The Sunshine Family were the most 1970s toys of the 1970s
Steve, Stephie and Sweets shunned the pink plastic materialism of Barbie.
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Barbie was living in a townhouse in Malibu, sailing pink catamarans, driving pink Corvettes. Tuesday Taylor was a fashionista with a penthouse and shopping habit. Most of the dolls of the 1970s were living the high life. All this during the Oil Crisis.
And then there was the Sunshine Family. They made belts and pots to sell off the mobile craft store on the back of their yellow pickup truck. Their humble home had a wooden rocking chair, loads of flowers and a spinning wheel. They wore sandals and clogs, turtlenecks and cords. Somehow, you assumed they recycled and were vegetarians. No toy better captured the wood-paneled, shag-carpeted, earth-toned, bell-bottomed, crochet-crazy decade of the 1970s than the Sunshine Family. Obviously. They were called the Sunshine Family. And we were obsessed with them.
Though they were lauched by Mattel in 1974, the Sunshine Family would fit right in today. That being said, the packaging would use the term "artisanal" a lot more and they would come with a Whole Foods playset. While Barbie and Ken cruised in sportscars, here was the humble ride of Steve, Stephie and little Sweets:
When not guzzling gas to hawk their wares, the young couple and child would get around on a Surrey cycle, a bike made for three. They kept the hippie spirit and Age of Aquarius alive.
The trio was not alone in its folksy world. The Happy Family — Hal, Hattie and Hon — could also be had for about six bucks, complete with rainbow tank, bold-print skirt and natural hairstyles. The two clans could get together in the Craft Store to braid rugs and pot potato plants.
The full range also included kindly grandparents and pets, not to mention an A-frame cabin for getting in touch with Mother Gaia. As the packaging proclaimed, the family was "Doing things together & with you!"
If you hanker to play with them again, a mint, in-the-box doll can now fetch about $100 on eBay. But in the true spirit of the Sunshine Family, it's perhaps better to just make them yourself as a craft project.