Disney the little mermaid

Disney the little mermaid

Disney the little mermaid
Loosely based on a fairytale by Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' proved a great success. First released in 1989, it not only featured a feisty redhead, but also had a great backup of memorable characters.

For a start, there was the hip Sebastian, a crab, . of all things, with a super Caribbean accent and m a neat line in calypsos. Who can forget that show stopping number when he urged, 'Come on and kiss the girl' as Ariel and the prince drifted in their boat on a moonlit lake?

Then there was was a vivid blue and yellow fish, M Flounder, prone to blowing bubbles, a huge fluffy hairball of a dog called Max, and Scuttle, a crazy seagull with a unruly haircut.

Okay, Prince Eric was a bit of a wimp - but who cared, when you had one of the most frightening of all Disney Villainesses ever? Remember Ursula, the wicked witch from the sea? She was truly, spectacularly frightening, and must have scared the kids to bits - she certainly terrified loads of adults!

Disney the little mermaid
Ariel, the little mermaid, was a great hit with little girls. Mermaids have always been a source of great fascination, and because this one could walk on dry land, she had legs!
This meant that the dolls didn't just have to wear tail flippers, they could have stylish fashion outfits too.

The first, basic Ariel was made by Tyco. Wearing a green and silver removable tail and a purple plastic bikini top, these dolls sold in their thousands, and today can be found - though not always dressed - on secondhand stalls for around £3.

Disney the little mermaid
Following hard on the heels of the basic Ariel were the variations - the bride for instance, wearing a full skirted sparkling blue gown and fur stole, and Tropical Ariel. This latter doll featured Ariel in a turquoise tail decorated with yellow shells and came with a separate pink sarong, cans of juice, sun lotion and a plastic Sebastian sporting a trendy pair of shades.

Naturally, Prince Eric was issued too, and his costumes included a wedding dress, Party Ariel dressed in a shimmery iridescent pink-tail, Princess Ariel in a turquoise silk jacket and navy silk trousers - both . trimmed with gold - with a pink order of the garter k type sash across his chest, or a wedding outfit which ft consisted of a white, gold braid trimmed jacket and navy trousers.

Ariel also had a blonde sister, Arista,  who was much more difficult to find. Arista wore a shimmery blue tail, trimmed with chiffon.

In addition, Tyco made loads of additional outfits r for both Ariel and her prince, and these included a variety of beautiful tails (for Ariel), often decorated in gold lurex, chiffon or sparkly fabrics, and shorts and T-shirts for Eric. Other costumes included the ingenious Magic Fin Fashions, which dissolved when dipped into water.
Disney the little mermaid

This was a spectacular thing to watch, as the water turned into a psychedelic mass of colour, and the paper-type brightly-coloured tail disappeared, leaving Ariel wearing a short fabric skirt. A plastic ring was also revealed.

However, after the initial excitement, you When Mattel took over Tyco in 1997, they reissued Ariel dolls, but these differed quite a bit from the originals. The face had altered dramatically. The new Ariel had a pointed realised that the tail could only work once, so in retrospect it was a bit of a let-down.

chin, enormous eyes which were slightly up swept at the corners and, at 11 inches tall, towered over the Tyco nine-and-a-quarter inch version. She still had her flaming red hair though, and, of course, a terrific range of costumes and accessories.

The basic new Ariel wore a green iridescent tail and a glittery mauve bikini top. Many variations followed, including Princess Mermaid whose ingenious costume reversed from a Sebastian-and-Flounder design on purple to a shimmering pearly pink.

Also in the pack was a strapless pearl-trimmed pink ballgown with detachable puff sleeves and this came with various accessories including a gold crown, hairbrush and a silver fork (the fork was a joke in the film).

Disney the little mermaid

Other Ariel editions included Let's Swim, which had Ariel in lime green and yellow holding a gorgeous little merbaby called Sandy, dressed in cerise pink with a chiffon bonnet.

An inflatable starfish was provided for Sandy to play on, and both dolls' hair braids changed colour when immersed in warm water. Ocean Bride wore a pink-trimmed wedding gown with a sparkly overskirt, while swimming Ariel had a special push-button mechanism which enabled her to really swim. Her blue and lavender tailfin changed colour in warm water.

Tropical Splash Ariel had a moulded-on blue tailfin, which, when dipped in water, turned bright green with a flower design. She wore a green lei around her neck.

Eric wasn't forgotten - he appeared in a white and royal blue wedding suit, a long pair of Bermuda shorts and lei (to match Tropical Splash Ariel) and, perhaps nicest of all, white open neck shirt, dark blue trousers and black knee-high boots with his arm around his fluffy grey and white dog, Max.

Arista, Kayla and Attina were three other mermaids issued at the same time in the Tropical Splash series, but seem much harder to find, and the wicked sea-witch, Ursula, was released by Disney in their Great Villains series, though sadly didn't seem to be sold over here.

Disney the little mermaid

Mattel also issued an enormous singing Ariel, which, if you have room for her, certainly makes a great focal point for a Little Mermaid collection. 22 inches tall, she has a soft body and a vinyl head. A push of her tummy causes her to 'sing' a few notes.

Some other items which go well with a collection of Little Mermaid dolls are the mini series of beautifully made four-and-a-half inch high dolls, which come complete with various accessories such as a treasure chest, dressing table, or, in the case of the wedding giftset, Eric and a cake! And the super plush models of Max the dog, Sebastian the crab, Flounder the fish and Scuttle the seagull, still available at many outlets, will enhance any Ariel collection, too.

At present, it's reasonably easy to build up a collection of Little Mermaid dolls, and if you're very lucky you might even find some still on retailer's shelves. 

Collectibles Coach

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