Small Tears, Big Smiles: The Power of the Tiny Tears Doll

By Hannah Johnson

Although there were many dolls to choose from back in the 1980s, there was one cutting edge doll with realistic functions that stood out from the crowd. It was Tiny Tears, the toy doll that actually cried and wet itself, and came with the slogan "She cries real tears!".
This was a very powerful marketing tool. of course, but there were many young girls who received great joy from playing with their Tiny Tears, and learning some valuable nurturing skills along the way. It helped them to experience the more negative side of bringing up a child, but without the nasty smell of urine and the unsightly stains that go with it! It was big smiles all round for both kids and their happy parents.
A Tiny Tears doll in it's original pink packaging (1981)

The doll was available in a number of different outfits and came with a range of accessories such as a nappy, dummy, bib and blanket. Later models of the doll also included a milk bottle, and the milk would magically "vanish" as you held it up against the doll’s mouth.

I have very fond memories of playing with my doll back in the 1970s, but if you were a young lad, then you probably couldn't understand why anyone would want such a thing! But for many young girls, it was the must-have toy. 

Times have definitely changed, and these days, many more males help to bring up baby, too, rather than just sitting and watching us women do all the work!

Tiny Tears was originally made by the American Character Doll Company from 1950 until 1968, and Tiny Tears was very popular throughout the 1950s and 60s, and are now collectibles. The doll mould was sold to the Ideal Toy Company in 1968, who produced the toy throughout the 1970s. 

In 1988, the doll was being sold by Tonka Corporation in the UK. The price in this year was around £18.45. It was actually very unusual to see the Tonka branding on a girl's doll, as the company was associated with producing manly toys for boys, such as their steel trucks.

80s TV Advert

This TV advert for the Tiny Tears doll aired in the UK during 1988, and I remember it like it was yesterday and it still makes me chuckle. I was actually 16-years-old at the time, so by then I was into make-up and gorgeous male pop stars - my doll playing days were definitely over!

The ad features a young boy trying to watch the football. His annoying sister is playing with the doll next to him, and after the boy tells her to "shush", the girl replies "Now you've made her cry!", before handing over the sopping wet doll to him. He reluctantly grabs hold of it but ends up with a damp patch on his trousers!

Do they still make Tiny Tears?

I was surprised to see that Tiny Tears Classic dolls are indeed available to buy on Amazon. I've been unable to find out who the manufacturer is now, although there is a version being made by John Adams.

The price is now around £25 to £35 depending on which doll you buy, and there is also a John Adams Teeny Tiny Tears Doll with accessories selling for £16.95. So the prices haven't changed an awful lot, but people's wages are many times higher, of course, so taking inflation into account, they are much more affordable these days.

Tiny Tears UK advert from 1988 by Tonka Corpooration - price £18.45