Fashion Queen Barbie
Debut: 1963. Barbie came with three wigs (or just a glamorous turban).
Flying Hero Barbie
Debut: 1996. "Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... Flying Hero Barbie! Dressed in a hot pink superhero suit and shimmering cape, Flying Hero Barbie is here to save the day! And while she performs her rescuing adventures she's accompanied by fun flashing lights and superpower sound effects.
"Barbie has a new look!"
As the 1990s get under way, Mattel releases seemingly endless doll lines of Barbie and friends with trendy themes and faddish, rather off-beat clothing and big hair styles. These include such dolls as 199o's Barbie & the Beat (above left), Dance Club Barbie (above right), Western Fun Barbie (below left), Barbie and the All Stars (below center), and 1991's All American Barbie (below right).
Star Trek Barbie & Ken
Debut: 1996. "Beam me up, Barbie!" This is the first of several collector's sets featuring Barbie and Ken as iconic couples from television and movies. Follow-up Barbie & Ken sets will include The Addams Family (below left), The X-Files (below center), and The Munsters (below right).
Teen Fun Skipper
Debut: 1988. Officially labeled "Teen Sister of Barbie," Skipper is now a popular high schooler, in fact she is the "most popular teen in school," and is so popular she gets elected Homecoming Queen by her teenage peers in 1989! For the first time a Black Skipper is released, plus a new brunette friend, Courtney, and a cute boyfriend, Kevin.
Debut: 2002. Scooby, Scooby-Doo, Where are you? With Barbie in the toyroom that's where!
Mattel and the Cartoon Network unite with the Scooby-Doo Barbie line, featuring Barbie as Daphne, Skipper as Velma, and Ken working double-time as Fred and Shaggy. Each doll came with a Scooby-Doo. "Ruh-Roh!"
Debut: 1972. "There she is, Miss America. There she is, your ideal... " Two iconic females become one when Mattel introducs Barbie as Miss America, in the form of a brunette Walk Lively Barbie or blonde Quick Curl Barbie. (The Miss America Pageant was at its popularity peak in the 1970s, and yes, little girls did once dream of winning that coveted beauty title, wearing the diamond crown, walking the runway, and waving to the adoring crowd--elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wrist).
Debut: 1995. Kelly is the even younger sister of Barbie, Skipper and Stacie. From 1995 to 2010, she is produced with countless play friends in various themed fashions in both a best-selling Li'l Friends and Kelly Club line.
Twist 'n Turn Barbie
Debut: 1967. The Queen of Fashion Dolls received her first total transformation and entered the MODern era when Mattel introduced the Twist 'n Turn Barbie! She has big, blue eyes with real rooted lashes, bee-stung lips and softer make-up. Her hair is styled long and straight with bangs (just like London's sensational supermodel Jean Shrimpton) and comes in four different colors: Summer Sand, Chocolate Bon-Bon, Go-Go Co-Co, and Sun Kissed. Best of all, this Barbie has "lifelike" bendable legs and a waist that swiveled back and forth (hence the "Twist 'n Turn"), making her more poseable than ever before.
Debut: 1968. In the year Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated Mattel helps break the color barrier by introducing Christie, Barbie doll's first black friend. First released as a Talking Christie, she remains Barbie's BBF (Best Black Friend) to this day and is regularly included in just about every doll line!
Debut: 1980. Despite having Barbie features and same height body, Mattel's Starr and her Springfield High teen friends--Kelley, Tracy, and boyfriend Shaun--aren't actually part of the Barbie World but I feel it's appropriate to include them because in my Barbie World they fit right in (I have them among my Barbie collection).
Peaches 'n Cream Barbie
Debut: 1985. I see on eBay the Peaches 'n Cream Barbie MIB is fetching high dollars (even the "My Favorite Barbie" reproduction from 2009 has gotten costly) but personally I don't care for this type of doll--with fluffy big gowns and flowing long hair of a traditional southern/suburban/debutante nature, including 1986's Dream Glow Barbie and 1984's Crystal Barbie (below). They remind me of Stepford Wives.
Sweet 16 Barbie
Debut: 1974. "Happy Birthday Sweet 16!" A big event in the doll world (with enormous publicity coverage) is Barbie's 16th birthday. To celebrate, Mattel creates a special doll: Sweet 16 Barbie.
Debut: 1979. "Put on her special lipstick! Press her back and make her kiss!" This gimmicky Barbie doll has a button on her back, when pushed, triggers her to pucker up and kiss with a kissing sound... SWAK!
Debut: 2001. Mattel releases the first of four Cher Barbie dolls, all wearing fashion ensembles by Bob Mackie (the superstar's favorite designer). The Cher doll has incredible likeness to her namesake and is wearing a slinky lavender and silver-accented gown, accessorized by a fabulous feather boa.
California Dream Barbie
Debut: 1988. "I wish they all could be California dolls..." Sand, surf and sun--Barbie and her friends are living the California dream! This popular California line brings back Barbie's best friend from years ago, Midge (still freckled-face as always), and introduces a cool new Hispanic friend, Teresa. Along with each doll came a vinyl record by The Beach Boys.
Debut: 2001. Barbie and Marilyn Monroe - two iconic blondes become one! Although "Barbie as Marilyn Monroe" was released in 1994 as part of the Hollywood Legends Collection, these two Timeless Treasure Barbie dolls were movie star Marilyn Monroe 100%! One had Marilyn in her How to Marry a Millionaire movie gown, plus swimsuit ensemble (above left); the other had Marilyn--dressed in the famous flesh-colored, body-hugging sequin gown with white fur stole--in which she sang "Happy Birthday Mr. President" to John F. Kennedy in 1962. Marilyn is my life-time idol and I love these dolls (and wish Mattel would've created more)!
A who's who of the major players in Barbie's family, friends and doll lines throughout the years. For fellow Barbie enthusiasts, I hope this illustrated timeline serves as a pop culture guide to the history of Mattel's "famous teenage fashion model doll," from her ponytail debut in 1959 to the mod Twist 'n Turn era, from the Malibu Sun Set to the glamorous Superstar era, from the new wave Rockers to the 1990s Totally Hair era, from collector editions aimed at adults to today's diverse Fashionistas Barbie dolls. I used photographs from my own collection to accompany each doll or doll line when possible; others are stock pictures and illustrations (e.g. catalog advertisements) found via on-line sites, such as Pinterest and Flickr (I do not own the copyright to those photographs).
(All page text copyright of ©David James Mansour and ©Beyond the Valley of the Barbie Dolls)
Kids of this era know some non-Barbies make ideal playmates in the pretend World of Barbie! For example: Liddle Kiddles (above left), so cute and little, are the perfect size to be Barbie babies or students for Teacher Barbie. War adventurer G.I. Joe (above center) makes an alternate boyfriend when Ken is missing (Joe thinks Ken is a pacifist and probably dodging the draft somewhere). The Sunshine Family (above right), although shorter in size, can be Barbie's Earth-hugging cousins living someplace on the West Coast. Don't be surprised if these dolls are packed alongside Barbies in a box found in storage from years gone by.
Debut: 1970. Groovy Brad is Ken's first African-American pal and the boyfriend of Christie or Julia (or both). He comes in a talking or non-talking version, and is becoming rare to find these days.
Fashion Photo Barbie
Debut: 1978. Fashion Photo Barbie, along with friends Christie and P.J. strike their poses by a remote control play camera connected to a wire in their dolls stand. Inside the doll an inner mechanism allows lifelike movements, resembling those of a high fashion model, like Cheryl Tiegs or Patti Hansen.
Debut: 1998. "You can make her 'dance' and play her 'guitar!'" Barbie forms another band, this time it's Beyond Pink with girlfriends, Teresa and Christie.
Debut: 1969. Quirky P.J. arrives on the scene as the New 'N Groovy Talking P.J. who speaks the latest slang, like "Wow! You're the grooviest!" For the next decade she will serve as Barbie's bestest friend (sorry Midge), and even challenge Barbie as the fashion doll favorite!
Rappin' Rockin' Barbie
Debut: 1992. Yo! Barbie and her posse--Ken, Christie, and Teresa--bust a move as rappin' rockin' hip-hop stars complete with boom boxes that actually play a jammin' beat!
Great Shape Barbie
Debut: 1984. "Let's get physical, physical... Let me hear your body talk." Also referred to as "Aerobic Barbie" the year's best-selling doll is inspired by the 1980s work-out fad, as she wears the common gym uniform of lyrca bodysuit, leg warmers and headband. Great Shape Barbie would reappear 26 years later with a starring role, opposite Animal Lovin' Ken, in the 2010 Disney/Pixar animated movie Toy Story 3 (below).
Amazing Nails Barbie
Debut: 2000. Barbie and glamorous heeled friends, Christie, Kayla and Lea, have amazing manicured nails and little girls could have them too as each doll came packaged with a set of child-size press-on nails. A year later the line transformed into Hollywood Nails (above right).
Debut: 1976. This lovely Barbie wears a white satin ballet costume with gold-trimmed tulle tutu and can twirl, twirl, twirl and do splits and high kicks in her dance routines. And yes, if you're wondering, that is young Brooke Shields on the cover of the Ballerina Barbie Colorforms kit.
Pan American Airlines Stewardess
Debut: 1966. "Coffee, tea, or Barbie?" Barbie is a doll of many careers. The Pan Am outfit is my favorite because I feel it epitomizes the excitement and glamour of a globe-traveling stewardess in the Swinging 1960s!
Jewel Girl Barbie
Debut: 2000. For the start of a new century Mattel introduces a new Barbie. Jewel Girl with the "Ever-Flex" waist, making her more flexible than ever, plus for the first time Barbie has a belly button!
Debut: 1991. "Shani means marvelous in the Swahii language... and marvelous she is" the back of Shani's box says; "With her friends Asha and Nichelle, Shani brings to life the special style and beauty of the African American woman. Each one is beautiful in her own way, with her own lovely skin shade and unique facial features. Their clothes, too, reflect the vivid colors and ethnic accents that showcase their exotic looks and fashion flair!" A part of the Barbie line, Shani and friends are produced from 1991 to 1994 (boyfriend Jamal joins in 1992).
Debut: 1988. Steven, a new black male character is introduced in 1988 as a member of the Island Fun Barbie line (above left). Ken now has a new best buddy and Christie has a new boyfriend (or perhaps with modern times, Barbie has a new boyfriend). Thus far, Steven's legacy is "the doll who only wears a swim suit" because he has never branched out from the Barbie swim lines!
Super Teen Skipper
Debut: 1979. For the first time since her debut in 1964, Barbie's kid sister gets a new tranformation! Now she's an active (skateboarding) teen with budding breasts and maturing face. Skipper also gets a new boyfriend named Scott, a cool roller skater with an awesome curly afro!
Debut: 1967. A "colored" version of Barbie's cousin Francie sold poorly upon release (probably because most white households of the times couldn't accept Barbie having an African-American relative). Now she is the most sought doll from Barbie's Mod Era!
Tracy & Todd
Debut: 1983. For once Barbie is a bridesmaid and not a bride when best friends Tracy and Todd tie the knot in 1983. Kid sister Skipper serves as the flower girl at the wedding ceremony.
The Best-Selling Barbie Doll Ever, Like Totally!
Bob Mackie Barbie
Debut: 1990. The Gold Barbie Doll (above left) marks the debut of legendary Hollywood fashion designer Bob Mackie's Barbie doll series. This will be the first of the fantasy, exotic, gorgeous, and expensive designer dolls aimed at die-hard adult collectors, which are still selling strong today (check out www.barbiecollection.com to see today's collector's dolls up for sale).
Debut: 2000. Elizabeth Taylor is one of my favorite movie stars, second only to Marilyn Monroe. I'm pleased with Mattel's stunning doll of the legendary actress. It's a beautiful likeness and those luminous violet-colored eyes - my, oh my. The next year the Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds doll was released (above right; White Diamonds is the name of her designer perfume). Liz dons a red AIDS Awareness Ribbon, appropriate because she was one of the first stars to speak out against AIDS, as Rock Hudson and other gay friends were succumbing to the disease in the 1980s.
Debut: 1977. Barbie's sparkling Superstar era begins in 1977 when Mattel gives her a big makeover, instantly evoking America's golden girl Farrah Fawcett (below right). This new look consists of larger blue eyes, more widely-set cheekbones, a dimpled smile, fluffy blonde hair, and an iconic bent-at-elbows arm pose (this look remains well into the 1990s). Barbie is now one of the "beautiful people," a glamorous superstar (a movie Star or a supermodel or both), living in the land of superstars (SoCalifornia) and driving her pink SuperVette (below left) to Hollywood parties and movie premieres!
Growing Up Skipper
Debut: 1974. Barbie's kid sister can be two dolls in one: She is a flat-chested pre-teen as one doll, but becomes the "other" doll by a turn of the arm, causing her to grow taller, develop a bustline, and emerge into a teenager. This unusual Skipper is one of the more controversial dolls in Barbie history, along with "Math Class is Tough" Barbie and Earring Magic Ken.
Debut: 1967. Francie's best chum is this ultramod English lass who arrived on scene from London's Carnaby Street and who wore her hair in a just-so-fab asymmetrical bob.
Barbie with Growin' Pretty Hair
Debut: 1971. To the delight of little future hairdressers, Barbie and Francie have retractable hair that could be lengthened or shortened, along with fancy hairpiece accessories!
Ski Fun Barbie
Debut: 1992. Chic skiers Barbie and Midge, along with snowboarder Ken hit the snowy slopes of Aspen, Vail, Tahoe, or your wintry suburban backyard for ski fun! This popular line has quite a few accessories, including a Ski Shop Boutique (below left), Chocolate Shop (below right), Snowmobile, and Blizzard Horse with Sleigh.
Debut: 1994. Appealing to the adult collector, the Hollywood Legends collection stars Barbie as classic actresses in roles from the great films. Barbie as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (above left), Maria Von Trapp in The Sound of Music (above center, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (above right), Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (below left), and Marilyn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (below right) are the best-known of this series.
Beverly Hills, 90210
Debut: 1992. Mattel produces five Barbie doll-sized versions of the most popular characters from TV's hottest teen show, Beverly HIlls, 90210: Brandon Walsh (Jason Priestly), Brenda Walsh (Shannen Doherty), Donna Martin (Tori Spelling), Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), and Dylan McKay (Luke Perry). This doll line sells very well, and also includes a Peach Pit Snack Shop playset, a 4x4 Cruiser vehicle, and individual fashion sets.
Debut: 1961. "Ken. He's a doll!" The cute boy-next-door is introduced as Barbie's boyfriend. I'm proud to admit I share the same birth year as Ken, so "he's my doll" too!
Elvis, Lucy, and Audrey will be the first of numerous celebrities from movies, television, music, and pop culture to be incarnated by Mattel as Barbie dolls in collector edition gift sets. To keep this timeline from becoming bogged down I'll only add those I feel most significant or my own personal favorites, listing them the initial year of release.
Debut: 1998. I was thrilled when Mattel made Barbie dolls in two different gift sets of one of my all-time favorite actresses and favorite movies, Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. One had lovely Audrey dressed in Holly's iconic black gown, the other in the delightful "Pink Princess" party fashion. Sophisticated and elegant were these, just like Hepburn herself. I had to buy them both! In 2013, Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina and Roman Holiday dolls were released.
Jam 'n Glam Barbie
Debut: 2001. "Who's ready to rock?!" Barbie forms another girl band and this time it's a rock trio with current BFFs Teresa and Christie. Unique to the dolls is their "twist 'n turn" hair - you can change their hair color by twisting the top of the head (Barbie goes from purple to blonde, Teresa goes from pink to brown, and Christie goes from blue to black).
40th Anniversary Barbie
Debut: 1999. Happy Birthday Barbie, you don't look a day over 19! 1959 meets 1999 as Barbie wears a black flock bodice shimmering with silvery glitter nostalgically reminiscent of her original striped-pattern bathing suit. A miniature replica of the original 1959 Barbie doll and package is included and a bouquet of 40 pink roses. Two years later in 2001, Barbie's beau would be honored with the 40th Anniversary Ken (above right). He had his own original 1961 Ken doll too!
Dream Date Barbie
Debut: 1983. "She's everybody's dream date!" Superstar Barbie is at her 1980s most glamorous dressed in an off-the-shoulder evening gown with sequin top and big pink ruffles. Dapper in a tuxedo is Barbie's Dream Date Ken... and Dream Date P.J. is available too (upper right)!
Gold Medal Barbie
Debut: 1975. Just in time for the upcoming Bicentennial Olympics, this line of dolls has Barbie, Ken, P.J. and even little Skipper competing in such athletic events as, skiing, figure skating, swimming, and gymnastics.
Debut: 1988. The first Barbie sold as a physician (Barbies were always nurses prior to this), and of course, her uniform tranforms into an evening gown for after hours fun! Nurse Whitney is on hand to assist Dr. Barbie.
Surf City Barbie
Debut: 2001. My favorite Barbie swim suit line of the 2000s. I also like this one because redhead Midge is included, along with Barbie, Ken, Teresa, Kira, Christie, and Steven (Midge has been AWOL from Barbie's World since the early-1990s (and she still has her trademark freckles; below left).
Debut: 1996. Skipper is all grown up! Mentally and physically, as she is now sixteen, taller, and has breasts (still not as large as big sister Barbie's breast). When Skipper is not being a "Cool Sitter" or "Totally Yo-Yo" she likes to hang out at the beach with BFFs, brunette Courtney (above left) and African-American Nikki (above right).
Color Magic Barbie
Debut: 1966. Definitely a doll for future hairdressers! "Color crystals" allows you to change Barbie's hair color with four shades: Golden Blonde, Scarlet Flame, Midnight, and Ruby Red.
Here's a nod to three iconic Barbie play set accessories of the 1970s: The Country Camper, "the swinginest camper on wheels" (Debut: 1973; above), the Barbie Friend Ship, a United Airlines airplane which has Barbie as stewardess and Ken as pilot (Debut: 1973; below left); and the Barbie Town House, 3-stories (WOW!) with a real working elevator (Debut: 1974; below right). I'm sure if you played with Barbies back in the day you had at least one of these if not all three!
Debut: 1963. The fresh-face, freckled Midge is Barbie's first best friend, confidante and sidekick. BFF Midge would appear and reappear throughout Barbie's history.
Debut: 1986. "...three, two, one...Lift off!" 1980s Barbie is a adventurous yet glamorous space girl in a glitter and lurex pink space uniform. She's truly out of this world!
Debut: 1992. After a vacation of snow skiing fun, Barbie and friends return to warmer climate, trade the skiwear for skimpy spandex shorts and hip-hugging fanny packs, and partake in the latest sports rage, Rollerblading. Barbie's "flicker 'n flash" skates actually sparked, alarming parents as a potential fire starter. This led to a production halt by Mattel, along with a recall.
By the mid-1990s Barbie collecting among adults was huge! Realizing these collector's would pay higher dollar for speciality Barbies, Mattel produced more expensive, higher quality and detailed dolls labeled "collector editions." These were commonly displayed in private collections, placed on shelves, never removed from the box, and never-ever allowed to be played with by a child. Barbie united with many popular American brands. Some of these were so successful they had doll lines with continuous editions. The most notable of these were Harley Davidson Barbie (1996, above left), NASCAR Barbie (1998, above center), and Coca-Cola Barbie (2000, above right).
Pretty Changes Barbie
Debut: 1979. This pretty doll with unusual short hair for the Superstar Barbie era comes with two wigs and various ways of redoing her wardrobe so you can change her alter ego!
Tutti & Todd
Debut: 1966. Tutti and Todd are Barbie and Skipper's tiny twin siblings. Their playmates include towhead Chris and Family Affair's Buffy and Mrs. Beasley (below right).
Debut: 1992. Stacie is the tiny sister of Barbie and Skipper. During her 1990s production Stacie's three pals included redhead Whitney, African-American Janet, and twin brother Todd. She is still around today with a more modern look (above right) but twin brother Todd is out of the picture.
Roller Skating Barbie
Debut: 1980. Barbie does an awesome job capturing the hottest trends of the early-80s. Roller disco is sizzling hot ("toot, toot") so first up wis Roller Skating Barbie and Ken, surely inspired by 1980's roller boogie movie, Xanadu, starring Olivia Newton-John (upper right). Fads to follow include disco, designer jeans, and aerobics in the form of 1981's Disco Barbie (bottom left), 1982's Fashion Jeans Barbie (bottom center), and 1984's Great Shapes Barbie (bottom right). I was hoping for a Valley Girl Barbie but I guess every 1980s Barbie is a Valley Girl... fer shur, like, totally.
Debut: 1977. Aaarrrggghhh! It's the attack of the 50-foot Barbie! Actually more like the 18-inch Supersize Barbie but don't worry, she's too busy posing glamorous to be attacking anyone.
The gang from Beverly Hills aren't the only celebrity friends of Barbie in the 1990s, as if! Other popular character dolls include a trio of teen queens from Clueless--Cher, Dionne and Amber (above left); superstar twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen of Full House fame (above right); rap idol MC Hammer (below left); TV and recording star Brandy Norwood (below center); and talk show host Rosie O'Donnell (below right).
Debut: 1994. Bedtime Barbie has a soft body that makes her ideal for little sleepyheads to snuggle with. Warm water closes her eyes giving her the appearance of sleeping (above right).
Debut: 1964. Allan is Ken's best buddy and Midge's boyfriend. He and Midge double-date with Barbie and Ken!
Donny & Marie
Debut: 1977. Sibling teen idols Donny & Marie Osmond are riding high in popularity with young America, even starring in a popular variety ABC-TV show, so it's ideal they became the next celebrity doll friends of Barbie in 1977 (Donny's doll even has his trademark purple socks)!
Debut: 1981. In the early-80s country-western is hotter than a coyote in a Texas Hetwave as Urban Cowboy heats up the big screen, Dallas sizzles on the small screen, Dolly and Kenny blaze up the Top 40, and Western Barbie gallops out of the toy stores! Along with this cowboy-booted beauty is Western Ken (looking a lot like J.R. Ewing himself), Western Skipper, and a palimino horse appropriately called Dallas. Western Barbie has a button on her back that makes her wink, "Howdy Pardner!" when pushed.
Debut: 1989. Jazzie is the totally cool teen cousin of Barbie and enjoys a bit of popularity in the late-80s and early-90s. African-American Stacie and redhead Chelsie are Jazzie's two best girlfriends and Dude--looking a lot like Rocker Derek--is her boyfriend (below).
Debut: 1967. The super-popular British teenage model is a celebrity friend of Francie and Casey, and came with her own line of fashions and accessories.
Barbie for President
Debut: 1992. Look out Bill Clinton and George Bush! Barbie makes her presidential bid! This was the doll that I gave a well-received makeover, titled "Blond Ambition" ("Barbie undergoes politically correct makeover for campaign"), for the Kansas City Star in September 1992 (above right). Did Barbie win? Let's just say she got my vote!
Debut: 1978. Superstar Barbie needs a dream date to share her superstardom and yesterday's Malibu Ken and Mod Hair Ken are just not superstar material! On January 1, 1978, blond Superstar Ken makes the scene ("Barbie doll's boyfriend with the movie star look!"). This handsome new Ken has a body that's more muscular than ever and is believed to be inspired by the hottest hunk in Hollywood, Robert Redford (above right)!.
Fashion Model Collection
Debut: 2000. The Barbie Fashion Model Collection is a line of dolls aimed at the adult collector, and primarily sold via the Barbiecollector.com website. The dolls in the collection are all made from a material called Silkstone, a durable vinyl material that simulates the silky feel and weight of porcelain. The dolls feature the retro Barbie face, with a variety of skin tones, hair colors, and sophisticated fashion ensembles.
Debut: 1969. This best-selling doll is based on Diahann Carroll's Julia Baker, a beautiful nurse on the TV sitcom Julia, the first TV show to depict a black female regular as an educated and independent professional. There is both a talking and non-talking version of Julia.
Happy Family Midge
Debut: 2003. Barbie's best friend Midge gets pregnant and becomes the most controversial Barbie doll of the 2000s! Why the controversy? Because wholesome Midge, now happy with partner Alan, is sold "pregnant" with Nikki, a tiny baby inside her magnetic removable womb/belly (above center), and the mother-to-be isn't wearing a wedding ring. (Oh, the shame!) With or without a ring, critics site "Pregnant Midge" as inappropriate for children and promotes teenage pregnancy. This leads to many retail stores, such as Wal-Mart, to pull the doll off their shelves. Mattel would fix the wedding ring issue (yes, Alan is her husband) and Wal-Mart later sold a more family-friendly version of Happy Family Midge--post-pregnancy with baby Nikki already delivered.
Western Stampin' Barbie
Debut: 1993. At the height of the kids' ink stamping craze of the 1990s stomps fringe-adorned Western Stampin' Barbie, Ken and Tara Lynn--Barbie's good-looking new friend from Texas with the dark hair and blue eyes. Attached to their cowboy boots are spurs that are actually stampers that roll when the dolls walk, leaving a trail of western designs (and upsetting moms when an ink trail is streaked across household floors)!
Sunsational Malibu Black Ken
Debut: 1982. As Barbie became a black doll in 1980, so did Ken in 1982 with the introduction of a black Ken with a rooted Afro in the Sunsational Malibu Barbie line. From this point on a black Ken doll can be an option, such as 1984's Crystal Ken (upper right).
Swirl Ponytail Barbie
Debut: 1964. Barbie doll has a new elegant hairstyle! It's a soft ponytail sweep (no bangs) found in a variety of colors: blonde, brunette, titian, and shades of platinum blonde and lemon yellow.
Mod Hair Ken
Debut: 1972. "Can you dig it?" Ken gets hip to the times with a long choppy-shag made of real hair while decked out in a flocked beard, mustache and sideburns that are changeable. In 1975 the Now Look Ken gets released with even longer shoulder-length hair but no facial hair (above right).
Debut: 1991. Technically not Barbie dolls but kids commonly play with Mattel's Disney Princesses with their Barbies (they share the same body style) and I guarantee you that one or two can be found in a lot of previously owned Barbie dolls from the 1990s and on (I have several posed among my own Barbie collection). Mattel first began producing dolls based on classic Walt Disney animated movies in 1991 with Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. The next year came Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin, followed by Snow White in 1993. Every Disney princess (and her fairy tale beau) have been produced since and of course, are often best-selling doll lines of the year.
Barbie as Wonder Woman
Debut: 2000. Wonder Woman, or Wonder Woman became Barbie, for the first time in 2000 with a classic collector's edition (above left). There's been a few Barbie versions of the iconic superheroine since, most notably 2004's doll based on the DC comics cartoon (above center) and 2017's doll based on the big screen adaptation, starring Gal Gadot (above right).
Debut: 1980. Black Barbie in reality is the first colored Barbie doll ever. Black dolls before were friends of Barbie (Christie, Cara, Julia) but now Barbie herself is black, beautiful and dynamite! Many future doll lines would offer girls a choice of not only a white Barbie but Barbies of ethnic backgrounds: African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American.
My Scene Barbie
Debut: 2002. It's a no-brainer to figure-out Mattel created the My Scene Barbie line to compete with MGA Entertainment's amazingly popular Bratz (below right), the first fashion dolls in decades to successfully compete with Barbie (at one time the Bratz doll section in toy stores was at least the same size if not larger than Barbie's). Like Bratz, the My Scene line had Barbie and friends, including movie star Lindsay Lohan (bottom left), tarted-up with exaggerated lips and big, maked-up cake eyes, along with trendy body-baring fashions to appeal to tween market (a market that was out-growing "normal" Barbies at a younger age). Mattel stopped selling the My Scene dolls in the U.S. in 2008 but continued to release them in other countries until 2011.
Jewel Secrets Whitney
Debut: 1987. Beautiful blue-eyed, brunette Whitney, whom I think is Barbie's most loveliest friend of the 1980s, is introduced in the Jewel Secrets line. She'd hang around in the World of Barbie for the rest of the 1980s, in the form of both 1988's Perfume Pretty Whitney (above right) and Nurse Whitney, and 1989's Style Magic Whitney (above center).
Debut: 1986. Malibu Barbie evolves into Tropical Barbie (I guess she ditched California for Hawaii). Tropical Barbie's blonde hair is the longest it's been thus far and sun-streaked gorgeous too! Ken and Skipper are here for tropic island leisure, along with a new Asian friend named Miko. Every year since a new set of inexpensive swimsuit dolls will be released with such names as Hawaiian Fun, Beach Blast, Glitter Beach, Sun Jewel, Palm Beach, and Surf City.
Debut: 1969. Straight from the kid favorite film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang comes beautiful Truly Scrumptious as Barbie's new friend (she comes in both a talking version and non-talking version)! Today, these dolls are some of the most coveted by collector's, with a price tag up to $600+ mint-in-the-box. Truly Scrumptious is played by Sally Ann Howes in the movie (upper right).
My First Barbie
Debut: 1981. For the youngest of Barbie fans comes My First Barbie. This doll has smooth straight legs and basic fashions that are easy to put on. A perennial best-seller, she's still on the market in various forms to this day. Can you guess who the little girl in the original ad is (top center). I'll give you a hint: "They're heeere."
Debut: 1988. Barbie's first Hispanic friend debuts in two lines in 1988: Island Fun (above left) and California Dream (above center). Teresa commonly appears as a sidekick of Barbie's through the years and is still produced today (such as the trio above right).
Debut: 1997. Barbie's first physically-challenged friend is an instant hit, and praised by disability advocates for bringing visibility and representation to wheelchair users. However, Becky gets discontinued by Mattel sooner than expected. The reason? Becky’s wheelchair doesn't fit through the doors of the Barbie Dreamhouse — or squeeze inside the house’s elevator, either. This ignites another Barbie controversy because instead of redesigning the Dreamhouse to accommodate handicap Becky Mattel just gets rid of her, which upsets the disability advocates.
Dramatic New Living Barbie
Debut: 1970. The Dramatic New Living Barbie has poseability plus! Barbie can bend her knees, ankles, elbows and wrist, and swivel at the waist with her new body!
Quick Curl Barbie
Debut: 1972. The big hit of the Barbie world in 1973 is this doll whose special locks can go from straight to curly with a twist of a plastic curling wand. The secret? Quick Curl Barbie has tiny wire fibers rooted into the strands of her hair, giving it extra styleability! A new redhead friend named Kelley is introduced with this line,
Earring Magic Ken
Debut: 1993. Earring Magic Ken features Barbie's boyfriend with an updated look: frosted-blond highlights and a wardrobe comprised of a lavender mesh half-top, lavender leather vest, a necklace with a circular charm and, as the name indicates, an earring in his left ear. Observers quickly note the resemblance of Earring Magic Ken to a stereotypical homosexual of the era, from the purple clothes to the earring to the necklace, which is described as a "chrome cock ring." Gay men buy the doll in record numbers, making him the best-selling Ken Doll of all-time! Despite this commercial success, criticism from American conservatives lead Mattel to pull "Gay Ken, aka "Cock Ring Ken," off toy store shelves in the summer of 1993, making him one of the most controversial dolls in Barbie history!
"Solo in the Spotlight"
Debut: 1960. The elegant fitted black shimmering sheath gown that flairs at the hem... in my opinion, I think of this as Barbie doll's most iconic fashion outfit!
Dolls of the World
Debut: 1980. Barbie goes international! 1980 offers the release of the Dolls of the World series, which has Barbie native to countries from all four corners of the world, dressed in native costume and accessories. First in the line are Italian Barbie (looking a bit like Sophia Loren), Parisian Barbie, and British Royal Barbie. The introduction of World Barbie Dolls will become an annual tradition into the 2010s (below).
Debut: 1999. The Generation Girl doll line features Barbie and six multi-cultural friends from around the world: Tori from Australia, Nichelle from New York, Mari from Japan, Ana from Central America, Lara from France, and the only male, Blaine from (not quite sure but I believe he's a surfer from Australia). The group attends a NYC-based international school, where they share each other's cultural interests. If I was Ken I'd keep an eye on that Blaine fellow (fast forward to 2004).
American Girl Barbie
Debut: 1965. Another new hairdo for Barbie! This time it's chic bobbed hair remindful of Jackie Kennedy, and like the Swirl Ponytail before her, Barbie's hair comes in a variety of shades. This is the first Barbie doll to feature bendable knees.
Skooter & Ricky
Debut: 1965. Freckled-faced tomboy Skooter is Skipper's first best friend and Ricky is Skipper's first boyfriend (even though she wasn't allowed to go on dates like her big sister Barbie).
Sport & Shave Ken
Debut: 1980. In the era of the macho man, Mattel introduces this manly Ken who can shave and hasthe most muscular of bodies for all kinds of sporting activities (his biceps bulge like Mattel's earlier action figure Big Jim). This Ken has so much testosterone you wonder if there's a carpet of chest hair under his T-shirt! Another best-selling Ken of the early-80s was All Star Ken from 1982 who also had bulging muscles (pictured above right with Sport & Shave Ken).
Debut: 1994. This line of outdoorsy Barbie dolls features Barbie, Ken, Midge, Teresa and Skipper--along with camping gear, including backpacks that transformed into glow-in-the-dark sleeping bags. What I like about this one is Teresa has blonde hair (above right), unusual considering most of the Hispanic Teresa dolls of the era have typical dark hair. I think she is really pretty and still stands out today.
Debut: 1995. Barbie unites with Baywatch and somehow it seems appropriate, you know with all that blonde and plastic. Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson (top right), looking a lot like an actual Barbie, is America's biggest sex symbol of the 1990s. She plays C.J. Parker on the popular television show about a group of attractive lifeguards who patrol Malibu Beach in L.A.
"But what do I do with my old Barbie?" questions a thrilled pre-Brady Bunch Maureen McCormick on the TV commercial for the Twist 'n Turn Barbie (above). According to Mattel, the answer is "just as easy as one (take your old doll to the nearest toy store), two (along with $1.50), and three (and trade her for the new Twist 'n Turn Barbie)." More than one million Barbies are returned, and the old stiff-legged dolls are donated to various children's charities or destroyed. This trade-in program will cause the first Barbie dolls to become scarce. The Barbie Ponytail #1 and Barbie Ponytail #2 are currently fetching over $5,000 to over $10,000 mint-in-box!
The Heart Family
Debut: 1985. "Fun is being part of a family that's all Heart." The prolific Heart Family line of dolls and accessories are produced from 1985 to 1990. The Hearts are originally introduced as Barbie's friends but never quite become part of the Barbie doll line in most collector's eyes. Also available are an African-American Heart Family (above right) and Grandma and Grandpa Heart.
Live Action Barbie
Debut: 1970. Go-Go GROOVY is the Live Action Barbie group: Barbie, Ken, P.J., and Christie! They swivel at the hips--dancing back and forth, while shaking their far-out fringe to the rhythm of a bubblegum rock tune. Their popularity spawns a slew of action Barbie lines, notably 1971's Walk Lively Barbie, which introduces a new brunette girlfriend for Barbie named Steffie (bottom left); Busy Barbie (bottom center); and 1974's Free Movin' Barbie, which introduces two new African-American friends, Cara and Curtis (far right).
Debut: 1985. Barbie is a Yuppie executive by day--complete with her own credit card, business portfolio and calculator--and a glamorous party girl by night. When does she ever sleep? Oh, wait it's the 1980s... sniff, sniff (wink, wink).
Debut: 1993. One of the better-selling Barbies of the year. The thing I read most about her today is how many kids thought her Troll-printed pants were ugly. I don't have a Troll Barbie in my collection but I do have a Troll and a Barbie in my collection (above right)... ;)
Jewel Hair Mermaid
Debut: 1996. Barbie (along with Teresa and Midge) is now a mermaid and has the longest hair EVER!
Debut: 1961. Miss Barbie with a shorter round bouffant, nicknamed the "bubblecut." This represents the first major hairstyle change for Barbie doll. (I think she's remindful of Liz Taylor or Doris Day, Hollywood's top box-office stars of the era!)
Legend has it, gorgeous Sharon Tate is the real-life inspiration for the Malibu Barbie. She played a surfer girl named "Malibu" in the 1967 film comedy Don't Make Waves (above left). In 1969, the actress fell victim to the Charles Manson Family in the grisly "Helter Skelter" murders.
Totally Hair Barbie
Debut: 1992. Perms, crimps, bangs sprayed high to the sky...For the early-90s it's all about having the BIGGEST hair and Totally Hair Barbie's hair is not only big but extra-long--reaching all the way to her toes! From 1992 to 1995, more than ten million Totally Hair Barbie dolls were sold worldwide, making this the best-selling Barbie doll in Mattel's history!
Debut: 1986. When lovely Miko is introduced in the Tropical Barbie line she becomes Barbie doll's first Asian friend (above left). 1986 also saw another Asian friend debut named Dana as a member of Barbie and the Rockers. Later prominent Asian friends would include Kira (above center) and today's current Lea (above right).
Debut: 1968. "I think mini-skirts are smashing!" At the peak of England's Mod Invasion Barbie get a lovely British chum, Talking Stacey. She speaks in a groovy British accent and comes as either a blonde or redhead. There is a non-talking version of Stacey as well.
Animal Lovin' Barbie
Debut: 1989. It's safari garb and jungle animal friends for Barbie, Ken, and new Asian friend, Nikki. Animal Lovin' Ken, dressed in his safari uniform comprised of blue leopard-print shirt, blue pleated and cuffed shorts, blue ascot tie and blue loafers, will later star in 2010's Toy Story 3 movie, a role that makes this particular Ken a pop culture icon.
Ponytail Barbie #1
Debut: 1959. Mattel Toy's teenage fashion model, Barbara Millicent Roberts, called simply Barbie, debuts on March 9, 1959 (she's a Pisces). Dressed in her black-and-white bathing suit she quickly becomes the most iconic doll in toy history!
Debut: 1966. Francie is Barbie's "MOD'ern' younger cousin (about age 15). She is one of the most popular Barbie dolls during the Mod 1960s era, and is noted for groovy fashions, such as splashy bold colors, mini dresses with geometric shapes, and kicky go-go boots!
Debut: 1968. Barbie talks! A pull string on her back allows Miss Barbie to speak "many swinging things," such as "I love being a fashion model" and "What shall I wear to the prom?." Her success as a talker lasts four years with new talking friends added--Christie, Stacey, P.J., Truly Scrumptious, Julia--and boyfriend Ken too!
Millennium Princess Barbie
Debut: 1999. The beautiful Millennium Princess Barbie doll, holding a crystal ball keepsake ornament, is here to welcome the new year 2000 ... and the new century! I didn't get her for my collection (I guess I was to busy partying "like it's 1999") but I was gifted by a salon client with the Millennium Princess Ornament from Hallmark, which I still hang on my Christmas tree today (above right).
"There's one life, so it's time to open up your closet. Life's not worth a damn 'til you can say, 'Hey world, I am what I am!'"
Shave 'n Style Ken
Debut: 1999. Reminiscent of 1980's Sport & Shave Ken this modern update is a cool-looking blond dude with a beard that magically vanishes for a clean-cut look with a little hot water and a plastic razor!
Debut: 1969. After mysteriously MIA since 1967, Ken reappears as a Talking Ken sporting a good-looking new look (this is the first Ken I played with as a child). He is now more handsome (I think he resembles Major Tony Nelson of TV's I Dream of Jeannie) and more muscular too!
Barbie and the Rockers
Debut: 1986. In the neon-glow of the MTV generation, Barbie forms a rad new wave band, The Rockers, along with four awesome new friends, Dee, Dana, Diva, and Derek. Boyfriend Ken, sporting a blond mullet, silver dust jacket, and a pink electric guitar joins the band a year later.
Golden Dream Barbie
Debut: 1981. Barbie's Superstar era glitters on with the release of Golden Dream Barbie, the year's top-selling doll.
Debut: 2002. Barbie and three new girlfriends--black Asha, brunette Drew, and redhead Kenzie (above right) form a crime-sleuthing girl gang.
Debut: 2001. Barbie stars in her first movie, The Nutcracker, which would be the first of countless Barbie DVD/doll lines. Every year since, a Barbie movie (or two or more), based on classic fairy tales or original fantasy adventures, are released with coinciding dolls and a toy trunk-load of accessories. (There's so much that even I, an avid Barbie buyer, can't keep up so I just buy what dolls catch my fancy).
Sun Lovin' Malibu Barbie
Debut: 1978. "The doll with the peek-a-boo tan!" This newest line of Malibu Barbie and friends have real tan lines under their swimsuits!
I salute my own Barbie and the Rockers set (displayed in my collection above). Receiving these six dolls as a birthday present in 1987 ignited a passion for Barbie collecting that continues to this day.
Barbie Loves Lucy!
Debut: 1998. From 1998 to 2011, Mattel produces 23 different gift sets in this popular collector series, beginning with "Lucy Ball as Lucy Ricardo" in 1998 (above right) and ending with the I Love Lucy Lucy and Ricky set. Most of these are centered around Lucille's 1950s TV sitcom I Love Lucy, showcasing the most memorable episodes.
All the world is waiting for you
and the power you possess.
In your satin tights
fighting for our rights
And the old red white and blue!"
~ Theme from TV's Wonder Woman, starring Lynda Carter (left)
Debut: 1971. Known as "The Sun Set," Malibu Barbie and her Malibu friends reflect the easygoing, laid-back, sun-loving California attitude. They have golden tans, sun-streaked blonde hair, and cool beach accessories, like a Beach Bus camper, and a groovy daisy-covered dune buggy called the Sun-n-Fun Buggy. Wildly successful, the Malibu series stays around for several years and to this day, inspires Mattel's annual introduction of a new Barbie bathing-suit line (e.g. Tropical Barbie and Beach Blast Barbie).
Debut: 1994. "Barbie is a perfect 10!" The most flexible Barbie ever (at least up to 1994). She can perform stunts and splits just like a real gymnast!
Barbie Doll, Superstar!
Hey, Barbie! What's your scene?
Barbie Loves Elvis
Debut: 1997. Elvis Presley meets his number one fan... my mom, Rose Mansour! Actually it's Miss Barbie dressed as an adoring autograph-seeking fan during a 1950's Elvis concert (appropriately she's styled after the original 1959 Barbie doll). This special gift set is the first to feature Elvis as a Barbie doll but it won't be the last as there will be several more released in the following years.
Debut: 1991. United Colors of Benetton - this marks the first time Mattel's Barbie partners with a trendy fashion brand, the global clothing retailer based in Ponzano Veneto, Italy, but it won't be the last.
Teen Talk Barbie
Debut: 1992. Teen Talk Barbie dolls contain a voice box programmed with a random assortment of four phrases out of 270 possibilities, including "Will we ever have enough clothes?," "I love shopping!," "Okay, meet me at the mall!," and “Math class is tough!” It's the "Math class" phrase that ignites a firestorm of controversy after educators including the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics object to it as detrimental to the effort to encourage girls to study math and science, particularly in association with the phrases about shopping. Mattel later apologizes and removes the offending phrase from future Teen Talk dolls. Today, the Teen Talk Barbie is regularly listed as one of the "Most Controversial Barbies Ever," and if you're one of the owners of the estimated 3,500 dolls who speak the "Math class" phrase, consider yourself lucky, the current collector's price is around $500!
Debut: 1964. Skipper is Barbie's kid sister of grade school age. Initially she came as both a blonde or brunette before the common fair-haired Skipper of latter years.
Glitter Hair Barbie
Debut: 1993. On the heels of the phenomenally best-selling Totally Hair Barbie (the best-selling Barbie in history) come Glitter Hair Barbie. She has as equally long hair as Totally Hair Barbie and her gimmick is you could streak sparkly glitter in her hair. Cool, yes, but she won't be quite the best-seller Totally Hair Barbie was!
Barbie and the Sensations
Debut: 1988. The Sensations has Barbie doll and three new girl friends with "B" names--Becky, Belinda, and Bopsy--as a 1950s style girl group complete with poodle skirts, saddle shoes, cat eye glasses, and ponytails!
Happy Holidays Barbie
Debut: 1989. The immediate popularity of the first Happy Holidays Barbie (below center) for Christmas 1989 comes as a surprise for Mattel. To Mattel's surprise the doll flies off the toy shelves, rapidly selling-out across the nation, and becomes hard-to-find. Every year since a Happy Holidays Barbie--dressed in an elaborate holiday-themed gown--is released, in abundance, of course, with a higher retail priced aimed specifically at adult collector's.
The Hottest Group in Town!
Butterfly Art Barbie
Debut: 1999. I always think of this one as "Tramp Barbie." Perhaps it's because of the skimpy crochet bikini top, or the short Daisy Duke skirt with slit, or the wild crimped long hair, or the butterfly tattoo on the tummy. (In 1999 it was still unsettling to see a woman sporting a tattoo--often associated with biker chicks, strippers, and other women on the fringe of society--unlike the widespread display of "ink" seen on bodies today.)