I was just 4 years old when Ruth Handler invented the Barbie Doll in 1959. I remember many days filled playing with Barbie, my sisters and our friends. Mom let us create an entire Barbie town in the basement. Oh, those were the good old days.
Barbie was named after Ruth's daughter, Barbara. The doll was designed to inspire Barbara's dreams for the future and has inspired many millions (billions?) of other young girls in the past 50 years. The Barbie Doll has changed with the times and remains one of girls' best friends. Barbie's clothes and face changed along with societal trends over the years. The Barbie product line has also become multi-cultural, as well it should have. The Barbie product line is the most successful in the history of the toy industry!
You may recall that the first Barbie had a zebra striped bathing suit, sandals, a ponytail, sunglasses and earrings.
The Ken Doll, named for Ruth's son, was introduced in 1961 as Barbie's steady boyfriend. Other dolls introduced in the Barbie line include Midge in 1963 and Skipper in 1965. An African-American doll named Christie was introduced in 1968. Much more recently, Barbie's little sister Kelly was introduced in 1995, followed in 1997 by a disabled friend, Becky.
Barbie dolls became highly collectible. Collecting Barbie dolls seems to have begun in the 1970s, soon after the vintage look dolls were no longer being produced. In the late 1980s, Mattel started creating dolls aimed at adult collectors. By the 1990s, collectors had started hoarding Barbie Dolls and they became hard to find, so Mattel had to increase production, thus making the collectible dolls drop in value. By the end of the 1990s, it appeared that the collecting craze was over.
This Barbie doll, circa 1990, sports a WNBA uniform, complete with a Spalding basketball and a trophie. She will soon be available in my Etsy shop.
In 1999, came the Barbie Fashion Model Collection. Collectors were now excited about the couture fashions and the availability of couture fashions sold separately as well. Accessories were also included. These dolls sold like crazy and became harder to find too. New collectible Barbie dolls have continued to be introduced over the years.
What are your favorite Barbie doll memories? Are you a collector? Please comment to let me and my readers know!