"THE BARBIE RENAISSANCE" > Page 1, 2
The Barbie® Renaissance: Barbie® 2000 Creates Excitement Among Long-Time Modern Barbie® Doll Collectors
The fashion doll field has never been so crowded--Gene, Tyler, Daisy and Willow, Eve and Alex all seek to dethrone Barbie as THE collectible fashion doll for adult collectors. But these newer fashion dolls, popular as they are, are going to have a tough time of it. After a few years of doldrums, the buzz about Barbie in Internet Forums and Chat rooms just keeps growing and growing. Thanks to a happy convergence of factors, there is true excitement about Barbie this year.
Before we discuss the current Renaissance of Barbie, a little history of Barbie as a modern collectible doll is in order, especially for the newer collector.
HISTORY OF MODERN BARBIE
The Early Glory Days
Before we explore the Barbie 2000 line and WHY it is so exciting, knowing where modern Barbie has been in the hearts of collectors over the last 12 years is important, and shows why 2000 Barbie dolls are especially exciting.
There have been Barbie collectors almost from the beginning of Barbie--in 1977, only a few short years after vintage/mod Barbie bit the dust (approximately 1971/1972) Sybil DeWein and Joan Ashabraner published their ground-breaking "The Collectors Encyclopedia of Barbie Dolls." This was remarkable--a collectors book for dolls that had ONLY been out of production for 10-15 years!
Through the 70s and most of the 80s, collectors collected pink box (play line) Barbie dolls and vintage, and also foreign Barbies. In 1986, the first porcelain Barbie was produced. This COULD be said to mark the beginning of modern Barbie as a collectible doll, BUT most collectors believe that collectible Barbie really came into her own in 1988 with the introduction of the Happy Holiday series. The first Happy Holidays Doll (not produced in great numbers) was snapped up nearly immediately by collectors of pink box and vintage Barbie dolls that were looking for something new. Things REALLY started to roll after that, with the introduction of the Bob Mackie series in 1990. During 1989-1993, modern Barbie doll collecting slowly built to a crescendo (more porcelain dolls were released, the Mackies rolled along, some new series started) all leading up to the FRENZY caused by the 1994 release of the first vintage reproduction Barbie--the 35th anniversary doll and its gift set. The doll was SO eagerly awaited that it was VERY hard to get. Rumours abounded--very few brunettes would be produced, for instance. MANY new collectors came into the hobby, because of the nostalgia the reproduction induced in women who had long ago lost their childhood vintage ponytail doll.
From this point on, modern collectible Barbies were in high demand. The speculators moved in (just like in the late 1990s Beanie Babies craze), and people started hoarding dolls. Dolls would be released, snapped up, and immediately show up on the secondary market at MUCH greater prices than the retail price. Collectors who were lucky enough to be able to obtain the modern Barbies almost immediately saw them rise in value. Barbie was considered a "good investment"--people had closets full of Barbies that they thought would put their kids through college.
The Doldrum Days
Of course, all Glory days must end, and for a variety of reasons, the late 1990s saw the crash of the modern Barbie doll market. Responding to collector complaints and shortages, Mattel greatly upped the production numbers on most collectible Barbies. They also raised prices--the logic was, if collectors will pay hundreds of dollars for a Barbie on the secondary market, they would just as easily pay that amount directly to Mattel. So, production went up, prices went up, and in many cases, quality went down (remember the Poodle Parade hair debacle, and the cracking boots on the Francie reproduction? Barbies costing hundreds of dollars that lacked underwear? Dolls that lacked full backs on their dresses, since they were made to be NRFB?) SO, Barbie started to show up in discount bins, and the speculators got out of the market (which was very easy to do, thanks to NEW consumer-to-consumer venues like eBay). Thanks to eBay and the explosion of collectors buying and selling on the Internet, the modern collectible Barbie market got liquid--TOO liquid, some might say, greatly favoring the buyer. And, in 1995, Gene showed up on the market, presenting an alternative to adult fashion doll collectors who really DIDN'T have a viable alternative before.
Thanks to all of that, values plummeted. Most Barbies started to sell for LESS than retail on the secondary market, not more (with certain exceptions like the Harley series and the first Dorothy). Sad but true, the Barbie heyday seemed to be over. Even collectors who truly loved Barbie for Barbie, and who weren't in it for their value, saw their interest and faith in their favorite doll waning.
But, just as all good things come to an end....sometimes, just sometimes....they also bounce back! Don't miss page 2--all ABOUT the Barbie Renaissance!
Do YOU think that Barbie is having a
Renaissance this year? If so why, and if not, why not? Join our
Thread in the Dolls Forum: Barbie
2000 Flying High! and share YOUR opinion!
©Denise Van Patten 2000
All Rights Reserved.