Suntan Suzy Doll

Suntan Suzy was a doll that would develop a tan if you put her in the sunlight. Back in the shade, her tan would fade. She came on the market in 1962, but lasted only one season. As far as I can tell, she was the only doll that has ever had the ability to tan.

Arizona Republic - Nov 23, 1962

image source: worthpoint

The chemistry responsible for producing the tanning effect is described in Patent No. 2,921,407 (Jan 19, 1960) – “Simulating Sunburning Toy Dolls and Figurines”:

0.5 gram of mercuric bis-dithizonate having the following structural formula was dissolved in 1000 grams of dioctyl phthalate.

1550 grams of a high molecular weight polyvinyl chloride polymer, in powdered form, were dispersed in this solution by stirring for ten to fifteen minutes. The latter material was specifically Bakelite Company QYNV polymer. Thus a plastisol formulation containing the phototropic dye dissolved in the liquid dioctyl phthalate (plasticizer phase) was obtained. About 120 grams of this plastisol formulation were then poured into a two piece steel mold, this having its inner surface previously coated with a silicone oil release film. This was then placed in an oven at 140 degrees centigrade and held at this temperature for eight minutes to allow solution of the polyvinyl chloride polymer phase. The mold and contents were then removed from the oven, cooled to room temperature, and the now solid form of the doll figure removed.

The figure thus produced was transparent and red in color. Upon exposure to sunlight a progressive darkening to a brown, then blue-black color occurred during a period of about three to four minutes, simulating a “sunburning” effect. When the doll was shielded from the sun a return to the original color took place, being visually complete after a period of eight to ten minutes. This action was repeatable with no detectable change in functional characteristics being noted after several dozen cycles.

It seems like an interesting gimmick for a doll. Curious it never caught on.
     Posted By: Alex - Fri Feb 07, 2020
     Category: Inventions | Patents | Toys | 1960s

My skin has never gone to the blue-black color they say simulates sun burning, and I'm certainly happy about that. However, they mention other phototropic dyes that didn't give this color. Not bad at all for 1956.

I wonder if this is one of those accidental things that happened, followed with, "Hey, you know what we could do with this?" (..and make lotsa money.)
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 02/07/20 at 07:51 AM
According to this, that chemical is highly toxic and harmful to the environment. Not surprising since it contains mercury.
Posted by ges on 02/07/20 at 02:48 PM
You say: "that chemical is highly toxic and harmful to the environment" like it's a bad thing.
Posted by Phideaux on 02/08/20 at 04:41 AM
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.