Warning: This post contains ranting.
Today I unexpectedly found myself with some free time and visited the Big W store at Kingston near Hobart. I haven’t been able to get there for some time so my looking at Barbie’s has been confined to checking out what’s in Target and the occasional run through Toy Kingdom in the city. I don’t even check the internet that often any more.
I haven’t missed window shopping for Barbie’s as much as you’d think because as I’ve mentioned frequently I’m not a fan of the current playline dolls. Most of them have blank expressions in their eyes and too wide smiles for my taste. I also dislike the current bodies and the trend to plastic moulded clothing. This trend has certainly got a lot worse. I’d say a good half the dolls I saw today had painted on clothing. The superhero Barbies do, dancers and mermaids often do now and today I saw a new (to me) line with a one piece swimsuit painted on to the doll. Where will it end? Does anyone remember that Barbie was meant to be a fashion doll? The outfits they made for playline fashion dolls, and that was all of them, in the sixties were so beautiful and well made. I didn’t have many genuine outfits for Barbie, Skipper or Sindy but those I did have were so detailed. That’s why I am collecting old Sindy outfits now. Even the generic doll fashions that we mostly bought or were given were much better quality than those they make today. It’s such a shame.
Admittedly the doll I saw was a Water Play Barbie but I’m not really sure if that was meant as it’s safe to get Barbie wet or Water Play is just another name for a beach Barbie. Either way they must be making pretty poor quality swimsuits if you can’t get them wet. What about if they need a wash?
This is one that I saw. Water Play Raquelle and personally I didnt’ think she was as pretty as the photo here makes her look although Raquelle is probably the nicest of the current playline. I have included the blurb as it is typical.
“Raquelle looks sun-sational wearing a fabulous patterned one-piece swimsuit that is right on trend and so her style.
Girls will love playing out beach days, pool parties and summer vacation with this adorable doll.
Collect all the Barbie® water play dolls (each sold separately) for a real beach party!
- It’s a beach day — and this doll looks sun-sational!
- She wears a fabulously patterned one-piece swimsuit.
- Colors and design match today’s trends and doll’s style.
- Collect all the Barbie® Beach dolls (each sold separately) for a real beach party!
- Doll Includes doll wearing non-removable swimwear.stand alone.
- Doll cannot stand alone.
Battery Required: No | Batteries Included: No
Age Grade: 3+
Country of Origin: CN”
I think part of the problem is here in the blurb and it’s something that has annoyed me for a long time. “Age Grade:3+”
Mattel are making playline dolls to suit the youngest age group. They don’t want too many small parts because their target group is likely to eat them! They are not making dolls that offer more imaginative play for the school aged child. They are just offering them formula’s, mermaids, princesses, pop stars with a built in story. Life In The Dreamhouse was a step in the right direction but they haven’t taken it far enough.
I’ll say again that I have no children so perhaps my observations are those of a disgruntled collector of cheaper dolls but I think a lot of toys are going down this road. Take Lego. We loved Lego as children even though it was far more basic than now. You could not get wheels, engines or people and it only came in red or white but it didn’t stop us from making all sorts of things. We made a lot of houses but we had our own version of cars, planes or whatever else we wanted. Now you can buy sets to make all sorts of things but do the kids think of other things to do with them or just build what’s on the picture on the box?
I think that Mattel get that the collectible dolls which are often bought by adults need to be more detailed but even with these they tend to go the other way and assume that all collectors like their dolls NRFB. They are so expensive that you think twice about doing anything to them. The Basics were good because they were meant to be deboxed but I know a lot of people were put off by the difficult to pose bodies. I can see that but I loved their faces and they were the last time I really got excited about a line. Fashion Fever were a great playline because there was a lot of variety in their looks although some were rather similar and would be harder to pick once played with. They did have great outfits and were meant to be played with the way little girls play with dolls – and some big ones :). Even the earlier Fashionistas are starting to look pretty good to me in hindsight.
Well I am still a fashion doll collector so despite the disappointments of today’s dolls I’ll keep looking for that elusive special one that says “Buy Me”.