Hot! Remembering Fashion Plates

Courtesy of the Alameda Point Antique Fair, let me present to you one of *the* toys of my childhood: Tomy's Fashion Plates from 1978. 

I saw this complete set all the way in the back of the fair (think row DD) and when the seller told me they were $10, I didn't hesitate for a moment. To say that I loved this toy as a child would be an understatement. I played with this thing so much that by the end of my childhood, the box had taken even a worse beating than the one I bought.

For those unfamiliar with this kit, here's how it worked: you mixed and matched components to create an outfit and then used a crayon like tool to make a rubbing of the final look. Then, you colored it in. Repeat. That's it, but it was countless hours of fun.

If you had this toy, the following images should totally bring back fond memories. While I remembered the basic outfits/heads etc…, I completely forgot that the back of the plates had patterns and textures to use when coloring. 

What a trip down memory lane. 

And of course, Penelope loves it too. 

If you had Fashion Plates, what were your go-to plates? 












Update: Since this post was about *my* child, I didn't bother to take photos of the other plates that had been stuffed in the box (but weren't part of the original set). Since so many of my readers remember these plates from the 1980s,  I had to add them to this post. Enjoy!



Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. Oh yes I remember those. I had the totally awesome 80s version. I wonder if they still make them. I’d but some for Emily in a few years. I spent hours with mine. Wish I’d saved them.

  2. Squeeee! How fun! I had something similar, but it was Barbie. Used that thing to death!

  3. I had several toys like that in the 90s that I played with!

  4. I loved these! They were, without question, one of my favorite toys. Wasn’t that plaid effect texture plate the best? Yeah, child of the 80s with no fashion sense… that’s me!
    Meanwhile, I have to confess that I always thought that the pants were very Katharine Hepburn. Loved those paired with the long hair/long sleeve top.

  5. I bought my daughter a modern version two years ago for Christmas – They still make them! (With updated fashions and now with traceable plates and a backlight :-)

  6. Oh my gosh I LOVED my fashion plates! Mine were an 80s Barbie version complete with an exercise outfit that included leg warmers.

  7. Holy macaroni — I had that exact set that I played with ALL THE TIME when I was a kid!

  8. Coveted them for sure. I bet there’s something similar now, but the illustrations of those models is truly priceless. They are so lovely!

  9. My little sister had this around 1978 too, and I used to sneak it and play with it. I’ve been looking for one to buy on ebay for my daughter. Yeah, for my daughter….

  10. Boy, I forgot about those and I played with mine all the time!

  11. My older sisters had them, and I played with them all the time. I attribute these in part to my interest in fashion. I am completely jealous that you have a complete set. Seriously jealous.

  12. Oh, and I also find it so interesting that I wear the silhouettes on those plates as a grown-up. And I also have one of those hairstyles. I’ve called myself a fashion plate sarcastically before, but …

  13. I totally had something like this, I’m sure it was on a wheel and instead of it being different plates you spun part of the wheel to get the different out fits. I used to spend hours making rubbings of one outfit and then all of the patterns and then couldn’t decide which one I liked best. Nothing ever changes! I so need to go and find out what it was called in the UK!

  14. Wow, total chill bump flashback! My older cousin gave me her set. I remember liking the plate where the girl was holding the flowers. I would still play with these today!

  15. I had the pink ones and I don’t know how many hours (years maybe if added up) I passed playing with them! I hope the set is still at my mom’s house!

  16. Be still my heart!! I LOVED that thing, though we managed to lose most of the different components to it within the first week. I sometimes daydream about it even now. You are so lucky!

  17. oh, i had completely forgotten about this toy. yes, my sister & i had one and we loved it… played with it constantly. thank you for bringing back the memories :)

  18. I had one of these too and I LOVED IT!!! I wonder if it is still hanging around my parents house? I’ll have to have a look. Hours of fun indeed.

  19. Oh my goodness. I had completely forgotten about these. I spent hours and hours with them when i was little. Being a child of the late 70’s/early 80’s, my favorite was the long prairie dress a la laura ingles wilder. I’m sure mine were sent to the goodwill years ago though. Thanks for the fun memory!

  20. Oh yes, a Fashion Wheel is probably still lurking in my parent’s loft.

  21. That’s hilarious – I was just thinking about these the other day. I was wondering if my nieces would like them now. I couldn’t say which was my favorite, but I did love the texture plates.

  22. I always wanted these!

  23. OMG I wish there had been something like this in the UK in the early 50s. Our toys were still based on Victorian styles and once you got to about 8, it was just sensible books or crafts you learned how to do ‘PROPERLY!’ Which was OK, but not a lot fun for the sake of fun. Encouraging creativity was considered a very risky activity to do with children. You lucky things!

  24. Too funny, I have fashion plates on my “childhood” board on pinterest! I love these things too. But it looks like you had waaayyy more mixing options than the one I had. Mine was circa 1989 though, probably a sucky second re-issue.

  25. I had the exact set pictured. I think my mom bought it for me at a thrift store. So many hours of designing and coloring . . . Love!

  26. I still have mine! I pull it out for my daughter to play with occasionally but I think I play with it more than her! hehe I remember my sister had a New Kids On The Block one! haha

  27. I am fantastically jealous of you right now.

  28. Hey, the middle one in the 6th photo down looks just like the Colette Jasmine! I’ve never heard of this toy, but I was more interested in baseball as a kid so there goes that :) It’s such a cool toy, and it’s given me outfit ideas (and now I really want this toy!!).

  29. I love this. I always wanted one when I was a girl.

  30. Wow.. what memories. I bought this for my daughter for Christmas.. She is now 39 and a high school history teacher..
    But, I still remember them. I think , I enjoyed playing with them, more than she
    thanks for sharing.

  31. Yes, I had the Australian equivalent in the early 70s and I was totally in love with them. I spent hours tracing and texturing and colour!!

  32. hahaha! that was my exact set!

  33. Oh my gosh, I had totally forgotten about those, but I had the pink ones! Wow!

  34. So cool! That actually looks like a ton of fun. :)

  35. I had these and totally loved them! I forgot about the textured backs. Ahhhhh so fun.

  36. This makes me want to drive 2 1/2 hours to my mom’s house to get mine. I had the pink ones too!

  37. I so forgot about this toy! My Gramma bought it for me because I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was little. Mine was the 80s version too, though (NOT Barbie). My 80s version was this exact toy just with updated Cindy Lauper outfits with poofy crinoline skirts and legwarmers. The patterns were more 80s with lightning bolts and triangles. And the plastic plates and other parts were light pink and aqua.

  38. omigod, yes! I totally had the 80’s Barbie version >.<

  39. I LOVED fashion plates! My bff and I were JUST talking about them last week!! I’d get them for my girl – but I want to play with them too!!

  40. I LOVED these things; however, I had the 80’s version – and the 80’s version I had was even different from the ones you added! Go figure. My version just had different items on either side, no patterns. LOVED it, though, so much fun – I swore that I would be a fashion designer thanks to those plates, hahaha. Thanks for the fun trip down memory lane!

  41. Aaaah! I had those! Loved them! But what happened to them?? I shall ask my mother as soon as I get there this weekend.

  42. Oh wow what a great find. I LOVED mine too the 70s version. I wish I could remember the plates I loved the most. If I saw those I’d snag them too. Hope someone else enjoys this set all over again.

  43. I forgot about having those. I inherited my older sister’s set and played with them all the time. My daughter would love them. I’ll have to keep my eye out for a set.

  44. I had TOTALLY forgotten about these! I loved my set!

  45. Oh, I wanted those so bad! But about when these came out I was a (very) young mother of boys and we were so poor. I had to act grown up and set aside my (real) dream of being a fashion designer. It was way too ‘impracticable’ to buy toys for myself then.
    I did however go on to sew for a living and have done a fair amount of designing along the way. I still love sketching, and sewing. And now those might just be on my list – thanks you for featuring these!

  46. OMG!!!! I totally had these. I have no idea what happened to them. My favorite was the fish scale design and then putting it on all the long dresses.

  47. Wow! I hadn’t thought about these for YEARS. I had the 80’s set :)

  48. margueritedesigns

    In the UK in the 70’s, I had a thing called ‘Mix and Match’ for Christmas. Wish I still had it. It was a set of stencils and patterned papers. There was a figure stencil and various skirts, tops, trousers, hats, bags etc to go with it. Can you imagine how disappointed I was the previous Christmas to get the game ‘Mousetrap’? I had been totally misunderstood about what I wanted!

  49. I grew up in the 90s and had a Barbie version of this, which I had forgot about! I LOVED mine.

  50. I wanted these too…but never got them. I got to play with some friend’s version. Cool to see them again

  51. Don’t even get my started! I played the heck out of my Fashion Plates. And getting it for $10 is a total steal as they usually go for a lot more than that.
    I personally loved the prairie skirt one which i did in the star print.

  52. I had the original set too! Loved them! There’s a chance that it’s still in my parents’ basement.

  53. I raised boys so I have never seen one of these before.

  54. I loved mine…even though we got it from a garage sale and didn’t have all of its parts. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Forgot all about it

  55. have you created a market of insanity for these? there’s a set on ebay for $181.
    i want them.

  56. I *heart* Fashion Plates!!! When you think about it, really, it’s just a croquis, isn’t it? Which is my way of saying “now that I sew, I should buy myself Fashion Plates again…”

  57. I had a Fashion Wheel (circular version, fuchsia and lime I think!)in the early 90s, loved, loved, loved it!Like so many others, now just want to play with it!!

  58. Those plates are really cute and adorable. Very interesting! Imagine you can have different set of fashion clothes by mixing and matching those plates! Very cool!

  59. Oh my goodness. I LOVED my Fashion Plates!!! I had the original pink ones too. I spent hours & hours playing with those! I forgot all about the textures on the back too. Loved them!

  60. I had both of those. You wouldn’t see me for hours when my sister and I played with those. Great toys for creativity!

  61. Argh I had them! Mine were on a wheel that you could move around instead of separate plates. I am pretty sure I still have them at my parents.