- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mattel Corporation recently announced that its Barbie doll is running for president. The toy company is releasing a new 2012 “Barbie I Can Be…President” doll in June.

Those who are fed up with both the Democrats and the Republicans might find Barbie a refreshing choice, says Mattel. She’s starting her own political B Party. This is her fifth run for president. She made her first run in 1992, then again in 2000, 2004 and 2008. This week The List takes a second look at the popular doll.

  • Creator -Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration. Handler’s daughter was called Barbara. Handler died in 2002 at 85.
  • First doll - The doll made its debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York City on March 9, 1959. The date is considered Barbie’s birthday.
  • Who is she? - Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. In a series of novels published by Random House in the 1960s, her parents’ names were given as George and Margaret Roberts from the fictional town of Willows, Wis.
  • She’s popular - Barbie has the largest Facebook fan page of any doll with more than four million likes on Facebook,
  • A lot of cloth - More than 105 million yards of fabric have gone into making Barbie and friends’ fashions, making Mattel one the largest apparel manufacturers in the world.
  • Google - You get 360 million hits when you google Barbie.
  • Big debut year - More than 300,000 Barbie dolls were sold in 1959.
  • She’s an expensive girl - $27,450 was the highest auctioned price for an original 1959 Barbie doll in mint condition.
  • A girl with a cause - The highest auctioned price of a Barbie doll was $302,500, with proceeds donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The one-of-a-kind doll was designed by international fine jewelry designer, Stefano Canturi and included a stunning diamond necklace featuring a one-carat Fancy Vivid pink diamond
  • Career girl - Barbie has had more than 130 careers in her lifetime, including astronaut, Olympian, dentist, teacher and veterinarian.
  • She’s an employer - More than 100 people, designers, seamstresses, pattern makers and stylists are needed to create a single Barbie outfit and look.
  • Girl power - According to Mattel, more than 90 percent of girls ages 3-10 own at least one Barbie doll.
  • Sold out -Mattel says it does not know precisely how many dolls have been sold since 1959, but it’s in the billions.
  • Barbie’s platform - So if she’s running for president, what’s her platform? She says: “To encourage young girls to think bigóand realize that they too could run for office. She “calls for girls of all ages to ‘B inspired,’ ‘B informed’ and ‘B involved.’”
  • Her campaign wardrobe - Barbie doll’s pink skirt suit for her 2012 campaign was designed by CFDA award-winning fashion designer, Chris Benz. The dress was modeled on a outfit he designed for first lady Michelle Obama. Over the years, 75 famous designers have outfitted Barbie.
  • She likes shoes - There have been more than 1,000 different shoe styles in Barbie doll’s closet.
  • Loves pets - Barbie has owned more than 50 pets, including dogs, horses, ponies, cats, a parrot, a chimpanzee, a panda, a lion club, a giraffe and a zebra.
  • International lady - Barbie has represented more than 40 different nationalities.
  • Who does the makeup? - Ten artists work on one Barbie using water-based acrylics and tiny sable brushes.
  • Movie girl - She has starred in 23 direct-to-DVD movies, and she’s coming out in a new one next year. More than 100 million Barbie DVDs have been purchased since 2001.
  • How big? - Barbie stands at 11.5 inches tall. According to the New York Times, at a 1/6 scale, that would make her 5 feet 9 inches tall. Her vital statistics have been estimated at 36 inches (bust), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips).
  • Boyfriend - Barbie never married. Her longtime boyfriend was Ken, but the couple split in February 2010.
  • Weight, no problem - Barbie always watches her weight and weighs in at just 7.25 ounces.
  • Costs - The first Barbie doll sold in 1959 cost $3. The presidential doll will be available in June at retailers nationwide for $13.99.
  • Big seller - Barbie is the No. 1 doll property in the U.S. and the No. 1 worldwide property in the traditional toy industry.
  • Poses - According to Mattel, Barbie has 110 poses.
  • Collectors - It’s estimated there are more than 100,000 Barbie collectors, 90 percent of whom are women with an average age of 40. Forty-five percent of them spend more than $1,000 a year on their dolls.
  • Transportation - Her favorite car is a Volkswagen New Beetle. She also rides a Harley-Davidson.
  • She speaks - In 1992 Teen Talk Barbie was introduced at 1992 American International Toy Fair, and we first heard what those perfect candy-pink lips could say: “I can’t wait for summer!” In 1969, Mattel manufactured a pull-string version with only one sound bite. That doll lasted only one year; today, no one can remember what she said.
  • Favorite film - A Canadian newspaper polled its readers to find out Barbie’s favorite film. The readers voted “Gone With The Wind” as her all-time favorite.
  • Banned - Barbie was banned in Saudi Arabia in 2003 because she didn’t express Arab values. A doll called Fulla, who wears an Islamic headscarf, is popular in the Middle East. She was banned in Montpelier, Vt., in 2006.
  • Fantastic icon - “A fantastic icon contributes to culture by exaggerating what is actual, possible or conceivable,” said Mary F. Rogers, author of “Barbie Culture.” “Such an icon invites fantasy by taking the as-if or the fictive to its outer limits.”

Compiled by John Haydon, whose two daughters had Barbie dolls in their youth.
Sources: New York Times, Mattel Corporation, Wikipedia and Washington Times.