COLLECTING BARBIE DOLLS - By Roselyn Gadia-Smitley
(Photographs and text materials are copyrighted by the author.)
Photo1: Barbie Dolls: Playline Molds. Photo of Barbie dolls from 1964 through 2012. Front row by face mold - from left to right: Ponytail Barbie (1964), Twist 'n Turn Barbie (1965), Superstar Barbie (1979), Malibu Barbie (1975). Back row by face mold from left to right: Mackie Barbie (1995), Jewel Girl Barbie (2000, also known as Generations Girl Barbie), Cali-Girl Barbie (2010, also known as Fashion Fever Barbie), and Aphrodite Barbie (2012, also known as Kentucky Derby). Dresses are designed and custom-made by the author. Photo by: Roselyn Gadia-Smitley.
"Barbie", the trademarked name of a fashion doll owned by Mattel Inc., Corp. is known worldwide. "Barbie" was introduced to the American toy market in 1959 by Ruth Handler who was then co-owner of Mattel Inc. In 1964, the rights to the mold of the original fashion doll was bought by Mattel from Germany. This mold was the fashion doll called "Bild Lili". "Bild Lili" was marketed in Germany as a gift item for the adult market. Production of "Bild Lili" was halted when Mattel obtained the rights to its mold.
In the United States of America, "Barbie" by Mattel, was given the identity of the ideal American teenager in the 1950s. Her name was Barbara Millicent Roberts. She lived in a small American town (Willows, Wisconsin) with her parents (George and Margaret Roberts) and siblings. She had a boyfriend, friends, and a fabulous wardrobe. She was named after the daughter of Ruth Handler. Her introduction to the American toy market in 1959 had a slow beginning. The invention of the television and the astute vision of Mattel to promote "Barbie" in the television show of Disney in the "Mickey Mouse Club", assisted in the marketing of this iconic American fashion doll. Today, "Barbie" is the most popular fashion doll among children and adult collectors worldwide.
"Barbie" was originally introduced as an eleven and a half inch (11 1/2") fashion doll in vinyl. She had nylon rooted hair in a ponytail fashion. She had moveable head, arms, and legs. She had high-heeled feet and painted facial features. Her eyelashes were molded. She was dressed in a black and white striped bathing suit with accessories of white sunglasses and white mule sandals. Additional clothing lines and accessories were offered separately. Later, other dolls were added to the line as her best friend (Midge), and boyfriend (Ken, namesake of Ruth Handler's younger son).
The Barbie doll line added ethnic dolls in the late 1970s and in subsequent years. They were billed as "Barbie's friends". In the late 1980s the lines begun to blur in the packaging of the dolls. Sometimes ethnic dolls were given names and sometimes generally packaged as "Barbie", regardless of ethnic identity. This practice continues today.
Photo2: Barbie Dolls Headshot. Front row by face mold from left to right: Ponytail Barbie (1964), Twist 'n Turn Barbie (1965), Superstar Barbie (1979), Malibu Barbie (1975). Back row by face mold from left to right: Mackie Barbie (1995), Jewel Girl Barbie (2000, also known as Generations Girl Barbie), Cali-Girl Barbie (2010, also known as Fashion Fever Barbie), and Aphrodite Barbie (2012, also known as Kentucky Derby Barbie). Photo by Roselyn Gadia-Smitley.
Barbie face molds have evolved from its 1959 origins. This is illustrated by the photos in this article with the many faces of Barbie throughout the years. Barbie collectors also have emerged; as individuals who are seeking remnants of childhood past. In addition, collectors have joined children in the joy of dressing and costuming dolls for its play value. Others enjoy using Barbie as mannequins for their creations. Some adult collectors simply enjoy Barbie as a display doll. Mattel Inc. Corp. recognized this wide and varied market. Today, Mattel offers several tiers of labels to cater to the needs of Barbie enthusiasts from the "pink label" (intended for play) to the "platinum label" (intended for the adult collector).
Collecting Barbie is ageless. I collected Barbie for over thirty years, simply for the joy of it. I hope to share my hobby to those who are young and young-at-heart.
For additional information, click at these links:
HISTORY OF THE DOLL
COLLECTING FASHION DOLLS TO RESTORE (Homepage)
COLLECTING BARBIE DOLLS ON A BUDGET