It’s hard to believe that it has been ten years since Mattel introduced the Black Basics line of dolls. In 2009 I was not too excited about Barbie. I missed the Fashion Fever dolls with all their different face sculpts and great fashions and at that point, I was not too keen on the articulated Fashionistas as they seemed a bit cheap. (Boy do I miss them now) When I saw the Black Basics for the first time I wanted nearly all of them. In Australia, they retailed for $35 each, more than I normally spent for a Barbie but a couple of them I willingly paid that price for. I loved the Denim Basics when they arrived the following year and managed to collect most of the dolls in these two series as well as one or two of the Red Basics which were not sold here.
As you know many of them went on to become favourite play dolls who often appear in fashion shoot posts. Many of them were presents from Naomi for birthdays or Christmas, others she found for me on trips to Adelaide and some I was lucky enough to find at bargain prices locally. One or two of the harder to find ones I bought on eBay.
Why do I like them so much? Well with me it’s always the faces first. I was attracted to the different facial sculpts and the different hairstyles as well. Becky, for example, has the Diva sculpt which has always been a favourite of mine. I like the Steffie face and Teresa is also a favourite. Some of the sculpts were new to me as they had previously been used on Collector Series dolls that I had only seen in photos. Aphrodite and Louboutin are two I had not really seen before, nor had I seen the Lara face on an adult looking doll. I like dolls with short hair, probably because many of my early Barbies were late nineties dolls with long blonde hair and I enjoyed having something different.
I think these dolls look great in all sorts of clothing too. It is a shame that more fashions were not produced specifically for the Model Muse body but they can wear my older Fashion Avenue outfits very well, apart from the shoes which are always a pain in the neck. They can wear some Fashion Fever outfits, especially the dresses, skirts and jeans are often loose at the waist.
I’m not crazy about the arm positions of some of the dolls, those double bent arms are a pain in the neck when you are trying to get a long-sleeved dress or top on but they are worth the aggravation. It would have been nice to have had articulation but I guess it would have pushed the cost of the dolls up too much.
There are a couple of things that I did find a bit disappointing. The accessory sets, if you could get them, were ridiculously expensive here and online. The shoes, as I said, I found it really annoying that they could not wear most of the Fashion Fever era or Fashion Avenue era shoes. I ended up buying shoes to fit them in a couple of different colours.
It would have been nice if there had been more male dolls. The Denim Basics line had three and that was it. They were really nice looking dolls too and apart from Collector series dolls, Mattel has not made any as nice since which is a real shame. Of course, there was not much for them to wear either as they were slimmer and had longer limbs than earlier Kens so it was some time before there was clothing available that would fit them.
I also felt that the quality on the last few Denim Basics dolls was not quite as good. A couple of them have their legs attached differently which does give more movement but not in a really useful way. They were also made of a more lightweight material than the earlier dolls. However, after several years of use by me, they seem to be holding up alright and the Basics lines were not really designed for younger children.
I don’t have a complete collection of all the dolls from each line. Some of them were a bit too hard to get at a good price here and one or two of them I just didn’t like their faces. They are all de-boxed and some as I mentioned are regular characters in photoshoots while others are mainly for display.