If you collect modern Barbie Dolls, you have thousands of choices. You can't collect them all (well..maybe if you're very rich and you have unlimited doll display space and a very, very sympathetic spouse you could collect them all, but those 3 criteria basically rule out, um, everyone reading this...) so you need a strategy. How can you make sense out of the thousands of Barbie dolls issued in the last 30 years--pink box, porcelain, celebrity, fashion, and more? Here are a few suggestions on ways you can rationally build a wonderful Barbie collection.
1. Pink Box or Collectible? First, you have to ask yourself if you want to collect pink box Barbie dolls (dolls issued for play) or Collectible Barbie dolls (dolls issued for the adult collectible market). Some collectors collect both, but if you have a strong preference for either type, you've successfully cut out 1/2 of your choices! Pink Box dolls have the benefit of being inexpensive, and are often chosen by collectors who like to customize or play hard with their dolls. Collectible dolls are often chosen by NRFB collectors.
2. Collecting Barbie by Themes Another way to make sense of the Barbie Doll world is to base your collection on a theme. Popular themes include Celebrity Barbie (Barbie as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde; Barbie as I Love Lucy), Movies (Gone With The Wind, James Bond, My Fair Lady), Vintage Reproductions, Historical (dolls such as The Great Eras Barbies), Bob Mackie Dolls, or Fantasy. Themed collections can span both Pink Box and Collectible Barbies--for instance, a collector focusing on Movie-Themed Barbies can also collect Pink-Boxed dolls such as 101 Dalmatians Barbie.
3. NRFB or Deboxed? Most collectors who collect Barbie collect boxed Barbies. But...do you really need the box? If you debox most of your Barbies anyway, why pay extra for the box? Many bargains can be had on deboxed Barbies--on eBay you can find nearly anything deboxed, from the most inexpensive pink box doll for under $5 all the way up to the most expensive Bob Mackie doll. On the expensive dolls, you can often save over 1/2 the price. And, think of the display space you'll save!
4.Barbie as Fashion DollSure, Barbie IS a fashion doll, but one way to tame your Barbie doll collection is to consider only collecting the fashion-themed dolls! Fashion-themed dolls include dolls made to represent a designer (Christian Dior Barbie, Nolan Miller Barbie) and dolls made in the traditional, vintage tradition of Barbie with clothing and accessories available separately--the current fave for Barbie fashion fans is the Silkstone collection. Another, now retired fashion collection is the Barbie Millicent Roberts collection from the mid 1990s.
5. Do Your Own Thing!If you march to your own drummer, you may have your OWN way of collecting Modern Barbie. I've seen some amazing collections based on something simple such as "Barbies dressed in Black and White," or "Red-haired" Barbie dolls. If you are a doll customizer, perhaps you only care about Barbie as a base for your own creations, in which case you'll select your Barbies based on facial features and body type (poseable, not poseable, etc.)
These suggestions only skim the surface of the possibilities for modern Barbie collecting. The possibilities are endless and offer many different perspectives on collecting and owning Barbie dolls.