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Hobbies for Kids - Collecting Barbie Dolls


Barbie Doll collecting is a very  popular hobby for young girls. This wonderful collection includes dolls, clothing, bedding and accessories.  The Barbie collection has a variety of dolls that include Barbie as well as her friends, siblings, cousins and longtime boyfriend Ken.   In addition, Barbie has a variety of pets including cats, dogs, horses, a panda, a lion cub, and a zebra. She has owned a wide range of vehicles, including pink Corvette convertibles, trailers and jeeps.  Barbie's careers are designed to show that women can take on a variety of roles in life.  Barbie has had over 108 careers, so you can see her as a doctor, a policewoman, a firefighter, an astronaut, a Nascar driver and even a television chef to name a few.

I spent many hours playing with Barbie dolls as a child and I found that I could not wait to introduce my daughter to the world of Barbie.  She has a variety of dolls, clothes, vehicles and houses.  The Barbie world sure did get better since the days when I played with them.  My daughter also has spent many hours enjoying her Barbie dolls. I learned that they are absolutely something that you will want to put away and save once your child is finished playing with them. 

Barbie was launched in 1959  by the American toy-company Mattel, Inc. as a fashion doll.  Since that time she has become one of the most popular dolls in the world.  Some collectors say a mint-condition Barbie should include the original plastic wrap and cardboard box, while others claim that Barbie can only be fully appreciated if removed from her stifling packaging. Many Barbie collectors can fondly recall their childhood memories playing with Barbie and friends.  Barbie collectors usually collect specific dolls and do it just for fun. Some collect items such as Barbie clothing, pets, vehicles, furniture and/or homes.

Serious collectors join clubs and frequent Barbie collector's conventions and learn how Barbie merchandise rated and classified.  Whether you are a casual or serious collector I know that you will find it to be a fun and interesting hobby that you can start as a little girl and continue to adulthood.


1959 - Barbie is introduced to the world by Ruth Handler at New York City's Toy Fair. The doll is 11 1/2 inches tall and is known for her black-and-white striped swimsuit and pony tail.  Ruth Handler, named the doll after her daughter, Barbie.  Mattel set a toy selling record the first year Barbie debuted.  In the first year 351, 000 dolls were sold and in ten short years, parents would spend $500 million on Barbie products.

1960s - Barbie's fashions were inspired by Paris and reflect the activities of the time.  In 1960 Ken, Barbie's boyfriend, enters the scene, sporting a head of fuzzy hair. Two years later, his hair is replaced with blond or brown paint.  In 1964 Barbie's little sister Skipper is introduced.
 Barbie's mid sixties bubble-cut haircut was inspired by the style of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.  Barbie's brother with a Twin sister called Tutti were introduced in 1966. They were supposed to be around 2-3 years old, their bodies were bendable and small as in the image of a child's.   In late 60s Barbie gets bendable legs, a Twist ‘N Turn® waist and her clothing changes to the mod look. This is also the year that Barbie suits up as Miss Astronaut.  Barbie's girlfriend Christie, an African-American doll, is introduced in 1968. Barbie also speaks for the first time this year. At the pull of a string, she utters six phrases, including "I have a date tonight!" and "I love being a fashion model!" Ken emerges in 1969 with bigger muscles, bendable knees, and a speaking voice.

1970s - Barbie's fashion trends swing wildly in this decade and she wears everything from the hippie look to disco styles.  
Barbie's trademark sideways glance is replaced by an attentive, straight-ahead look.
Early in the decade, California is the place to be, and Malibu Barbie hits the beach with her suntan and long blond hair.  Barbie becomes an Olympic skier, a gymnast, skater, doctor, surgical nurse, ballerina and a flight attendant. She is  featured in a 1979 issue of Life, reflecting 20 years of American fashion and is selected as the "doll of the century" for the U.S. bicentennial celebration. She is placed in a time capsule, scheduled to be opened in 2076.

1980s -  The first Barbie doll convention is held in 1980 and it marks the beginning of the Barbie collecting craze.  It is also the year that Mattel introduced the first black and Hispanic Barbie dolls. "Oriental" Barbie follows the next year. The company also launches its ongoing International Collection known as
Dolls of the World® , beginning with Italian Barbie, Parisian Barbie, and Royal U.K. Barbie.  The year 1981 brings Western Barbie and  in 1986 the first doll, Blue Rhapsody® Barbie®, is designed specifically to appeal to collectors.  The year 1987 brings Barbie's line of Concert Tour fashions inspired by Madonna and in 1989, Mattel celebrates Barbie's 30th anniversary with the debut of the Pink Jubilee Barbie® and Barbie joins the U.S. Army.  This is followed by Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps fashions over the next three years.

Barbie’s wardrobe reaches new heights of elegance and drama this decade with stunning originals by world famous fashion designers such as Christian Dior, Bob Mackie, Vera Wang. In1993 to 1995, Todd came back as Barbie's little brother, he was modeled just as the earlier version, but also brought a "new" twin sister called Stacie. At this point "Tutti" is forgotten to Mattel and left out of the Barbie line.  Barbie has a short-lived music career, singing with her group, Barbie and the Beats and in 1993 The Native American Barbie is introduced to the market. In celebration of Barbie's 35th Anniversary, Mattel issues a reproduction of Barbie® doll Number 1 much to the delight of collectors.  In1997 Harley-Davidson Barbie becomes the hottest doll of the year, to the amazement of marketing experts. Barbie launches her official website,, and releases new CD-ROM products that that allow girls to design and print their own fashions.

In 1999 Barbie celebrates her 40th birthday. Mattel celebrates the event by forming a partnership with the nonprofit Girls Inc. The purpose is to use accomplished women to promote the message that "girls can be anything." Mattel donates $1.5 million dollars to support programs that teach girls about technology, finance, math and science, career planning, and sports. In addition, four different dolls are specially designed to mark the occasion.

2000s -  In response to feedback from collectors, Mattel reduces production quantities to 35,000 or less, for collectible, limited edition dolls that are sold in specialty/boutique stores. In addition, this year brings Barbie running for President. Her campaign issues include equality, world peace, animal kindness, education, and the environment.

Meanwhile, Mattel introduced several Millennium-themed dolls including Barbie® 2000, Millennium Wedding™, and Sydney 2000™ Olympic Pin Collector.  In addition, the Barbie® Fashion Model Collection debuts featuring a new body material known as Silkstone™, the vintage face sculpted with updated make-up, and glamorous high quality fashions. Also new this year is The Hollywood Movie Star™ Collection featuring Barbie doll as a glamorous movie star dressed in stunning fashions that recall the Golden Age of Hollywood.  In 2001 Barbie makes her first starring role in a feature film, Barbie In The Nutcracker™, rendering Barbie® in cutting edge computer graphics animation.   It airs on CBS Thanksgiving day, and quickly becomes one of the highest grossing children's videos/DVDs in history.

Ken® celebrates his 40th anniversary in style with one of the most handsome Ken dolls ever.  He is dashingly-dressed  in a dashing tuxedo with a black and white striped bow tie and cummerbund to accompany 40th Anniversary™ Barbie® doll to a celebration.  In the years from 2002 - 2004  Barbie ventures into the Hollywood world with the Marilyn Monroe set, Enchanted Mermaid, I Love Lucy in a Paris Gown. She is very popular with Lord of the Rings Gift Set, Wonder Woman,  and SuperGirl

2004 NEWSFLASH after 43 years, the romance is over for Barbie and Ken and the perfect plastic couple is breaking up. The couple's "business manager," Russell Arons, vice president of marketing at Mattel, said that Barbie and Ken "feel it's time to spend some qual
ity time - apart."
"Like other celebrity couples, their Hollywood romance has come to an end," said Arons, who quickly added that the duo "will remain friends."

In 2005 Barbie sales have plunged, retailers are cutting back on shelf space for her and, for the first time, a competitor has edged her out as the No. 1 fashion doll in the United States.  This competitor is Bratz, a line of dolls with pouty lips and big heads, manufactured by MGA Entertainment. It overtook Barbie in the fashion doll business in the 2005 holiday season

In 2006 Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel, is pulling out all the stops to put her back on her feet.  So after a two-year separation Ken and Barbie are reunited, according to their handlers. Ken’s new attraction? A makeover that finds him sporting a more rugged jaw line, and wearing cargo pants.

In 2009 Mattel created the "Fabulous at 50: 2009's Golden Anniversary Barbie". As of this year, 90 percent of girls in the United States ages 3 to 10 own at least one Barbie doll and the average number of dolls owned by American girls ages 3 to 6 is 12 Barbies.

Years to Come - Barbie and her "family" of dolls are simply the most popular in history and will continue to inspire girls and women well into the 21st century.