There are so many tangents with this topic! It’s like following a maze.
The other half of the booklet has simpler information that’s not as likely to send me off on another internet deep-dive:
These sections describe several of Barbie’s attributes, like her classic ponytail, coy expression, zebra bathing suit, and blue-lens sunglasses.
The opposite side of the booklet has a warranty statement (and the trivia quiz) but also some small photographs of other 1994 collector dolls:
I found all of these dolls for sale online, and none of them are crazy-expensive. I like the Bob Mackie Queen of Hearts doll best, and she can be found new-in-box on eBay for $60-$120.
The two sides of the booklet fold open to reveal a huge, silvery Barbie “family tree:”
|More like a timeline.|
The shiny metallic finish on this paper makes it hard to read, but I’ll zoom in on a few areas.
The top line shows Barbie’s family and their friends, starting in 1959 and ending in the 1990s:
In the 1960s, Barbie’s family included Skipper (sibling), Francie (cousin), and twins Tutti and Todd (siblings). Skipper’s friends were Ricky and Skooter.
The 1960 names are pretty bad (Tutti and Skooter?) but the 1970 names are worse. Here, Skipper adds three friends: Fluff, Tiff, and Ginger. Okay, Ginger is fine. But Fluff and Tiff? Mattel, what were you
|Barbie Fluff, photo courtesy of Daniel Faulconer and rocket88.|
The names of Barbie’s family and their friends get slightly better in the 80s and 90s, but also a little confusing:
For example, Stacie is Jazzie’s friend…but also Barbie’s sister? And where did Tutti go? She’s hard to forget. I think what happened is that the name Tutti was replaced with Stacie in the 90s, which was not a bad decision. To make things even more confusing, Jazzie also had a friend named Chelsie, and of course Chelsea is the current name for Barbie’s youngest sibling.
If you look at Wikipedia now, it says that Barbie has three sisters: Skipper, Stacie, and Kelly (a.k.a. Chelsea), and no brothers. So what happened to Todd? Did Todd become Kelly/Chelsea? But that doesn’t make sense because Stacie and Todd were supposed to be twins…or at least Tutti and Todd were…and Stacie is older than Kelly. I guess Todd and Tutti were technically “discontinued.” Can you discontinue your family, though?! Apparently Barbie can.
Here’s a great photo of a cute redheaded Tutti and Todd before they got…discontinued:
Anyway, the next line on the tree gives details about all of Barbie’s friends–and there are a lot of them!
The Steffie character stood out to me from that list because I know that there’s another fashion doll from the Simba company named Steffi (without the “e”). There are a lot of pregnant and mom-themed Steffi dolls:
|Steffi has really tiny babies.|
But Steffi-without-the-e is not related to Barbie in any way.
I’d actually forgotten that there’s a Steffie in Barbie’s world! She was only around for a year back in the early 70s, I think, but her face mold still gets used–and it’s really pretty!
|The Steffie mold on Barbie Collector Basics #3.|
Barbie’s friends get out of control in the 80s and 90s, so I’m not even going to discuss that group (we’d be here all day), but there’s one more thing that I found interesting.
|Maybe that coincided with her getting flexible knees?|
I looked for photos of Dancer, and she’s awesome! She has tons of articulation. I actually purchased the very horse in this auction photo:
By the time 1980 rolled around, Barbie started to have a lot more pets. This began with her Afghan hound, Beauty, and progressed through all kinds of cats, dogs, and horses. I don’t think any of the newer horses were articulated like Dancer, though:
Notice that there’s a cat named Fluff! Maybe she was named after Skipper’s friend? There’s also a kitten named Tag Along Tiffy, which could be another nod to Skipper’s old friend group.
I think that the best pet set, aside from Dancer, is Beauty and her puppies. I wish I’d purchased this set years ago, because now it costs a small fortune on the secondary market:
I could have spent a week reading that family tree and looking up all of Barbie’s friends and family. Imagine if the tree continued on through 2023? I bet it’d be impossible to fit all of the information on a single page these days! But I had a lot of fun exploring the timeline, and would like to thank all of the people who allowed me to share their lovely pictures.
Now, where did I leave off with the 35th Anniversary Barbie? Oh–right. I was just starting to go through everything that was included, and I was wondering about the stand.
I ended up finding the stand inside the smaller reproduction box. That’s good economy of space:
The stand comes in three pieces that are easy to assemble–even without directions:
The inside of the box has a cardboard insert with two leg holes at the bottom, and what looks like two arm holes at the top:
I wanted to put Barbie into this replica box, but at first I tried sliding her arms into the upper holes. I don’t think this was the right thing to do, because the cardboard wouldn’t fit back into the box this way:
|Barbie is looking at me contemptuously.|
Maybe the holes on top are just to brace Barbie’s shoulders, like this?
But when I gave it another try with the arms all of the way through the upper holes (and with a bit more determination) I was able to get everything to fit:
|It’s a really snug fit.|
So I’m not exactly sure how that cardboard insert is meant to be used, but it works in both of the ways shown above.
Here’s a gorgeous, original, #1 Barbie from 1959:
I love that she comes with her original box and paperwork!
Here’s a close-up of her face:
Here’s another #1 Barbie who is actually hand painted–before facial screening was a thing:
Here’s a close-up of her face:
From looking at these older dolls, I’d say that the packaging on my 35th Anniversary girl was replicated extremely well! I love the box art:
|35th Anniversary replica Barbie box.|
The colorful fashion drawings wrap around the two long sides of the box:
Here’s a closer look:
|I love that blue and white striped dress!|
Update: I think these drawings represent actual Barbie clothing, too, which is great. For example, RagingMoon pointed out in the comments that the blue and white striped dress is called Suburban Shopper and can be purchased! There’s even a reproduction doll wearing this set.
It’s interesting to me how some of the clothing looks dated, and some of it would work perfectly well in 2023:
|I’d wear the outfit on the right.|
I like how the coat in the middle of this bottom trio is seen only from the back–that’s very clever:
I also like how the text says “teen age fashion model” instead of “teenaged fashion model,” the way we’d say it nowadays.
On the side of the box, there’s the Mattel company logo, which has changed a lot over the years:
The back of the box is plain white:
But the top and the bottom have some text against an orange background:
And this text matches the early boxes really well, too!
It’s nice that the reproduction box says “special edition reproduction” on it, though, otherwise it could get hard to tell the reproductions from the originals–especially as the years go by.
The reproduction box is very easy to open. The top slides off–and there’s the doll! I know you’ve seen her before at this point, but try to forget that. Maybe even try to imagine that you’re seeing a Barbie for the first time:
|She makes a great first impression!|
I didn’t find a good way to squeeze the stand into the box with Barbie, but the stand fits her well, and she definitely needs it for balance:
Here she is from the back:
I’ve never owned a Barbie from the 50s (or pretending to be from the 50s) and I wasn’t sure if I’d like the older style, but this doll is fantastic. I can tell already that she has very little in the way of articulation, but when I think back to what Ruth Handler said–that Barbie was basically designed to be a replacement for paper fashion dolls–then the articulation seems great.
She has so much personality, too. Her face is epic:
Here’s the #1 Barbie’s face again for comparison:
The reproduction doll is really well done, from what I can tell. The newer doll’s hair is very different, though. It’s darker, and doesn’t have the tight curls in the bangs that the first Barbies had. But the eyebrows and side-glancing eyes are perfect–as are the earrings. I think the lips on my doll are thiner than the original, but it’s hard to tell with the different camera angles. She has a bit less eye makeup, too.
Barbie’s Doll Shop also took a comparison photo for me that shows another reproduction doll (Voyage in Vintage) alongside the #1 Barbie:
|Voyage in Vintage reproduction (left) and #1 Barbie (right), photo courtesy of Barbie’s Doll Shop on eBay.|
This reproduction is more faithful to the original, with the curly bangs and lighter hair, but she doesn’t come in the striped bathing suit.
One thing all of these dolls have in common is a very extreme side glance! It takes some work to get this sly girl to look at me:
She has stylized eye paint, too, with very pale irises and rectangular pupils:
This shape of pupil actually occurs in nature–as strange as that might seem. Humans don’t have rectangular pupils, but horses and goats do!
Here’s an absolutely beautiful picture of a baby goat’s eye, too:
In this well-lit photo of the #1 Barbie, you can see that she has the same angular pupils:
I think that the elongated pupil makes it easier for Barbie to focus her gaze to the side. Or maybe it creates the illusion of movement?
Reproduction Barbie’s wavy hair is pulled up into a high ponytail, with a section of hair looped around to conceal the rubber band:
This is also a good view for appreciating Barbie’s metal hoop earrings. They’re not removable, but they look great. Metal earrings seem high-quality and awesome, but metal can oxidize and cause staining over time. You can already see a few small dark marks on the side of Barbie’s face that were caused by the earrings. I hope it doesn’t get too much worse in the future.
I flipped the shot around so that Barbie is facing the right way to mimic that silhouette:
With this angle we can also compare her to the #1 Barbie’s profile:
Here’s a side-by-side comparison:
The molds look extremely similar to me, right down to the pointed nose and lidded eyes. The mouth on the older doll looks more opened, but again–this could be a camera angle artifact. I assume that the reproduction doll shares a mold with the original.
I have one more fun comparison to show you before I put all of my focus back on the reproduction doll. I might be taking advantage of the Barbie’s Doll Shop’s generosity with picture use, but their range of rare Barbie offerings is fascinating. I really love this beautiful #3 Barbie from 1960:
You can see that after only one year of production, Barbie’s features had started to change slightly:
Here’s a side-by-side comparison to the reproduction doll, for those of you viewing on a laptop:
The differences that I notice right away are that the 1960 Barbie has darker eyes, larger lips, and less severe eyebrows. I love the charisma in the reproduction doll’s face, but I also like the soft beauty in the 1960 face. She’s really lovely, and at around $2,000, she costs significantly less than a #1 Barbie.
I adore comparisons, but that’s probably enough for now! Let’s take a closer look at the reproduction Barbie’s face.
It’s hard to appreciate the full details of her face paint with those thick, curled-under bangs:
So I clipped her bangs back for a minute to expose the whole face:
Her eyebrows are extremely dynamic–almost to the point of making her look diabolical…but not quite. She’s just fierce.
Her lips and nostrils are a bright, true red, which looks great on her lips and a little alarming in her nose!
The older Barbies don’t have nostrils that look quite that red.
Barbie has a thin line of blue eyeshadow over each eye, but her eyelids themselves are what fascinate me. The eyelid and eyelashes are an actual molded ridge that sticks out over the eye. This ridge is painted completely black, so it creates a very dramatic appearance–especially when combined with Barbie’s icy stare and arched brows:
|That stare is the G.O.A.T.|
Here’s a better view of the eyelash ridge:
|And the earring stains.|
The back of Barbie’s head has a v-shaped hairline and a 1958 Mattel copyright, confirms that she shares a mold with the original:
Another interesting thing about Barbie’s hair rooting is that her bangs are rooted behind the hairline on her forehead. I like this technique because it thins the bangs while maintaining a smooth line of hair in front:
This technique creates a few bumps in the hair that’s pulled back on the top of the head, but they’re not very noticeable:
Maybe you can also see in that previous photo that the rubber band in Barbie’s hair had crumbled with age and was starting to fall out in sticky little pieces.
I knew I was going to have to take the hair down and address the rubber band situation, but before I did that, I wanted to snap a few pictures of Barbie in her sunglasses with her original hairstyle.
The sunglasses are made out of plastic and have translucent blue lenses with white painted rims:
The ear pieces have simple folding hinges that look and feel fragile:
But the glasses look great on Barbie!
They grip her head quite tightly, so they don’t rely on her ears for balance:
The glasses also look good and stay in place on top of her head:
Once I’d gotten a good look at the sunglasses, I felt free to take Barbie’s hair down and rid her of the icky old rubber band bits.
It’s clear that this hair has been in a ponytail for thirty years, but the fiber actually feels nice:
|There’s something about Barbie.|
It’s not silky and smooth, but really soft and shiny–a bit like synthetic mohair. It’s not soft enough to be mohair, though, so it’s probably saran.
I’m tempted to boil wash this hair to see what it looks like laying flat, but it’d be sad to lose the wave in the classic ponytail style.
I’m also hesitant to straighten the hair because the rooting is not very dense in back, and without the extra body from the curls, the scalp might start to show:
As a compromise, I used some dry heat to straighten the back of Barbie’s hair a little. I think this looks nice:
And the back looks much better:
But the scalp shows a bit on the top:
After my little hair experiment, I tied Barbie’s hair back up into a ponytail:
Next, I remove her hand tag. This says “Genuine Barbie by Mattel” on one side and “35th Anniversary” on the other side:
Barbie is wearing her famous black and white striped swimsuit. I’m hoping that we’ll see this classic look in the upcoming Barbie movie, and some of the promotional photos suggest that we will!
The doll version of the swimsuit is made out of jersey knit, with a strapless top and modest bottoms that we’d probably call “boy shorts” these days:
|I don’t speak ‘boy short’ Emily.|
The suit is cut low in back, so there’s no need for a seam that opens and closes:
The swimsuit pulls off easily…maybe a bit too easily. It doesn’t stay in place at the top because the band of vinyl around the neckline, which should create some friction against the doll’s body, has disintegrated:
I picked at the remnants of this gungy stuff, but couldn’t get it completely cleared away:
The suit has a nice shape, with a seam down the front and some tucks at the bodice:
In addition to the swimsuit, Barbie is wearing a pair of flexible black vinyl heels:
|I think they’re a size too small.|
The vinyl sticks to the feet better than plastic shoes would have, and so the shoes don’t fall off very often.
And their open-toed design allows Barbie’s red nails to show!
Here are the shoes on their own:
They’re extremely simple, but an essential staple for Barbie’s wardrobe.
Underneath her clothing, Barbie has a plastic torso with smooth, shiny, vinyl arms and legs:
This hourglass shape earned Barbie criticism in 1959, with some parents thinking that it was too mature for little kids, but apparently this didn’t impede sales.
The body looks like it shares a mold with the #1Barbie:
And, just for fun, here’s what the Bild Lilli body looks like:
|7.5 inch Bild Lilli doll, photo courtesy of philomene on eBay.|
The reproduction Barbie doll has a factory mark on the small of her back:
|35th Anniversary reproduction Barbie.|
This has both 1958 and 1993 copyright dates, and acknowledges the Malaysia manufacturing location.
The copyright on the early Barbies is a little different:
It doesn’t suggest a manufacturing country anywhere in that mark, but for all dolls made in Japan (1959-1972), “Japan” was molded onto the bottom of a foot.
However, as her head turns, it looks more and more upwards, so by the time she’s looking behind her, like an owl, she’s staring up at the ceiling:
Her arms can spin around and around, but can’t hinge away from her body:
She can’t do side-to-side splits at all, but she can do very elegant front-to-back splits:
And she can sit on the ground with her legs together:
With this view, you can see that she still has the holes on the bottoms of her feet that would have been used to attach her to the old stand. I wonder why she’s not still compatible with that stand?
She can sit in a chair, but this is not how I would choose to sit in a chair:
|It’s good leg exercise, Emily.|
Barbie is 11.5 inches tall, so the same size as a modern Signature Looks Barbie like my timeless assistant, Lena:
|Signature Looks Barbie (left) and 35th Anniversary reproduction Barbie (right).|
It’s fun to see these two together, but I’m not sure who is sassier! They’re either going to be best friends or worst enemies:
These two have practically nothing in common except for their size and their attitude, which says a lot about the evolution of Barbie over the last 64 years.
Okay, another thing they have in common is really tiny feet. I guess some things never change:
Their hands are very different, though, which is interesting. Lena’s hands are bigger, with longer fingers, no nail polish, and more realism:
The body proportions have changed enough over the decades that Lena can’t wear Barbie’s swimsuit. It’s too short in the torso and isn’t supported by the bust:
|What are you saying, Emily??|
Barbie can make it look like she fits into Lena’s outfit…
|Oh, I’m absolutely making this work.|
But it doesn’t fasten in back:
|Why do you have to tell them that?|
She looks good in all white, though, doesn’t she?
|That’s what I’m saying.|
Not to get ahead of myself, but I also thought it would be fun to see if this Barbie could fit into the outfit from the core Barbie movie doll, since that doll has a different body type than Lena:
Some of the clothing that I purchased for Lena on Etsy fits better, mostly because there’s a lot of stretch in the fabric:
I really like this modern look on her!
I put Barbie back into her original outfit for a few quick portraits:
She can’t strike a lot of different poses, but she looks really good in the poses that she can strike:
And those sunglasses add the perfect touch of glamour:
This Barbie might not be from 1959, but I wanted to buy her one item of clothing from that era, so that there would be a physical connection between her and the very beginning of Barbie’s history.
I chose this classy, blue and white striped dress from the early 60s:
I love how it looks on Barbie!
And I think she’s happy to have something other than a swimsuit to wear.
I especially like how the blue stripes bring out the blue in Barbie’s eyes and eye makeup:
I took a few portraits with Barbie’s hair let down, just because it’s not very common to see these dolls with their hair loose:
I think this hairstyle makes her look a bit older:
|Are you calling me old, Emily?|
But still young and beautiful!
|That’s more like it.|
But I had to restore that iconic ponytail for the last few shots:
I’ll close the review with one more photo of Lena and Barbie: two cousins with 27 years separating their manufacturing dates, and 62 years separating the origin of their design:
|You’ve come a long way, Barbie.|
Bottom line? It would be impossible for me to be critical of one of the early #1 or #3 Barbies, since those are such rare treasures. And frankly it’s a little hard to find fault with a doll that’s replicating one of those pillars of doll history. But the 35th Anniversary reproduction Barbie is still affordable and easy to find, so she warrants an almost-normal assessment. Before I get into all of that, though, I want to take another moment to thank all of the sellers and collectors who generously agreed to share their photos and expertise with me. They added depth to this review that I could not have achieved on my own.
First of all, as somebody who really enjoys the modern Barbie face molds, I didn’t expect to love this Barbie’s face as much as I do. I’ve seen a lot of photos of the older dolls throughout my collecting years, but I’ve never interacted with a doll of this style face-to-face until now. The personality in the side-glancing eyes and arched brows is captivating, and I really like the unique style of the pupils–they give Barbie an almost cat-like (or maybe goat-like?) gaze. I’ve never seen an eyelash design like Barbie’s, either, with the solid ridge of vinyl above the eye. It gives the pale blue eyes a bold presence with a bit of hooded mystery. The only thing that I find odd about Barbie’s face is that her nostrils are painted bright red. The color matches her lips, which keeps the facial coloring simple and coordinated, but it’s an unnatural shade for a nose. Barbie’s metal earrings look good and dangle nicely, but they can’t be removed and one of them has caused some staining around the cheek and jaw. From looking at photos of the original #1 Barbies, I feel like this doll’s face is a faithful reproduction. The only differences I noticed are that with the original, the lips are painted to be more full, there’s slightly more dark eye makeup under the eyes, and the nostrils are more pink than red.
I don’t think that this doll’s hair is a very good replica of the original Barbie hair, though. First of all, the color is darker–more of a light brown than a true blonde. Also, the style of the bangs is noticeably different, with none of the tight curls that grace the original doll’s forehead. However the hair is nice in its own right. The fiber is soft and shiny, with gentle curls that look good and don’t tangle easily. The kinks from the ponytail can be relaxed with a little bit of dry heat, however the styling options are limited because of the sparse rooting in back and the lack of a rooted part.
Barbie’s body shares a mold with the 1959 dolls, with only five points of simple articulation and tiny hands and feet. I have to admit that I found myself wishing that there were more joints to play with, so that the body could keep up with the personality in the face, but I appreciate that for the time period–and especially in comparison to paper dolls–those five joints were impressive. And the face has enough character to make up for the paucity of joints.
Barbie’s accessories include her swimsuit outfit, sunglasses, black heels, and a reproduction box. All of these items are well done and near-perfect replicas of the originals. The swimsuit is made out of a sturdy jersey knit, and is easy to pull on and off. It might slip down more than it would have in 1994, since the vinyl edging has degraded, but it still stays in place reasonably well. The sunglasses look great, but they feel a little fragile–especially around the earpiece hinges. However, they grip Barbie’s head well, and stay in place in several different positions. The heels are tiny and flexible. They’re simple to get on and do not fall off easily. I’m not sure if the original shoes were vinyl or plastic (I’d guess plastic), but I like the added friction of the vinyl design. For me, the box is a real highlight of this set. It’s a beautiful copy of the original, and I love the assortment of colorful fashion drawings. The styles take me back in time, while also reminding me how certain elements of Barbie are timeless.
I’m really happy to have the 35th Anniversary Barbie in my collection, although she’s making me want one of the originals, which is dangerous. But, honestly, I never thought I would like this style of doll as much as I do. In fact, I originally thought that this would be a fairly simple review, and I included it just to inject a bit of history into Barbie Month. But of course there’s no way to simplify or downplay the 64 years of Barbie’s evolution. In the course of a week, this little doll has taught me a lot…but mostly she’s shown me how much more there is to learn and discover about America’s beloved, enduring,
teenaged teen age fashion model.