/// 26 October 2009 ///
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The 2010 basic Barbie® Fairy dolls.
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So, these are two of the new basic Barbie® Fairy dolls which I saw last week.

They're cute, but, as you can see, they aren't normal Barbie dolls. They have the shorter, thinner Mariposa™ "fairy" body style and what appears to be a new enlarged version of the 2004 Fairytopia® Dahlia™ head sculpt.

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I think this is Fairytopia® Dahlia™'s head
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I really like the Mariposa body style (except for the way-too-tiny waist and too-muscular stomach ), and I regretted not hoarding more of the US$5 Barbie and the Diamond Castle muse dolls Walmart sold at Christmas time last year (for "OOAKs") when I had the chance. So, these would have been great for that - except, unfortunately, like last year's basic fairy dolls, they have molded-on clothing detail - and, taking it one step further, they also have colored legs (a.k.a. "perma-tights").

Of course, even if they didn't have molded-on clothes and colored legs, they still wouldn't be able to wear Barbie clothes because of their totally incompatible body. Which means, in terms of play value, they're pretty much just action figures with hair.

Which is fine, I guess, except last year the basic fairies were one of only three sets of low-priced "basic" Barbie dolls widely available in the US. They had molded-on clothes, too, but at least their bodies were Barbie-size. The Mariposa body on these dolls means there's at least one less low-priced domestic basic Barbie assortment for "fashion play" in 2010.

Yeah, I keep bringing this up, but it's important. When buying dolls for kids, many people go into stores specifically looking for "cheap" Barbie dolls (or, as one lady I spoke to called them, "regular Barbie dolls" ) and separate clothing packs to dress them in, rather than more expensive "dressed dolls" (or even more-expensive feature dolls). Part of the fun of Barbie is dressing the dolls in different clothes, and a gift of a "budget" doll paired with a fashion cuts directly to that.

But, now all of the dolls in the US that cost less than US$6 have "features" that make them incompatible with the fashions (big feet, molded-on clothes, different bodies, colored legs, plastic wings, etc.). And I've seen so many people buying dolls and clothes who don't realize the dolls they're getting can't wear the clothes they're buying (like Walmart's aforementioned US$5 Muse dolls last year). There are lots of bad reviews on Amazon.com about this exact problem.

When people think of "Barbie", they think of dolls with fashion play. (No matter how emphatically anybody tries to convince people it's a "lifestyle brand", for most consumers Barbie's still primarily about dolls and clothes.) So when they buy a doll with "Barbie" written on the box, they expect it to be able to wear Barbie clothes. (Crazy, huh? ) When it can't, it is disappointing for kids - and annoying for the people who buy their dolls for them. Sure, the goal is to sell as many dolls as possible, and someone who buys an outfit and a doll (like one of these fairies) only to discover when they get home that they're incompatible is more likely to end up back at the store looking for another doll that is. (Which isn't to say that's necessarily the goal or anything. ) It just shouldn't be this difficult and confusing.

Part of the brilliance of the Barbie concept from the get-go was that every doll could share clothes with every other doll. That's exactly why Midge® had the same body as Barbie (and why it was specifically advertised as a selling point when she debuted in 1963). The idea then was you buy a doll, then you buy lots of clothes for it. (It's a classic marketing strategy; companies that manufacture inkjet printers make most of their money on the ink.) The upside was, if you were to buy another doll later on, you could be certain the clothes you already had would fit it. Now, it's almost as though the idea is that you buy a doll, then you buy another doll, and another - and if you're lucky, they might be able to share some accessories.

(Maybe the "old way" doesn't work in the US anymore? Lots of "basic dolls" that are totally compatible with standard fashions and shoes are still sold in foreign markets every year.)

Interesting thing: The back of the boxes (actually, they're blister packages ) mentions that these fairies are part of the "Wingdom™" - a name that was originally tied to some late-2009 fairy assortments, although it ended up not being used on the packaging.

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The packaging

And, speaking of the boxes - they show off one of the new packaging concepts for 2010, with a large Barbie portrait photo in the corner.

PS: I saw more new stuff, too - most of the new I Can Be™ dolls, some interesting reissues of recent Totally Hair® dolls at Toys R Us, and other things! Hopefully I'll get to write about them soon! (Preferably minus the long-winded complaining part. )

Possibly Related Entries:
   • Target's 2010 Exclusive Fairy Two-pack Giftset
Doll Diary 26 October 2009