The Sunshine Family

Sunshine Family dolls Share your own memories of this toy

This memory was added on: May 31, 2011

I pestered for two years to get the Sunshine Family. Being a boy in the early 70’s it was very difficult to talk my parents into a family of dolls. Finally, after two years they gave in – and in a BIG way.

For my 7th birthday I received the family, the house, and all the craft kits.

Then at Christmas, seeing that my head had not exploded from playing with “girl toys” they bought me the Craft Van. Later I got the farm. I was a farm kid- grew up on a dairy farm, and I was an artist from a very young age.

I went to university - Fine Arts major - and worked professionally as an artist and designer / sculptor for many years with toy and collectable companies – until all the design jobs in my area were shipped overseas.

At that point I set out on a very similar path to that of the Early Sunshine Family — selling my work at Art shows and galleries and traveling around the country to do it. I am always amazed at the comments made about the Sunshine Fun Family “selling out” or that Stephie “marred” her complexion by wearing make up.

Firstly - a lot of artists and homespun types wear make up – even John Denver wore foundation.

Secondly — I have no problem with them “selling out” if that’s what they did (LOL) – When is the last time someone who complained about these “dolls” selling out and moving to the “burbs” actually paid an artist a fair wage to produce something amazing for them.

Most artists need to put so many hours of work into one piece that they really don’t get paid much by comparison. Add to that table fees and show fees travel expenses web site expenses and the cost of materials and it can be very hard some months to even be able to afford a new hairstyle or a case of eye shadow. I am sure the Sunshine Family made the decision the worked best for their growing family and for the record I think Stephie looks GREAT in eye shadow---she probably always wanted it but just couldn’t afford it when she was traveling round trying to live off craft fair sales. LOL

Anyway, all that aside, it’s really FUN to come here and see so many wonderful experiences others have had with The Sunshine Family!

And for those interested in the artist side of things I will share with you that the Mattel Artist who sculpted the Sunshine Family was Martha Armstrong Hand.

Martha was a personal friend of mine when I was working in the toy industry as a sculptor and she confessed that the Sunshine Family were a project that was very close to her heart.

Tracey M

This memory was added on: April 18, 2010

I received the Sunshine Family Dolls for my 10th birthday in 1976. I love these dolls. My older sister had Barbie's but I never wanted to play with them. So we would play with all the dolls together in our own little world. We made clothes, furniture, and houses for them. I still have my dolls and even now that my daughter is 21 we still take them out with my daughter-in-law and play.


This memory was added on: March 11, 2010

I received the Sunshine Family and their camper truck for Christmas in 1975. They were my absolute favourite dolls ever (Barbie had nothing on them). I played for hours and hours with them. I eventually also acquired the grandparents and the curly red haired baby. Today I was in an antique store and stopped in my tracks, for there in front of me was baby Sweets! I purchased her of course. What a great memory from my childhood.


This memory was added on: November 7, 2009

Oh how I miss my Sunshine Family. I now have a daughter that is 3 and want so bad to have them back! I had almost every activity set you could get and I took such great care and pride in not loosing any of the pieces and now...they're gone. My Fathers new wife was cleaning out our old toys and to a yard sale they went. I'm crushed and heartbroken. I thought they were tucked safe inside a box in my Dad's attic. I had so many hours of fun with them. Yes, they were ahead of their time. A "green" family! I miss the dog and cat too. The two story house they shared and lived in. Glad to see that others out there shared the same joy I did!


Pam Simms

This memory was added on: August 18, 2009

Wow, my mom was a single parent too, I don't know how she managed it but I had/have all of these dolls and sets except the farm. I even have the 2 story pets house with all of the pieces. I have the house, the craft store, the craft wagon, the babys room, the surrey cycle, the extra babies, the clothes, kits, most in there boxes! My son wanted to see them and I got them out one day and he played with them. I loved them because they looked so cute and friendly, and happy.

Diana Hentz

This memory was added on: May 3, 2009

Well, over the years I have managed to save my dolls along with the Sunshine Family cat and dog. I let my nephew play with them and when I went to find them last year I discovered that my sister had donated them in a lot of miscellaneous toys. I was crushed. I'm searching mad for the cat for silly reasons. I now own a cat that looks just like the Sunshine Family Cat and when we go away for the weekend I would like the little toy to be with us so it's like my real cat is along with us. Silly? Yes, I know but I'm looking for the cat. Can anyone help me here? Does anyone have one that they would like to sell or give away?


Age 38

This memory was added on: November 30, 2008

I never had these dolls as a child, but my friends did. I liked them, though I thought Mom and Dad had youthful faces. The baby was really cute. I found the family (baby was dressed in a homemade outfit) at a flea market. Over the years, I've babysat many little girls, and a lot of them have really enjoyed playing w/ the Sunshine Family. Even today, a little girl named Niani, (age 5), whom I have not seen in months, asked to play w/ them first thing. She likes to use my Tonka Jeep and pretend that the go to the park, shopping, to the movies, and home to bed. These dolls are timeless.


This memory was added on: November 26, 2008

When I moved from my country to the US I had to leave all my toys behind. With deep sadness I had to let go of my Sunshine Family, their house, farm, pets, and nursery. It dawned on my to look these adorable dolls on line. When I saw the pictures of ‘my little family’ it completely took me back to my childhood bedroom where I kept all my toys. I am almost 40 years old, and seeing these pictures made me feel as an eight year old again. WOW!!! - I wish I could buy these dolls again and all the accessories.


This memory was added on: November 26, 2008

My memory was of my sister having the dolls when she was 11,she loved those dolls and we were living with my aunt at the time, we stayed downstairs in the basement, one cold winter night after it had just snowed yet again,my cousin had become angry with my sister and grabbing her dolls the whole family opened the small window and launched the whole family outside in the bitter cold. Well, she started crying and sobbing madly and it was so much, I ended up squeezing myself through that little window and out plunk right in that cold snow to rescue The Sunshine Family on a cold winters night.


This memory was added on: October 26, 2008

I recently unpacked all of my old dolls and found every member of the sunshine family including the mother, father , blond baby, grandparents ,red haired baby, and the black mother, father and baby. I have given them to my own 6 and 8 year old girls with the hope that they will have as many enjoyable hours as I did.


This memory was added on: March 10, 2008

The best part about this family is making furniture for them. My mother helped me make an ottoman out of an aerosol hairspray cap, stuffed with cotton, and some colorful material held with a rubber band over it. Great fun!


This memory was added on: February 8, 2008

I remember sitting on the floot next to my Dad who was trying to take a nap on the sofa and BEGGING for the Sunshine Family. When I finally got them, I played with them forever. I had the camper (cant remember its name) as well. I loved to take them on "trips" behind the table in the den and have them get all set up for their camp-out. Ive told my boys (ages 6 and 10) about how great the Sunshine Family was, and they sort of look at me like Im nuts!


This memory was added on: January 23, 2008

The Sunshine Fun Family was my absolute favorite childhood toy. I didn't have the accessories, etc., but I do remember making chairs out of toilet paper rolls and "borrowing" accessories from other toy groups. Whenever my dogs would maul the family members, I'd always beg for a new set. If Ebay had been around then, the Sunshines might not have had quints of the little baby boy. Now (at 37) I have re-collected the Sunshine Family, the Sunshine Fun Family, the Happy Family (the African American version), and the Happy Fun Family. I've even found the dog!


This memory was added on: October 14, 2007

My sisters are 10 and 7 years older than me and I'm the baby so of course, I had all of the greatest and latest of toys back. When they had to make cardboard houses for their troll dolls, My sunshine family who were my Barbie and Ken's next door neighbors and best friends were in the upper elite and living in another Barbie doll plastic house that I had! I spent every day that I could sitting in our (second) living room playing all my sister's 45's of the Cowsills, Archies, and everything else you could think of and did nothing but play house with my Sunshine Family and Barbie and Ken because in my world, everyone lived in harmony.

I usually stuck a cotton ball up the mother's dress because I wanted her to be pregnant again. My Sunshine Family had all the modern conveniences that Barbie could give them. They even borrowed Barbie's camper several times with the little pop out side and they took trips on Barbie's Airplane too because of course being the spoiled rotten baby, I had it all! Thanks Mattel for letting my mom listen to Charlie Rich, Dolly Parton, Tom Jones and every other 70's singer on her great big LP stereo console in peace while I played quietly.


This memory was added on: September 11, 2007

I actually never had the dolls, but I had the Sunshine Family paperdolls. My mom bought them for me at a garage sale, along with a Trixie Belden paperdoll set. I played with those for hours on end!

Austin, TX

This memory was added on: June 1, 2007

My younger sister had the Sunshine Family and I was so jealous. I remember their large, expressive eyes and how the baby felt when you squeezed her, which I am sure I did out of anger.

Thanks for the memories!


This memory was added on: May 26, 2007

I remember asking Santa for the Sunshine Family when I was about 7 years old. I specifically remember my dad asking me what I wanted Santa to bring me and I was very certain I wanted the Sunshine Family. I remember waking up Christmas morning in 1977 and seeing the whole family laid out for me on our living room chair. It is one of my best toy memories of Christmas. I only wish I had kept them. My 4 year old little girl would love playing with the same dolls as mommy did.

J Roberts

This memory was added on: May 18, 2007

My feminist mom wasn't a big Barbie fan, so I had the Sunshine Family. It was fun and all, but my neighbor kid had the Barbie Dream House and about 4,000 accessories. As much as I wanted to dig the eco-friendly Sunshine Family, their ottoman fashioned from a shaving cream can lid filled with cotton balls and covered with a peice of fabric--their milk carton kitchen table--their baby cradle made from an old match box--it all just seemed lame when compared to the three-story pink behometh complete with elevator and makeup vanity.

While I can now appreciate the Sunshine Family's attempts at sustainable living, at the time, I really, really wanted that Barbie.


This memory was added on: May 16, 2007

I have no idea whatever happened to the parents, but I renamed the baby Thumbelina Sweets, and I used to take her EVERYWHERE with me!! She is in a number of family photos over a period of 2-3 years, because I refused to put her down. I took her to school with me in 4th grade, and one of my friends took to sewing little outfits for her. One day I lost Thumbelina outside during recess, and then that winter, another classmate, who had been iceskating on the sidewalk at recess (yes, the school allowed it back then!), found her staring up through the ice and chipped her out with the back of the skate!! Thumbelina Sweet's hair stuck straight up from then on, and no amount of headband-wearing or hair gel ever got it to lay flat again... Anyways, we had a border collie named Bandit who was extremely jealous of her; one day I placed her on the table and left the room for a minute, and when I returned, I found her being mauled to oblivion by him--when I finally managed to pry her from his jaws, her arms had both been amputated and were now little nubs!! She was never quite the same after that, and was eventually placed in my bureau drawer to retire. Yet, as I write this, she is here in front of me, with her freaky punked-out hair, stubby arms, inked-up face, scratched, murky blue eyes, wearing a little red handstitched dress with threaded star design on the front, tapered waist, and a single red button on the back, made with love by a 10-year-old girl so many years ago. And I wouldn't trade her for the world.


This memory was added on: March 26, 2007

I'm not quite sure why we weren't allowed to play with Barbies, but I think I remember it having to do with their very large breasts and high heeled feet! So, we had the Sunshine family. My sisters and I played all summer long with them. We took them on roadtrips down by the creek in their Craft Vans (there was real mud caked in those tires, and in the soles of those little hiraches!) where the families built campfires, swam, sold belts and took care of their babies. Even though we had 3 or more families we kept the original names, so everyone's baby was called "Sweets". My cousins (all boys) played upstream with their GI Joes and would sometimes abduct some of the Steves (I think they somehow thought they were freeing the Steves from their craftsy fireside chats ?!) My sisters and I loved these families and they lived mostly in sweet harmony by themselves and later with the Happy Family, until the Southern Belle offshoot dolls were introduced. As you can imagine Pocohontas was able to assimulate into the rugged outdoor lifestyle fairly well, however the Southern Belle dolls (I can't remember their real names, but we called them all Nellie like from Little House on the Prairie) were all too uptight to adjust and became our antagonists. In the end the Sunshine families would always win whatever wilderness battle they had endured and lived happily ever after in our memories!!

In real life I found myself at Art School and then following the Dead. I wonder about the early influence of these hippy dolls?! My sisters are artists as well, with one teaching and the other working in public policy. I now have settled down with my own little baby (named Lily!), but I am still searching for Steve!

Angy N T

This memory was added on: March 26 ,2007

I just had a great trip back to '75 reading these memories. I played OUTSIDE with my Sunshine Family and their camper. Used to put the baby in the little sleeping space above the cab of the truck. Not having saved any of these special toys, it's great to see the pictures on E-Bay.


This memory was added on: March 18, 2007

Oh my, did this give me a flash back! I loved the Sunshine family!


This memory was added on: March 8, 2007

I was trying to remember the family and googled it and learned it was the Sunshine Family. I still have the coloring book - in a plastic sleeve. I had the family and probably still have them somewhere. I used to pretend it was the Stephenses from Bewitched (Darren, Samantha and Tabitha) because the color of the hair. That was my favorite show. I don't remember if I had any other toys related to the Sunshine family.


This memory was added on: March 5, 2007

My Mom gave me the sunshine family as an alternative to Barbie,I fell in love with them immediately! The best part for me was the creative crafts booklet that came with them. I remember making a table out of the bottom of a milk carton and gluing fabric to it. They really expanded my imagination and I worked for hours on creating a home for them out of recycled materials from around the house. All my friends played with Barbie & her fancy stuff, but for the first time I didn't feel left out, instead I felt special to be the only one I new to own the SSF!


This memory was added on: February 23, 2007

I can't even begin to explain how important these dolls were to me. Baby sweets was my favorite, but, I renamed her Rosie. She was contstantly with me for about three years. She knew everything about me. She was in numerous pictures with me...we went to school together...trips...the tub...everywhere. My brother would hide her from me to tease me...I hated that. When I went away to school my younger sister got a hold of her and cut off her hair to be Barbies baby. I was devastated! I still have Rosie today at the age of 37. I now have a three year old daughter who I almost named Rosie. I let her play with her sometime ago and when I wasn't watching she chewed on her head and popped her eye out...devastated again! I keep Rosie up on a shelf in my daughters room now, where she will be loved and cherished forever. I love you Rosie.


This memory was added on: February 23, 2007

I wanted Barbie so badly but my mother hated Barbie so instead she got me the Sunshine family. I hated them at first but ended up liking them. My mom did buy me the Barbie beach camper but of course I had to play with the Sunshine family in it. Man I wish I still had those dolls!


This memory was added on: February 20, 2007

My sister and I have the entire set of "The Sunshine Family" and yes, Carol 1972 the brown dog and cat belong to them. The "Grandpa Sunshine" as we call him looks exactly like my uncle! Those dolls bring back more memories than Barbies because there was only a select few....but what good memories they are! We now let our daughter's play with them and they enjoy them just like we did.


This memory was added on: February 19, 2007

I'm 39 years old, and my mom just told me people are buying and selling Stephen, Stephie and Sweets dolls on ebay. I looked them up and sure enough, they are collector's items! I had those dolls when I was little. here's the weird thing. Believe it or not, we are the REAL family the dolls were based on. Yes, my dad, Steve, had a brother-in-law who was an executive at Mattel in the 1970s. My parents, Stephen and Stephie, moved the family to SF, CA in the early 1970s, driving across the country in VW van. They were avant garde hipsters, and they were into new-age stuff just like you see in the toy sets. Stephen and Stephie turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. The rest is history!


This memory was added on: February 14, 2007

The Sunshine Family is the best! I had them when I was little and now have purchased mint sets. I wish I still had the exact set that I had when I was little. I got them for Christmas probably in 1976 or 1977.


This memory was added on: February 8, 2007

I had never heard of the Sunshine Family until I received Steve & Stephie with a Daisy doll I bought - my aunty remembers them though! I find them quite gorgeous and have added a page with pics of my small selection on my website. Look for the page titled 'mattel'. Also if you get a pop up when visiting the site, click on cancel and then click on your 'back' button. Hope you like my pics - I hope to add more. I've got the gardening set coming in the mail tomorrow. TARNS :) (New Zealand)


This memory was added on: February 3, 2007

My sister and I each had the Sunshine Family! We played for hours and hours. We saved up and bought the four-wheeled bicycle to share. Malibu Barbie, in her olympic gymnast leotard, and Holly Hobbie "played" nicely with the Family. The only family member to survive younger siblings and lots of nieces is the baby in it's yellow sleeper and the baby bed/bottle. Thanks for the memories. Too bad we had to grow up, and too bad dolls like that aren't played with or available anymore. I look at the "Bratz" dolls and just cringe, thinking my infant daughter would wish for a doll like that as much as I had wished for my sunshine family.


This memory was added on: January 31, 2007

I remember getting the family set and the house which came with a cool rocking chair. There were also instructions on how to make your own sofa out of a milk carton which we did. I loved the smell of them brand new and I loved the little baby best!


This memory was added on: January 30, 2007

I loved my Sunshine Family so much, like, as much as I loved my Raggedy Ann. I thought they were neat because they were so NOT Barbies. I guess I was a different kind of girl then, and was happy to have something different than Barbie. I'm still kind of different and don't usually go with the mainstream. So my mom must have seen that trait and nurtured it with my Sunshine Family.

I loved the house, the baby, and especially the gardening tools that I could pretend to make the mom use. She was so sweet, just like my mom was to me.


This memory was added on: January 21, 2007

It is so much fun to read these posts...what I see most is the memories we all seem to have of using our imaginations to turn a STYROFOAM Big Mac box (okay, I know, I am dating myself here!) into a lovely arm chair and ottoman for Steve and Stefie! I think we were just about the last generation that enjoyed the true innocence of childhood. Yes, they were shorter than "Barbie", and yes, Steve's leg seemed to fall off very easily, and YES, once the head came off Stefie never looked the same, but that we didn't notice until we were reminded 20 years later!


This memory was added on: January 7, 2007

Oh the Sunshine Family, my favorite.. I loved the baby most (I couldn't remember her name until I read these posts and then it all came back to me). I think I received the family and house/camper for Christmas 1975. Maybe I remember these so well, because I found them hidden before Christmas and played with them, but when I put them back I left everybody in the camper! oops.. Needless to say I got caught. I love thinking back to those days, I just don't think kids really enjoy their toys like we did back then. I no longer have these toys, but I always think about them.


This memory was added on: January 4, 2007

I just about remember these dolls but was told that I used to guard them with my life from my sister. I wish I still had them. I do have a brown dog and a cat that my mom says was a part of this family. I'm not sure though. Maybe someone out there knows???


This memory was added on: January 4, 2007

Oh my gosh, memories! I am 38 years old and turning to sites like this is such a wonderful gift to me as I lost alot from my childhood and have nothing to remember it by, so finding photos of toys I had, and hearing others talk about how they enjoyed these things makes me smile. I do recall this family, I always thought the father was.....creepy? Thanks for this site, love it!!


This memory was added on: January 2, 2007

I was not allowed to have Barbie, so I had the Sunshine Family. My family, though, had a daughter and a baby son. I had the farm with a chicken that laid eggs. They drove around in their arts and crafts van and sold their wares. I think (and hope) my mom still has them somewhere!


This memory was added on: December 31, 2006

I remember begging and begging for the Sunshine Family ~ I especially remember adoring the little baby the most. He even had a teeny white flannel nappie..I regret letting them go to my nieces as they ruined them, but I still remember the hours of fun I had playing with them. I got the craft shop/camper one year for Christmas and remember one of my parents trying to put it all together and getting really frustrated!! Too bad they don't come out with retro toys every now and then for we adult children! I'm sure people would go crazy for them.