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.
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Batman 1966 Catwoman Barbie Collector DollCaped Crusades, July 12th
From the collector doll line by Mattel, Barbie depicts Catwoman from the classic 1966 Batman television series. Designed by Bill Greening, this Catwoman Barbie doll is dressed in the classic 1966 outfit. The doll comes with a removable mask, cat ears...Read more
Barbie, abiti vintage e vecchi giocattoli: alla Maddalena va di scena "Repessin"Il Secolo XIX, July 12th
Genova - Vestiti e borse vintage, sci, giocattoli e barbie da collezione. Di tutto e di più al mercatino dell'usato della Maddalena, per "Repessin" l'iniziativa organizzata dall'Associazione Abitanti Maddalena e arrivata alla sua seconda edizione. «Non...Read more
Auctioning off a glamour girlStuff.co.nz, July 11th
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A week before the mastThe Australian, July 11th
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Blackbirds have gone on their way, making a big move toward new adventureEnterprise-Record, July 10th
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Christwood's Atrium Gallery features Robert Warrens' whimisical wetlands worksThe Times-Picayune, July 10th
A portion of the vast amount of paintings in the wetlands collection is now on display at The Atrium Gallery, part of the Christwood Retirement Community in Covington. Entitled "The Wetlands," the exhibition will open officially with a .... Up for...Read more
Going off the beaten track to find Europe's less-heralded museumsMontreal Gazette, July 8th
After touring the exhausting Prague Castle (and just past its exit gate), it's a refreshingly light attraction - a vast collection of all things Barbie, dating back to 1959, with social commentary. Looking at the buxom first-edition figure, you can...Read more
500 Barbies holds special memories for collectorHerald-Mail Media, June 15th
And while she continues to add to her collection with the latest Barbie dolls — right now it's the Mad Men's Barbie — she has some ideas of her own when it comes to new designs. “I would love to see Mattel make a plus-size Barbie,” she said. “Barbie...Read more