Mattel Rebranding Barbie?

It’s common knowledge that as of late, the Barbie brand has had sluggish sales and has been pulling Mattel down financially.  It’s no surprise– dolls are currently in a tough position.  On one hand, they are the first item people think of when pondering what to buy their young girl (or boy).  On the other hand, where seven or eight year olds may have actively played with dolls ten years ago, now most prefer digital toys or games.  The current toy trends really don’t bode well for any doll line, Barbie included.

People say Barbie’s sales droop is due to her not being relevant to today’s target market.  I don’t see that at all, personally.  Imaginative play of all kinds is very important to the developmental growth of children and it doesn’t get much easier than picking up a Barbie and opening up your imagination.  It is also said that the negative press attached to the numerous attacks on Barbie due to her body shape have something to do with the low sales.  I don’t buy that, either.  I’ve never really brought it up here on my blog, but I don’t think the kind of doll you play with as a kid has any bearing on how you think of your body.  Body image, I think, is learned from the people around you, not the things you play with.

Barbie’s needed to be rebranded for a few years now.  The trouble started for me back when Barbie’s started hitting store shelves with large, overly inflated head molds and hollow limbs.  Barbie lines started looking the same and some even started looking generic.  The Barbie and Her Sisters line was a step in the right direction.  Not only did it bring back my favorite doll, Skipper, but it helped break up the monotony of a somewhat stale Barbie aisle.

The past few walks through the toy aisle, I thought I noticed Barbie’s getting prettier. I thought it was my imagination, but it seems like it is just the beginning of Mattel’s rebranding of the Barbie line.

Fashion Doll World posted images of the future of Barbie.  All credit for these images goes to that site.  I highly recommend checking the site for more in depth photos.  I didn’t see a source mentioned in her post, but my guess is these must have come from an internal document or a survey that was meant to be kept under wraps.  Of course, that’s my just speculation.  I honestly have no idea where these images came from, other than her blog. (Note: A readers said these images came from a Mattel Analyst meeting. Didn’t something like this get leaked last year, too?)

If these images truly do showcase Mattel’s plan for 2015, then I am totally on board.  I’m loving the variety in the prototype dolls!  Not to mention, the face molds seem much more proportionate to the Barbie body then they have in the past.

What do you think of the new direction Mattel is possibly going?  What would you like to see in this rebranding?  Why do you think the Barbie line has sluggish sales?  Share your thoughts below!

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October 31, 2014. Uncategorized.

32 Comments

  1. Hannah Grace replied:

    It’s not something I am particularly fond of, but the. Again, I’m not a Barbie fan. However, I do love the diversity they’re showing us here, since that’s always been a problem I’ve had with Barbies.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Yep. Totally agree. It’s all about variety. The doll lines are very, very similar right now, which can get boring.

  2. Louise Hartgen replied:

    Hi.

    I used to love Barbie, her hair, her look, her cool clothes, then she started to go all fairy/mermaid/Princess and you couldn’t buy any proper fashion dolls at all. It was about then that I packed up my Barbie De Luxe trunk and went on to other dolls, but I’ve kept a weather eye on her and, from what I’ve seen browsing the UK toy websites, the trend has only gotten worse.

    I think Barbie’s long, long overdue for an overhaul. If little girls want fantasy dolls there are some fantastic ones out there, Monster high, Ever After, Bratzellas adn so many more. From what I’m reading, if girls want real fashion dolls over here they buy the 18 inch tall Chad Valley Designadoll or they go for Bratz, fly eyes, screw on feet and all because of the cool looks they have.

    I honestly do think that Barbie is still incredibly well-loved and if there are some pretty dolls with cool clothes and friends who aren’t clones Matel won’t have to worry about their sales next year. Why I might even be tempted myself! 🙂

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I agree, even if sales weren’t down, Barbie would be needing to be rebranded, I think. It makes me think back to what the Barbie world must have felt back when the 90’s facemold was being transitioned to the one we currently have.

  3. Taswegian1957 replied:

    This is a subject that is close to my Barbie loving heart. I think you made some good points. I’m sure that little girls are more likely to be influenced by things other than Barbie where body image is concerned.Some parents would never let their children have Barbie but I think the majority have enough common sense not to worry about it. As I’ve said before, it’s a toy dammit.
    As an adult collector of playline dolls the things that have put me off have been lack of variety in looks and themes and a general cheapness that I feel has been creeping in. The dolls don’t seem to be as nicely made as they once were. I’m spoiled of course because i’m old enough to remember how detailed the original Barbie/Sindy/Tammy dolls were and what beautiful clothes they had-and they were for little girls to play with. I think that Mattel have been pitching to a younger age group with fairies, mermaids and princeses and they are therefore keeping the dolls overly simple. I read some place that their target market is 3-7 years old. I could be wrong but it seems like almost planned obsolesence because by the time children are old enough to play with their dolls without breaking them or messing them up they are growing out of princesses and fairies. Life in the Dreamhouse is probably a step in the right direction for keeping children engaged with Barbie for longer. Well made and attractive Barbies with a good variety of friends and family dolls might encourage girls to keep playing longer creating new looks and new stories about their dolls. It would also mean that adult collectors who can’t afford the high end dolls might buy them. To me Fashion Fever was the best combination of dolls and outfits that Mattel ever did and if they would do something along those lines I know I’d buy them. Swappin’ Heads was not a bad idea either although I would have liked to have seen a few more combinations available.
    Anyway I’m off to check out the website. I have the blonde ponytail Barbie in the pink and black and I think she is one of the nicer new ones I’ve seen although I’m not mad on the body shape.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Mattel definitely needs to work on keeping the quality high. I will be posting a review shortly on the Tiki Hut Skipper and she has the most hollow legs Skipper has ever had. It really brought the doll down, in my opinion.

  4. Mipsy replied:

    I really these new Barbie’s I’m really looking forward to these, especially as I don’t like the current Barbie’s at all at the moment, (I only buy 2nd hand Barbie’s as a result of this because there the older ones which I like better) I think these are a definite step in the right direction, I’m most likely going to actually collect these ones because there so pretty, they look so much better than the ones they have out at the moment.
    also I hope these will be packaged on there own with out gimmicks and other things because thats another issue, they hardly realise Barbie’s in single packs at the moment and the ones with gimmicks and other things packaged with them are way to expensive for my tastes. But the single dolls are much more affordable 🙂 I think I know whats effecting there sales, Frozen all the kids want Frozen at the moment, I’ve gone in Toys R us and the Barbie section hardly has anyone in it but the Frozen section is covered in children!!!

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Yeah– Frozen is still quite popular. I’m amazed about that, actually! I really hope these images properly represent the direction Mattel will be going in. We’ll have to wait and see!

  5. DollNerd replied:

    The pictures are actually from a Mattel Analyst’s presentation, and there’s more than just photos; the presentation talks about how Barbie has gotten too conceptually spread out and how they’re planning to streamline the Brand for 2015. It looks like they’re going to use a “super” theme that will start out the year with superhero-themed stuff, then something fashion-related with a irl Barbie-inspired fashion show and a line from Moschino, then the year will wrap up with a rock star theme… It looks like there are also going to be new sculpts and wider ethnic diversity, too.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Oh! Good to know! Where’d you get that info? I hate posting something without a source, which is why I don’t do ‘news’ very often. Is the whole thing online somewhere?

      • DollNerd replied:

        Yeah, the whole thing is online (though it’s all visuals with very little text) – I’ll see if I can find it again.

  6. Chrysteld replied:

    I have been saying recently that Barbie has become too girlie princess-y. I would love to see a play line if Barbie super heroine. I know they had collectable line Of Wonder Woman and batgirl but would love if they could extend on that. I really noticed it during Halloween when I saw little girls looking at costumes for boys because there just wasn’t much that wasn’t meant to be cutesy and pink.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Others have mentioned that, too. I totally agree. Mermaids and cheerleaders can only hold one’s attention for so long.

  7. SaturdaySequins replied:

    The new Barbies are gorgeous! I love the variety in the face molds and the hair color. If these are the Barbies of 2015, then my wallet is in for some serious weight loss. 😉

    (My only hope is that they will be made in China instead of Indonesia, to avoid the greasy glue. Same with the Monster High dolls — it’s a lot of work to re-root those big heads! Especially in cases where the original hair is so pretty.)

    I think Barbie sales have slumped because the Barbie people had stopped putting as much imagination into the playline dolls. It’s true, the Barbies were starting to all look the same, and the themes — ocean, beach, mermaid — were getting tiresome. Life in the Dreamhouse was a step in the right direction, and so was having a cartoon series; as we Jem Girls from the 80’s know, a good story is a great way to get people interested in toys. And the So In Style dolls were a brilliant idea. So gorgeous, so sassy. So detailed.

    I’d like to see as much detail put into Barbie as Monster High, both in terms of story/character development and quality of accessories. I’d also like to see more Steffie-faced Barbies, since almost every collector I know is obsessed with the face mold, myself included.

    And jeepers creepers, I want to see more articulated dolls! That’s something I’ve heard from every doll collector/customizer I know. People even buy old Liv dolls as body donors. With the growing interest in stop motion animation on Youtube, it would be a great move for Mattel.

    Those are my thoughts! Thanks for a thought-provoking blog post. Someone should send it to Mattel. If they listened to buyers more, I bet sales would go up.

    — Sarah

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Everyone who does stop motion on youtube gets a thumbs up from me. That takes so much work and so much time! Way more time I could devote to YouTube with work and everything. I would LOVE more Steffie face molds. It is one of the prettiest faces around. The variety in the presentation material is fantastic. I hope the line in 2015 doesn’t let us down.

  8. Jazz Slater replied:

    I dont think it is a matter of girls not liking dolls…frozen dolls are always sold out…I think it is more due to tge accessories barbie has like nothing anymore…when you go shopping its just rows of swim b arbies…where is the camper and all the cool stuff?

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I’m still amazed that Frozen is so popular. The movie was good, but it wasn’t amazing.

  9. ghouliette replied:

    I will have to get a couple of the Rock ‘n Royals!

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I’m sure they’ll go through many changes until they are actually released– the photo from the presentation they used is really amateur at the moment. They’re already on my wishlist, too, though!

    • Karen replied:

      I got 2 the one with a blue short bob has very weird stiff hair, and the bent arm on these dolls can’t be repositioned. I had one Sindy as a child and had to make everything, I still do.

  10. ghoulia13 replied:

    I loved Barbie as a little girl, and I’ve been getting back into Barbies lately. I like the new look, though it would take some getting used to since it’s so different than the “classic Barbie” we all know. I like that Midge seems to be holding her own to Barbie, instead of being her somewhat plain best friend. I will check them out, and hopefully the manufacturing quality standards will be high.

    • kewpie83 replied:

      Yes. I really hope Mattel remembers that quality is better than quantity.

  11. StarwberryCream replied:

    This looks great but the outfits are horrible! still….i I’m a big fan of life in the dream house….if they made a rebrand of those it would be awesome!

  12. Anonymous replied:

    I love the new dolls that are coming out. I have been a Barbie collector for many years but stopped collecting barbies and started to collect other dolls because I didn’t like how all the Barbies looked the same. I will be buying these for sure. Can’t wait. I collect the Barbie Style dolls for their fashion but don’t care for the blonde Barbie faces too much (they all look the same). I like how some came with purses made from material instead of the plastic purses. I just wished all these new dolls came with articulated bodies. I love to pose my dolls.

  13. Bellamber10 replied:

    I am so happy to read this growing up in 90s I loved my barbies. I have a 3 and 2 year old and I was so excited to buy barbies for them until I realized the had cheap plastic arm and legs now. I miss the rubber legged dolls! The dolls recently bought don’t get a lot of playtime. The old dolls we pulled out of retirement at my parents my girls love.

  14. Blackkitty replied:

    It was great to see so many new faces! After so many years with the same 3-4 faces and 3 skin colours I’m glad they looked back to the glorious ’90s and ’80s. I can’t wait to see the final dolls. They all look youger, fresher and less “bitch-faced” than the current dolls.

  15. Andi B. Goode replied:

    I LOVE these new images. That blonde girl with the ‘shaved’ side is gorgeous. I agree that there needs to be something new with Barbie. She’s got very stagnant (I thought the LitD dolls were pretty exciting but the rest of the playline has been pretty meh.) I hope, if these are released, they actually make it to Australia. I think that’s another issue, surely, is how long it takes for dolls to get to other countries (if they ever get to them at all!) in sales? I mean, I assume they look at worldwide markets as well as the US?

  16. Anupama replied:

    Well , now you can see that mattel has completely changed Barbie from head to toes . Her face has been remoulded , she’s now coming up with more inspirational careers and you can see a wide variety of new dolls on amazon.com ! I honestly love the theme ‘Be Super’ and the new movies ,old ones are still better . Clearly , they’ve been sold out in a pair of flats and fully articulated body . I don’t like the new fashionistas dolls in the case of articulation , whereas they’ve perfect fabric fashion and accesories that even i’d love to wear them ! Barbie is not all about for little girl , It’s ageless matter if we love Barbie.
    And frozen was a great movie , their dolls have been sold because of the movies . But if you don’t mind frozen fans , I’ve a bit problem with frozen dolls only , people shout that Barbie’s body is unreal , they don’t understand that she’s fictious . Elsa and Anna dolls have an unrealistic body proportion too , but you’ll disagree because they look like that in the movies – Big head , big eyes , tiny waist that makes it unreal ….
    But i’m not opposing Frozen !
    But seriously dolls like Bratz have to go off shells

    • kewpie83 replied:

      I don’t understand why Barbie gets so much flack for her size, either. My opinion is that if someone has body issues, they usually stem from more than playing with a vinyl doll.

  17. kaitie648 replied:

    I feel that it was very much needed for Barbie to rebrand. Even as a teenager, I always pass through the doll section. I did notice pretty dolls here and there. There’s this one particular heart pattern bikini Barbie that is beautiful.

    Barbie now looks younger. I love my 2009 Glam Fashionista Barbie but, her make-up is heavy and she looks in her 30’s. Newer Dolls look like teens and women in their 20’s. Barbie has reclaimed her youth, and she looks very pretty. This rebranding actually reminds me of TnT Barbie. Barbie went from an older looking woman to a younger one.

    I felt Barbie dragging as I got older and I became a tad worried. She got sluttier and her make-up got heavier. Then I started seeing fresh faced dolls, and I felt hope. When I heard about the rebranding with all the new cute dolls, I was excited because she needed it.

  18. Nikkkkki replied:

    I am an adult Barbie Doll collector and recently bought two new ones from our local Walmart. My last purchases were in 2013-14. I was very disappointed to find that the hair is now a very cheap quality material and looks more like Christmas tinsel than the nice hair of previous years! Has anyone else noticed this? (Niki)

  19. karenbail1963ey replied:

    I found an interesting article on different hair types on a blog called ‘The Manor’ I think it was Acetate, Saran and maybe Nylon ?

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