FAB Girl Barbie® (name may change)
Are these new faces?

This looks to be the catalog photo for FAB Girl™ Barbie.

As you can see, she's different from the prototype displayed at Toy Fair (which I talked about here); her outfit is a bit different (and a bit less pink), the pink hair streak is gone (maybe it changes color?), and she doesn't have the 1998 "Generation Girl™" head.

In fact, it's hard to tell from this picture, but it almost looks like she might have a new head sculpt.

(Or possibly two of them - "day mode" is shown with an open-mouth smile, but "night mode" has a closed one. The doll is supposed to have a color-change makeup feature and the open/closed mouth thing might be a part of that, but the closed-mouth smile doesn't look like it's painted on an open-mouth sculpt, and vice versa.)

I went back and looked at the Toy Fair entry where I mentioned FAB Girl™ Barbie and saw that for some reason, I took out the part where I said it looked like an "update" of 1985's Day-to-Night™ Barbie doll. (Yes, these things are sometimes even longer at first and get edited. I also have no clue why I didn't mention the possibility that the 1998 head in the Toy Fair photos might have been a placeholder for a new sculpt... Prototype dolls often use different parts than the production versions.)

Whelp - it turns out this doll is an update of Day-to-Night Barbie after all: Her business skirt flips around to become a "party" skirt. (I suspected it did, but it wasn't obvious from the Toy Fair picture.)

The 1985 Day-to-Night™ Barbie® Commercial
(check it out on Youtube)
(and note the "Like a Virgin"-esque Mowtown bassline)

In a way, FAB Girl Barbie cements the Day-to-Night concept as one of the official "go-to" concepts when Barbie needs a "makeover".

The original Day-to-Night Barbie was the lead doll for the "We Girls Can Do Anything, Right Barbie?" campaign, which revitalized sales in the 80's by reinventing the way Barbie was marketed. It isn't a stretch to say that Barbie as we know her today might not have existed if it weren't for this campaign, and Day-to-Night Barbie (with her 1980's "power suit" and career-oriented play pattern) is one of the most quintessential Barbie dolls of all time. Her flip-around skirt is iconic.

Working Woman™ Barbie® (This prototype is a bit different from the production doll, but that's a long-winded story for another time)

It makes sense that the concept would re-appear at some point, and it did - in 1999, under the name Working Woman™ Barbie. This time it wasn't a dramatic re-imagining of the Barbie character, but it did mark an important change: The debut of a brand-new head sculpt. (Collectors usually associate the 1998 open-mouth sculpt with the Generation Girl™ Barbie doll, but it was originally created for Working Woman Barbie. The Generation Girl doll was a revision of a concept originally intended to be sold in 1998 that would have use the existing closed-mouth 1991 "Mackie" sculpt; it was switched to the new sculpt when it was revised for sale in 1999.)

Interestingly, Working Woman Barbie's outfit avoids pink altogether, opting for a more contemporary-looking dark grey suit and a red party outfit. Of course, the all-important "flipping skirt" aspect was intact. She featured a few upgrades: She was now identified as a CEO, and an embedded computer chip allowed her to talk. On top of that, she incorporated a second electronic component in the form of a CD-Rom featuring activities relating to both her personal and professional life. (Among her other accessories is a wad of dollar bills with her face and name on them. I'm not aware of any real-life CEOs who've had special money printed with their own picture on it, but, would you really be surprised if there were at least a few? )

It's also interesting to note that, where Day-to-Night Barbie marked the beginning of a new era for Barbie (under the supervision of Jill Barad, considered by many to be the real-life "Day-to-Night Barbie"), Working Woman Barbie marked the end of it.

And now, the concept makes a second return appearance just in time for another milestone: Barbie's 50th anniversary. FAB Girl's outfit kind of synthesizes the previous two, mixing Working Woman's "professional" grey with Day-to-Night's ubiquitous hot pink (literally - her suit is grey with pink stripes ). Working Woman's electronic components are also refreshed for the new millennium in the form a "texting device" (the thing she's holding in the picture at the top) that helps her stay "connected" (at least I hope it's electronic...), along with a code that "unlocks Barbie dolls world online" (according to the press release - I still don't know what that means).

FAB Girl brings an additional "magic" feature to the game: Her hairstyle "transforms" into an up-do when you pull the jeweled cords in her hair. (This is borrowed from 2000's Rose Princess Barbie.) The jewels aren't visible in the new picture (maybe the feature has been removed?), but one of them is visible on the doll in the Toy Fair picture. This is actually a neat idea that adds something fun and appropriate to the play pattern. (I always thought Day-to-Night Barbie needed a hair-change feature like this - her hair changes in the commercial, but it's not something a 5-year-old can really duplicate. )

It's not all about progress, though. FAB Girl Barbie isn't a CEO; she's an intern at a fashion magazine. (For better or worse, the fact that she's an fashion magazine intern rather than a CEO says a lot about the direction the Barbie brand has taken since 1999.)

By the way - keep in mind that the "FAB Girl" name is "subject to change"... which means the doll will probably be called something else. Working Woman Barbie was originally named "CEO Barbie" (or "Company President Barbie" according to the 1999 pack-in booklets) until the license with Working Woman Magazine was finalized. The parallels are too obvious not to notice (right down to a preliminary name with a capitalized three-letter acronym), so... could a licensing tie-in be in the works? (It seems like a no-brainer to tie the doll in with a real-life fashion magazine. Try replacing "FAB" with "Cosmo", for example. Whether or not a tie-in like this would be appropriate for a children's toy is debatable.)

Doll Diary 02 March 2009