|Imani and Menelik by Olmec 1997|
Last week I received an email from Cheree Franco of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette (ADG), who was working on a story about Barbie alternatives throughout the decades.
Her request was for a high resolution image of Imani, after having seen the above image of Imani and Menelik in a blog post from January 2010 (most of the hyperlinks in that post are now dead).
I obliged Franco with a photo of the above pair and added another group photo of Olmec's Naomi (1988), Ellise (1989), and Imani (1991).
Naomi was Olmec’s first African American fashion doll. The name was changed after one year to Ellisse. Naomi and Ellisse share the same head sculpt. That head sculpt was also used for Imani until a new head sculpt was created for the 1990s and final version of Imani.
Franco next requested a photo of any Get Set dolls and any Smartees dolls I own. Two additional photos of the requested dolls were submitted.
The article, "Hello Dolly Look Out Barbie You've Got Some Competition," was published in the ADG on December 2, 2014. It, however, is only visible to subscribers. I have read the non-pay wall version in a link Franco provided.
The article introduces Nicolay Lamm's Lammily doll as Barbie's newest competitor. The doll is claimed to be, "the first fashion doll made according to typical human body proportions to promote realistic beauty standards." As of now, unfortunately, these beauty standards do not include dolls with darker complexions. If the line is around long enough, perhaps, Lamm will realize that beauty extends across all color lines and his dolls should reflect this.
|Get Set Club (G5) Vanessa 1999|
|Mixis dolls mixed race, 12-inch fashion dolls with proportional bodies; articulation, however, is limited.|
Competing with Barbie remains a difficult task for several reasons: Barbie is the "it" girl for people across generations. Some grew up with the doll; their children grew up with her, and their children's children are now playing with Barbie. Love her or hate her in all her pinkness, Barbie is a pretty tough act to follow.
Franco did not use my Get Set Club Vanessa's photo in the article, but I was pleased to see photo contributions from D7ana of A Philly Collector of Dolls and Action Figures. Franco did share a link to the photo gallery with me. I won't share it here, but when I entered "Barbie alternatives" in the search box at the ADG website, several links for portions of the article, including the complete gallery, resulted.
Here is that search result (from this link, scroll to the "Alternatives to Barbie" link to access the entire photo gallery for the article).
What do you think? Will any doll ever surpass the success of Mattel's Barbie or has Mattel offered doll consumers an overdose of pink Kool-Aid for which there is no antidote?