Friday, December 21, 2012

Fortunate Finds: the Original Fashion Plates by Tomy

EDIT, 2015: Kahoots Toyz has produced a new version of the classic Fashion Plates Designer Set! And the original plates also work with the new version. Hooray!

With Christmas right around the corner I thought it would be fun to take a walk down Vintage Toy Memory Lane:  do you remember Fashion Plates?  


Fashion Plates was first introduced by Tomy Corp. in 1978 as "the kit that helps young designers, 6 and up, create fashions.  Hundreds, thousands, even millions of fashionable combinations can be created."  More Fashion Plates was a later expansion pack of 15 extra plates that added more model, clothing, and texture design options.

This toy kept me occupied for hours with no batteries required!  Basically, you selected two or three model and outfit plates and then placed a blank piece of paper over the plates.  Next, you rubbed the "special crayon" over the plates to produce an image:


Here are some possible combinations from the base kit and the expansion plate set:
You may remember that the back of most of the plates had texture options.  After transferring the design with charcoal you placed these plates back underneath the picture and transferred one or more textures with a colored pencil.  Texture options included stripes, plaids, flowers, stars, and more:

I picked up both of these sets at Goodwill a few years ago and it was truly a fortunate find as both sets are complete and in very good condition.  As you may know, this toy is highly collectible right now and at the time of this writing the Fashion Plates base set can easily fetch $100-150 at auction.

Today there are similar fashion plate type of toys such as this one by Melissa and Doug or a Barbie-themed version by Mattel.  The Project Runway Travel Fashion Design Light Box has a similar concept but involves more actual drawing.

The set I bought had a few designs left inside from the previous owner, a Miss Kristin Meier, and they really took me back to my childhood!  If you were anything like me you spent hours creating new outfits and coloring the designs.  But having been a perfectionist from my earliest days I was often a little frustrated that I would end up with extra black smudges around my picture after rubbing it over the plates.

The picture below belongs to Kristin, Fashion Plates Designer Extraordinaire, who apparently mastered the transfer technique at a very young age -- no extra charcoal smudges plus a lovely coloring job inside of the lines:

I wonder if she went into fashion design? 

Naturally I colored my own, for old times' sake:

I still need more practice with the charcoal.  But I had a good time anyway!


  1. I LOVED these! I'm pretty sure I had the Barbie one because I was such a Barbie girl. I miss them.

  2. Jealous - cause I wanted one way back when and still do!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I loved mine and wished my mom kept it now for my little girl. Thanks for the suggestions.

  4. I still have mine in the original box! I also had the expansion set "More Fashion Plates". I waited until my daughters were old enough to appreciate the fact that I let them use my childhood toys and kept them as well as I did. I just recently purchased the newest version of Fashion Plates for my 11 year old daughter for Christmas and she loves them...keeping traditions alive!!


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