Barbie, whose full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, is a 29-cm tall plastic doll. Barbie has a figure that resembles that of an adult woman. Mattel, Inc., a toy company in southern California, introduced her on March 9, 1959. Ruth Handler, one of the founders of Mattel, with her husband, Elliot, spearheaded the introduction of the doll.
The inspiration for Barbie came from the German Bild Lilli doll, a risqué gag gift for men based upon a cartoon character featured in the West German newspaper Bild Zeitung.
Since even before her release, Barbie has incited controversy. The Barbie doll got criticised as having "too much figure" when Mattel conducted a market study in 1958. Mattel, however, ignored this criticism and advertised Barbie directly to children via television. Mattel sponsored the Walt Disneys Mickey Mouse Club program in 1955. They became the first toy company to broadcast commercials aimed at children.
Below you can see how Barbie has changed over the years.
Ken, Barbie's boyfriend, got released in 1961 due to the popularity of the Barbie doll. Barbie and Ken were both named after Ruth and Elliott's children. In 1963, Barbie's best friend, Midge, was released and in 1964, her younger sister Skipper.
Barbie has always received criticism for her figure. In 1995 a research team in Finland found that if Barbie had to be a real woman, she would have had too little body fat to menstruate. Although all the controversy if we look at all the variants released, we learn that Barbie had many careers in the past, including Airline Pilot, Astronaut, Olympian and even an American Presidential Candidate. She is an inspiration for girls from all over the world to follow their dreams.
The logo for Barbie has changed several times over the years, with the last change in 2009. Barbie's latest logo is the same as the original logo from 1959, but with an additional element of a circle containing a silhouette of her head.
Over 60 years after the release of this doll, Barbie is still as popular as it was then. Barbie is a global brand, the same as Coca Cola, and although the growth of sales is not as high as in the 1990s, sales of Barbie dolls and accessories still amount to over a billion US Dollars every year. In 2021 the gross sales from the Barbie brand totalled an amount of 1.673 Billion dollars. According to Mattel, there are two Barbies sold every second. That calculates to over 60 million Barbie dolls sold annually.
The Barbie Doll is highly collectable. Collectors are looking for both old and special edition Barbies that Mattel produced specifically for this market. Barbie's most expensive doll to date is the Stefani Canturi Barbie, which sold at auction for $302,500.
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