Tea with Lena: Barbies Great and Small

LOL Miniverse (left), World’s Smallest Barbie (middle), and OMG Miniverse (right).

It’s true that Lena and I already know which surprise doll was in this case (and maybe you saw her in an earlier picture) but let’s peek in and see…

Ooh, there she is!

We got Black Malibu Barbie!

She’s turned her back on you, Emily.

The case has room for six dolls, in total, but to get enough dolls to fill a case, you’d have to buy three sets…and then have two extra cases laying around.  That didn’t seem worth it to me, especially because each set would have a duplicate of the blonde Barbie, and maybe a duplicate of the surprise doll, too.

Here’s a closer look at Malibu Barbie, who also does not have any painted facial features:

She looks happier than the other one, though.

She has a painted one-piece bathing suit and no shoes.

Her hair is also molded right onto the rest of her body–not a separate piece like on the other doll.

That looks much better.

Here are the two micro dolls together:

World’s Smallest Barbie dolls, 2.5cm.

I wish they had more detail in their faces, but we can fix that:

Omg, Emily, just stop.

These dolls aren’t big enough to be standard Barbie size in relation to Lena.  For her, they’re more like a 6-7 inch doll:

About the same length as my hand.

The case is a nice size for Lena, though, and is easy to carry:

It’s actually pretty heavy, thanks for asking.

Okay!  Now it’s time for Lena’s surprise.  She found Babs reading in the living room:

Hey Babs, are you up for some tea in the kitchen?

The two girls, ah, tucked in at the kitchen table:

What’s this all about?

Babs came back with a doll box for Lena!

This is a thank-you for letting me stay here.

It’s a mini reproduction Barbie doll!

Oh, Babs.  I…uh…sniff.  This is amazing.

While Lena composes herself, I’ll give you a closer look at the gift:

1959 miniature reproduction Barbie doll, ~$20.

This is a miniature reproduction of the original 1959 Barbie doll–and so it’s basically a miniature of Babs!

The doll comes in a working replica of the original box, too, which is unbelievably accurate:

Here’s a reminder of what the actual 1959 Barbie and box look like:

The mini box has the same printed design, with teeny, tiny lettering!

Mini reproduction Barbie box.

The top and bottom of the box are decorated, too:

Mini reproduction Barbie box.

And there’s even a replica of the pamphlet!

Unfortunately, the pamphlet is blank in the middle:

I wish I knew what was in that booklet!

Me, too.  Now I’m dying to know what was inside the original pamphlet!  Mission for another day, I guess.

…or a mission for now.  I found a nice YouTube video that goes through the entire book.  There’s an introduction to the first Barbie, and then descriptions and sketches of the fashion sets that were available in 1959:

There’s even a drawing of the Cotton Casual outfit that I bought for Babs!

You paid a lot more than $1.00, Emily.

The booklet concludes (like all good fashion shows) with a dramatic wedding dress:

It would be fun to have an original copy of this booklet, since I really love the drawings.  But that really is a mission for another day.

The doll herself has way more detail than the World’s Smallest Barbie, with a painted swimsuit and a painted face:

She looks a little grouchy.

This doll can’t balance on her own two feet, so I had to create a makeshift stand out of a decorative bead and some eye putty.

Here she is from the back:

Even her hair is molded in the correct style–complete with little curls in the bangs:

And no helmet.

This doll is two inches tall without her stand, so over an inch taller than the World’s Smallest Barbie:

World’s Smallest Barbie (left) and 1959 Reproduction mini Barbie (right).

She makes an amazing gift!

This is my new favorite doll, Babs.

But then, just as everything was going so nicely…  

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Eeeeek! It’s Barbzilla!!

The biggest Barbie in the world showed up at the window.

After Lena calmed down, she told the oversized Barbie to meet her outside where they could chat more easily.

Let’s be real.  You can’t fit inside this kitchen.

While Lena is heading outside, I’ll tell you a bit more about the big Barbie.

She’s not actually the largest Barbie in the world, of course.  I’m not sure how big that doll might be (a quick internet search came up empty), but I’ve seen a larger Barbie with my own two eyes:

And she’s seen me.

I think I shared these photos with you before once upon a time, bit it’s been a while.  

I saw this life-sized Barbie mannequin at a restaurant in Cambridge about seven years ago.  She has major attitude and looks a lot like the 1960 Barbie that I showed you the other day:

These mannequins were made in 1959 and were used as store displays.  They originally came wearing the zebra-striped swimsuit and had glasses.  Here’s the brunette version from a really old eBay auction:

There was also a mass-produced “life-sized” Barbie doll toy made in 1992.  She was called My Size Barbie and was 37 inches tall (which is around three feet).  I found a beautiful example being sold by yet another lovely and generous person who let me share some pictures:

37-inch My Size Barbie (1992), photo courtesy of rr0401 on eBay.
37-inch My Size Barbie (1992), photo courtesy of rr0401 on eBay.

So Lena’s visitor isn’t the largest Barbie doll in the world, just the largest one that I could find for sale currently…for under $100.

She’s called Unicorn Party Fashion Friend and is a 28-inch Best Fashion Friend doll.  She cost $39.99 and came in a plain cardboard box:

This box tests the limits of my photography set-up!  It’s also marred by shipping labels, and wouldn’t make a great gift like this.  The same dolls appeared in stores in more decorative boxes, I think.  I vaguely remember seeing them around Christmas time last year.

There’s a bit of information on the very bottom of the box, but it’s mostly a plain shipper.

These dolls are made by Just Play, not Mattel, and this one has a 2022 copyright date.

The doll came wrapped in a plastic bag, and was secured to a rectangle of brown cardboard:

Creepy packaging.

She was very easy to remove from the packaging, and while she’s surprisingly lightweight, she can balance on her own:

Her dress was wrinkled right out of the box, which looks especially bad in the back, where there are no frills to distract the eye:

With so many Barbies on the blog this month, I need a new name for this girl.  I think she looks like an Ashley: 

Ashley has a glamorous, symmetrical face with eyes that can’t quite look straight ahead.

Here she is in profile:

Despite the wonkiness in Ashley’s eyes, I think her eye design is pretty.  The paint is crisp and unpixelated, with graceful eyelashes and some subtle eyeshadow:

There’s even some hair line detail in the dark brown eyebrows:

I’m not a big fan of Ashley’s lips, though.  The whole mouth feels oversized, and I really don’t like the bright opaque pink lipstick:

I wouldn’t be caught dead in that shade of lipstick.

I also feel like the lips were painted too far outside the mold of the mouth or something.  It just doesn’t look right to me.

There are two other dolls in the Unicorn Party lineup, and the promotional photos make it look like both of them have better mouths:

I’d wear that color.
Does she have a completely different mouth shape?

I think the blond has a different mouth and different eyes.  Very strange.

Anyway, Ashley’s hair is medium brown, with blond highlights and pink streaks.  There are also some tinsel accents that make brushing a little harder than it needs to be:

I brushed the hair for a while, which adds a fair amount of volume:

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Here’s the hair from the back:

The hair fiber is reasonably smooth and shiny, although the wavy texture and tinsel strands add some coarseness and might contribute to tangles over time.

The rooting is very specific to the hairstyle, with a part line that runs across the head to accommodate the top ponytail:

The rooting pattern at the back of the head is quite sparse:

With the hair parted like this, you can see a 2017 Mattel copyright on the back of the neck:

I took the top ponytail down so that I could check out the rooting pattern on the top of the head, too. This area is also sparse, and there’s no center part:

Oh, dear.

The hair looks very dramatic and flowing when it’s let down like this:

But I had to photograph Ashley carefully so as not to expose the obvious exposed rooting on the top of her head.

It was fairly easy to get Ashley’s hair back into its original style, which is really the only style that will work for her–expect perhaps a plain single ponytail.

The limitation here is a real shame, since larger dolls can be great for hair play.

Ashley comes with one accessory, which is a bright pink plastic tiara:

The tiara is small and is meant to fit around the ponytail on top of Ashley’s head:

I wouldn’t mind having a tiara some day, Emily.

Ashley’s outfit consists of a multi-colored unicorn dress with a net overskirt:

The detail in the bodice is fun, with a unicorn design in the middle and ruffled trim all around the neckline.  I also like the look of the sheer netting over the rainbow fabric of the underskirt:

But it’s disappointing that the entire back of the skirt is plain pink.  There’s no rainbow pattern and no netting:

You could have ironed out those wrinkles for her.

In general, I don’t feel like play doll clothes should have to be ironed.

I turned the dress inside-out to look at the construction:

None of the edges are enforced, but the seams look sturdy and neat overall:

The bodice is a stiff synthetic, and the skirt has more drape…but is obviously prone to wrinkles.

There’s a simple serged hem at the bottom:

Ashley’s bright pink shoes are molded to her feet:

And she has a cute toe mold peeking out:

I was encouraged when I saw all of Ashley’s arm joints in the stock images, but underneath that dress she’s hiding some very long, very rigid, hollow plastic legs with only hip joints:

All in all, she has nine points of articulation.  That’s not a bad joint count, to be fair, but all of the joints are consolidated in the upper body.

She has a hollow plastic torso with painted white underwear:

And there’s a molded mark acknowledging both Just Play and Mattel:

Ashley’s head can look from side to side:

It can also tip from side to side a little bit:

And she even has some up-and-down movement in her head, but in order to keep her face looking upward, I had to pull down on her hair:


Ashley’s shoulders are rotating hinges, but she can only lift her arms up and away from her body to about forty five degrees:

But she can spin her arms around for a wider range of positions:

Her elbows and wrists are also rotating hinges, and these can bend just shy of ninety degrees:

Almost all of Ashley’s body is hard plastic, except for her head and hands.  Her head is ridged vinyl, but her hands are actually made out of flexible vinyl.  This adds some extra movement.

She can almost fold her arms across her chest:

And she can touch the top of her head and rest a hand on her hip:

I’m not sure what the mechanism in Ashley’s hips is like, but she can only move her legs from side to side very slightly.  She can do front-to-back splits, but because she can’t sink all of the way down to the ground, she needs an arm for support:

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She can sit solid and upright on the ground, though:

The only other dolls that I’ve owned who come close to Ashley’s size are probably my Smart Doll, Monday (she’s 23.6 inches), or something like a My Twinn which is in a dramatically different scale.   Monday no longer lives here, though, so I can’t offer you a comparison photo with her.

I can show you a comparison between the World’s Smallest Barbie and Ashley, though!

That doll is like a toothpick for her.

And of course Lena herself is a valuable size comparison, too.

Let’s go meet Lena and Ashley outside:

Sorry I scared you in the kitchen, Lena.

Lena quickly found some good uses for Ashley’s size, like carrying her into the shade for some more pictures:

This is the life.

Here are a few quick shots of Ashley on her own:

Ashley is an awkward doll to handle, and I feel like her joints are fragile–especially those long hollow legs.  But I found her surprisingly photogenic at times, thanks to her dramatic hair and pretty face:

After chatting with Lena for a little while, Ashley set off to find another house where she might fit in a bit better:

See ya, Lena!

Back at the house, Lena added the new reproduction Barbie doll to her growing collection:

And Babs settled back in with her book…and her new tiny, faceless reading companion:

I have enough face for both of us.

Bottom line?  As you probably know by now, I love miniature versions of larger things, and so I was really looking forward to investigating the smaller interpretations of Barbie.  The World’s Smallest Barbie is a fun novelty.  I especially like the miniature carrying case, and think it works reasonably well as a prop for 1:6 dolls.  The micro dolls themselves are a little underwhelming, though.  They’re so small that they don’t even have facial features, which definitely compromises my ability to enjoy and relate to them.  It’s also tempting to try and fill that carrying case with six dolls, but with so many inevitable repeats and $8 a pop, it wouldn’t be worth the money.  In contrast, the 1959 reproduction miniature is an absolute treasure.  Not only does that doll have a fully-painted face (with some personality!), but she comes in a perfectly-replicated working box, too.  There’s even a little pamphlet!  My only complaint is that the doll cannot balance on her own and does not come with a stand.  A mini stand would have made her mind-blowingly cool.  I wish there were more of these mini reproduction dolls, because Lena and I would probably buy them all.

I’m less excited about the other end of the size spectrum.  The 28-inch Best Fashion Friend Barbie makes a powerful first impression because of her size and her visible arm joints, but her stiff, hollow, fragile-feeling legs diminish that effect.  I have to admit that Ashley’s face was more attractive in person than I expected it to be, and I enjoyed taking close-up portraits of her, but her wonky eyes and bright, oversized mouth frequently distracted me.  A doll of this size could be really great for hair play, and Ashley’s wavy hair certainly looks dramatic and even feels pretty good.  But the tinsel strands snag on my brush, and the rooting pattern is sparse and oddly-placed, with no center part.  This severely limits the hairstyles that will look good on her.  In retrospect, I wish I’d saved the $40 that I spent on Ashley and contributed it towards one of the 37-inch My Size Barbies from 1992.  I guess this is one of those cases where they don’t make ’em like they used to.

This is Lena’s post, though, and she would like me to conclude by reminding everyone that it’s not every day you meet a cheerful 28-inch friend who will carry you around the yard and let you perch on their shoulder.  So there’s that.

I’m gonna need a bigger house.

منبع: https://www.toyboxphilosopher.com/2023/07/tea-with-lena-barbies-great-and-small.html

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