I think most of women use to play and someone also collecting until today. It is believed that there are well over a hundred thousand women that own these wonderful collectible dolls. Nearly all these women not girls and about ten percent of Barbie collectors are male as well. Over the years, Barbie has managed to stay in tune with her owners, in dress, physical appearance and at the same time maintain her unique sweetness that has captured the hearts of generations of young girls.
A Barbie girl was portrayed to have the perfect face, figure, clothes and accessories. Barbie girl accessories did not only include items like shoes and bags but extended to items like fur, furniture and even a car and a Malibu House.
Moreover the women that own such collections are statistically usually in their forties and purchase an average of twenty such dolls each year, sometimes spending about a thousand or more dollars in the process.
Barbie has been a hit since it was launched in 1959 and has enslaved children and adult alike with her charm. Perhaps, not a single consumer exists without being aware of who or what a Barbie girl is, even though it has been over 50 years since the first Barbie was produced.
Being one of the most sought after products in the world of doll industry, a Barbie doll has definitely a great potential because of its increasing value. It more than dolls, the Barbie girl image has branched out into other areas like actual fashion for girls. It is like the Barbie girl image was too much to be contained and has spread on to areas like printed materials in the form of books, movies, games and life sized accessories like notebooks and others.
From young girls, teenagers up to older women who were fond of collecting dolls-especially vintage dolls-Barbie has become quite a community. Do you thinking about Barbie, find more Barbie for your collection.
This is a story of gender, culture, strategic management and dolls. The New Yorker has run an article about the epic battle between Mattel, owners of the Barbie doll, and M.G.A., the owners of insurgent Bratz doll line. This is old news to the parents of six year old girls, but for the rest of us, Barbie has been rocked by the upstart Bratz. For the first time in nearly forty years, Barbie’s dominance in the toy market has been challenged. It’s a rich tale, read it yourself, but here are some highlights:
- Barbie was launched in 1959 as an alternative to baby dolls. Before Barbie, most companies focused on baby dolls. Barbie was invented to appeal to girls who wanted to be adult and glamorous. Barbie was an instant hit and crushed all competition over the next three decades. Barbie routinely captured about 80-90% of the doll market.
- Around 2001, M.G.A., a California toy importer, marketed a new doll line called “Bratz.” The concept was simple, yet brilliant. Drop the blond thing and the professional career woman thing. Make the doll ethnically ambiguous, not white and blond. Make the dolls figure less ”Barbie.” Then make the dolls “bling-bling.” Instead of having a job, the girls should be bratty party girls. Shopping, dancing and more shopping was the goal. It was an instant hit. Barbie’s market share dropped from about 90% to 60% in just a few years. Bratz are a run away hit overseas.
- Not surprisingly, Barbie sued Bratz. Mattel claims that the M.G.A. employee who invented Bratz was formerly a Mattel employee. Therefore, his contract prohibited him from sharing ideas developed at Mattel with other companies. M.G.A. disagrees.
- The sociology of Barbie dolls: Child researchers know that dolls have many functions. One function is to help the child develop an identity distinct from the parents, so kids are always looking for toys that parents might not like. In the 1960s, Barbie fit the bill perfectly. Tall, physcially well developed and always working in exciting careers, Barbie stymied parents who wanted their kids to stick with baby dolls or more “innocent” toys. As time went on, Barbie’s function changed. Sure, there was always a crowd that idolized Barbie, but many kids treated Barbie as an object of desecration, a trend documented by lots of market research. I bet many of our readers will remember disfiguring and trashing Barbie dolls. As more moms worked outside the home and had high powered careers, Barbie seemed less cutting edge as moms bonded with girls over Barbie and thus more ridiculous. Also, the blond & white ideal embodied by Barbie became less relevant as America became a more ethnically diverse place. Barbie was now the symbol to be mocked.
- The sociology of Bratz dolls: Bratz are the perfect antidote to Barbie malaise. Why? Parents hate Bratz because they party and shop, and not much else. When I went to the local Target the other day, I went to the toy section and found out that the Bratz “Passion 4 Fashion” doll house has its own disco! I also found out that for about $40, you can buy the Bratz runway truck. You see, the Bratz need to set up a run way to show off the clothes they bought at the mall. So you need the truck, which folds out into a stage, so you can have your own runway fashion show. And no, Bling-Bling Barbie is *not* an adequate response (though she does look suspiciously like a Bratz doll…).
- The other remarkable thing about Bratz is they don’t look like Barbie at all. They are short, have trim figures and are of ambigious ethnicity. This is the exact opposite of Barbie, who is tall, busty and definitely blond. What I found odd was that the “ethnic” Barbie looked like the regular Barbie with a bad make up job. The Bratz come in all kinds of convincing colors and because she has curvy eyes and lips, could be of nearly any ethnicity. Add ethnically vague names like “Clara” and “Yasmin” and you have a doll that can be marketed from Iowa to Beijing.
- Technical note: The Bratz earned their share of the market place with an ingenious invention – snap off feet. A problem with Barbie and other dolls was that you lose the shoes all the time because they are so small. With Bratz, you snap off the lower portion of the leg and feet. Because the foot & ankle is larger than the shoe, it’s easier to find and easier for little hands to hold.
| I was reminded of this display when we were watching The Stepford Wives during our Critical Theory class. The movie is about the horrors of losing female identity and being turned into mere fem-bots for the convenience and pleasure of the men. The wives that have been turned into plastic dolls have no feelings, expressions or desire, they are merely objects that attend to their husbands every whim. The wives are presumed to be killed by the female robots. The horror within the movie is that there is no happy ending. The final eerie shot is of the automaton shopping within the supermarket, cold, artificial and practised. |