What’s Your Favourite Era?


Some of the Facebook Barbie groups I follow have been running themed weeks where members post photos of dolls from their collections. There have been some fabulous photos and it’s nice to know that we’re not the only ones whose homes are full of dolls.

Of course I’ve also been looking at a lot of photos to ID dolls and outfits and it got me wondering what everyone’s favourite Barbie era is?

Titian Swirl Ponytail Barbie.
Titian Swirl Ponytail Barbie.

I can’t really pin it down to just one myself. The first Barbie I ever saw was my cousin’s Titian Swirl so for me she was the “real” Barbie for a long time. Now I admit that I don’t find the faces of the very early Barbies as pretty as some of the modern era ones. I prefer the natural look to heavy make up. I appreciate them for the quality, the history, and most of all for the fashions. That was the best era for Barbie fashions I believe.

As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t have a Barbie as a child although I did have Skipper and Tutti. I did not pay a lot of attention to the Mod Era as I was happy with the dolls I had and I didn’t really do a lot with dolls during my twenties.

It was late in the 1990s when I started buying dolls again. I initially noticed what a lot of lovely dolls in gowns there were. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before but I really like china figurines, the type made by Royal Doulton and others, but I could never afford them. These Barbies seemed like a good alternative to them for a collector. Something beautiful but affordable. However, once I discovered the playline and Fashion Avenue that was a whole lot more fun than just looking at boxed dolls. You have probably noticed what a lot of my dolls are from 1996-1999. I had the money to buy them then and there were a lot of pretty dolls at good prices. Naomi and I used to check out the shops all over the Adelaide metro area for dolls and outfits. We lived in different suburbs so we’d each check our own areas and on our days off from work we had expeditions to other areas to see what they had to offer.

I also really loved the Fashion Fever era. There were some very nice dolls and some great fashions. For me, having fashion dolls is very much about the clothes. That’s why I don’t get a lot of joy out of the modern era playline.

Finally, the Basics. I had become somewhat disappointed with the playline offerings after the end of the Fashion Fever era. When the Black Basics came out I got excited again. These are really lovely dolls I think and that line certainly had the nicest male dolls Mattel had made up to that time. It’s a shame there were not more of them. The sad thing is that despite being touted as dolls that could be redressed Mattel never released a range of fashions for them, just a few accessories. Luckily they look very nice in Fashion Avenue and that gave me a new appreciation for those outfits. It would have been nice if they had a bit more poseability but at least tthere are no ugly joints to spoil the look of an outfit.

So there are my favourites. What are yours?

12 comments

  1. Fashion Fever This is easy.

    The first few years of Barbie had the best quality clothes and detailing, for certain. Fashion Fever had best fabrics & my favorite style of clothes.

    I love the mod era but the fabrics were cheap. I find them disappointing to own.

    Basics 2.0 were nice because they had a more mature look. Like you said, the accessories that were supposed to make these fun and the mix n match just wasn’t there & I care more about the clothes than the dolls.

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  2. I grew up with the first Barbie and had the brunette version along with Ken, Midge, Alan, and Skipper as they were released. Skipper was my last doll and I stopped playing with dolls soon after. I started noticing Barbie again when my granddaughter started playing with them after I moved to England in 2006. I have to say I loved playing with her but Barbie herself in her endless pink and her blonde hair never appealed to me. Then I saw the Barbie Basics dolls and it was love at first sight. I remember the moment! There was an entire wall of them at a shop in Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport and my carryon bag was already crammed. It wasn’t long after that I started collecting and discovered that there was an entire community of adult doll lovers out there. Now all my Barbie Basics dolls have made to move bodies except for my only male from the series.

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  3. The faces of the mod era dolls are among my favourites, and some of the fashions. I too like the Basics line very much as well, and also the The Look range. I agree with you, the first fashions (including the 1600 series) are the best ever made I think, they are stunning! The latest play line dolls are not so much about adult fashion anymore, but I do appreciate the collector’s ranges like BMR1959, the clothes are well made and fashionable.

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  4. It is difficult to pinpoint favourites as there are good and not so good from all eras. The oldest two Barbies I have are Fashion Queen and a brunette swirl ponytail. The eighties and nineties certainly had some lovely dolls. The basics are beautiful but unfortunately I was not really collecting then and do not have any (yet!)

    I had one Barbie as a child. I was only around 4 years old so all I remember was that she was blonde and had the mod face, this would have been in the early seventies. Later, my friend had Malibu Barbie, who was tanned and had an open mouth smile.
    Although I do like the Fashionista range for their diversity I wish they had more poseable bodies.

    Also the clothes! They are “fashion dolls” but it’s difficult to find decent things for them to wear now. The older clothes from the sixties and seventies were so much better made, but we could very rarely afford them at the time. Faerie Glen were a bit cheaper so I had a few of those and mostly made my own.

    My favourite Sindy era I can easily answer – the seventies. I was a child at the time and I had 1974 Funtime Sindy and then Active Sindy when she first came out. To me they are the prettiest dolls with lovely face paint. I didn’t know about 60s Sindy, Paul, Patch et al until I started collecting.

    Unfortunately my favourite Collectibles Shop where I used to get most of my stuff has closed down for good due to the Coronavirus. Back to Ebay and Charity (Op) shops now.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I am such an “out of the box” buyer that I love/collect such a range of dolls. Every one I see as art and it is a challenge to keep hundreds from becoming thousands. In the 80’s I saw an article where a collector was quoted as saying she bought two of everything, one to keep boxed, one to “play with” Lately I see this collectors dolls being sold on e-bay.I love all eras, shapes and sizes,I do however notice I like Barbie size dolls that are characters and celebs.If a doll is just interesting ,even if it came from the dollar store I will gladly put a vintage mink stole on it if it suits the outfit, setting oroccasion.I love a certain brunette mod because she reminds me of a sister,who is passed.I love the man dolls for their simplicity, how fussy can I get about what they wear? Each doll has it’s story..today I am trying to redress a Skipper and anything that looks good for her works for me.

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