Darci Cover Girl: A Product of Her Times

  • PLEASE FOLLOW THE RETROIST

A Tale of Two Dolls

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of Barbie, it was the age of Darci – in short, the period was so far like the present period, there were competing dolls.

Fans of this site know that I loved my Barbies. Barbie was beautiful, fashionable, and well accessorized – I especially loved her town house, pool, horses, dog, corvette, etc. And then there was Darci. Darci didn’t have the volume of play sets or accessories that Barbie had – after all, she was only produced for two years – but Darci was a fine friend in her own right.

Darci’s Debut

Kenner’s Darci Cover Girl was unveiled at the 1979 Toy Fair as a fashion model on-the-go. She was intended to provide direct competition to Mattel’s Barbie. As a professional model Darci came complete with a fashion portfolio including an array of magazine cover shots. Advertising of the doll positioned her as if she were a real model. To add to the realism, model/actress Leah Ayres appeared in Darci commercials, inside some Darci packages, and on in-store displays.

At a statuesque 12 ½ inches tall, Darci towered over Barbie and other fashion dolls. Darci’s height and more realistic proportions made it impossible for her to share clothes with Barbie, including shoes since Darci had ginormous feet. This was not a problem, however, as Darci came complete with a luxurious swimsuit, wrap skirt, silver heels, flower chocker, and five bracelets.

Darci was produced as a blonde, brunette, and redhead. The blond Darci typically wore a white swimsuit with matching lace skirt, while the brunette was adorned in pink, and redhead in blue. I owned one of the variations on these standards: a brunette attired in white. Because four times more blonde Darcis were produced than either brunettes or redheads, many more blondes are available for sale online and at your local flea market.

Darci also came with a patented posing stand with her name engraved on it that allowed her to strike various provocative poses during photo shoots. Thanks to the use of highly flexible vinyl materials, Darci was far more bendy than Barbie. She could contort her body into various positions, including straddles and splits…she could even bend at the elbow!

The Cover Girl World of Darci also included friends Erica and Dana. What it didn’t include was a male doll. And though as an independent modern woman Darci didn’t really need a man, I often had her on dates with Barbie’s Ken, which was especially awkward given Darci’s disproportionately large physique.

Darci Cover Girl: A Product of Her Times

Darci was a woman that had it all. She was a successful fashion model; a trendsetter wearing the day’s most current Studio 54-inspired designs; a marketer of her own line of perfume; and even a disco entrepreneur.

From the cover of Darci’s in-box pamphlet:
“She’s stylish and classy, sometimes sassy. Her fashions set the pace! She’s carefree and easy, funful and breezy, she’s the doll with the beautiful face! Darci Cover Girl, the beautiful poseable doll has a lifestyle all her own! Now, you, too, can discover the world of Darci; a super-deluxe van, a dynamite disco, fashions by the dozens, and lots more!”

After a demanding day of modeling at the Perfect Pose Studio, Darci and her gal pals could let their hair down at Darci’s own Fabulous Disco complete with revolving disco ball, spotlight, and pinball machine.

What would have added even further to Darci’s freewheelin’ ‘70s lifestyle was a Mobile Dressing Salon, perfect for on-location modeling gigs. Unfortunately the fashion van is thought to have only been produced as a prototype for the 1979 Toy Fair.

Darci’s Demise

According to a Kenner Darci Cover Girl Introductory Offer, Kenner was sparing no expense and creating the largest promotion in history, easily spending $1-2 M for the campaign in just six months. Thanks to Kenner’s heavy advertising, Darci sold very successfully in her first year, 1979.

Unfortunately, America’s girl culture was just too enamored of Barbie to give Darci a chance. In 1981, Kenner shut down the disco ball on Darci’s dance floor due to disappointing sales. Even though she was only produced for a mere two years, many women like me fondly remember their Darcis. She is still loved and sought after today.

And now, for your viewing pleasure…


15 Responses to Darci Cover Girl: A Product of Her Times

  1. Darcy Campbell says:

    I just checked this site out of the wonder of what the doll looked like. You see I am a male who went though hell because of this doll coming out when I was in grade school and it having my first name did help it was the “Darci Cover Girl Darci” nickname that came with it. Having the last name Campbell made things even worse.(think Campbells Soup)

  2. vanessa says:

    I loved my Darci, I finally got one from ebay, but it had no shoes. Does anyone know where you can go to buy accessories and shoes for her. I loved her so much I kept hanging onto mine even though the head had come off years earlier, even after i was married. I finally gave her along with all my other barbie dolls to my niece’s. I was very sad one day as i came to my sister’s and saw the dolls all laying outside in the dirt.
    I also had the gold disco outfit. The original doll i had a blue dress and auburn hair.
    The one i won on ebay has a pink dress on and dark brown hair. maybe one day i will be able to find the original copy of the doll i had and can afford it. Maybe they will return her to the market one day….

  3. Kristi Love says:

    You forgot to mention that Darci also came in an African-American version..which I received for Christmas 1980. I loved her! I enjoyed many afternoons pretending that I was beautiful Darci living her fabulous lifestyle! I’m so happy someone else remembers! Thanks!

  4. Darci says:

    My name is actually Darci…even spelled the same. I never heard the end of Darci Cover Girl Darci. I can still hear it in my head! Have the doll still in the box. =)

  5. Darci says:

    My name is actually Darci, also! My Mother bought me a Darci Cover Girl doll back in 1979 for Christmas after I had gotten married. It seemed like a strange gift at the time – since I was married and all – I did think it was neat that the doll had my name, but I really didn’t appreciate having the doll at the time, until after my dog got to her and she then had bite marks all over her body and a hand was missing! I still kept her for quite a few years, and then eventually threw her in the trash. I did keep the accessories with the name on it and have them stored neatly away! Would love to see more videos of Darci Collectible dolls and all the different types of outfits and “sets” that the doll company sold at the time! Thank you to “The Retroist” for posting this about “ME” !! LOL

  6. danielle Thon says:

    I have a sister named Darci. I loved the Darci barbie. Does anyone remember how fun it was to do her hair? I would love to get one for my sister. Anyone have any suggestions where I can find one?

  7. D7ana says:

    I have the redhead Darci. She was my favorite. I don’t recall seeing her friends Erica or Dana in stores, but I sure would like to get them now. My Darci wore the bright blue bodysuit and the matching wrap skirt. She had big silver sandals and an oversized flower on a ribbon necklace.

    I liked that Darci was larger than Barbie. Darci could have her own fashions. No one else – except Mego Diana Ross and Mego Cher could fit Darci fashions. Oh, and my Jem dolls – Aja, Stormer, Pizazz, and Roxy.

    And did I mention her big feet?! I LOVED them. I had big feet so it was nice to have a doll whose feet were never bound like Barbies. (Poor Barbies – all that stash and barely any feet to walk on … tsk.)

    I got a few of her outfits when they were in clearance – a raincoat and another fashion that I since have forgotten. Wish I had her disco and that silver jumpsuit.

    Thanks for sharing your Darci stories. I need to do a post on my Darci sometime this year. Some time ….

  8. Jana says:

    I HAVE A VINTAGE KENNER(African-American) DARCI COVER GIRL STILL IN BOX . 1979 CPG PRODUCT CORP. THE BEAUTIFULLY POSEABLE 12 1/2 DARCI.
    CONTAINS: 1 FULLY POSEABLE DOLL WITH OUTFIT, 1 PORTFOLIO WITH 3 “MAGAZINE COVERS” AND 1 POSING STAND. FOR SALE

  9. jamie says:

    @Darcy Campbell, it’s bad you went thru that hell because of that doll and your name. Now imagine if you’d been born later and grew up in the ’80s and your parents had been obsessed with “To Kill a Mockingbird” and they named you after the boy character Jem (who was really named Jeremy). Well, there was a doll line in the 80s called Jem (the leader of an all-female rock band), and her slogans were “Jem is my name, no one else is the same,” and “Truly outrageous.” Now imagine what you would have gone through then. I went through this sort of thing because of Jamie Sommers from the TV show “The Bionic Woman, I ‘m a female, as was this character. And a few years ago, a much younger person (who was born well after that show) called me Jamie Foxx. My then-boss knew about the show because and its parent series “The Six Million Dollar Man” because he was old enough to remember it and he had the toy based on that show.

    BTW, I never had this doll. I think I wanted it once, but don’t know why I never got it.

  10. Josh says:

    I hope that it’s Okay for me to be posting on an old entry.
    I just wanted to say that I also love Darci. I found a redhead version, deboxed of course, but in perfect condition at a thrift store a while back. At first I thought that it was a version of a Jem doll because of her similar body.

    Needless to say I now know who she is/was.
    To the person who commented about not being able to find shoes for her, they do sell her shoes on ebay, but they are a little expensive.
    I have found that Moxie teenz shoes fit Darci perfectly. Hope that helps!

    Thanks for this post too!

  11. Darci Marie says:

    This doll is where my parents got my name. I assume it came out in 1979 considering that’s the year I was born. I was supposed to be Shannon, but this doll came out & my parents liked her name so much that they decided to go with it instead. I’ve never really liked my name & still don’t to this day. When people ask what my name is they look at me like “what?”. I have to explain “it’s like Marcy, but with a D” I also mention that it’s with an I & not a Y or IE. They still get it wrong every time. I’ve even been asked “how do you say your name?”. Really?!
    Any other Darci’s have these issues?

  12. Krixx(pronounced Chris) says:

    I love this doll! I was in 3rd grade when those silver mules caught my attention! The girl down the street didn’t have barbies, she had Darcis…oh my! I immediately fell in love with the scale and look of her. Her look even today is timeless and realistic. Unlike the new dolls of today. I have a collection that I am very proud of, and feel honored to have lived in the era she was created. I will never tire of hearing stories of how she made an impact on all of us. Long live the queen of the Disco Scene! Thanks Kenner and Darci for the momories!
    ;-D

  13. Lee Lee says:

    I was singing the jingle to this song then went on youtube to hear the commecrial. This brings back memories, I had the African American Darcy.? Loved playing with Darci & Christie:-)

  14. The Kentucky Rose says:

    When I was a girl, it was the 70’s. Barbie wasn’t as glam as she was in the early 60’s. Malibu Barbie was the bomb. However, I absolutely LOVED my Darci doll. I have always been taller & bigger than other girls my age, so I really got into Darci. I dreamed of being like her. When I would play with her along side Barbie & Ken, I did notice she was much bigger. So…I paired her with the 6 Million Dollar Man, Steve Austin doll. He was WAYYYYYY bigger than poor Ken ever thought of being. I even paired the Princess Leia doll (whom I loved for her size, too) with the John Travolta doll. He was no shortie, either. I even played out scenarios with them like stuff that I had encountered as a taller girl. Needless to say, these bigger dolls were better and a lot more fun than years of therapy! ;) :D. I’m going to get my favorite stuff from Darci’s world. I too had a dog that savaged my dolls. Many times, I’d come home from school and see battlefield carnage of strewn doll clothes, body parts and destroyed accessories. I will eventually get a large curio cabinet for my dolls, and Darci will be prominently featured. Thanks for the catwalk down memory lane Darci!

  15. Adam says:

    My girlfriend said she was feeling barfly. I started singing “She’s barfly, cover girl barfy…” Girlfriend didn’t know what the hell I was talking about. Found the commercial on YouTube. Then researched when Darci was introduced. I’m old, apparently.

Add Comment Register



Leave a Reply