Anyway, just wanted to write a quick "hello". More to come. ;)
I'm still here! I know an entire year went by without a single post from me, but please be assured that I am here and I am fine. My Barbie collecting has slowed down considerably. Even so, I am welcoming some new dolls to my collection. The latest addition is the reproduction of Totally Hair™ Barbie®, the brand's greatest hit circa 1992, shown below. I also purchased a NRFB brunette version, which I haven't photographed. I'm thinking she'll stay in her box for the moment.
Anyway, just wanted to write a quick "hello". More to come. ;)
Time does fly. I thought I'd be able to squeeze in a few more personal recollections of my Barbie collecting adventure, but here we are. It's already New Year's Eve.
®29 Decembre 2016. Madam Lavinia™ arrived. She is still in the box. I think she’s gorgeous as she is, in the box. Eventually, she may join Claudette Gordon™ in the display cabinet. She came with some last-minute gifts to myself--Andy Warhol Barbie® doll looks better IRL than in the promotional photos. There’s something about that Karl Lagerfeld face sculpt that gives her such sweetness and vulnerability. This is a doll designed by the lovely Linda Kyaw in collaboration with the Andy Warhol Foundation—a Silver Label (!) doll. Another Silver Label doll staying with us is Hudson's Bay® Barbie®. I just think she's super cute in a nerdy way.
In case you are wondering about the Silver Label designation, here's the official word from The Barbie Collection: "Note: From 2004-2014, Silver Label Dolls were sequentially number editions of 50,000 or less worldwide for each doll. Starting in 2015, the number of dolls produced within the “Silver Label” tier was reduced to 25,000 or less."
31 Decembre 2016. This past year, I've really been able to rein in my spending on dolls and miniatures, acquiring a relatively small number of dolls compared to recent years. Instead of trying to recall what other dolls joined my collection this year, let's go right into my 2017 resolutions. In the coming year, I plan on focusing on Ken® and other male dolls. This will make it much easier to manage the size of my collection. We don't live in a mansion, but my spouse has been very generous in accomodating my collection, which I'm estimating is at 300 or so dolls, plus diorama pieces and other accessories.
I finally succumbed to the Made-to-Move dolls and quickly cobbled together a de-boxing "tutorial" just to have something on our tutorials page. Please check it out.
On Friday, September 16, I got a text message from @allybeauty informing me that her sister @angelqinan is in town for a few days. They had some gorgeous gowns to wear to a photo shoot, but the photographer cancelled the shoot.
I volunteered to be their photographer. Unfortunately, I was missing some equipment. My external flash was broken. On top of that, I was feeling under the weather, and we had already lost daylight, so the shoot had to be done indoors with no proper lighting equipment.
Angel is a professional model. She knew what she wanted out of the shoot. I was a bit embarrassed by my obvious lack of experience, but the sisters were very kind, and they gave me some direction. Eventually, we got “in the zone” or "into the groove", and I was no longer feeling like a virgin photog. The concept of our impromptu shoot became apparent—living dolls. The sisters posed and pouted for the camera alongside my doll collection. These ladies brought the glamor and excitement to my home--elaborately beaded and embroidered gowns, high heels, makeup, and all. We were so in the moment that we almost forgot to eat. Our in-house lighting director had to prepare a meal and force us to sit down and consume something.
I enjoyed having you over, Angel and Ally. Next time, we'll have a location shoot!
It was love at first sight. When I pulled the box cover off, gently tugged on that gold ribbon, and gingerly lifted the tissue paper to have my first look at Classic Black Dress™, my initial reaction was to loudly say "she's so pretty!" This doll has the sweetest expression. The face paint is gorgeous. I didn't think I would be a fan of the blue eyeshadow with the blue side-eye after seeing so many iterations of this look, but there's something about these shades of blue that complements her soft pearlescent coral lips.
The dress is elegant. I was so happy with this doll that I decided to clean and re-organize my collection. The goal is to have fewer dolls on display, and to clean every dusty surface. I may have to list a few gently handled dolls on an e-commerce site soon.
We (the spouse and I) skipped the big conventions and doll shows this past year, but we did manage to visit the Barbie exhibit at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France. Unfortunately, we had to rush through the exhibit because the apartment we had rented had plumbing issues that day.
The displays were very impressive. We saw some of the dioramas and sets that we had only seen in catalogs and other official Mattel mailings. Archival footage of the old factory in Japan was played on a loop. A few collectors were treated to a preview of this at the Arlington, VA convention in 2015. Which reminds me, I really should send my registration form for the Houston convention.
We had opportunities to visit other Barbie exhibits in Italy, but opted for more local fare and "only in Europe" sightseeing. There were times when I regretted not bringing a travel doll, but our plan was to travel light. We traveled so lightly that I was almost in tears when I learned that we were in Florence right on time for the fashion week festivities and I had nothing "fabulous" to wear. ;)
The previous piece published here was Colleen Kelly’s optimistic take on (one of) our favorite fashion dolls, Barbie®.
For a time, I was prepared to part with my entire collection and start “from scratch”. I’m probably not the first collector to experience this kind of frustration, seeing the same dolls trotted out year after year and wondering why people become so emotional about plastics, adhesives, woven fabric, precious metals, and so on. I was overwhelmed and not overjoyed at the sight of so many beautiful playthings, perhaps because the wit and banter about style sometimes devolves into outright nastiness.
Not even a photo shoot with living dolls Angel and Ally was able to fully restore my energy and zest for Life in Plastic, which has been another outlet for my edited photography for five years now. If you want to get to know these lovely muses, you can follow them on Instagram @angelqinan and @allybeautyny, they also have a joint account called @sisterslikeus where they show us how to be glamorous on any budget.
This year, “the chair” that many collectors had been clamoring for was given as a gift to members of the Barbie Fan Club. Though not in the gold, sea green, and creamy iridescent tones of the inaugural BFMC dolls. It took me months to even take a peek inside the Classic Black Dress™ Silkstone doll box because I had been weighed down by other concerns (I wear many hats). I even forgot that Blush Beauty™ existed and was also waiting to be liberated, and it's making me feel so guilty about wanting Madam Lavinia™ to join Claudette Gordon™ in my display cabinets.
When I did find the time to admire the articulated Silkstone doll, I’m sure I gasped with delight…
To be continued...
by Colleen Kelly
I find myself increasingly enthusiastic about what Barbie will bring in 2016. After several years of indifference except for an occasional repro, I have seen several upcoming and current dolls--some play line, even--that are returning Barbie to my dolly-centric happy place.
I have always yearned for articulated Barbies. As a small child, I received Skipper and Skooter and loved them. A year or so later, my brother received his first G.I. Joe. I was so envious of all the things the Joes could do with their bendable limbs. True, the joints had visible screws, but he was so versatile and I longed for my dolls to be able to do those things in their adorable outfits.
Fast-forward a few years to “Living Barbie”. I loved her poseability and eyelashes, and she had many back yard adventures. The one thing I didn’t care for was her “mod” face. I was sorely disappointed that the vintage Barbie face and hairdos went away, just at the time I was considered old enough for real Barbies and not just the little sister dolls. I eventually acquired a Marx Jane West figure, but she was so clunky-feeling and was molded into her turquoise western wear--but she could ride a horse! There was also the mod Dollikin, but she couldn’t share most of Barbie’s wardrobe because of her large hip joints.
As many years have passed, I have continued my love for the vintage Barbie style. At first, when I stumbled across modern dolls that caught my fancy, I felt guilty. But it became easier as I was able to just walk into a store and buy a doll, instead of having to wait for a doll show or get a quarterly mailing list and wait for a doll to come in the mail. There were a few poseable dolls here and there but they didn’t fulfill all my wishes. I was especially annoyed with the Model Muse figure, which can’t even sit down. Many of those have particularly beautiful hair and faces but can’t sit on the pink Jonathon Adler sofa or anywhere else.
I grew to love the Silkstones, with their vintage faces and beautiful hairstyles. They were fun to dress but didn’t always fit the vintage fashions and I was afraid of breaking them. Then the dolls with pivotal bodies showed up at Barbie Collector, but that body wasn‘t frequently used. Barbie play line dolls have had some jointed offerings, but their figures don’t match the proportions of the others. I have swapped out a lot of collector doll heads onto these bodies but rarely am I completely satisfied.
I started buying Integrity dolls. I love them, but they are expensive. In the last few years, I found myself buying fewer and fewer Barbies from Barbie Collector, and was venturing back into vintage. Maybe it’s just my perception, but vintage prices seem to be going lower and I am finding more unloved dolls in antique malls.
Then this fall, it was announced that the 2016 Silkstone Barbies were to be articulated. I could scarcely believe my eyes when I read that. I had even bought a Silkstone head to swap onto an Integrity body. I started seeing people’s pictures of the Made To Move play line Barbies, and rushed to Toys R Us and Target to get some for myself. Their proportions aren’t very adult, but it’s been great fun to sit them cross-legged and plan for some springtime ventures into the back yard.
After years of declining details and quality from current Mattel offerings, I had just accepted that vintage Barbie was a satisfying place for my attention and money. I now wonder if the growing interest in the field of design, particularly from “Project Runway Junior” has made Mattel think that teens, ‘tweens and their parents are a valuable audience. It seems like more stylish Barbies are making their way into the store, although not completely replacing neon pink fairies, princesses and “rockers” offered. Silkstones with articulation are being introduced for adult collectors, and although the first reviews are mostly negative, at least the collector’s division is trying something new.
I am looking forward to seeing what Mattel creates in the future. I know there has been a lot of apprehension among adult collectors that collector-level Barbies may be diminishing in number, as they have in quality, so recent developments have me very hopeful. I still can’t corral myself into one category of dolls, so I will just be happy with having so many choices to enjoy!
by Viktor Zavadsky
Many years later, when I moved into my first apartment in Baltimore, in 1973, I brought along my sister's neglected ash-blonde, bubble-cut Barbie doll, and along with an eclectic assortment of other artifacts, I mounted it on the wall as an "objet d'art". One day, when my sister came to visit, she was livid that I had absconded with her doll, and she snatched it off the wall when she left. That was the last that I ever saw of it. I have no idea whether or not she still has it. Although she had been happy enough to share her dolls with me when we were children, she certainly had no intention of letting keep one of them when I was eighteen, and I must admit, I did not blame her.
By 1979, I was living in Los Angeles, and one night, cruising in Boystown along Santa Monica Boulevard, I noticed a handful of Barbie dolls attired in glamorous gowns displayed in the window of an apartment building. It was magical and I was enchanted. I knew right away that I had to have my own Barbie doll immediately.
So the following day, I went out to buy one. I do not recall where I went in my search; perhaps a toy store or maybe Woolworth's. However, I do remember how horrified I was to behold what a hideous transformation had befallen my cherished childhood Barbie doll. The dolls that I had seen in the apartment house windows in Hollywood were the same ponytails, bubble-cuts, and T&T mods with which I was familiar. I had no idea that Mattel no longer manufactured these dolls, and that the Barbie doll had been modified beyond recognition. The glamour was gone! What was now called a "Barbie doll" was an orange-colored thing with a huge rib cage and arms that were permanently bent at the elbows. Most alarming was the grinning, grimacing, maniacal child's face with enormous, deranged eyes. Years later, I would learn that this ickety face was called, by Mattel, the "superstar" face. I was appalled. Throughout the 1980's, Mattel continued to make ugly blonde Barbie dolls with too much hair. But by the end of the decade, quite by chance, I spotted a winsome black Barbie doll named "Dee Dee". This charming doll became my first as an adult collector.
"She's the most Moschino Barbie® ever!" exclaims the young girl in a parody of a Barbie commercial designed to go viral. The doll is for adult collectors but the commercial features three kids playing with Moschino Barbie®, one of whom is a very fierce boy with a super trendy disconnected undercut.
According to the outlets with the latest scoop on the doll, she will retail at about $150. There is no official word yet on actual production numbers and where the dolls are going to be available. The latest rumors have some collectors grousing and grumbling already. Photos of the packaged doll clearly show that she is a Gold Label doll, which means we're probably looking at higher production numbers than the early rumors implying numbers in the 1K to 2K range. We now have official images of the dolls from Barbie Collector and Moschino.
This latest collaboration between Barbie Collector™ and Moschino comes on the heels of Jeremy Scott's Spring 2015 ready-to-wear collection for Moschino shown during Milan Fashion Week last year. The very kitschy capsule collection clearly drew much inspiration from Barbie, and we were told that a very limited collectible doll was also given to attendees of his show.
Barbie Collectors and Jeremy Scott fans knew it was only a matter of time before a collaborative effort would lead to Moschino Barbie® doll. So far, we know that Barbie doll will come with a logo T-shirt, quilted faux leather bomber jackets, earrings, sunglasses, a backpack, a logo baseball cap, a logo belt, necklaces, a purse, little Moschino heels, and a miniature Moschino shopping bag. Whew! She's heavily accessorized! We also know from early reports that another RTW collection will accompany the release of this doll. The collection will include adult-size versions of Barbie's clothes and accessories, and two Moschino Barbie T-shirts.
This doll will be available on November 9, at Moschino.com and net-a-porter.com.
Check out the Moschino Barbie Doll video from @BarbieCollector:
by Viktor Zavadsky
In 1961, my mother and sister and I were visiting my aunt and my three cousins; a son (a year younger than I) and two daughters, (each a few years older than I). The girls had just received their first Barbie dolls, all the available Barbie doll clothing, along with the Barbie doll carrying cases in which to store them. I was spellbound! I had never before seen such fabulous dolls in all my short little life (I was 7 years old).
I was familiar with the big "high-heel" fashion dolls of the '50s - they all had small busts, short arms, and big heads with children's faces. All the proportion distortions disturbed me. I much preferred those 8" little hard plastic dolls which also had small busts, short arms and big heads, but their petite size rendered these features less disturbing to me. Most important was that the faces were not at all childlike. In fact, they were rather "hard" in appearance, with the "sleep eye" feature, black plastic eyelashes, black eyebrows, and blood red "cupid's bow" lips resembling the 1920's silent screen stars. The hair was not rooted, but glued to the head in a finger-waved marcelled wad. The short little arms were strung with a rubber band, which also attached to the head for pivoting, but the legs were stiff, and molded in one piece with the torso like a kewpie doll. Sometimes, the feet were flat, and sometimes high-heeled, yet whichever of the two, always had the "shoes" molded onto the feet. Rather than actual garments, their clothing consisted of ribbons of various widths wrapped round and glued to the hard little bodies.
An exchange I recently found on the Barbie forums went something like this:
Member A: Can someone tell me where to find the highly collectible recent wave of 2015 Fashionistas™ dolls?
Member B: Highly collectible play line dolls? You mean the ones they make millions of? Check WalMart. They're all bound to be there for $7.99 *hair flip* *rolls eyes* *pats self on back for throwing shade at play line collector*
It seems that some collectors have forgotten that there was a time when Barbie® dolls made for adult collectors were not a thing, and Barbie® dolls were all "play line". Let's be real. Barbie® started out as a toy marketed towards young girls, and for better or for worse, the brand is continuously evolving.
The new dolls lining shelves at Target, Walmart, or Toys R Us may not be to everyone's liking, particularly some whose tastes have moved away from colors so bright that they could induce seizures. However, that doesn't make your Platinum Label™ Karl Lagerfeld™ Barbie® more collectible than, say, the new LA Girl Fashionistas™ Barbie® doll. Karl is rarer, and some might say made to a "higher standard", but to a true collector that shouldn't matter. Yes, in some ways, dolls made for adults can be considered objectively "better" than dolls made for kids--the fabrics are more expensive, the closures are not made of velcro (mostly), the designs are more sophisticated, and so on. However, those things don't make a doll more collectible, they just make it more expensive and geared towards a "mature" crowd. I had to use quotation marks around the word mature because of all the tantrums I witnessed over the recent Platinum tokidoki Barbie®, but generally we're talking about an older audience.
The best piece of collecting advice I have ever heard, and still read on the forums from time to time, is to collect what you like. Don't buy dolls hoping they'll appreciate in value over time (some do, most don't). Don't buy dolls just because they're rare and coveted. Don't buy dolls to impress your collector friends. Buy dolls that make you happy. I mostly buy Barbie Collector dolls because those are the dolls that I enjoy, but every now and then, a play line doll, fashion or accessory catches my eye, and I don't hesitate to add it to my collection. I collect what I want. You should, too!
About the Webmaster
My name is Jared. I began collecting dolls in 2011. It all started with Barbie® Basics Model No 16 Collection 002 for me. Soon after that, I started photographing my dolls, editing the images and sharing my work on my Tumblr photoblog, Life in Plastic. "Playing" with dolls has inspired me to learn to sew, paint with acrylics, re-root doll hair, practice my bead craft, among other things...My collecting hobby turned into a passion for creating art in different media!