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Home Articles Current Feature Globally Gorgeous: Mattel expands Dolls of the World Barbie line
Globally Gorgeous: Mattel expands Dolls of the World Barbie line
Written by Stephanie Finnegan   

The longest-running series in the history of Mattel’s Barbie brand, the Dolls of the World collection, saw some unexpected updates at the beginning of the year, but its heart remains in the same place. These are vinyl valentines to the girls of the world who love to play with and collect dolls along with showing national pride.

According to Katie Phillips, the global marketing manager for Barbie Collector, “The Dolls of the"Holland" Barbie World collection represents countries, big and small, from around the globe. The countries chosen for the collection represent nations with iconic costuming and cultural dress. For the new collection, we’ve combined time-honored favorites with new and exciting girl-requested countries!”

The 10 countries that made the cut for 2012 are: Ireland, Australia, Argentina, and China, which were unveiled earlier this year; Mexico, India, Holland, and Chile this fall; then Brazil and the United States (focusing on Hawaii) later this year. Priced at $29.95 each, the packaging for these dolls doubles as a carrying case and a place to store the collector’s personal travel mementos.

"India" BarbieThe 11½-inch fashion dolls are designed for ages 6 and up and are meant to be played with, collected, and to teach geography and world customs. “These dolls will continue to inspire girls to explore the world through doll ambassadors who share the fashion, culture, and personalities of their native countries in a fun and playful way,” Phillips said. “Each doll comes with a passport and stamp stickers, allowing girls to travel the world through Barbie.”

In addition, this year Mattel has introduced, for the first time, “Dolls of the World” Web content on that allows fans to explore and engage with the countries covered by the spring line ("Chile" Barbie). Travelers to the site will be able to click on a country shown on the map to learn interesting facts, play interactive games related to that country, and have a lot of instructional, inspirational, safe fun.

Also on hand for 2012 is an adorable litter of recognizable animals. Each of the dolls will be accompanied by a critter from her home country. “China” Barbie is paired with a panda; “Ireland” has a long-haired Irish setter; “Australia” is matched with a koala; and “Argentina” holds a puma. These duos reveal an undeniable universal similarity — no matter where they may hail from, beautiful dolls and cute, cuddly companions are sure to gain the stamp of approval from collectors the world over.

"China", "Austrailia", and "Ireland" Barbie were released this spring

Inspired Itinerary

Mattel Designer Linda Kyaw has been involved with the Barbie brand for 10 years. She began in the face sculpt and design department, and for the past six years, she’s been a Barbie Collector designer. Kyaw recently took the time to chat with DOLLS about the creation process for the Dolls of the World line.

DOLLS: What are your responsibilities towards the Dolls of the World line?

Linda Kyaw: As designers, we create the initial concept and work with a talentedLinda Kyaw team to execute the concept. I have the pleasure of art directing everything from the fashion to the accessories to the eye color. With a beloved line like Dolls of the World, it was important as a designer to speak to both young girls and adult collectors. Our main goal is to continue upholding the quality and details that our collectors love while making the line fresh and approachable for girls.

DOLLS: How much research is required for designing each dolls’ costumes and accessories?

Kyaw: Research is a critical process for any design. I use a lot of different methods to gain information and inspiration. The Dolls of the World line captures the essence of a country by partial authenticity, coupled with imagination. Additionally, each country’s consulate had the opportunity to view and make comments on the design to ensure a positive representation of the country.

DOLLS: Are the costumes and the look of the dolls based on an ethnic/folkloric appearance?

Kyaw: Many countries represented in the collection have a rich history that includes wonderful ethnic and folkloric elements. We try to weave in as much of that as we can without making the costume feel dated. The new Dolls of the World line features a fresh look with traditional elements intertwined. Balance is the secret!

DOLLS: Where did you grow up? Did Barbie play a part in your childhood?

Kyaw: I grew up in California, and some of my most cherished childhood memories are with Barbie. Being a designer today would not mean as much to me if I did not have a personal experience with Barbie when I was younger. Barbie is and forever will be my muse.

DOLLS: Do you have any personal experience with international travel or adventure?

Kyaw: When I was younger, I traveled back to my native country of Burma with my mother. It was special, but I didn’t really appreciate the experience until I looked back. It taught me so much about people, culture, food, weather, land, tradition, and family. It was a humbling adventure and I will always look forward to more travels in the future!

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I so agree with last comment. I am looking to buy an aboriginal barbie so my white daughter (4 years) can play with her aboriginal neighbor. All they both have to play with is blue eyed, blonde haired white skinned dolls, something is wrong here. We live in Australia, this is not equality.
sally mcdonald , November 20, 2013
I'm a bit disapointed, that the 2nd Australian Barbie again is "white" when there could be such an interesting "aboriginal Barbie" done, with dark skin, afro, a special face mold, festive decorated colorful cloth-wrap, a little jewlery and interesting, white body-paint, which even kids wear for dances (I have a proto-typesmilies/smiley.gif. Her box could be printed with a wealth of information of aboriginal art and nature background.

Also, I'm from Germany myself and I never liked the german outfit for Barbie, not the 1st and especially not the 2nd, "white plastic legs!" Traditional Germans wear "beautfully knitted kneehighs" under their "Dirndl-dress", together with a white cotton-lace underskirt and a short, white cotton-lace blouse, that ties under the chest. The "Dirndl" also usually comes with a "seperate", but matching apron, and comfortable shoes with a little heel, like black or brown Mary-Janes for instance. So the whole outfit incl undies and kneehighs would be at least 9 pieces, but it could be 10 pieces, if the "Dirndl" is a 2-piece consisting of a very full skirt and a very tight, bustier-like vest, in any case, all pieces should be sewed with great care, and be of cotton. Only the Dirndl-dress (or vest and skirt) and the apron can be an other fabric, like silk or brocade. In any case, the prints used should always be woven in and tiny and the colors shouldn't be too glearing. This is the discription for a basic "Dirndl", "German Trachten Regalia" is much more intrigate and different from German town to town and needs to be carefully reserched.

Unfortunately, I have little hope, that I ever see these changes, whether it be to the Australian doll or to the German doll, but if I do, I will be the first to buy.

Smiles, Beate.
Beate Mc Cabe , April 29, 2012

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