Ken Dolls - An Introduction:
Ken, Barbie's boyfriend was introduced by Mattel in 1961, only two short years after Barbie's introduction. Ken was a gamble for Mattel, since male dolls never sell as well as female dolls. However, Ken had a measure of success, and was marketed with an extensive wardrobe almost as intricate as Barbie's in the 1960s. Ken was named for the son of the Ruth Handler, the creator of the Barbie doll. The first Ken was available with flocked brown or blonde hair. There have been countless variations since. Except for one brief break up in 2004, Barbie and Ken are still dating.
Years of Production of Ken Dolls:
Ken was introduced in 1961 and has been in production ever since.
Size of Ken Dolls:
Ken dolls are generally 12 inches tall, 1/2 inch taller than Barbie.
Materials Used To Make Ken Dolls:
Ken dolls are made of vinyl, except for the 30th Anniversary Ken doll (released in 1991) which was made of porcelain.
Company That Produces Ken Dolls:
Ken dolls are produced by Mattel, Inc.
Versions of the Ken Doll:
Ken Carson (has been made in countless styles, In the 1960s, Ken started as a straight leg, flocked-hair doll. He had all-American good looks and an extensive wardrobe. Bendable Leg and Talking versions followed. In the 1970s, Ken was Malibu Ken and "Now Look Ken" (hippie Ken with shoulder length hair!) Ken was a bit scarce in toy stores in the 1970s, and was back to sun tanning (Hawaiian Ken) and shaving (Sport & Shave Ken). In the 1980s, Ken went disco (Jewel Secrets Ken in light blue silver lame) By the 1990s, Ken was again more manly and several versions including Harley Ken were quite well received.
Ken Dolls' Friends and Family:
Ken's best friend was Allan, was first released in 1964. Brad, an African-American friend, was introduced in 1970.
Secondary Market Prices for Ken Dolls:
Although Vintage Ken was produced in far lower numbers than Barbie, mint and never removed from box (NRFB) vintage Ken dolls still sell for far lower prices than Barbie dolls from the same era. Why? Because most doll collectors have dozens of Barbie dolls buy maybe only one or two Ken dolls. Collectors simply prefer female dolls. Even the #1 Straight Leg Ken with flocked hair in perfectly mint condition can be found for under $200.
That said, NRFB rarer 1960s Ken outfits can sell for several hundred dollars. For modern Ken, collectors especially look for Ken in gift sets with Barbie; the Phantom of the Opera gift set (produced by FAO Schwarz) and the Lord of the Ring gift set with Ken as Aragorn are popular and can sell for over $200. Kens from the early 1990s are harder to find NRFB but sell at very low prices; even the media darling Earring Magic Ken from 1992 can be found NRFB for under $20. And not all modern gift sets with Ken are valuable; the Star Trek gift set also can be found for under $20.