Sunday, November 29, 2009

'Tis The Season

I started my holiday shopping on Black Friday. But unlike some shoppers, I did not have to throw any elbows or shove fellow deal-seekers to get the products I wanted. Downtown Chicago actually is pretty tame at 7 am the day after Thanksgiving compared to the typical crowds at big box retailers. Of course, by 11 am, the crowds came out, so I headed home.

Since I was shopping for others and not myself, I did not purchase any Barbies or even look too closely for good Black Friday Barbie deals.

But I'm curious: Were there good sales on Barbies this weekend? Did you find some choice dolls for cheap, cheap, cheap?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rockettes Barbie

I purchased this doll in the early '90s during my first trip to FAO Schwartz in New York City. A visit to the fabled toy store and a green light from my mother to purchase a fancy doll? It was a quasi-religious experience for me as a child.

I love the positioning of Barbie in the box, with one leg kicking. (Though, Barbie will have to work on getting her leg higher, because it is no where near high enough for Rockettes' standards.)

Admittedly, I struggled as a child with keeping this lovely doll in the box. Just look at her fun outfits and billowing hair! Two outfits? Fantastic!

I have no idea how I managed to keep her MIB all these years.

I've been to FAO Schwartz multiple times since my first trip, and I have purchased additional dolls from the store. Yet, none of the subsequent trips stands out in my memory quite so boldly as the first one with Rockettes Barbie.

In the age of video games, cell phones and flashy toys, I hope children today still can get excited about visiting a large toy store and purchasing something special.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Generations Of Dreams Barbie At Costco

While loading up on a few hundred rolls of toilet paper and other bulk items at my local Costco in Chicago, I wandered through the holiday toy aisle and found Generations of Dream Barbie for $24.97.

Holy half-price deal, Batman!

She is listed for $50 on Mattel's Web site.

I was tempted to purchase her just for the good deal, but I didn't.

I was not a fan of the doll or the Generations of Dreams fabric when I first saw it online, and the in-person look I got today did nothing to change my feelings toward her. In fact, I felt her hair looked stiff and overdone--not soft and bouncy like the preview photo showed.

Overall? Meh.

But while I may not be a fan, I know plenty of people find her lovely. So any fellow collectors in the Chicagoland area who have her on their holiday wish lists should get over to Costco ASAP!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lowered Expactations For Barbie Megastore

Let me start off by saying I can't help but think of MadTV when I think of "lowered expectations."

Here's what I'm talking about.

Now that you have the Lowered Expectations song stuck in your head as well, I can move on.

The Barbie megastore in Shanghai is not meeting its original sales targets, and Mattel already has lowered its sales expectations. The store, which features 800 dolls encased in plastic boxes hung on steel ropes, opened in March. Read my previous blog post on it here.

Sadly, I'm not planning a trip to Shanghai any time soon, so I won't be able to see firsthand what the store is like. However, I will be at the Mall of America the week before Christmas to check out the Barbie display.

While I am dreading the crush of holiday shoppers at the oversized mall, I'm pretty excited to see the display!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Diversion: Biggest Barbie Regret

It's a gloomy Thursday in Chicagoland, and I'm desperately seeking distractions from cube-life. So what am I doing instead of working? I'm thinking about the one that got away. No, not a man: A doll.

I was a youngin' back in 1990, but despite my age I already was an obsessed collector. That was the year the Bob Mackie Gold Barbie debuted, the first in a series.

Breathtaking. She features a sequined and bejeweled slinky gold dress and a sky-high blond ponytail.

I no longer remember her original retail price, but at the time it was too much for my parents to spend on a doll. At some point, I received a decorative collector plate with her image on it. Not the same.

There are a good number of them on eBay currently, ranging from $100 to more than $300. But in this economy, she'll remain elusive.

Surely, I'm not the only collector to have missed out on a special doll. Let me hear your stories and, hopefully, happy endings where doll and collector are together at last.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Refrain From Licking Your Barbie Toys

The Center for Environmental Health, a California-based advocacy group, found high levels of lead in some children's toys carrying the Barbie logo. Among the toys with high lead levels was a Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit.

Mattel apparently licensed the Barbie name to Bell Sports for the bike kit, but Mattel did not make or sell it, according to the Associate Press report.

The advocacy group purchased the toy at Tuesday Morning.

Here's the group's report about the products.

(Disclaimer: I am kidding around with the title of this post. I do understand keeping products lead-free and safe for both children and adults is a serious issue. No angry e-mails, please!)

Monday, November 16, 2009

At Least He's Wearing Shoes

Mattel has released an image of the third Twilight-inspired doll. This one is actor Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, apparently a werewolf with six-pack abs.

(I have not read the Twilight books nor seen the movie, so I don't have much insight into the characters.)

The doll is wearing denim shorts, black shoes...and that's it. Maybe Mattel will include a shirt in the box?

Entertainment Weekly seems to think the doll looks more like the actor than the Edward or Bella dolls. What do you think?

Taylor/Jacob will be available in February for $24.95. Twilight lovers can get Edward and Bella in stores now.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mocking The Latest Ken-Wreck

Despite rumors that Mattel has stopped production on Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken, columnists and bloggers are continuing to milk Mattel's latest Ken-wreck for humor and snark.

(What is a Ken-wreck? It's a Ken doll with styling and accessories that defy most logic, sense or taste. Think of a Cake Wreck with homosexual stereotypes instead of frosting. It's a new term. Use it. Love it. I'm hoping it will catch on.)

Writer Michael Mooney got into the Ken-wreck spirit with a list of 10 other Florida stereotypes that would make good dolls.


Here's his list (check out the full article here for explanations of each):
1. Failed Real Estate Investor Ken
2. Oversexed Cougar Barbie
3. Can't Tell His Parents He's Gay Ken
4. Desperate Sorority Girl Turned Porn Star Barbie
5. $30,000 Millionaire Ken
6. Negligent Mother-to-Be Barbie
7. Drunk Before Noon in a Dive Bar Ken
8. Still Drinks Where She Did in High School Barbie
9. Ponzi Scheme Ken
10. Overbearing Yenta Barbie

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This Sugar Daddy Isn't So Sweet

Poor Ken. What has Mattel done to you now?

Palm Beach Sugar Daddy Ken is the latest head-scratching design from Mattel for Barbie's boyfriend. He features white slacks, a pink shirt and a green patterned jacket. It also looks like he has white loafers on his feet. Sugar Daddy Ken comes with a little white dog on a pink leash.

The name is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. The dog's name is Sugar. Therefore, Ken is "Sugar's Daddy."


Once again, there is speculation and discussion about Ken's sexual orientation. It's a credit to Barbie that she's stood by her man all these years and endured these ongoing rumors. (Well, except for that messy "break" they took in 2004.)

Read about Sugar Daddy here, here, here and here.

By the way, Sugar Daddy Ken and his dandy outfit and tan fit nicely with my last post.