Launched at the American Toy Fair in 1959, Barbie was the first teenage doll ever produced for children and quickly became one of the all-time best selling and most widely collected toys. Heavily promoted on TV, over a billion of the dolls have been sold. Collectors prize early numbered Barbie dolls from 1959 and the 1960s, as well as a wide range of rarities and special editions, such as Barbie dolls with bendable legs or red hair.
The toy was the vision of Ruth Handler, whose husband, Elliot, was the "el" in Mattel and whose daughter, Barbara, gave the doll its name. The inspiration for Barbie’s facial features and impossible hourglass figure was Bild Lilli, a doll Handler picked up in 1956 while vacationing in Europe.
Bild Lilli, which is a collectible in its own right, had pouty lips, reminiscent of the lips found on bisque and porcelain dolls in Europe. Mattel metallurgist Kohei Suzuki gave Barbie more natural-looking lips, although her eyes and nose were kept almost identical to those of her forebear.
The other critical difference between Bild Lilli and Barbie was the concept of accessories. Beyond Barbie’s standard black-and-white zebra-striped swimsuit, little girls in the United States could choose 22 other ensembles, ranging from a collarless Chanel-style jacket with matching sheath skirt to a satin-and-tulle bridal gown. Clothing designer Charlotte Johnson was hired away from her teaching post at Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles to complete this critical task.
Most of the outfits offered in 1959 were still available in 1960, making the three that were discontinued (Easter Parade, Gay Parisienne, and Roman Holiday) extremely collectible. Of the six new outfits added in 1960, Friday Night Date was one of the best, thanks to its charming blue corduroy jumper with felt appliqués, pair of soda glasses with cotton standing in for actual fizz, and a black serving tray bearing the Barbie logo.
1961 introduced the world to Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend named after Barbara Handler’s brother. In addition to Barbies with ponytails, dolls with bubble-cut 'dos were also offered. Barbie’s ever-increasing line of outfits suggested that this woman did more than go to fancy parties and beach barbecues — she was an American Airlines stewardess, a nurse, and even a professional ballerina.
Barbie’s best friend Midge was added in 1963. Though Midge’s facial features were different from Barbie’s, her body style was the same so that accessories could be mixed and matc...
During the middle of the 1960s, dolls in the Barbie line gained bendable limbs so they could be posed, but the major facelift came in 1967. Rooted eyelashes replaced the doll’s plastic ones, and Twist 'N Turn Barbies were offered for just $1.50 plus the trade-in of an old doll, which is why many of the original vintage dolls are so hard to find and expensive. 1967 was also the year that Barbie and her increasing number of friends went mod. The Bermuda Holidays outfits predate Goldie Hawn’s costumes on Laugh-In.
1967 is important to Barbie collectors for two other reasons: It was the year an African-American doll, Francie, joined Barbie and her friends, and it was the last year the doll was manufactured in Japan. From 1968 onwards, Barbie dolls were produced in Mexico, Taiwan, and Korea.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Fashion Doll Guide
Vintage Dolls of the 50s
Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls
Museum of Childhood
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Barbie Dolls
Source: Google News
Georgia Wawman accused of being 'female Fagin' in Argentina tells how she was ...Daily Mail, February 13th
The privately educated young mother from the Home Counties was, they claimed, the 'Barbie Bandit', a 'Raffles' mastermind behind a string of violent robberies in the prosperous suburbs of Buenos Aires. ... While she was locked up, terrified and...Read more
DC Bombshells as Poseable Barbie-Style DollsIGN, February 13th
By Alex Osborn Tonner Doll Company is showcasing its new line of "DC Stars Collection" Bombshell dolls this weekend at Toy Fair 2016. The collection features poseable Barbie-style figures of Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Batwoman. In addition, a pair ...Read more
'She looks like me': what kids really think of the new BarbieThe Guardian, February 13th
The mix of ethnicities in the new Barbie collection sparked the attention of the kids. Of the new Barbies that Mattel had available to buy immediately, tall Barbie has brown shoulder length hair, brown eyes and appears to be Asian, while petite Barbie...Read more
Misogyny and Mr. West: Why I'm No Longer a Kanye FanNoisey (blog), February 13th
In 2014, he released a game with Future for their collaboration “I Won” which involves “Tossing your chain on a trophy” in order to build a “Trophy collection.” The “trophies” are bikini clad women running ... they are desirable, and limits...Read more
Collector's Edition Batman Barbie RevealedIGN, February 2nd
Mattel first unveiled its Wonder Woman Barbie, based on Gal Gadot's character, at San Diego Comic Con in 2015, noting Batman and Superman figures would be released as well. The dolls are inspired by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the two ...Read more
What The New Barbie Collection Is Still MissingBustle, February 1st
As a blonde haired, blue eyed, white, cis girl and woman, it might sound like the classic Barbie should have represented me — except I was a chubby child who grew into a fat woman, and Barbie was definitely not that. The launch of Barbie's new dolls...Read more
With 33 new looks, Barbie is finally embracing different standards of beautyVox, January 29th
Time magazine reported that the 2016 Barbie Fashionista collection will come in three new body types. Now kids and adults alike will be able to play with "tall," "petite," and "curvy" Barbie dolls. The new line also includes a wider range of skin tones...Read more
New Barbie Dolls Released By Mattel; 2016 Collection Features 4 Body Types And ...International Business Times, January 28th
Mattel has given Barbie a makeover and we're totally digging it. On Thursday, the toy company unveiled the 2016 evolution of their doll — a line that will now include four body types, seven skins tones, 22 eyes colors and 24 hairstyles. "We are...Read more