A Few Words About this Guide
The items featured in this guide are presented to the best of the author's knowledge. This guide is the product of more than a decade of crazed collecting. All items featured have been painstakingly verified to be true and accurate. This guide is by no means the complete or absolute listing of ALL things ever produced related to Kelly and her li'l world. This guide should serve as a solid foundation upon which to begin to amass and identify your own personal collection.
The guide is laid out in a logical and hopefully simple manner. Each item is pictured and described in full detail within its respective categories. The pictures and descriptions will aid in the identification of your items, as well as educate you further on the minute and subtle details of each item. The years cited in the descriptions are the copyright year on the original package. Note that dolls and related items are often manufactured a year before they are sold. For example, dolls made in 1995 were most often sold in 1996. At the end of the guide you will find an extensive Master Collector Checklist. The checklist is a perfect resource to inventory your collection as it grows.
Shelly doll, Kelly doll's European alter ego, is not included in this guide. It is inferred that where a Kelly doll or related item has been produced, so has a corresponding Shelly doll or related item. For all intense purposes, Kelly and Shelly are exactly the same except for their name and regional packaging differences. They even have the same Mattel Stock Numbers. Notations have been made to highlight where there have been obvious variations between a given Kelly and Shelly set. The exclusion of Shelly doll is not meant as a slight, but rather an effort to avoid redundancy.
Likewise, foreign versions of Kelly dolls and related items are not included here. Foreign issues of domestic dolls have the same Mattel Stock Number and same basic packaging. The main difference is the language(s) printed on the box. Sets to be sold in North America (Canada, Central America, and South America) have English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese writing on them. Sets sold in Europe have German, Dutch, Italian, and Swedish writing on them. Sets sold in Japan have a combination of predominantly Japanese writing with a few English words. Sets sold in the Philippines and India have entirely English writing. Foreign Li'l Friends also do not have their theme names, but rather just their character names. For instance, Reindeer Chelsie is simply Chelsie in foreign markets.
With regard to variations among dolls and related items, an objective determination has been made. It is the rule rather than the exception that within any given production life of a doll that there will be subtle variations in the facial screening. The first dolls off the production line may have a slightly darker shade of lip paint or later production versions may have more eyelashes than the earlier versions. These types of variations are not identified or discussed in this guide because they are too numerous and varied in their occurrence. Where the difference is more pronounced, as in the difference between the basic facial screening of the first three Li'l Friends of Kelly dolls and the later high color variations, a notation is made. Variations are also noted in packaging, costuming (color, fabric, design), and accessories. Again, these variations are judged to be "variations" within this guide by being clearly evident. That is not to say that facial screening variations are not collectible. It is the collector who decides which variations, if any, she collects.
Within the "Books" subsection of "Accessories and Licensed Products," a distinction has been made regarding which books were included. Books that are considered related to Kelly are those that either picture Kelly doll on the cover and/or feature Kelly doll in the story or activity inside the book. There are numerous workbooks, for instance, that include pictures of Kelly doll on the pages. Those examples have been excluded from this guide. As a side note in the history of Kelly doll as Barbie's most popular li'l sister, Kelly is often used as a scene prop and therefore shows up in the most unexpected places. This makes for an interesting sub-collection within the Kelly collecting world. However, these instances of Kelly doll being pictured would require a guide of it's own to properly document each and every instance.
Values and prices of Kelly doll items are not included in this guide. Kelly doll is what is referred to within the Barbie doll collecting community as Playline or Pink Box dolls. These dolls are mass-produced and sold new through retail chain stores. The prices for new, off the shelf Kelly doll items are in that regard stable. Shopping around is all that is required to find the best deal. Keep in mind that not all retail chain stores carry the same stock.
For items that are long gone from retail shelves, the secondary market is the place to look. The secondary market simply means items are being resold. The secondary market includes, but is not limited to, online auction sites such as eBay and Yahoo! Auctions, doll dealers, flea markets and thrift stores, and classified advertisements. These markets carry with them their own set of factors that can negatively or positively impact prices. What a Kelly doll sells for at a doll show in Detroit may or may not be the price that the same Kelly doll sells for on an online auction where the buying community is international rather than regional.
When purchasing an item on the secondary market, it is wise to assess the landscape and make yourself aware of current market conditions. Do the items seem to be in high demand, yet few in supply? Or is it a buyer's market where a particular item has flooded the market place? Once you have a general idea of what the market value for an item may be, you then need to ask yourself what are you willing to pay for it. Kelly doll collectors have been known to spend over $100 on a Very Hard to Find (VHTF) item when it is one of THE last items they need to complete their collection. Novice onlookers may say it's crazy, but it is a matter of what are you willing to pay and the enjoyment and pleasure you will ultimately gain from adding the item to your collection.
Finally, there is no right or wrong way to collect. I'll try to show the Kelly doll items presented in this guide as Never Removed from Box (NRFB) as well as deboxed. I personally gain great satisfaction from deboxing and handling my dolls. Others prefer to keep their collection pristine and perfect as if plucked fresh from the retailer's shelves. Some collectors keep only certain items in the original packaging and debox the rest. collecting is a very personal experience and no one can tell you what to collect or how to display it.