When I was online earlier today I noticed that once again Mattel had released a new Barbie celebrating a pop culture icon. This time it was Elton John.
It’s become quite a trend to release Barbie collectibles like this where she represents a male character and I have to say I don’t get it. Before Elton there was the David Bowie Barbie. I heard about this doll long before there were photos and waited eagerly to see what the doll would be like. I have to say I was disappointed. David Bowie as a doll would have been fabulous. Instead we got Barbie’s tribute to David Bowie, not the same thing at all. I would have preferred something more like the ‘Barbie loves Elvis” or “Barbie Loves Frank Sinatra” type issues with Barbie and the actual character together. I realise that this may not always be possible because of copyright laws or permissions from the estates of the people concerned but still I was disappointed.
Then there are the Star Wars dolls. Star Wars has some strong female characters and I’m fine with Mattel making Barbie as those. But why do they have to make Barbie as Darth Vader, C3PO or a Stormtrooper? OK Stormtroopers might be women, we can’t see under their armour but Darth Vader is most definitely not a woman! How can you have a female Darth Vader saying “Luke, I am your father?” No, no, no!
Mind you I probably would buy a de-boxed Darth to redress because I think she is a pretty cool looking.
The first time I ever saw this idea from Mattel was Barbie as George Washington, this was back in 1996 and was an FAO Schwarz limited edition. I had barely begun to collect dolls at the time and thought it was a weird idea to be honest.
In a way I feel it shows Mattel’s disinterest in doing anything much with Ken. They could have had Ken’s tribute to Bowie or Elton John, but no, they had to use Barbie. Naomi and I were talking the other week about the fact that Ken will turn 60 next year and wondering what Mattel will do for him. I’m not optimistic as the 50th anniversary was celebrated by “Happy Birthday Ken” a Barbie doll. I love Barbie of course but this really annoys me. However, that is a whole other post and I won’t do two ranty posts on the same day.
So what do others think of Barbie in male guise? Do you like them purely as dolls to display? Do you think that Mattel should stick to portraying her as a woman? There are plenty of interesting women Barbie can be as we already know from “Inspiring Women”.
Note: As I don’t own any of these dolls I have lifted their photos from Mattel.com and stock photos used by eBay sellers.