If asked to name famous dolls, Barbie would come at the top of most people’s lists. She is the doll at the top of many children’s Christmas wish lists and has inspired the creation of many products; not just toys, but also stationery, interior décor, soft furnishings, home accessories and much more.
Unlike many toys that come in and out of fashion, Barbie is a toy that has evolved over the years to reflect current trends and socioeconomic situations. This means that in spite of her long and interesting history, Barbie remains as popular as ever.
The History of Barbie
In 1945, Ruth and Elliot Handler founded a toy company called Mattel Creations. It wasn’t until 14 years later, in 1959, that Barbie was first created.
The inspiration for Barbie came from Ruth watching her daughter and friends playing with paper dolls. Although they were only children, they often gave their dolls adult roles that possibly reflected their aspirations for the future. At that time, most dolls represented babies and Ruth realized there was a gap in the market for an adult doll.
Ruth’s realized that experimenting with their future lives was an important aspect of a child’s development. With the introduction of Barbie, Ruth’s aim was to show young girls that they could be whoever they wanted to be and that women have choices.
Barbie was first launched in 1959 at the Toy Fair in New York. It had taken the Handlers many designs and attempts before achieving the Barbie they were happy with. Others in the toy industry were initially skeptical as Barbie was so different from any other doll they had seen. Despite trepidation of those working in the industry, Barbie was an instant hit with children and parents alike.
Since the early days, Barbie has been recreated many times allowing children to collect the Barbie’s that reflect their own interests and aspirations. New accessories are constantly added to the range allowing children to create their own collection of Barbie-themed toys and other products.
Barbie as an Ongoing Phenomenon
Unlike many other toys, Barbie’s popularity has gone from strength to strength and there are now more Barbie-related products available than ever before. Barbie has become so much more than a simple doll; she is now a brand that includes products ranging from the Barbie Dream House to Barbie-themed wallpaper.
Parents of children with a passion for Barbie can buy a wide range of Barbie-related products as manufacturers have recognized the huge selling potential if their products are linked with the Barbie brand. Even dollhouse manufacturers have realized that children love to play with their Barbie’s, so they have created Barbie sized dollhouses to attract parents to buy their dollhouses for their children.
Barbie’s Friends and Family
When trying to recreate real-life scenarios, children need more than one doll. For this reason, Mattel Creations manufactured a range of other dolls for children. These are Barbie’s friends and family.
Barbie has three sisters; Chelsea, Stacey, and Skipper. Children love to play with these in a Barbie dollhouse as they can relate it to their own experiences of living with siblings in their play scenarios.
Midge is Barbie’s best friend. According to Mattel Creations, Midge grew up in Willow with Barbie and they have been the best of friends ever since then. Midge married Alan in 1991 and Barbie had the pleasure of taking the role of maid-of-honor.
Mattel Creations realized that children love to act out scenes of adult relationships, just like mom and dad. For this reason, they introduced Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend, in 1961. The first Ken doll was skinny with a crew cut and came with nine outfits.
Unfortunately, Barbie and Ken ended their relationship in 2004 on Valentine’s Day following 43 years together as a couple. However, they rekindled their romance after a seven-year separation on Valentine’s Day 2011.
People often relate Barbie to fashion and sitting in her Barbie house looking pretty. However, this doll has always been a role model to young women and has a rather impressive, if unrealistic, resume to her name.
Since her first creation, Barbie has had more than 150 different careers. These have often related directly to current socioeconomic situations. For example, one Barbie in the 1980s was a CEO and this was representative of women playing a larger role in business during that decade.
Jut some of Barbie’s careers have included a pilot, a police officer, a nurse, a rock star, an aerobics instructor and even an astronaut.
Of all the Barbie accessories that are available, the Barbie Dream House is probably the most popular of all time. However, this is not the only Barbie dollhouse to hit the market over the years. Many variations have hit the market over the years to give children new and fun settings for their play with dolls.
Just some of the Barbie houses available have included the Barbie Townhouse and a wooden Barbie house. When looking for Barbie doll houses for sale parents will find a wide variety to choose from, regardless of whether they want the best Barbie doll house or a cheap Barbie doll house.
Of course, no Barbie doll house is complete without Barbie house furniture. While many houses come with Barbie furniture, there is often the option to buy items separately. In most cases, once you have the furniture, you can mix and match it to create different scenes in any Barbie house.
Other Barbie Products
Buying a Barbie doll house is not the only accessory option for Barbie fans. The different Barbies over the years have come with a wide range of optional accessories. Any child that is a fashion lover will adore the selection of clothing available so you can mix and match the outfits that Barbie wears.
The Barbie car, caravan, and pets are also popular accessories for children.
The products available do not stop at toys either; almost everything you can think of for your child is available with a Barbie theme. Just some of these include Barbie furniture, bedding sets, clothing, toiletries, makeup, stationery, bags, shoes, cushions, towels and much more.
Twenty Fun Barbie Facts
While most people know what Barbie is or have lived in a house with at least one of these dolls, there are many facts of which many people are usually unaware. Here are some fun facts about the world’s most famous doll.
- Her official birthday is 9th March 1959 as this is the day that the first Barbie was launched.
- Barbie’s full name is actually Barbara Millicent Roberts.
- Barbie is named after Ruth and Elliot Handler’s daughter, Barbara, as she was the inspiration for the doll. Ken is named after their son Kenneth.
- The cost of the first ever Barbie doll was $3. At auction today, one of the original dolls may bring up to $28,000.
- The doll’s debut style was a black and white striped swimsuit and a ponytail. This was representative of fashions in the late 1950s.
- The height of these dolls is 11.5 inches.
- Barbie Pink is registered officially as a named color- Barbie ™ Pink (PMS 219).
- In 1965, Barbie traveled to space a full four years before man walked on the moon.
- A range of designer dolls has been launched over the years including the Bob Mackie Gold Barbie. This had 5,000 golden sequin accents hand-sewn onto the doll.
- Selling for $302,500, the most expensive Barbie ever was designed in partnership with Stefano Canturi, an Australian jewellery designer. The money raised was donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
- Since 1992, Barbie has run for president six times.
- The creation of each Barbie doll involves more than 100 people. These include elite couturiers, makeup artists, and fashion designers.
- Barbie launched her very first vlog on YouTube in 2015.
- Barbie has taken the starring role in over 30 DVDs to date playing everything from a rock star to a superhero.
- To celebrate the iconic doll’s 50th birthday, a runway show was produced that featured designs by 50 of the top designers in the world.
- Barbie has kept up to date with technological advancements and modern trends. In fact, she has 240,000 followers on Twitter and over 13 million Facebook fans.
- Artists including Peter Max and Andy Warhol have used Barbie as a muse for their creations.
- Although Barbie did not debut in Europe until 1969 and was not sold in India until 1987, she is now sold in 150 countries across the globe.
- Annual gross sales of Barbies have exceeded $1 billion since 2011.
- Since 2011, Barbie doll has launched a career that is typically underrepresented by women. Some examples include architect, film director, computer engineer and entrepreneur.
Unlike many competing brands, Barbie continues to go from strength to strength and is just as popular now, if not more so, as when she was first launched.
With more variations of Barbie-related products than ever and no sign of the popularity slowing down, it seems that many generations to come may have the pleasure of playing with their Barbie dolls.