Mattel's Barbie Doll was born in 1959. It falls in the category of Fashion Dolls and has evolved and transformed hundreds of times. Various sizes, figure lines, attire, professions, ethnicity and even attitudes have managed to marketeer Barbie dolls into almost every household. Her exaggerated bodily proportions is a palpable feature and is often most criticized because it offers a distorted idealistic view of the female human body. It is said that if a Barbie doll is enlarged to human size, it would actually look utterly grotesque, but Mattel's designers are very observant and knowledgeable on how to tweak certain dimensions at the realm of small scales to create a pleasing result.
Highly collectible, yet her broad appeal was fed by extensive advertising and mass-production. In most cases durable and sturdy, Barbie dolls are intended to be played with copiously, albeit probably cared for to a much higher degree than most other childhood toys, which however also means that condition is an important factor on how older Barbie dolls are appraised. Completeness and original packaging are evident considerations as most also come with several doll accessories, changes of clothing, tiny doll jewelry and all sorts of paraphernalia - including her male companion, Ken, who was introduced in 1961 and has ever since been tirelessly chasing Barbie in a most awkward on-off fictitious romantic relationship ever... Skipper, her little sister - pictured on this page - is yet another character associated with Barbie and was introduced in 1963.
Rarity of Barbie dolls, that makes up another significant aspect that influences pricing and worth, is measured by the numbers of each model's issue. Vintage age of manufacturing usually predicates that older Barbie dolls were made in lower numbers and provided all other factors fair well, should normally fetch higher prices at auction. Because some Barbies were designed with a specific audience in mind, for example ethnic models, those numbers are also somewhat low, especially from earlier years of output.
Various controversies surrounding the design and overall look of Barbie dolls or certain models have played a prominent role in propagating myths and judgmental opinions, some of which appear over-analytical and perhaps exaggerated - it is toy, after all, that is supposed to invoke fantasy - and no, they do not affect little girls' perception of the world or cause imbalanced emotional responses damaging one's intelligence. Populist high-school level psychology in this case seems a bit misguided and it is an incontestable fact that the Barbie brand has endured and perhaps even been helped by all these innuendos in a marketing sense, as a serious and prized collectible that achieves high sale prices at auction.
Below are some examples of Barbie dolls of all types or ages and related items from our Pricing Guides database.