Released in 1978 from Tomy, Fashion Plates allowed budding fashionistas to design their next line of haute couture for the catwalk aka the family bulletin board or refrigerator.
The basic set shipped with 15 plastic plates comprised of various outlined shapes of wardrobe pieces: shirts, pants, skirts, and so on. Children could choose a top, bottom, and hairstyle combination that caught their design eye and assemble it into the toy’s base. Tomy made sure that many of the clothing trends of the 1970s were available, including bell-bottoms, maxi-skirts, and peasant blouses.
Once the plates were snapped in place, drawing paper was placed on top of them, and a black crayon was used to create an outline of the outfit. From there, kids could use colored pencils and any of the 15 different fabric patterns (plaids, checks, polka dots, etc.) to design an outfit in full color. The ability to mix and match plates offered children a wide range of outfit combinations to choose from as their portfolio took shape.
The popularity of Fashion Plates allowed Tomy to release More Fashion Plates, an expansion pack of 15 extra plates that added more model, clothing, and texture design options to the mix.
Fashion Plates eventually disappeared from store shelves, a victim of changing trends and Tomy’s exit from the toy business in North America. In 2014, Kahootz revived the toy line and now offers a variety of drawing sets and expansion packs.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.