Blythe dolls were originally made in 1972 by Kenner Toys, the same company that later made Strawberry Shortcake, Rose Petal Place, and many other popular toys lines.
Blythe's body size was similar to Barbie, but the dolls had disproportionately large heads and eyes. A pull string on the back of their heads rotated an eye mechanism that would change their eye color. Blythe dolls weren’t a big hit with children and were only produced for one year.
In 2000, the dolls became popular again after being featured in the book This is Blythe by Gina Garan. The book featured photographs Gina had taken of her 1970's Kenner Blythe dressed up in stylish outfits on adventures all over the world.
The creative and mesmerizing photography in the book led to a new popularity for Blythe, and in 2001 Japanese company Takara began producing a new version of the dolls known as Neo Blythe. A new doll comes out each month and each has a different look, style, and name.
Much of their popularity is due to the ability to customize them by changing the hair, eye colors, and even facial features and makeup with some customized carving. They're now highly sought after by adult collectors and a whole community has been built around collecting and photographing Blythe dolls.