By:  Roselyn Gadia-Smitley

(Text and photo are copyrighted materials.)

Photo 1:  Classic and Contemporary Barbie Dolls.

Photo1:  Barbie Dolls.  Left to right:  Superstar face mold with the classic body sculpt and Jewel Girl face mold with the contemporary body sculpt.  Photo:  Roselyn Gadia-Smitley.

The play line category of Barbie dolls, manufactured by Mattel Inc. Corp., is mainly divided into two body types: (1) the classic body sculpt and (2) the contemporary belly button sculpt.  The classic body sculpt is based on the body dimensions of the early release of Barbie dolls (from 1959 - 1999, starting with Ponytail Barbie).  After 2000, the classic body sculpt are re-introduced from time to time when reproductions of classic Barbie dolls are sold.  The contemporary belly button sculpt is based on the "Jewel Girl" Barbie doll released in 2000. Current play line Barbie dolls are sold with the contemporary belly button sculpt.

How are they different from each other?  The height of the dolls are the same at 11.5 inches.  The classic sculpt has a larger bust line and smaller waist as compared to contemporary sculpt.  The classic body sculpt has jointed waist which allows it to swivel. 

In addition, the high-heeled feet of the classic sculpt is larger than the contemporary sculpt on the high-heeled rendition.  The contemporary sculpt in the bathing suit issue has large flat feet compared to the classic and contemporary doll with high heeled feet.  In 2013, shoes for the flat footed Barbie dolls in the bathing suit release are not available.  High heeled shoes for the contemporary sculpt  (2 pairs of shoes & 2 handbags) are available in a bubble pack for $5.97 at Wal-Mart superstores. These current high heeled shoes will fit the contemporary "Barbie Fashionistas" series.

How can you identify them from each other?  The lower backs of the dolls are marked.  The classic sculpt will be marked:  Mattel Inc. 1966 and the country of manufacture.  The contemporary sculpt will be marked: 1999 Mattel Inc. and the country of manufacture.  Additional numbered codes may be included in the contemporary markings at the back.

Notable characteristics of these two dolls are the articulation of the arms.  The early classic sculpt arms moves front and back only.  The contemporary Barbie has arms that are ball jointed at the sockets which allows movement from front, back, and sides.

If you are purchasing clothing for Barbie dolls, only the contemporary doll clothing and shoes are available at the stores.  For the classic body sculpt, clothing and shoes are available via the internet. There are many sites that can be found that sell new clothes that will fit the classic body.  For authentic vintage clothing for the classic body sculpt, is a good place to start for your search.

If you are handy at sewing, you can customize Barbie's clothing.  My out-of-print book, Dolls' Clothes Pattern Book, is a good source for Barbie's clothing.  These patterns will fit the classic body sculpt and needs to be modified for the contemporary belly button sculpt.  A chapter on modifying patterns for fitting is included in this book.  This book is available inexpensively as used copies at

Happy Collecting!