There are collectible Barbie dolls clubs, conventions, magazines, newsletters and Internet sites all devoted solely to sharing the love and fascination of Barbie. Today, the dolls are sold in more than 140 countries around the world and have become a staple in the American household.
Through the 70s and most of the 80s, play line Barbie and vintage Barbies were popular, as well as foreign Barbies. In 1986, the first porcelain Barbie was produced. This is said by some to mark the beginning of modern collectible Barbie dolls, however, most collectors believe that collectible Barbie dolls really took the market in 1988 with the introduction of the Happy Holiday series.
Few of the first Happy Holidays Barbies were produced, but became popular with many collectors looking for something new. The market for collectible Barbie dolls continued to increase as it became popular for adults to purchase Barbie dolls for the sole purpose of collecting with no intention of the dolls being used as toys. Mattel began to introduce new special edition and limited edition Barbies that follow the fashions and trends of teenagers, while at the same time appealing to the adult market by sporting fashions from designers such as Bob Mackie and Vera Wang.
The 1994 release of the 35th anniversary – vintage reproduction collectible Barbie dolls brought many new collectors. From this point on, modern any collectible Barbie was in high demand and began to be considered a “good investment.” Collectors had closets full of Barbies with the hopes of putting their kids through college.
The more modern collectibles market actually began to wane after auction sites such as eBay created a very “liquid” market by making and most dolls started to sell for less than retail on the secondary market. Even avid Barbie collectors began to lose interest in their once treasured dolls.
Advisory groups were formed and Barbie doll collectors were brought in to complete marketing questionnaires. Mattel began to focus again on the quality of the dolls, they started to manufacture new doll series and improved the play line dolls. High fashion Barbies increased interest even more and Barbie began to regain her prominence in the collectible markets.
Barbie continues to fill the hearts of collectors around the world with her perfectly shaped body and array of fashionable designs, and as always, she looks perfectly stunning!
No one could argue the fact that vintage Barbies are holding their own as one of the hottest areas of toy collecting on today’s market. Barbie was first introduced in 1959, and since then her face has changed three times. Her hair has been restyled over and over, she’s been blond and brunette, and it’s varied in length from above her shoulders to the tips of her toe She’s worn high fashion designer clothing and pedal pushers. She’s been everything from an astronaut to a veterinarian, and no matter what her changing lifestyle required, MatteI (her ‘maker’) has provided it for her.
Though even Barbie items from recent years are bought and sold with fervor, those made before 1970 are the most sought: after. You’ll need to do lots of studying and comparisons to learn to distinguish one Barbie from another, but it will payoff in terms of making wise investments. There are several books available; we recommend them all: The Wonder of Barbie and The Worid of Barbie Dolls by Paris and Susan Manos.