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Issue of the day: Barbie is booming in her 60s

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SHE is more than 60-years-old but certainly doesn’t look it. With sales peaking and a new movie in the works, Barbie is booming.

She’s an OAP?

The famous fashion doll arrived on toy store shelves in 1959 after Los Angeles businesswoman, Ruth Handler, felt her daughter’s toy choices were limited to “moms and caregivers”. She said: “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.” Handler went on to become the founder and president of Mattel, the world’s largest toy firm.



Since her launch?

It is estimated that more than one billion have been sold around the world in more than 150 countries. Mattel say that sales equate to around three Barbie dolls every second.


Has she moved with the times?

In the early 1960s, to inspire girls and support more women entering the workforce, ‘career’ dolls were released, including the fashion editor doll, the nurse, the flight attendant and the “executive career girl”, taking the blonde bombshell into a new direction.



After receiving “hundreds of letters from little girls asking for a boyfriend for Barbie” Mattel said, Ken debuted in March 1961, initially sporting red swimming trunks with a yellow towel and sandals.

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Barbie is a media mogul?

She has her own animated movies, YouTube channel, video games and books. 


She has had her critics?

Not everyone viewed the blonde plastic doll with the ‘perfect’ figure as an ideal role model and in recent years, different versions have been released in a range of ethnicities and body shapes, including Barbies with prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs.


Sales are soaring?

Amid lockdown, as parents have endeavoured to keep children entertained, sales have rocketed, hitting $1.35 billion last year – the highest since at least 2014. Around the world, Barbie sales were up 16 per cent in 2020.



Just last week, Mattel released a Barbie doll of tennis ace Naomi Osaka, featuring the four-time Grand Slam winner and current Australian Open holder, saying the sports star “is a force on and off the court…known for using her platform to speak out about issues surrounding human rights and racial injustice”. The posable toy – which retailed for $29.99 – sold out in only a few hours and many are now retailing for hundreds of dollars on eBay.


Barbie’s now Hollywood-bound?

Greta Gerwig – who directed 2019’s Little Women movie –  is helming the new live action Barbie movie that will star Academy Award-nominated actress, Margot Robbie, in the lead role. The Australian actress told British Vogue of the part: “It comes with a lot of baggage – and a lot of nostalgic connections. But with that come a lot of exciting ways to attack it.“

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As for the future?

Kim Culmone, global head of design for Barbie, has said of future plans: “As we design Barbie for the next generation, we are focused on evolving to remain the most diverse doll line in the marketplace.”


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