20th Century Nostalgia

A Dune Buggy and the Rock Flowers: Frustratingly Fun


Some things involve equal parts frustration and fun. Two examples: 1)  writing deeply perceptive blog posts, and 2) the hot pink, plastic dune buggy I had as a kid. Measuring about eight inches from bumper to bumper, my all-plastic dune buggy had black tires, black bucket seats, and shiny silver headlights. I think it originally had a spoiler, too, but over time it and one of those headlights snapped off. I used the dune buggy when I played  with my Barbie dolls, but it wasn’t an actual Mattel product. Because of that, Barbies couldn’t fit inside it.

The buggy better accommodated my handful of Rock Flowers Dolls, bendy “Swinging, Singing” hippy-chick dolls also made by Mattel that were packaged with real 45-rpm records that played each respective doll’s pop song.   In the center of each record was a stand, into which you could place one of the doll’s legs,  and then watch her spin dizzily. With some twisting and shoving of their extremities, I could contort these smaller dolls into the dune buggy because they were more pliable than Barbies.

The Rock Flowers were ultra-cool, even after the record broke or was lost. They wore stretchy polyester outfits in bright, psychedelic, floral patterns, and they roamed in a pack five or six thick. One doll, Lilac, sported long, sleek, light brown hair, a pink-orange-yellow pantsuit, and teeny lavender plastic sunglasses that were cruelly stitched into her scalp. Another doll was named Rosemary. She wore an afro hairstyle, iridescent orangey-pink sunglasses, and a neat-o dress with orange fringe and a tiered hem in a diamond shape.

Even though I could eventually maneuver the Rock Flowers into the dune buggy, they still weren’t a perfect fit. But I got over the frustration of that, and played with them anyway because it was fun. I remember pushing the dune buggy speeding across our olive green, sculpted carpet in our living room with a pair of rubbery Rock Flowers dolls bouncing along inside, ponytails jiggling.

Occasionally, one would spring out of the buggy, collide her skull into a table leg, and require an emergency trip to the hospital for outpatient brain surgery. Then she’d recover by taking a nap under a Kleenex blanket. Three seconds later, she’d reunite with her friends, and hit the dunes again.

By Marilyn Yung

Writes | Teaches | Not sure where one ends and the other begins.

4 replies on “A Dune Buggy and the Rock Flowers: Frustratingly Fun”

I had forgotten the Rock Flowers! I remember having the yellow plastic record to play on my fancy turntable. lol. Thanks for sharing the memory!


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