Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bratz Wins

Mattel has to pay up, according to the results of a federal retrial regarding the feud between Barbie and Bratz.

All eight jury members agreed to reject Mattel's copyright infringement claims, stating Mattel did not own the rights to the dolls, the early models or sketches and that MGA Entertainment Inc. did not steal trade secrets.

What will this cost Mattel? $88.5 million in damages. Ouch.

Read the full story here and here and here. And if you want to know what Perez Hilton thinks about the verdict, check it out here.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Up for Bid

Anyone in the California area looking for a unique Barbie to bid on?

The Peninsula Education Foundation, a non-profit group focused on schools in Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif., is holding an online auction, and among the items up for bid is a 1998 Fantasy Goddess of Asia Barbie.

Barbie wears a hand-beaded gown designed by Bob Mackie, and the NRFB doll includes all the original accessories and packaging.

It gets cooler.

Also included is a signed fashion print of Bob Mackie's design. Print is imprinted with Bob Mackie's signature and hand signed by Ruth Handler and her daughter Barbara. The interior box is also hand signed by the same. There's also a "Dream Doll" book signed by author Ruth Handler.

The doll is available to bid on here through tomorrow (Monday, April 25) evening.

There is some fine print: California Sales Tax of 9.75% will be added to winning bid. Pick up only, no Shipping.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is Barbie an American Phenomena?

Barbie's recent failed Shanghai store calls into question her international appeal, according to this article. It raises the idea that the rampant love, nostalgia and following of Barbie might be a truly American phenomena and might not translate perfectly across borders.

From the article:
American companies hope to tap into the growing Chinese market by simply replanting their current products, without shaping them towards the tastes of the local market. For some companies, the gimmick of "American-ness" can actually work in their favor, a trend Mattel hoped to exploit. Other companies fail because their products are unappealing in their foreignness.

Certainly, many Barbie lovers exist in the United States, but I'm not sure they could support a store along the lines of what Mattel had built in Shanghai. Those who love Barbie love her very much, while most others (especially most other adults) are rather indifferent. The problem may be less that Barbie is American and more that there aren't enough adults in the world willing to sit and sip cocktails in a Barbie-themed store.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sensitive Topic

Let me state first I in no way intend to make light of eating disorders. They are serious, and people fighting against them should be commended for their efforts.

However, I don't think Barbie needs to shoulder the blame for people's image problems.

A young person writes on the Huffington Post about her efforts to raise awareness of eating disorders. Read the full story here.

From the article:
Despite her bizarre appearance, Barbie provides something that many advocacy efforts lack. She reminds of something we once loved, while showing us the absurdity of our obsession with perfection.

I have trouble with this. Who said Barbie represents perfection? She's a doll. A plastic thing. What about other dolls on the market; do they represent perfection, too? What about the other influences present in a person's life?

Like the author, I have fond memories of playing with Barbie. I played with her a lot and for many, many years. What I don't have is an eating disorder. Had I played exclusively with baby dolls, Cabbage Patch Kids or Strawberry Shortcake, I assume my childhood and later my adulthood would have been very much the same (though my shelves might be filled with a different type of collection).

Barbie has a small waist and ample bust, but she need not be demonized for it.

Yes, people need to be aware of eating disorders. Yes, they are a problem. But an eating disorder, I hypothesize, is the product of many different influences and factors, including everything from celebrity culture to the way fellow children treat a person growing up to a person's parents. Not one doll.