At the beginning of the 70s the world seemed to be experiencing a revolution. The harshness of the war led young people, much misunderstood by previous generations, to cry out for peace and free love. This was reflected in all areas of society along with a family ideal that was also reinvented and in some cases expanded to the commune...
We introduce you to the Sunshine Family!
And it is that the representations of families in the world of toys have always been an important part where to project and Mattel, at the end of the last century, always had a "family" line available adapted to the trends of the moment, so the 70s one was a fairly hippie family that lived off their crafts.
At first they were going to be called "Good Earth Family" but according to its creator Martha Armstrong-Hand, the Handlers believed that this name was too hippie so they opted for "Sunshine Family ".
The Sunshine Family was a project originally carried out by Mattel sculptor Martha Armstrong-Hand. The artist, whose name is linked with Disney and who was trained in animation and was the celebrated sculptor of the Steffie mold of the Barbie line among others, was in an hiatus from Mattel and designed a family of time travelers that on her return to Mattel did not interest at all:
"While I was away from Mattel from 1967 to 1969, I created a doll family: father, mother, baby, sister, and brother. Originally, I had in mind to have them travel through time, but nobody was interested in that. Then I tried to sell Mattel the idea of the family being the "neighbors" with everyday activities like father working, children going to school, and so forth" Martha Armstrong-Hand, Doll Reader February 1998
It seemed that in this way they did fit in the 70s and, as if that were not enough ,they were accompanied with a booklet in which you could find instructions that explained how to make projects for your Sunshine Family such as furniture made with milk bricks, among other things to recycle, available to everyone.
The children liked the Sunshine's, so they added grandparents, the African-American Happy Family and for the bicentennial of the American Declaration of Independence (1976) a line that revisited that moment with a shared cartoon-like mold that didn't correspond to any ethnic group or specific age.
The 80s arrived and, despite a last attempt to adapt this family, the change was too radical. Living in a commune and making cardboard furniture was no longer the norm, economic growth favored another family composition and more consumerist philosophies emerged. All this would be reflected years later in the Heart Family.
Once again, toys give us valuable information about the state of society.