Pre-Mattel Dolls are overall chubbier, particularly in the face, body and limbs. Pre-Mattel dolls typically have wider shoulders. Newer outfits are shaped for Mattel dolls and can fit very tightly on a Pre-Mattel doll. There is less face paint on cheeks and lips depending on the year of production. Eyelashes are softer and generally match the doll's hair color.
With the slimming down of the dolls, clothing also became slimmer overall to fit the new body structure. This results in many Pre-Mattel dolls being unable to fit into newer clothes or shoes, and newer dolls appearing "swamped" when wearing older clothing that is a little too large.
Accessories and Furniture
With the rising costs of raw materials, several items have either been modified into plastic where other, more fragile articles were once used (such as wood, metals, or glass/porcelain). Others have been discontinued altogether and replaced with modified sets.
Starting in 2007, Mattel has modified many food items by "clumping" them, making items that originally came in smaller pieces into one or two big chunks of food.
How to Identify Pre-Mattel Items
Most Pre-Mattel items are tagged "Made for Pleasant Company" on clothing and stickers. Some items were only released by Pleasant Company and so would only be Pre-Mattel. Dolls are generally identifiable by their features.
Dolls produced by Mattel continued to have the Pleasant Company neck stamps for many years after the company transitioned. It is for this reason that some collectors claim to have a "Pleasant Company Kit" or "Pleasant Company Kaya" when neither doll was produced by Pleasant Company at any point.
Some collectors prefer Pre-Mattel items over Mattel ones, citing quality standards and more realistic features (such as being made of more high-quality materials such as wood, glass, copper, etc.).
Some Pre-Mattel items were made too fragile or of a poor quality to stand up to play. For example, the windmill that comes with Felicity's Town Fair Outfit was fragile when put together and frequently breaks. Also, some accessories and items are highly unattractive and seem very shoddy; this is seen most often with pets such as Bennett.