Barbie is the world's most popular doll. "She" debuted at the American Toy Fair in New York City in 1959. The 11 and 1/2-inch-tall Aryan looking plastic doll came with a ponytail and a black-and-white striped swimsuit. It was an instant hit and in its first year 351,000 dolls were sold at $3 each.

The well-endowed doll would be freakish in real life -- her original figure would be about 39-18-33 (according to a story) if she were human. The original blue-eyed, blond fashion model has morphed over the decades into a variety of ethnic looks and has had many careers, from astronaut to veterinarian.

"My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be," Ruth Handler (Barbie´s creator) wrote in a 1994 autobiography. "Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices."

Barbie went on to make a fortune for Mattel which sold an expanding number of outfits and accessories for the doll, as well as her boyfriend Ken (named for Handler's son); her little sister, Skipper, and friends Midge and Christie. More than 1 billion have been sold in 150 countries.
Barbie is the world's best selling toy with more than 1 billion sold in 150 countries.

Barbie is named for the daughter of her creator Ruth Handler, co founder of Mattel. Ruth her daughter playing with paper dolls and wondered why there were no adult three dimension dolls for girls to play with. Ruth wanted to create a doll that would inspire little girls to think about they wanted to be when they grew up, hence Barbie the teenage fashion model doll. Certainly a great deal of the appeal (and perhaps some of the distrust on the part of parents and teachers) for Barbie comes from the fact that she is an adult, sexual woman for little girls (and accasionaly even little boys) to play with. Certainly I much preferred playing with adult dolls (of which there are still not very many) than baby dolls.

Barbie was based on a German doll Lilli in Ruth saw in a display case. Lilli was based on pinup girls from poster sold to soldiers during World War II. Mattel cleaned up Barbie’s image before releasing her.

Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She is from Willows, Wisconsin and went to Willows High School. Barbie debuted with the now famous black and white swimsuit and pony tail at the American Toy Fair in 1959. More than 350,000 units were sold the first year leading to back orders. Barbie started with a retail price of $3.


Barbie has caused a lot of controversy through out her lifetime. She has been accused of furthering unrealistic images of the female body. While the exact figures differ depending on which version of Barbie one bases the numbers on no Barbie would be proportioned correctly if life size, and most would not even be able to stand. As a child I always thought Barbie was rather ugly when not fully clothed (thus hiding some of her unnaturalness) and even then only some what attractive, but apparently some people find her as an ideal body to aspire to. (At least that is the worry) I did come across a story on A&E of someone getting plastic surgery to look like Barbie.

On top of her inhuman proportions she has raised more objections when a talking version was released with Barbie complaining that “Math is hard”. This outraged feminists and educators because it furthered the assumption that women are not good at math and science. Barbie has also got in trouble for not being diverse enough. There are only a few non-white Barbie’s, even with the International Barbie’s, and those there are generally just white Barbie’s with the hair and body color change. They do not reflect real differences in appearance.

Barbie Timeline:


1961 –
  • Barbie was the hottest selling fashion doll of all time.
  • Barbie 5 comes out with new hair colors.
  • first Ken doll released. Ken is ½ taller than Barbie.
  • Fuzzy headed Ken is replaced with a Ken with painted hair.
1963 - 1964 – 1965 - 1966 -
  • Barbie’s family expands welcoming cousin Francie and little twin siblings Tutti and Todd.
1967 - 1968 - 1969 -
  • Ken comes back with muscles, a new head, knees that bend, and the ability to speak.
1970 -
  • Living Barbie comes with elbows, knees, and ankles that bend and swiveling head, waist arms, hands and legs.
  • Malibu Barbie’s debuts.
  • For the first time Barbie looks straight ahead rather than demurely glancing to the side.
1974 - 1975 - 1976 – 1977 –
  • Super Size Barbie at 18 inches tall is released.
1980 -
  • The Barbie collecting craze begins with the fist Barbie convention
  • First Black and Hispanic Barbies come out as well as the beginning of the international collection
1981 1984 1985 - 1986 –
  • First Collectors Lines begun with the release of Blue Rhapsody Barbie. She is the first limited edition Barbie and the first to be made of porcelain.
1988- 1989 – 1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 -
  • First Barbie web-site
1997 - 1999 -
  • Barbie turns fourty.
  • Barbie is voted onto a stamp commemorating the 1960’s lifestyle.
2000 - 2001 - Sources:


In 1987 an independent film director, Todd Haynes made a "biography" of The Carpenters (70s soft rock brother/sister duo)-titled-Superstar.

It was neither animated nor live action.

Barbie and Ken dolls were used for all of the characters, with voice overs and actual Carpenters music.

Life imitating art.

If Barbie were a real woman, she'd be seven feet tall with a 40-inch bust, 22-inch waist and 36-inch hips. And her legs would be about five feet long.

Source: I think I read this in some Susan Faludi book.

Of course we were very poor when I was young so my sister never had a real Barbie and had to make do with cheap Barbie knock-offs like "Stacy" and "Barpie" (which was an ethnic rip-off.)

How to pull off a Barbie head in two seconds flat: The secret technique for certain Barbie decapitation is to sqeeze the neck while yanking on the head. The best place to grip Barbie's head is around the jaw and not the hair (newbie mistake). Caveat: I haven't needed to do this for a number of years so I'm not sure this still works on Modern Barbies.

System: Nintendo Entertainment System
Publisher: Hi-Tech Expressions
Release Date: December 1991

There have been a number of Barbie-related games for nearly every console imaginable. The Nintendo Entertainment System release was one of the first, and is either a cult classic or a train wreck -- it depends entirely on who you ask. This game, simply titled 'Barbie', was released in December of 1991 and was developed by Hi-Tech Expressions. The game begins as Barbie is going to bed and thinking about her plans for the following day. Players can see into her mind thanks to thought bubbles; she looks forward to a trip to the beach, shopping for a new dress, and a date with Ken. She drifts off to sleep and dreams of the shopping spree from hell.

The playable part of the game takes place in a rather bizarre mall; the player must navigate Barbie through the sports store, the food court, a pet store, a toy store and a jukebox. This is a rather bizarre nightmare, however, and the mall is completely empty except for Barbie and a large number of possessed inanimate objects. The objective is to get Barbie through the mall so she can find her dream dress for her date with Ken (apparently there's a date with Ken within the dream, as well). Barbie has to get from one end of the level to the other (this is a side scrolling game) without depleting her Z meter. Each hit she takes from one of the inanimate objects of death removes one Z from the meter. She can, however, freeze the movement of these objects by throwing charms from her charm bracelet at them. She has three different charms at her disposal and certain charms work on certain objects. The charms can also be used to modify elements of each level; sometimes charms must be used to move parts of the scenery (thus enabling Barbie to complete the level). Let me tell you, though, it's kind of scary to lead a character through a mall where sports equipment and fast food are conspiring against you.

The gameplay is extremely rigid. This game requires precise timing in order to avoid certain death, though the game takes a reasonably long time to respond to the player's commands. The A button is used to jump (which happens extremely slowly) and the B button is used to throw charms. The arrow pad is used to toggle between the different charms and to walk. Throwing charms is also often difficult because the game doesn't respond to use of the B button too quickly. These seemingly small 'problems' can mean the difference between making it past part of a level and losing several Zs. Another reasonably annoying features lets the player 'control' how far and high the charms are thrown. This is a necessary evil, as some of the targets are higher or further than a normal charm's throw away, but the actual aiming takes a while to get used to.

The game's graphics are generally what one can expect from an 8-bit video game, however the specifics of the mall don't exactly make a lot of sense. The mall's specific areas don't seem to flow into each other like those of a real mall, and the food court isn't in the middle of the building. Accuracy isn't one of the main objectives of such a video game, however, so the geography of the mall probably wasn't the programmers' biggest concern. The sound is also what one might expect from an NES game. The music is not spectacular though it's not quite as obnoxious or as repetitive as that of other NES games.

The major problem most people (including myself) have with this game is its subject matter. The entire storyline revolves around Barbie attempting to find the perfect dress so as to make herself "look pretty" for her boyfriend. It also places a lot of emphasis on rather frivolous elements of life (like the mall and shopping) while ignoring things like education and self-improvement. Come on, you say. This is a video game. Does anyone really care? Well, yes. This game was released when I was six. It was targeted at young girls. You have to wonder what kind of effects it had/has on the people who played it. Now, mind you, I was somewhat disturbed by all the pink at the age of six. Others might not have been so cynical. As Glowing Fish points out, there was also no point in targeting such a lame game at girls; many girls were just as taken with The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario and Final Fantasy series as their male counterparts.

Some people, however, look back on this game as one of those games that makes absolutely no sense but has some historic value.

According to one independent game reviewer1, this game was not met with much enthusiasm by feminists and members of the women's movement. Mattel allegedly attempted to save face by making Barbie a biochemist in their next video game. They included an awful lot of pink and indicated that Barbie wouldn't really take a biochemical position too seriously, though, and didn't really make the situation much better.

The cartridge itself is quite rare. Should anyone want to find it for whatever reason, I suggest they try an online auction site. I haven't looked for it, though, so I don't know how much luck you'd have.


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