Monday, December 28, 2009

Barbie At Mall Of America

I stopped by the "What A Doll!" exhibit at the Mall of America in Minnesota last week to see the Barbie retrospective and check out the store. And by "stopped by" I mean battled the holiday-shopping crowds and tried not to hyperventilate.

The store was neat, but I did not buy anything. There were a few dolls available, such as the retro reproductions and Generations of Dreams Barbie. They already were sold out of the massive Barbie house pictured at the center of the display. Additional products included "witty" t-shirts, coffee mugs, luggage tags, jewelry and watches. The prices weren't bad. (I considered the luggage tag priced at $5.)

The mall did a good job of marketing the store and exhibit dolls. Check out those elevator doors!

I saw Barbie signage everywhere, starting at the glass doors when I walked in.

The mall put two dolls in each exhibit case, and sorted the dolls into genres. I was a little irritated to discover the mall stretched the exhibit out along an entire mall corridor (and they are BIG corridors). The holiday Barbies were clustered around the store, and the other exhibits lined the corridor.

The collections included "I Can Be," a grouping of career-themed dolls such as Miss America Barbie and Astronaut Barbie; "Heritage," a grouping of popular "fashion" dolls such as Peaches N Cream Barbie and Totally Hair Barbie; and "Designer," a grouping of dolls inspired by designers such as Burberry Barbie and Kate Spade Barbie.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Word About Dust

Dust is annoying. It's also crafty. It manages to not only cover the tops of my NRFB dolls, but also it worms its way in between them to coat the shelves they sit on.

Messy, messy, messy.

I try to keep my collection as dust-free as possible, but I only do a deep-clean one to two times a year (like today). The amount of cloths I use for wiping is staggering.

I walk away from the project grimy and tired. And while I'm happy to have a sparkling-clean collection once again, I know deep down that the first layer of dust already has begun to settle on them. By next week, it likely will be visible. And by next month? I don't even want to think about it.

Dust is a huge pain. How do you manage it, fellow collectors?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays, fellow collectors!

May you get all the dolls on your wish list.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fun Facts

Sure, we collectors know a lot of facts about Barbie that the lay person might not, but there's always more to learn!

Here's a fun list of Barbie trivia from the Indianapolis Star.

Among the fun facts:
-Barbie is from Willow, WI, and attended Willows High School.
-Mattel sold 300,000 Barbies in 1959 when the doll cost $3.
-Barbie has had 108 careers in her lifetime.
-U.S. girls between ages 3 and 6 own an average of 12 Barbies.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Burka" Barbie

An Italian designer created a set of multicultural Barbie dolls for a late-November auction that celebrated Barbie's 50th anniversary.

Fine and dandy.

But the designer, Eliana Lorena, added a Burka-clad doll among the collection.

And now all hell has broken loose, as many collectors and non-collectors have gotten worked up about it.

I've tried to stay away from this topic, which has exploded in press outlets and the blogosphere. (Honestly, I think for many people a "Burka Barbie" headline was just too good to resist.) But in keeping tabs on all things Barbie, I felt compelled to mention the auction and the controversy.

So this is me mentioning it. I'm going to refrain from throwing my two cents into the mix, so here's a nice LA Times Blog post that mentions both sides.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Favorite Face

A lot of Barbie collectors are excited about the new Barbie Basics line of 12 dolls. I've seen plenty of doll-related blogs and bulletin boards teeming with excitement over them.

Each doll has a different face mold and little black dress. It's a neat concept, and designer Bill Greening did a good job with their vampy styling.

So why do they fail to excite me? It took me awhile to figure it out, but I think it comes down to this: I am forever and always, first and foremost a fan of the Superstar face mold.

The Barbie Basics face molds from left to right in the picture are:
1. Steffie
2. Mblili
3. Kayla/Lea
4. Lara
5. Tango
6. Mackie
7. Teresa
8. Aphrodite
9. Goddess
10. Carnaval
11. Diva
12. Desiree

Where's my Superstar?

Mattel introduced the Superstar face mold in the late seventies with Superstar Barbie. It features an open-mouth smile, and Mattel used the mold heavily throughout the 80s and 90s. (Here's a nice collection of Superstar mold pictures. You can see some of the different ways it has been painted and styled.)

As a child of the 80s, it's the mold I grew up with, the one used on most of the dolls that I played with as a kid.

And now, as an adult, it's the face mold I naturally gravitate towards as a collector.

A close second-favorite face mold for me is the Mackie, which is included among the Barbie Basics dolls. She is my favorite out of the 12.

Mattel introduced the Mackie mold, which features a closed mouth, with Bob Mackie's Neptune Fantasy Barbie in the early 90s. Many of the dolls in my collection and those I played with in the 90s had this face mold. (Check out some examples of the Mackie mold here.)

I know I always will choose dolls with these face molds over others. They just appeal to me. It's a combination of nostalgia and liking what's most familiar.

Do other collectors experience the same thing? Do you typically go for one face over the others?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Insight Into Mattel's Faltering Shanghai Flagship

Last month I mentioned Mattel's lowered sales expectations for its flagship Barbie store in Shanghai.

It seems the reason behind the store's financial hiccups is a lack of interest among Chinese girls in all things Barbie pink, according to a public radio report.

One Shanghai consultant and shopper points out that she never played with Barbie as a child, and thus is not very interested in the brand as an adult.

Additionally, the Barbie pink color and the midriff-baring clothing sold at the store are not popular among Chinese shoppers, which is an indication that Mattel does not understand the Chinese market, according to a China Market Research employee.