In Russia and many former Soviet countries, almost every child played with one of these toys when they were little – an upright doll with a round heavy base that stands on the floor. When you try and push the doll over, it springs back upright.
In Russian, they go by two names – ‘Nevalyashka’, meaning ‘One who never lies down’ and ‘Vanka Vstanka’ – a rhyming, alliterative phrase meaning ‘Ivan get up’. Vanka Vstanka is also the name of a contemporary Russian energy drink, similar to Red Bull.
In English, they are referred to as ‘Tilting Dolls’, ‘Bell Dolls’, ‘Tumbler Toys’ and ‘Roly Poly Toys’.
Nevalyashkas come in two popular varieties – one with an internal bell that rings when the doll shakes [as shown above] and other variety which is made of timber that can be painted [shown below].
It has been suggested by Elena Marus of the site WOW Russia, that the Nevalyashka/Vanka Vstanka is a dual-purpose toy that is intended to develop an infant’s hearing and sense of touch. She also states that it is purported to “develop creativity, imagination, hearing and movement co-ordination in children, but nobody knows exactly how it works”.
Here is a video showing the Nevalyashka doll in action:
Tags: dolls, nevalyashka, toys, tumbler, vanka vstanka
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