Little girls love to play with dolls, preferably Barbie dolls. However, this is not contrary to the fact that there are avid collectors of Barbie far advanced in years who love this type of dolls as a special memento. Barbie doll collection is one of the most excellent choices of connoisseur, as it is a nostalgic reminder of childhood, satisfying one’s sense of beauty & fashion, transporting one into an almost perfect world and enhancing an appreciation of the varied culture and heritage of nations.
The more you know about Barbie Dolls, the more your interest to make her part of your collection. Through her, you are able to enter the fabulous world of Barbie.
Origin of Barbie Dolls
The trendy Barbie doll is made by Mattel, Inc., an American toy company and was introduced in the market in March 1959. The concept of a doll with adult features originated when Ruth Handler, a businesswoman, observed that her daughter played with her dolls not only as children but also gave them the role of adults. This was for her a significant discovery.
It was during a 1956 trip in Europe with her husband, Elliot and children, Barbara and Kenneth when Ruth came across a German doll named Bild Lilli who had an adult-like figure. Lilli was a luscious blonde, popular among Germans and their kids whom they loved dressing up in various outfits. She bought a couple of these dolls for her purpose.
When they went back to the States, she presented the idea to her husband who was co-founder of the Mattel Toy Company and his directors. Although unenthusiastic about the concept, they had their engineer, Jack Ryan, improved the design and named the doll Barbie, after Ruth’s daughter. The doll was introduced on March 9, 1959 during the New York American International Toy Fair which is designated as Barbie’s birthday. When Mattel bought the Bild Lilli dolls’ rights in 1964, Lilli dolls were no longer produced.
Who is Barbie?
She is Barbra Millicent Roberts and was given her own world in a collection of novels from Random House publication in 1960. George and Margaret Roberts were her parents and she lived with them in the imaginary town of Willows, Wisconsin. In some books, she studied in the Willows High School or Manhattan International High School in New York. She had many friends which made her lead a very sociable life. Her friendship and romance with Ken Carson started in 1961. In later editions, they couple split up but in the 2006, their relationship resumed. Barbie had over 40 pets from dogs to zebras and owned myriad vehicles from a pink Corvette convertible to an airplane.
Vintage Barbie Dolls
Standard range of Barbie dolls is in the 1:6 or 1/6 playscale, the average scale for dolls. With few alterations here and there, the figure of Barbie as to her size and shape always remains at 11 ½; however her face has been often altered since her debut. Here are some of her images:
- Vintage Barbie Ponytail dolls – Distributed from 1959 to 1966, this design which evolved many years resulted in many modifications known by numbers #1, #2, #3, #4, etc.
- Vintage Bubblecut Barbie - It was in 1961 when Barbie was given a new hair style called the Bubblecut. Bubblecut Barbie dolls were issued from the years 1961 to 1967. They had colorful hair tints from shades of blonde, brunette and titian.
- Swirl Ponytail Barbie - Barbie of 1964 had her curly bangs replaced with a neat side-ward hairdo, called swirl ponytail. Her hair comes in various shades such as ash, blonde, brunette, lemon blonde, platinum and redhead.
- Vintage American Girl Barbie - American Girl Barbie was a 1965 creation where she again changed her appearance with three brand new hair styles. Either as a chin –length bob parted in the middle or longer length bob parted on the left with turquoise hair ribbon or much longer bob which was softer in texture and parted in the middle. She had the honor of being the first doll with legs that could bend on the knees. But this vintage was discontinued in 1966 which gave this type a very high value.
Barbie Doll Collection
In her 50-year career, Barbie is the most famous doll worldwide both for children and adult collectors. According to Mattel records, there are over 100,000 Barbie doll collectors and most of them are women in their 40’s. They buy an average of 20 Barbie dolls a year for their collection, spending over $1000 annually on these purchases.
Many collectors are on the look out for these vintages of Barbie:
- The American Girl Barbie, marketed in 1965 with bendable legs has a very high value because its production was limited.
- The 1959 Brunette # 1 and #2 Ponytail Barbie is most sought-after by collectors for they presented the 1960 pop culture.
- The 1960 Blonde #3 ponytail Barbie with blue eyeliner and with brown eyeliner is now much in demand and has a high price.
- The 1961 Titian #6 ponytail Barbie is extremely hard to find since this is the first Barbie with red hair.
Every collector feels a deep sense of satisfaction and excitement over his collection. But one of the most rewarding is collecting Barbie dolls. The popularity of Barbie started from the time the dolls were introduced in 1959 and this popularity has been rising year after year. The value of collectible Barbies is tremendous that today, you can even order a Barbie according to your specifications and needs.
Barbie Doll and Today’s Society
Barbie is sold all over the world, at least in over 100 different nations, earning total sales of about $1.5 billion dollars yearly. Based on sales records, two Barbie dolls are purchased every second each day.
Since its introduction in 1959, this molded plastic toy identified as Barbie has been an American symbol that became an instrument for girls to create beautiful dreams and mirror the diversity in American society. This is reflected in the evolution of Barbie’s clothes and alterations of her appearance to go with the times; playing varied roles in her different professions, and her political & charitable venture; and more recently observed in the multi-culturalizing of her production.
Barbie Dolls’ Controversies
Although Barbie is just a doll, she already faced some controversies. The latest concerned her dimensions: a standard Barbie doll is 11.5 inches, and could be translated to a human height of 5 feet and 9 inches at 1/6 scale, meaning a vital statistics of 36-18-33. The criticism is that the doll has an unrealistic body figure for a young woman. If girls were to emulate her, they would suffer from anorexia.
Parents were angered with this model called as the ‘Back to Basics’, for the appearance of most dolls in the collection looked like porno stars, gold diggers and many other questionable career women.
For more controversial issues, refer to the links below:
Barbie Doll is Forever
The creation of Barbie Dolls is a milestone in the toy industry. Despite competitions and controversies to belittle its popularity, the sales of Barbie Dolls have never been better which send its makers laughing all the way to the bank. More innovative and better designs are coming out of their production-lines.
Love her or hate her, Barbie Dolls will still be the favorite playthings of little girls in the forthcoming millennium and doll collectors will still be buying Barbie dolls for their collections.