Friday, August 12, 2011

2011 Barbie Convention: SIS Party and Basics

Spring Break 1961 Barbie and Ken Giftset souvenir dolls
Note:  All photographs herein are courtesy of Ibrahim Ismail

The 2011 Barbie Convention souvenir dolls, African American Spring Break 1961 Barbie and Ken Giftset, were created by designers and artists at Mattel under the creative direction of Matt Sutton and Matt Trujillo.  Matt and Matt autographed the box. 

This is a new face for AA Ken.  Is he working that processed hair, or what?

Ibrahim Ismail (whose lovely one-of-a-kind Chandra was featured in a previous post), shared additional highlights of the 2011 National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention.  His recap focuses on the So In Style (SIS) Party and the Barbie Basics Collection 3.0

Here's what Ismail shared:

SIS Party:
The SIS Party was the best Breakout event at the Barbie Convention this year.  Audra and I put the goody bags together the previous night. We were prepared for The Party!  We set the room up with Cynthia and Stephanie's support as a crowd gathered outside.

I went out a couple of times and teased them about running a little late and the party being cancelled but no one believed me.

At 10:30 pm we opened the doors and I let members in, making sure their name was on the guest list that Kimberley had sent us. This was THE event and we were not going to allow anyone in who was not supposed to be there.

After everyone had been seated, Audra introduced our very special guest speakers:  Katie Phillips and Lauren Doucette from Mattel.

They talked about the new SIS line, and introduced Stephen Sumner as the new designer. We were given a brief history of Stephen's background and his work before he came to Mattel.

We were then introduced to the 2012 line. Although the pictures shown were small, we got a good idea about the line and what is to come.

The one big news story that was greeted with cheers was the introduction of a new character, a Hispanic friend called Marissa.

Then the rumors that had been circulating on the net were laid to rest and the room went quiet as we were informed that Chandra would be taking a sabbatical during 2012. She will not be making an appearance.

There was hush and then the sobbing started. All around the room, not a dry eye in sight. In fact while some chose to sob silently, others found comfort in the arms of fellow SIS friends.

One poor collector who shall remain nameless was wailing loudly whilst beating her chest, reminiscent of a grieving widow from a village in ......................... (please add a third world country of your choice).

She started pulling her hair out and screaming loudly. Audra and I had to restrain her while Katie and Lauren sedated her and she fell on the floor with a loud THUD!

I think if Katie and Lauren had not been in the room, we would have been dealing with mass suicide.

As the news sank in and people tried to compose themselves, we carried on the best way we could.

We hope to be able to share some pictures and names of the range when we are able to but rest assured you will not be disappointed. Marissa and the rest of the SIS team will be flying off the shelves in 2012.
Barbie Basics 3.0
Barbie Basics 3.0
Once in a while Mattel strikes gold and they recognize its value. At other times they strike gold and they mistake it for copper and let it go. This is one of those stories.
When the playline dolls had a makeover, their faces flattened, their heads became bigger and their bodies more rigid (except the Fashionistas).

One of a kind (OOAK) makeover artists could no longer buy cheap beach dolls and sell them for several hundred dollars after working their magic on them. There was a need for an affordable doll which could be customized.

Enter Barbie Basics and their infamous tag line:  Customize, personalize, play.

We finally got a range of fabulous dolls in a wonderful variety of face molds, skin tones and hair colour. OOAK artists everywhere went into overdrive.  Doll collectors too loved the range which was the right price and wonderful to redress.

Add to that a set of beautiful accessories and we are in collector heaven. The price was good too although I thought $10 each would have been better.

But our excitement is to be short lived.

So the new line was unveiled at the Mattel BFC Event and we were introduced to the six new dolls -- the Swimsuit Series. These dolls carry on the wonderful work done previously on the hair and face with two accessory packs to die for.

AA doll from the final Barbie Basics Collection
There are five Caucasian and  one AA doll. The AA doll looks like Chandra but with a slightly lighter skin tone.  (See a slideshow of the Basics including two additional dolls used to model the two accessory packs here.)
So as I admire the new set, I am given the news any collector dreads hearing....... this is the final Basics Collection ever.

I start to weep and sob, but am unable to control my emotions.  I start screaming and wailing, beating my chest reminiscent of a widow......

I found myself being restrained and felt a sharp prick in my arm. Suddenly the room went dark as I fell on the floor with a big THUD!

I think the line is much needed. The price point and diverse range make it so collectible.

Maybe too many dolls were produced too quickly and the designers have burnt out, but they could have reduced the numbers and kept the collection as four or six dolls every six months or so.

I have been reliably informed it's not the sales figures but the fact that the dolls have been in production for three years and they needed to make room for something new.

But those "Happy Holidays" are still going. They first came into production when Queen Victoria was reigning. The vintage reproduction dolls are still going. That started around the same time.

I think Mattel has not been honest with us OR they have not realized what they are letting go.

I was told the Basics are making way for something better. Until I see it, I won't believe it. I finish with a heavy heart, tears in my eyes, and one message about the range........... If it isn't broken, don't fix it!

Thanks again, Ibrahim, for sharing this delightfully candid convention recap and wonderful images.




  1. That was soooo good. Yes, brutha man is working the processed do. I love that set. Mr. Ismail is too funny. When he said that Chandra would not be making an appearance in 2012, I kept wanting to hear Mattel's explanation for this, but this question didn't seem to get answered. But I think he is right when he said that Mattel is not telling the whole truth about those Basics. The excitement over the Basics line is still there. Why on earth are you stopping them to make room for something else? Isn't there a better way? What, they don't have enough money to produce the "new" something else, and keep the Basics line going, to see if the "new" something else is well received. Where is the logic? Who is running that company!

  2. I agree, Vanessa. The Basics has been a popular line and now with the added articulation, I know those dolls will fly off the shelves for people who love dolls with movement. The Swimsuit dolls are beautiful. Chandra is beautiful. Why will she be missing in action in 2012? Dark-skinned girls/women need representation too.

    Sometimes there is just no rhyme or reason in some doll companies' business decisions. I'm not wailing like a widow, but I'm left scratching my head.


  3. Hello,
    That AA Basics 3.0 face is the same face used in The Alvin Ailey doll. Beautiful doll. Probably the most beautiful AA doll I've ever seen. By far my favorite!

  4. mrscarissa -- Thanks for the face mold knowledge. I can see the AAADT Barbie in the AA 3.0 Basics Barbie very clearly now.


  5. Sorry I missed this post.

    Marisa is out. Photos on Flickr and at .

    Just FYI.

  6. Thanks for the post to the new SIS dolls. When I looked at the back of the box picture, guess what jumped out at me? Doesn't Marisa look just like Faith Hill in this picture?

  7. Now that you mention it, I do see the Faith Hill resemblance. I wouldn't have noticed had you not mentioend it, however.


  8. I'm a little swifter (hee hee), I mean more swift than you are. LOLOL!

  9. You're welcome, DBG!

    Glad to continue the conversation.

    @Vanessa, oh, yes, I see the Faith Hill resemblance.


Thank you! Your comments are appreciated!