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“Barbie has always been a lightning rod for controversy,” he adds, citing the perpetual furor over the doll’s unrealistic body image, as well as the uproar over a 1992 talking Barbie whose 270 or so phrases infamously included “Math class is tough!”
“It’s people with a lot of personal issues projecting them on a piece of plastic. If you don’t like it, don't bring it into your home. You are the gatekeeper. A Barbie doll is not going to knock on your door and drag your child down to the seaport to get a tattoo.”
Furthermore, Mr. Byrne argues, the Tokidoki doll is, in fact, for adults. “It’s a collectible. It celebrates fashion, which is something that Barbie has been doing with different designers for a long time. And it’s a beautiful doll for 50 dollars.“
According to Byrne, Barbie collecting is the second most popular collecting hobby in the United States, just behind stamps. Mattel estimated that there are about 100,000 adult Barbie collectors across the country, and they are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for the dolls. The collectible Barbies are run by a different managing team than what Byrne calls Mattel’s “for play” line. Unlike their pricier collectible counterparts, “for play” Barbies can be purchased for as little as $6.99.
“If you sit a regular Barbie next to a collector Barbie, you can see there’s a lot more money that goes into the collector,” he says.
But how would a six-year-old respond to the Tokidoki Barbie?
I don’t think she’s going to care,” Byrne says. Barbie play happens in the child s imagination. A doll in a certain outfit is not going to make your child think a certain way.You can give her a naked Barbie, and she’ll still be playing it as a princess.”
Furthermore, he adds, there are major differences between a doll that will appeal to a fashion collector and a doll that a small child will want. “For a six-year-old, glitter is great, but a lot of glitter is even better,” he laughs.