Friday, November 28, 2008

Alternative Barbie

I noticed while watching the Thanksgiving Day parades (one of the few times I actually watch TV during the year) that Mattel is running a nostalgia ad campaign for Barbie which shows grown women giggling and reminiscing about their favorite childhood memories of the doll.

I personally never got into Barbie because she came with all that pink fru-fru stuff, but my little sister was a huge fan of the dolls, and sometimes roped me into playing with them. That generally never turned out well for Barbie (let's just say I was always thinking up new ways to test her structural integrity.) My favorite childhood doll memories were of stealing my brother's G.I.Joes. To me Joe was far cooler than Barbie because he came with seriously interesting accessories like jeeps and parachutes and automatic weapons.

The ad campaign did make me curious about what sort of Barbies they're selling now -- my daughter never liked the dolls, either -- because after forty years you figure they would have updated her a little, right? So I looked in some of the Black Friday sales fliers in the paper, and here's what they're selling: My Scene Barbie, Totally Hair Barbie, Princess Barbie, Western Barbie and Fashion Forever Barbie (and eerily, immediately thought of the last RWA Nat'l con I attended -- wall to wall Totally Hair writers, Princess writers, Fashion Forever writers...)

Anyway. I think Mattel should come up with some new Barbies for those girls who, like me, aren't into all that pink fru-fru and anatomically incorrect Ken. I'd like to see some alternative Barbies -- Dark Barbies, Goth Barbies, even a couple of Vamp or WereBarbies. Imagine how many dolls Mattel could sell if they based some Barbies on fictional characters, such as:

The Meredith Gentry Barbie: Lovely, glows, can't make up her mind but happily displays herself in her own somewhat worn triple king bed. Comes with 147 semi-naked personal guard Ken accessory dolls (no pun intended) and an enchanted mirror that when you put the Ken dolls in bed with her displays random images of her evil aunt watching, her evil uncle watching, her evil cousin watching, etc.

The Alexandra Keller Barbie: Frowning, cranky and half-starved but still smells great. Dressed in a pristine white lab coat over a dress she didn't pick out for herself. Carries a medical case filled with tiny surgical instruments and syringes filled with play blood that she doesn't have to feel guilty about. Only sold with the Michael doll, who murmurs in French, puts up with all of her crap and still can't keep his hands off her.

The Isabella Swan Barbie: Pale, nondescript, and constantly injuring herself (doll's eyes close for at least thirty seconds after the sight of any blood.) Smells really wonderful, but only to the handsome pale Edward doll, who doesn't want to be sold with her but in the end really has no choice but to get into the bag. May also be sold with Jacob doll, who fits perfectly between her and the Edward doll.

The Mercy Thompson Barbie: Small, tough and determined with lots of cool tattoos. Wears garage overalls spotted with grease or jeans and a T-shirt spotted with grease. Turn her head a certain way and she instantly changes into a coyote. May be sold with alpha Adam doll (who changes into a wolf) or petulant Samuel doll (who changes into a wolf) or both or neither, depending on how fickle she feels this week.

So if you could make an alternative Barbie based on one of your characters, what would she be called, and what accessories would she have? Let us know in comments.


  1. Anonymous6:16 AM

    I loved this! What is so funny is there is a small army of people who actually take Barbies and modify them for this purpose. The author Sherrilyn Kenyon has done it for her books about the Dark Hunters! I loved playing Barbie as a kid but not the blonde ones. I liked the ethnic or redheaded ones. My mom found clothes at the flea market that weren't pink made by really talented seamstresses so I had the coolest dolls and they always had awesome jobs that didn't involve fashion! I hope that when my daughter is old enough she will be able to play with Goth Barbie and the Mercy Thompson one! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    Best wishes!

    P.S. My review of Stay the Night is up at

  2. Anonymous6:50 AM

    PBW Barbie. Complete with magical word processor that pumps out three manuscripts per month. Comes with anatomically correct fiction crash test dummies John (with Police outfit) and Marcia (with totally hot librarian's outfit).

    Why aren't there any Zombie Barbies? For once she could be interested in a guy with "Braaaains".

    (And why, oh why, does my brain work this way?)

    Word verification: "Flamse", which in swedish means "one who laughs and goofs around". For real.

  3. The Stephanie Plum Barbie: Beautiful, covered in bandaids, and lets her pants out after a meal. Changes her mind based on her mood if she wants to go with Ranger or Morelli. But watch out, whichever model car you purchase with her will blow up before it gets into the shopping bag.

  4. I saw this commercial the other day. I still love Barbies. My daughter has a few, but she'd rather play with her stuff dinosaurs.

    Recently, I bought the latest Halloween Barbie. She has pink striped hair and I couldn't resister. I was thinking that it would be a great creative project to punk her even further. I am seriously considering giving her tattoos. I rather like the Mercy Thompson Barbie.

  5. Based on one of my characters, hmm. Sybil Barbie, who uses colorful language, cracks wise, sleeps with all the guys and then saves the day. Comes with altar, tattooes and necklace; consorts sold separately. Clothes? Who needs clothes?

  6. Anonymous11:40 AM

    I would so buy a goth barbie. Right now, all i have is Wonder Woman (from when they did superheros) and my original Skipper (Barbie's little sister).

    We, my friends & I, tortured our Barbies; they went around with shaved heads and survived swims in mom's old washer-wringer washing machine.They would have used G.I. Joe's accessories for themselves.

    I own several small My Scene Barbies (via McDonald's) that I also experimented with. I gave them different lengths of hair. Buzz cut Barbie goes out with Johnny Bravo and Nolee has a pixie cut. Only Chelsea got to keep her long hair. I used to work in public & school libraries and bought them for display purposes.

  7. That's awesome ;) Very apt descriptions, too! :)

  8. Tank Commander Barbie - comes with 1930s battle dress, a custom pump action shot gun based on the Road Blocker, and a battered WWI style tank.

  9. I'm late, but I couldn't resist. I'd have to say a Sydney Bristow Barbie complete with multiple wigs and spy-appropriate outfits. Lots of gadgets, too!

    And what about a Cherijo Barbie? Short, lots of brains, complete with Duncan, Alunthri and a host of other companion dolls. : )


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