A Trip Down the Barbie Aisle


In this post I thought that I would show you what fashion dolls are on sale in Hobart at the moment.  I visited two stores. Myers, a department store, and Target a few weeks ago.  There is a Toyworld store in Hobart but it is not open on Saturday afternoons. There are no K Mart or Big W stores in the CBD but they would have pretty much the same as what I saw I think.

I remember when you could go into any store that sold toys and you could pick the Barbie aisle easily from its distinctive decor and line of pink boxes. These days Barbie occupies just a couple of shelves and if she’s lucky doesn’t have to share them with Disney, Monster High etc.

I’ve made no secret of my disappointment with the current playline so my infrequent trips to the shops are usually made just in the hope that there will be something I like there at a good price.  On this trip I saw a collection of dolls I just found either ugly or over priced or both.  I should warn readers that I am going to rant here. Some of my dislikes are based on poor designs and cheap materials some are just personal taste. I am not judging those that like them but I feel that dolls could be made kid friendly without pandering to fads. I guess that one of the biggest problems with playline is that the manufacturers market them to a very young age group, roughly 3-7 years I think. The dolls are generally related to something the kids will see on television/online or they are princesses, fairies or mermaids.  My generation played with dolls for much longer. In fact at seven you were probably just getting started with fashion dolls, not giving them away because you were too old for them. So just as children are getting to the age where they can manipulate small parts and enjoy choosing outfits and dressing their fashion dolls they are not playing with them any more. Seven year olds seem to be pre-pre teens.

Anyway here is what I saw.

This lot had clothing that was mostly plastic. I’m not even sure if Mermaid Barbie has legs. This really irks me because it looks cheap and you can’t redress the dolls. Where is the fun in that?

Barbies at Myer department store, Lots of plastic

This may be the ugliest Barbie I have ever seen.

Superhero Barbie

Even Holiday Barbie is half plastic. Tacky! And she cost nearly $70.

Holiday Barbie is half plastic!

 

They did have some Made to Move Barbies but at $25 in Australia I think they are a bit expensive to frankendolly and I find their faces bland. I thought that the one with the extra fashions was probably better value but she looks a lot like the Millie faced doll I already have.  I have to agree with a reader who recently commented that she thought the Millie face looked vapid. It is my biggest gripe with the current playline. They look blank.

Made to Move with fashions
Made to Move Soccer and Karate Barbies and Holiday Barbie

 

Of course there were Fashionistas and quite a variety, most of these were around $17 I think. I do applaud the diversity but as I don’t like painted hair Ken’s , shaved heads or pink and purple hair I guess I won’t be buying many of these. That’s just personal taste. I’m sure that kids like it because it reflects their own styles. As a Baby Boomer it doesn’t reflect mine. As for that mismatched plaid outfit don’t get me started, is this what the kids are wearing now?

There was a big push on to sell Dreamtopia dolls. I saw a lot of them at the stores I visited. I find these rather tacky. Some of the clone dolls from the sixties looked better than this.

Chelsea seems to be very popular. I saw a lot of Chelsea dolls including some larger ones. the playsets were quite good.  I still don’t get why Mattel decided to change her name from Kelly to Chelsea but then they have been doing that with Barbie friends for twenty years or more. Who knows why they do anything any more?

Apart from Barbie there were a few other dolls well represented. Disney of course had a lion’s share of the space. I had never seen Shopkins before but there were quite a lot of them in Target. Monster High still has shelf space but had to share it with Project MC. I will say although I still think their heads are too big I did like the faces of the Project MC girls but not enough to buy any. If I wait six months I’m sure some will turn up at the Op Shop needing to be redressed.

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23 comments

  1. I understand where you’re coming from. To get the really nice, ‘adult’ collector dolls, you really have to go online to barbie collector .com where now, they do ship overseas . I have not re-joined yet as their membership and quarterly rewards have changed. http://barbie.mattel.com/shop/en-us/ba/pop-culture-movies#facet:&productBeginIndex:0&orderBy:&pageView:grid&minPrice:&maxPrice:&pageSize:&contentPageSize:&
    There is a link to the barbie/mattel.com shop to some of the collector dolls. You have to surf around a bit as they have combined both their mattel sites with all the toys and and are trying to get people to sign up for ALL the sites, such as hot wheels, transformers, etc. and most people are focus collectors, like doll people do not want to get notices for useless toys like hot wheels. BUT, the main Mattel.com is worth having an account at as you can sometimes get dolls of collector quality there cheaper, with free shipping .

    I agree with the cheap quality on the plastic. Little girls now are too focused on electronics, games, and makeup before they are way too old enough to understand what they are wearing properly. There is no joy in being a child now. It is almost as if there is something in doll shaming. If they are not playing with witches, fairies, and mermaids, then Barbie is an awful toy because of her body that makes kids want to be like her- body perfect. In all my life with playing this doll, I never wanted to look like her. I loved playing with her clothes and accessories, that is something little girls don’t have that we did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right. I never related to fashion dolls in that way either. I will check out that link. I didn’t know they were accepting overseas customers now but it would be very dependent on postage which is crazy to Australia.

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  2. I understand how you feel. I have a couple of Fashionistas that I have put on M2M bodies but the playline dolls are terribly disappointing. The clothes are badly designed and poorly made. My granddaughter didn’t give up her Barbies until she was 11or12 so it’s not necessary to only target small children. I don’t think children give up imaginative play if they’re allowed or encouraged to engage in it. It was playing “Barbies” with my granddaughter that started me collecting and playing with them myself! I’m still going and she’s a teenager with other interests now.

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    • The difference these days is that in the past Mattel made the dolls and let the child imagine the personality but now they try to market the personality and script along with the doll, presumably so you will have to buy more stuff. Of course other toy manufacturers also do this. Lego sell kits that will only make a specified item. When I was little you just bought a big box of Lego and made whatever you imagined.

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  3. By the way, my little “avatar” in my photo is the doll you describe – the made to move Millie with different outfits. I bought her for the microscope. All of my research in the real world involves microscopy and I love the glasses which I also wear. In my mini-world, she is my mini-me -a much younger version – and works in a mini-university. So even a bland Millie has possibilities!

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  4. I will have to pop into our local Target for look-see. plus donate more AA dolls as we had way too many blondes clogging the bin at the thrift shop. my Elf heads are headed my way via e-bay will hafta revisit Naomi’s post about her Elves. good-will store.had yarn so will crochet-knit somebodies. Almost finished the throw for the Darcy twins and John Littlechaps single brother for the sled .Going to use the Liv dolls horse as it is my only one so far.Love the Hollday projects as a good distraction during a tough year,

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  5. This is a great discourse on Barbie. I feel the same as you when I visit the Barbie aisle: despair at the poor quality and styles. But another commenter made a good point, if we want better quality, we can go to the collector website for dolls more suited to adults. I just wonder what Barbie’s creator Ruth Handler would think about what’s being sold to children now. To be fair, two playline dolls re-ignited my interest in dolls: Ruby Red Fashionista and Made to Move Lea. It is very powerful to find dolls that look like yourself, so I like that part about the Fashionistas. But it’s a shame the Made to Move dolls are given such vapid faces they are used to re-body. To me, the visage of a doll is its most impactful feature. Your favorite faces feature showed how much variation can be obtained from each face sculpt. So my expectations continue to lower for playline and I will pay for The Look dolls as they are still affordable and I have several I am quite pleased with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have pretty much started to only buy the collector dolls now especially The Look, I have about five of them now. Naomi and I agree that we’d rather buy fewer dolls that cost more that we like than buy cheap ones we don’t like but I think that the poor quality and limited play options may kill her off altogether one day.

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      • Yes but going to the op shop is fun to get a bargain.l hate the way they paint the legs,horrible.Looks like child hood dolls will no longer be collectibles and thats a shame for the younger generation for its our memories
        that evolve us into collectors.

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      • That is true and yes I do enjoy markets and Op Shops. I always still look on the offchance I’ll find a Fashion Fever or older doll I can rescue. When you think about it as the children of today are the collectors of tomorrow Mattel’s policy is short sighted.

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  6. I have purchased Barbies from both the regular Mattel and Barbie sites. It is worthwhile to compare them as they may have special offers like $10 off to sign up, limited edition dolls, free delivery on new dolls and with minimum purchase and sales. I don’t go for the expensive designer dolls. The Look dolls are perfect when I find ones I like.

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    • Had a look at the site yesterday but it seems that free delivery does not apply to Australia so will have to see how much postage is. I usually buy from Amazon who sometimes have good prices for postage compared to eBay sellers.

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      • Sorry, that must be so frustrating 😦 I trade on eBay and shipping fees have gone up. Occasionally a bargain is possible if I win an auction at a low price. And of course, it’s better to buy in a store as there are variations in the same doll in her face and styling. I was thinking about pre-ordering a new Fashionista and am so glad I didn’t. When I found it in a store, it looked dreadful and nothing like how it looked on the site.

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  7. By the way, I opened an Instagram account just to follow Barbie Style starring Millie and her friends, other playline dolls. She is back home on the West Coast after visiting New York for Fashion Week and art in the Catskills. It is a lot of fun! I like that they feature accessible dolls.

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  8. The statement you made about seven year old stopping playing with dolls is a very accurate statement because I am almost fourteen and I am constantly judged/bullied for still playing and displaying my dolls.

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    • I know how awful that must feel. I was never bullied but in my teens and twenties I did feel that I should not display my dolls or play with them. When I first started to buy them again I hoped that people might think I was buying them for a child but finally I began not to care what other people thought about my hobby and now I am happy to tell people that I collect dolls and if they think that is stupid it’s their problem not mine. I do feel that teens today are under a lot of pressure to give up things that are considered childish by others. You are not alone though. Enjoy your dolls whether they teach you a skill like photography or fashion design or you just feel happy having them around you they are nothing to be ashamed of.

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  9. Even the had plastic playlines are good for something, got several bodies in a lot, and had four Liv heads with the stunning eyes and cool painted on hair w/o wigs..,they are like stylized manequins that wear the vintage doll clothing or my sad first homemade fashions quite well.I even tried putting an unpainted head on one for the real manequin look .Sometimes it’s just the eyes that bug me as I’m displaying a vintage outfit, in whichcase I jist add glasses. (That’s what I did with a grown up Tammy missing eyebrows).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sad but true. The Barbie shelves are getting smaller every year. A well known department store in my area downsized too, its now 1 meter of Barbie and 1 meter of Steffi Love.

    The plastic clothes are horrible and I really don’t have the feeling, that they are appreciated by kids since I keep seeing a lot of these dolls for over a year in the shelves. They don’t even sell in the mark down bins.

    A supermarket in my area sells a clone doll who sports the original Fashionista body. That doll seems to fly off the shelves. Unfortunately she is only available in one skin tone and one haircolor, but she is a a really great body donor for pale skinned dolls.

    I don’t even bother looking at the clothes anymore, since they are all just nice front and bleh back.

    Will today’s girls and boys become collectors? Personally, I don’t see that happen.

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