Barbie Then and Now

My newfound obsession with Barbie dolls started when I was getting ready for my upcoming role in PILLOWTALK (also known as 《再见单人床》) where I play someone in love with the idea of love and how I learn the meaning of love through the trials and tribulations I have to go through with my long-term boyfriend.

It wasn’t a conscious effort to engage with Barbie dolls just so to get into the role, but I suppose it was just happened around the same time.

I know more about Barbies now than I did when I was a kid. Actually I didn’t have Barbies to play with when I was a kid, so I suppose you can say I’m trying to relive my childhood.

I’m really fond of vintage dolls because they are, in my opinion, much prettier. I don’t understand what happened through the years, but looking at this link below, tell me what you think. Dolls and the accessories back then, seemed more refine.




11 responses to “Barbie Then and Now

  1. Perhaps because the idea of what’s considered “refine” nowadays is so intertwined with flashy stuff, some would reminiscence and miss the good, old days (not as if we were born yet nevertheless) when “refine” necessarily meant simplicity.

  2. I guess that the change in the Barbie Dolls’ style is to suit the taste of consumers that changes over the years.

  3. Did you know that Barbie was based on a German doll, Lilli? She started off as a cartoon character in a German newspaper, which was about the adventures of a high class prostitute.

    I was even thinking that a Joanne Peh or Fann Wong doll would sell pretty well in SG, Taiwan, HK and parts of Mainland China. You can even imagine things the sets from shows, dream house, the costumes and outfits, a 1955-63 Ford Thunderbird or VW type 34 Razor edge Karmann Ghia (Barbie did have her Chevy Corvette and a ’57 Chevy Bel-Air). I bet it would be a best seller.

  4. In the past, things are made for a small segment of society, now it is for the general society. It is made to be sold to as many as possible and as cheaply as possible. A fine example of today’s product is budget airlines.

  5. Hi Joanne,
    I chanced upon your blog when i went into the xinmsn website.As an ardent fan of Barbie myself, yeah…i gotta agree that the THEN Barbies were Loads more fun! N Much prettier & glamorous too!! Peaches & Cream is one of my Fav dolls while growing up.I have 5 of her now!!! Lol! Hope you check her out on youtube if i cannot load up the vid,ok?? Stay cool & real! That’s why i like you! ALL the best! Cheers! J

  6. You are right Joanne Peh,barbies did change!!! :O

  7. I agree with Joanne, i like and keep vintage dolls too though i dont collect many cos of space contraint…Vintage barbie has her own charm and elegance unlike the current range of barbie dolls.

  8. Hi joanne, i’m a Singaporean who’s currently studying in the UK. I’ve managed to catch pillow talk on youtube recently and i’ve really enjoyed it 🙂 Helps me to feel much closer to home. All the best for star awards though i won’t be able to catch it on TV here. God bless!

  9. 白薇秀加油,祝你红星大奖2012行大运,一切顺利。

  10. Joanne, you are a great writer 🙂 Your blog is a source of inspiration for me, pls update more often!!!! Reading your writing makes me happy 🙂

  11. I am a doll collector myself, and I have been collecting Barbie dolls from the 60’s till the mid 2000’s (I have totally given up hope on Barbie ever since they changed her looks and shape totally in 1997 onwards when the Mattel creative team was taken over by new creative directors and they widened her waist and flattened her breasts, and they even took away her signature dimble and made Barbie’s eyes smaller). When MGA Entertainment released the ‘Bratz Dolls’ series in 2001, Mattel later followed/copied the Bratz Dolls look & design for Barbie (they came up with a much uglier looking version of the Bratz doll) and even sued MGA Entertainment for stealing Mattel’s idea of their Bratz Doll (as a serious doll collector, or even as a normal on-looker, in my opinion, the Barbie Doll paled in standards in comparison to the Bratz Doll in terms of design, quality and fashion). From the year 2001 – 2011, Mattel has been losing more than 30% in sales for Barbie, because instead of focusing on improving their design and marketing, they wasted time on trying to claim others’ creative ideas as theirs (just because the person (Carter) who designed the Bratz Doll used to work in Mattel, but it was later proven that Carter’s idea was his own original idea, and that he had left Mattel because he felt that his creative ideas were constrained and restricted there)

    Ever since 1998, the Mattel brand has been declining steadily, and so has Barbie. Even a once loyal fan of Barbie like myself have lost faith in the brand or doll. Here are some of the many mistakes that Mattel did, which crushed the Barbie brand altogether:

    1) Mattel used to have a very creative and strong creative team that devoted their time to fashion and trends, and they adhered to quality standards of production, making sure that their molds and products were manufactured with high quality standards (we used to see ‘Made in Malaysia’, ‘Made in U.S.A’, made in ‘Japan’, however what we see now is ‘Made in China’).
    – Note that from 1998 – 2011, Mattel’s Barbie dolls were made with lousier quality fabrics, plastics, and paints (these can be clearly seen in the video of this post). The toy-makers never paid any attention to proper stitching of small sized items like the baby’s hammock (in the video it shows a cheap looking plastic molded hammock instead of a fabric-sewn one), the plastics broke and disintegrated easily (I know because my Barbie doll furniture which I purchased from the 70s and 80s still last well up till now, however those I purchased in 1998 onwards have long since disintegrated and fallen apart).

    2) Bratz Dolls paid close attention to details in sewing even the littlest accessories like the hats, shoes, wallets, iPods, earrings etc, and stayed in style (Note: the Bratz Dolls were so well-made that they even had eyelashes that were individually rooted). However, Barbie kept on to its old fashioned ‘Pink and Princessy’ image. The brand identity had eroded and faded away. Where was the once trendy Barbie? Too much pink turned off its targeted customers, or even the fashion & creative people who used to collect Barbie Doll collectibles. Barbie used to have impressive Marilyn Monroe, Goddess, Mythological and Celebrity collections, but they failed to deliver from 1998 – 2011. Even the Takara “Jenny Doll” from Japan took over and won Barbie in terms of popularity with their seamless and fully bendable doll bodies and highly detailed tailoring and fashion-forward clothes. Nobody wanted to buy Barbie dolls anymore, for the high selling prices and very low quality. Soon, Barbie started slashing the prices for their dolls (but it still did not save them).

    3) In 2012, Mattel tried to revitalize Barbie and bring back her glory days. Seriously, I think their idea of Ken doll’s break up with Barbie was ridiculous and they even introduced a new boyfriend for Barbie, but their plan backfired when many customers wrote in to protest and it even made controversy in the media. So, Barbie is now back with Ken doll. In 2012, Mattel has also released reproductions of old Barbie classic dolls like the Porcelain Doll, Vintage Doll series (including the Francie Doll). Do note that even these reproduction dolls fall short in the quality of the early Barbie doll. Collectors will not want to collect something which is not worth collecting, or far away from the original. Up till this day, collectors around the world are still scrambling to pay big bucks for the original Barbie doll from the 60s – early or mid 90s, as we all know, Barbie is no longer as good as she was.

    Unless Mattel wakes up and does something about this (retain their brand identity and quality), I doubt they can regain back their glory days for Barbie.

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