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Barbie - Toys of the 80s and 90s

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Barbie - Toys of the 80s and 90s


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Two particularly impressive consumer flurries that were to sweep through doll shops and toy stores came in 1988, with the unpredictably successful Happy Holiday series, and later in 1994, when the first vintage reproduction Barbie and accompanying gift set made its debut on Miss Thing’s 35th Anniversary. The Official Barbie Collector’s Club was founded in 1997.

The early 80’s saw the first Barbie Convention; the brand new, boot-stomping Western Barbie and her high-steppin’ horse named Dallas; the Paint the Town Red Barbie, whose crimson gown was based on the one worn by the new First Lady, Nancy Reagan. In 1984, over a thousand revelers gathered for Barbie’s 25th Anniversary bash in New York. Andy Warhol was among the guests—his portrait of the doll icon, which would top the Barbie art exhibit that soon toured the nation, would be coming soon. In 1985 she even had her first computer game for Commodore 64.

In 1990, perhaps eager to outfit a lady who never complained and never gained weight, Bob Mackie designed his first Barbie gown, paving the road for many more to follow: Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Valentino, Perry Ellis, Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Byron Lars, Vera Wang and Donna Karan among others. Since Barbie’s best-selling years will often see the introduction of more than a hundred new outfits, the amount of cloth that Mattel tears through is no small at all. As a matter of fact it has become one of the largest makers of women’s clothes in the United States.

In July 1992 Mattel released Teen Talk Barbie, each doll was programmed to say 4 out of 270 possible phrases, so that no two dolls were likely to be the same.

Gorgeous lines like the Hollywood Legends Collection and the Children’s Collector Series (Barbie as fairy tale damsels like Rapunzel) were introduced in the mid-90’s. In 1995, Mattel celebrated its 50th year in business, becoming one of the biggest toy companies wordwide and in big part thanks to Barbie. Today, she’s the most collected doll in the world.

In 1997 Mattel joined forces with Nabisco to launch a cross-promotion of Barbie with Oreo cookies. The Oreo Fun Barbie was marketed as someone with whom little girls could play after class and share "America's favorite cookie."

In May 1997 Share a Smile Becky was introduced, a doll in a pink wheelchair. However Kjersti Johnson, a 17-year-old high school student in Tacoma, Washington, pointed out that the doll would not fit into the elevator of Barbie's $100 Dream House. So the company announced that it would redesign the house in the future to accommodate the doll.

There are Barbie magazines, books and newsletters. There are public museums and legendary private collections. There is unadulterated devotion, from all around the world.

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