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A Troll Down Memory Lane

Remember those ugly little dolls everyone collected in the 1960s? Plenty of nostalgic baby boomers do!

Before Marge Simpson and her gigantic pillar of blue hair, there was Lorinda, a green-skinned little gal of Martian descent, with wild, unruly tresses that streaked skyward like blueberry cotton candy. Lorinda made the scene around 1965, when Mimi Michalski, of Bloomfield, N.J., was 12, and she still makes the scene every Christmas, when Mimi sets her 60-strong troll collection out in her antiques-decorated living room for their annual rite of visitation.

Slide Show: Remember these favorite toys?

Memorabilia the baby boomer loves- a Troll doll

Troll Dolls are considered one of the most memorable toys of the 20th Century. — Photo by Ian Fraser/Alamy

Remember trolls? Those bug-eyed, pug-nosed, Einstein-coiffed rubber dolls of exquisitely adorable ugliness? If you were a girl of a certain age (say 8 to 12), living in a certain time (the mid-1960's), they were the ultimate collector's item. Your brother had a baseball card collection, but you had a shoebox full of bright-haired trolls — and maybe even a specially designed troll comb to go with them.

I rediscovered the allure of Troll World recently, when I ran across a picture of a fetching pink-haired wizard troll on the Internet, and innocently posted it on my Facebook page, musing that I just might have to start a collection.

In doing so, I had apparently set out some kind of Baby Boom nostalgia trip wire. The comments came fast and furious. Not only from my Facebook friends like Mimi, whose troll collections remained intact and tidily classified in her attic, but from others who fervently wished they'd kept theirs.

Of course, all generations have their signature toys. Barbie debuted in 1959 and arguably became the most iconic doll of the Baby Boom generation.

But if Barbies were aspirational ice princesses, with their permanently crippled toes, impossible waistlines and impassive expressions, trolls were their complete opposite. They were hairy beasts: squat, flat-footed, wild-haired — precursors of the braless hippies to come. There was, in their mass adoration, the hint of irony, the beginnings of kitsch, maybe even a little subversiveness.

Next: When troll collectors grow up. >>

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