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review 2019-06-14 21:03
Barbie and Ken, Barbie #4 by Cynthia Lawrence and Bette Lou Maybee
Barbie and Ken (Book 4) - Bette Lou Maybee,Cynthia Lawrence,Clyde Smith

I have to take some rating love away from this collection of stories and plays, because even though Ken and Midge get a LOT more play here then in the novels, the character development is really lacking. Lawrence and Maybee have invested so much in making Barbie a fairly believable every-girl that they don't know what to do with her actually-also-a-doll-for-sale friends. Midge is a little boy crazy and Ken is supportive and present.


It's no surprise that there are continual continuity blunders, the two authors don't seem to have compared notes about their assignments. There are at least two Barbie-verses, but you don't have to look too far ahead to see there will be more fracturing when it turns out this sprightly single-child gets saddled with at least three younger siblings in the next few years.


I was disappointed by the lack of activity pages that made 'Here's Barbie' so charming.


One highlight was the the play-within-a-play that featured the characters working with a bossy classmate who wanted to buy her way into the character of the Queen of Hearts. Barbie seemed OK with being stage manager.


Another new acquisition is this 'Guinevere' #873 costume from the 'Little Theater' (1964) series. I have her in front of the 'King Arthur' #773 costume we found, still stitched on the card, in a garbage pile!



Barbie Random House Novels


Next: 'Barbie Solves a Mystery'


Previous: 'Barbie's New York Summer'

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review 2019-06-12 21:56
Barbie's Fashion Success, Barbie #2 by Bette Lou Maybee
Barbie's Fashion Success (Book 2) - Bette Lou Maybee,Clyde Smith

Barbie comes home to discover her mother giving up on joining her husband on a cruise to Alaska so she can be chained to the stove and make sure Barbie's not alone. Barbie objects, so they remember that they could maybe send her to visit an aunt instead. More importantly, an acquaintance of the family sends a fashion icon to call on the family on a tour of Midwest. She is charmed by Barbie's self-made fashions and offers her an internship in San Francisco. Everyone's happy!


The plot had some similarities to 'New York Summer' and its a struggle to put them into the same world. Barbie would have to be pretty thick to be this naïve about the industry, twice, in the same year. Untangling the Barbie multi-verse aside, the book has some notable elements - Barbie being an independent young woman (the aunt offers up some sophisticated adult advice, but otherwise barely exists in the plot) with career choices, crushing her workload, and even makes a frenemy in the shape of the jealous daughter of the owner. Luckily for Barbie that jealous daughter has a brother who is a dreamboat and has a yacht, so.


Poor Ken. A nod to reality came in the form of a suspiciously sassy, prank-loving male designer who Barbie butts head with at first, but ultimately bonds with. Barbie knows who to network with.


The obvious outfit here would be 'Busy Gal' with its portfolio of fashion sketches, or the later 'Junior Designer' where kids could "design" Barbie's dress with decals, but I don't have either one. So here is Allan playing the part of the boy with the biggest yacht:




Barbie Random House Novels


Next: 'Barbie's New York Summer'


Previous: 'Here's Barbie'

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review 2019-06-11 20:19
The Vintage Ken Book by Anthony Gayton
The Vintage Ken Book: Ken & Allan Dolls and Their Clothing 1961-1967 - From the Private Collection of Anthony Gayton - Anthony Gayton

It should come as no surprise to any of you that we've continued to go nuts over Barbie everything, but the real hook that got me into the doll-collecting world was Ken.


I came across the website Something About the Boy when trying to find reference photographs for an outfit - and hit the jackpot. The author started collecting about 15 years ago and has not only amassed an impressive and complete collection, but his photography is so good. Just look at it. There are exclusive images and content in the book/PDF that is not available on the website, that, and just having the images and information handy at a show, store or yard sale without needing an internet connection, is worth the $20 price.


This book does not come in a bound edition, yet, but I'm hopeful it will appear someday. The art in here elevates the toy into something worthy of a coffee table book. All photos in this post, on the other hand, are mine.


This book only covers the "Vintage Years" from Ken's first introduction in 1961 to his discontinuation in 1967. The website goes all the way into the 1980s (Barbie and the Rockers!) and, OMG, just look at it. It's beautiful. I don't think I'll ever collect that late, but I love that he's doing this project and documenting everything Ken. 


Gayton goes year by year, and with careful research and documentation of never-opened dolls and accessories provides the collector with images of changes made in the production of the dolls themselves and in the clothing and accessories. The trouser identification guide quickly became that thing I didn't know I needed!



On the left is Allan in 1964's 'Special Date' #1401, and on the right is Ken in an assembled outfit that was eventually sold as "Victory Dance" #1411. It was released in 1964, but was made out of several repackaged items that had once been sold individually. The exposed zipper on the white slacks marks them as earlier, the lack of cuffs makes them transitional. Late '61, early '62.


Barbie is a popular brand but any information on Ken and Allan and their accessories has always seemed like an afterthought. Gayton advances an interesting theory that in 1963 Mattel had bigger plans for Ken as a toy for boys - 1963 saw Ken joining the army and navy, playing baseball and football, as well as boxing, skiing, and diving. The success of G.I. Joe in 1964 ended that possibility. That makes a lot of sense. Would girls in the early 60s have been expected to play boxing?



1963 'Dr. Ken' #793 monitors a bend leg Ken with "blush" on the cheeks going 'In Training' #780 from 1961. The doctor's surgical mask and reflector have ties that are too fragile to use.


Anyway, this is a great resource. That clued me in to a lot more variations in the dolls and their clothing then I thought there was. For your time, another new arrival:



We found the mask for the Big Bad Wolf (from the Barbie's 1964 'Little Red Riding Hood' costume) for $5 at a show. Couldn't resist! He's with a mid '60s Barbie clone wearing homemade clothes.

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text 2019-06-08 21:46
Reading progress update: I've read 97 out of 179 pages.
Barbie's Secret - Eleanor K. Woolvin,Robert Patterson

if Yoshiko is referred to as a delicate bird ONE MORE TIME....

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review 2019-05-14 19:18
Here's Barbie: Stories About the Fabulous Barbie and Her Boyfriend Ken by Cynthia Lawrence and Bette Lou Maybee
Here's Barbie - Bette Lu Lawrence,Cynthia Maybee

This is a collection of short stories and activity prompts that first appeared in the pages of Mattel's 'Barbie Magazine'. I've no idea over how long of a span or if they were edited for this publication. No one seems to have been nerdy enough to figure out this information for me if my quick internet searches are correct.


So, this is the proper introduction to the World of Barbie in Literature. It's not bad. None of the stories had that questioning edge present in 'New York Summer', but the stories do cover familiar mg/ya territory: social anxieties, feuds between friends, holiday charities and the importance of being yourself.


I was charmed by the activity suggestions at the end of each story. It was usually just a list of some kind - if you were throwing a party who would you invite, how would you decorate, etc. There were also instructions for putting on a play and making costumes, sending greeting cards, making a list of friend's birthdays and even writing your own ghost story! As a sign of the times there's also a page where you can write down your dress size and all other measurements (including gloves!) for your own reference in buying or making clothes, or if someone special wants to get you something. Unfortunately no one ever wrote in my copy, but I've seen others for sale with lots of writing.


I still wish I had the outfit intact enough to display, as Ken dressed as Prince Charming rescues Barbie at a costume dance in the first story, but I don't, so instead here is an old favorite: 'Dreamboat' (1961).



These are fun (the dolls and the books).


Barbie Random House Novels:


Next: 'Barbie's Fashion Success'


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