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Barbie

Barbie was founded in 1959 by Ruth Handler. Handler created the idea for barbie, watching her young daughter Barbara play with paper dolls and giving them more mature roles. Noticing a gap in the market of dolls, Handler confronted her husband Elliot, the co-founder of Mattel, with the idea of an adult- bodied doll. Initially the idea of the more mature doll did not go over well, Mattel thought little girls should playing with baby dolls.

In 1956, during a trip to Germany with her two children, Barbara and Kenneth, Handler noticed a doll in a shop window that looked exactly like what she had in mind. It was called the Bild Lilli Doll. The Lilli doll was based off of a comic strip created by Reinhard Beuthin called Die Bild-Zeitung. Lilli had an adult body, and was a working-class girl who knew what she wanted and was not afraid to go after it.

Handler purchased three of the German dolls and brought them back to Mattel to show her husband. Handler reworked the dolls image with engineer Jack Ryan and the doll was named after Handler's daughter Barbara, aka Barbie. Barbie first debut at America's International Toy Fair in March of 1959. The first barbie was dressed in a black and white zebra striped swimsuit, wore a pony tail and came in your choice of blonde or brunette. Barbie was marketed as a *Teen-age Fashion Model* with her clothes designed by Mattel fashion designer Charlotte Johnson.

In 1961 the first Ken doll was debut, named after Handler's son Kenneth. Ken's full name is Ken Carson, and is known as Barbie's beau.

When Barbie first debut, Handler was criticized by the public. In her autobiography, Dream Doll, she tells us comments from the public, *little girls want baby dolls. They want to pretend to be mommies,* but Handler rebutted back with *No they don't, little girls want to pretend to be bigger girls,* and she was absolutely right. Handler went with the philosophy of *know your customer*. Handler learned to market to children instead of parents by advertising on television.

Barbie has become a cultural icon and role model for little girls all over the world.

Fun Facts about Barbie:

  • DOB: March 9, 1959
  • Full Name: Barbara Millicent Roberts
  • Parents: George and Margaret Roberts of Willows, Wisconsin
  • High Schools: Willows High School in Willows, Wisconsin & Manhattan International High School in New York City
  • In 1971 Barbie's eyes were adjusted to look forwards rather than sideways
  • In 1999 Barbie made a guest appearance in Toy Story 2
  • Barbie has over 38 pets including cats, dogs, horses, a panda, a zebra and a lion cub
  • Barbie holds a pilot's license and can fly commercial airplanes as well as be a flight attendant
  • In 2003, Saudi Arabia banned Barbie stating she did not conform to the ideals of Islam
  • If Barbie was made into a real woman, she would be 7'2 feet tall, weigh 115-130lbs, Hips: 30-36 in., waist: 18-23 in., bust: 38-48 in. and lack 17-22% body fat
  • In 1997 Barbie was given a wider waist better suited for contemporary fashion designs
  • The first African American barbie was debuted in 1968 and named Christie
  • Barbie was one of the first toys to have a marketing strategy based extensively on television advertising
  • Malibu Stacy from the Simpsons is a parody of Barbie and Lisa Lionheart is her rival doll
  • Every second 3 Barbie dolls are sold according to Mattel

Barbie Collector Tier System

Barbie is now packaged easier for collectors in the Tier system including four different tiers of Pink, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Pink - Unlimited production


Pink is the first tier. The Pink Label includes dolls from the Princess Collection and the *I Love Lucy* celebrity dolls. The Pink Label dolls come packaged in a box with a clear acetate front trimmed in pink. The Pink Label dolls will not be limited in production and are mainly sold at Wal-Mart stores.

Silver - Up to 50,000 in production


Silver is the second tier. The Silver Label includes the Birthday Wishes dolls. Each doll in the Silver Label is limited to 50,000 created worldwide. The Silver Label comes packaged in a silver-trimmed closed box which features the doll's photo or other artwork on the cover. The doll is protected behind a layer of acetate and the back of the box can create an easel for easy display. Silver Label dolls will only be available to select retailers, mainly sold at Toys R Us.

Gold - Up to 25,000 in production


Gold is the third tier and second hardest to find. Each doll in the Gold Label is limited to 25,000 created worldwide. This label will include the popular Barbie Fashion Model Collection Model of the Moment dolls. The Gold Label comes in the same packaging as the Silver Label with the acetate front, artwork on the cover, gold trim and with the easel back. Gold Label dolls are sold at authorized dealers as well as fine retailers.

Platinum - Up to 1,000 in production


The Platinum tier is the most limited, with production of less than 1,000 dolls worldwide. This tier includes one of a kind dolls available at select events such as the Bob Mackie doll created for Dream Halloween.

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