Blurred Barbie: Playline & Collector


I'm relatively new to the doll collector world. Technically, I've been collecting since 2008, but I wasn't really in it until, say, 2 years ago.

Aesthetically, Barbie is what I'm into. I admire other doll companies. I even have a couple Playline Janays and that first Darla Daley from Integrity. Most fashion dolls from other lines don't have personalities I respond to. Their mature stoicism is beautiful, but not totally my flavour. Every once and a while one is released that I absolutely love. As a student collector, however, I'm constrained budgetarily.

Which makes me very glad to be inclined to like Barbie. She's better on my wallet!

My exposure to those higher end fashion doll lines have changed my perception on adult collecting though. They changed my perception of what kind of dolls should be made for adults. Most of the time, Barbie meets my requirements where that is concerned.

I am not, however, a Barbie apologist. There are many things that I wish Mattel would do differently in their handling of the Barbie brand. Most of them are minor and have to do with protecting the quality of their dolls. I understand, of course, that my tastes as a collector only represent a tiny fraction of the consumer base they are trying to appeal to. I have young cousins and they have come over to my house to play with my dolls (the one's I allow them to). Dresses that I consider unappealing are cute to them. The lack of judgement they have of the items they play with lead me to believe that some of things I think Mattel should do differently, are actually being handled appropriately.

When it comes to Barbie Collector, I understand and agree with a lot of people's frustration. Mostly, my collection is display based. Articulation hasn't been a important thing for me. I've sold every single pivotal body I have ever owned - and I've owned a few!

As my collection grows, despite the fact that my collection is still display based, my desires regarding how I want to display my dolls displayed has changed. More and more, I want to position them according to their personality. I have a Pop Culture collection so, all my dolls are either characters or real people. When in groups, I want their poses to reflect their relationship with the other dolls.

As I plan my displays, I find myself looking at group magazine covers for inspiration. If I ever wanted to display my dolls like this:

I'd need articulated bodies.

Even before, when I didn't care to have articulated bodies, I heard the complaints of my fellow collectors and I felt for them. From my point of view, it was a problem with a very easy solution. The Barbie Basic line had a subset of articulated dolls. Why couldn't they do that with its replacement, The Look?

After 4 years, Mattel is introducing a Look line with articulated dolls.

Mbili is a Barbie Collector regular. Karl is special and welcome surprise. The Barbie here resembles the new Playline Barbie head.

This presents an... interesting quandry.

It seems an indicator of the lines being blurred between Playline and Collector.

I can't really say it isn't. There are other signs. Playline dolls being sold on The shortcuts taken with Collector doll constuction.

Then there was this:

Limited Edition Sophia Webster doll with a Playline head.

Surely this was a omen right?

Eh, I'm not so sure.

From my vantage point, the Sophia Webster and upcoming Look dolls are reflective of the @BarbieStyle Intagram account.

It is the place where Playline Barbies meet Collector quality clothes and accessories. It makes sense in this special world because Playline is the public face of Barbie, not Collector. Most of the Barbie's sold will be Playline. The tongue-in-cheek 'real life' approach to the Instagram account and the public stage it presents requires they rely on the quality clothes items in their archives: their Barbie Collector archives.

Not to mention the fact that this account is a direct response to the fantastic Barbie fan photographers, most of whom are strong Barbie Collector supporters.

Right away, the most impressive things to me about this account was the beautiful modern fashions. It is the kind of clothes I wished Mattel would sell their dolls in. Fine, so not Playline. What about Barbie Collector? Clearly they are capable of it!

Enter these new The Look dolls.

Giving us those @BarbieStyle level quality clothes on Barbie Collector articulated bodies. With a Barbie Collector exclusive sculpt!

So the blonde uses what looks like a shrunken Playline Barbie head.... I'm not particularly happy about it.

There are non-playline, smiling sculpts they could use. This may well be the Generation Girl Barbie sculpt. I'm hoping it is. If it is, then what a great substitute for the Playline sculpt! Giving us that @BarbieStyle feeling without actually being the same sculpt. It is clear, to me at least, that with this collection, they want to tell collectors that they are listening and are capable of responding to what we are asking for. Something many of us have questioned in the past.

If it is the Playline sculpt... that upsets me. I am one of those people who think there should be a line between Playline and Collector.

However... @BarbieStyle blurs those lines in a way that is fresh and exciting. If we are going to get more dolls that reflect the quality of clothes construction presented on @BarbieStlyle, I'm not going to let a smiley Barbie head spoil my joy & excitement for such a thing.

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The night is still young (How dare we sit quietly)
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