Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Repost: Every Fashion Doll is NOT Barbie and...

...every doll is not made for children.

This was originally published February 17, 2013, but since I have been on a semi-blog-writing hiatus, I wanted to offer something until writing resumes on a more regular basis.

Do these all look like Barbies to you?  From left-to-right they are, I can be President Barbie; repainted one-of-kind Barbie by Chynadoll Creations (meant for the adult collector); High Brow Adèle by Integrity Toys (an adult collectible doll); and Esmé, a 16-inch fashion doll by Robert Tonner (adult collectible).

I was prompted to sit down and compose this post after reading an article dated February 16, 2013, that refers to an Integrity Toys Adèle from 2004 as a Barbie, designed for child's play.  In the article, entitled,"Image of New Black Barbie Doll Sparks Outrage," the author writes:

An image of a brown Barbie doll has surfaced on the Internet, causing people to question whether or not it is supposed to be the next African-American Barbie. The doll is sporting blonde hair, gold chains, cleavage, and two bags that are strikingly similar to the Louis Vuitton monogram multicolor collection.

The doll and the author's opening statement as well as many of the comments (excluding a few), which were apparently posted by non-collectors, caused me to wonder why the non-collecting community is so misinformed about dolls in general and why every fashion doll is incorrectly identified as Barbie.

First of all, there are many doll categories.  Some of these are listed and defined below:
  • Antique - According to the United Federation of Doll Clubs (UFDC), a doll of at least 75 years; other authorities define antique dolls as dolls of at least 100 years.
  • Art -  Dolls created by artists and intended as expressive and unique art objects rather than children's toys. 
  • Artist - Dolls made by doll artists, usually in limited editions or as one of a kinds (OOAKs), for adult collectors
  • Collectible - Dolls designed for adults who collect dolls as a hobby.
  • Fashion - Dolls dressed in trendy or haute couture-like fashions, made for children as well as adult collectors.
  • Modern - Dolls made from 1960s through present (this definition can vary).
  • One-of-a-Kind (OOAK):  Dolls made in an edition of 1 by doll artists; can also be an artist or manufactured doll repainted by a repaint artist; in essence only one of the doll in its present state exists.
  • Playline - Dolls fashioned as a child's toy.
  • Reborn - Dolls that originated as baby dolls sculpted by a doll artist which are later fashioned to look like real babies using painting, hair re-rooting, and other techniques developed by reborn artists.
  • Repaints - Artist or manufactured dolls used as a canvas by repaint doll artists who add realism through repainting the facial features and skin tones, and/or changing the hair by re-rooting or re-wigging, resulting in one-of-a-kind dolls because no two will ever look alike.
  • Vintage - Dolls made prior to the 1960s (this definition may vary based on doll type).
For the purpose of this post, I will focus on fashion, collectible, and playline dolls.

While Barbie maintains the highest profile worldwide among fashion dolls, not every fashion doll is a Barbie.  I might also stress that while Mattel (the manufacturer of Barbie and her host of friends) creates dolls for children sold by toy retailers and through their own online website, every Barbie is not designed for child's play.  There are playline Barbies as well as several collectors editions.

For misinformed non-doll collectors and parents who often display a knee-jerk reaction to dolls designed for adults, please relax-relate-release.  Just because you see a fashion doll that you think is a Barbie made for children that portrays an image that you deem inappropriate for a child, in most situations the doll was fashioned for adult collectors by a manufacturer or doll artist other than Mattel.   There is no need to start a campaign against the doll or manufacturer or to create an otherwise pseudo-controversy, as in the case of the Django Unchained movie-memorabilia-action-figures-made-for-adults fiasco.

No, we are not all Barbies and only one of us is a child's toy!

The bottom line is this:  Just because a three-dimensional, inanimate object is defined as a doll does not mean that object was intended for child's play.  If you are not a doll collector and you see a doll that raises your eyebrows or causes you to wonder what the doll maker was thinking, ask an authority on the subject before jumping to an inflammatory (and often incorrect) conclusion.

Click here to view the doll (Perfect Skin Adèle Makéda) designed by Jason Wu for Integrity Toys in 2004 and the article that sparked this post. 

Doll Terminology Resources (other than my own): 
Art Dolls
Doll Glossary: Words About Dolls and Doll Collecting by Shirley E. Childers (Kindle book)
What is an Antique Doll


Check out my eBay listings here.


  1. So well written and so true. Not every fashion doll is a Barbie, and not all dolls are for children. Enjoy you semi-hiatus and take good care of yourself!

    1. Thank you, Arlette. I will (take care of me). I am looking forward to a long weekend and plan to get in lots of rest and relaxation.


  2. Very true!

    Although I confess I'm always happy when second hand shops (or sellers on ebay) mistake a collector fashion doll for a playline Barbie - there some great deals to be had from that mistake! :)

    1. Well now in the case of mistaken doll identity involving a low priced for sale doll, I'm all for the confusion. :-)


    2. I saw this article a few years ago. I was fairly new to the game and I knew it wasn't playline. People were just looking for something to be mad abot.

    3. You're probably right. Either that or seeking to drive traffic to their site by creating a pseudocontroversy.



  3. Great post Debbie! Well said, well written!!

  4. Thank you for this post! It gets on my nerves, and I know the exact post you're referring to.

  5. It always bothered my why people think all dolls are Barbie when clearly some are not meant to be "played" with.

    1. I don't think they will ever get it, Brini. Because it is a doll, they associate it with child's play, are not aware that some dolls are made for adult collectors, and more importantly, that adult collectors like some dolls that were made for the play market and there is nothing wrong with that.



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