/// 13 April 2009 ///
I got yer variations right here...

Bathing Suit Barbie® Times Two

Bathing Suit Barbie® - Chinese on the left, Indonesian on the right

Did you know there are two versions of Then and Now® Bathing Suit Barbie®? In classic Barbie style, she was produced in two countries - Indonesia and China - and the factories' versions are slightly different from each other.

Can you see the difference? (Chinese on the left, Indonesian on the right) (Click to see it larger)

After I got my first Bathing Suit doll, I noticed one tiny thing in other people's pictures that made me realize there was a second version: The lower sparkle in the Chinese doll's eye is a thin line that extends into the pupil, but on the Indonesian doll it's more of a rounded dot shape that stays within the blue iris area.

A close-up of their eyes. (Chinese on the left, Indonesian on the right.)

(Yes, it's a dinky little difference, but it's been true for all the Bathing Suit dolls I've seen so far.)

Thanks to my friend (who got me the Chinese version not knowing I'd been searching everywhere for it ), I was able to see them together in person, and there are other differences. Some of the colors vary - especially on the lips, which are vibrant pink on the Indonesian doll but more mauve-y on the Chinese one. The brown paint is also a much lighter shade on the Indonesian doll, which makes her eyes look a lot "brighter".

(The Indonesian version also has a pronounced lighter area on her lower lip, which is kind of strange - it almost looks like she's sticking her tongue out. )

After taking these pictures, I noticed another weird little tidbit: The Chinese doll's lower eyelashes are the same dark brown color as the lower eyeliner (it's all one "piece"), but the Indonesian doll shown here has black lower eyelashes painted over the top of the brown liner. However - just to liven things up - my other Indonesian doll has brown lower lashes, just like the Chinese doll. (And, once again, a minor difference causes me not to be able to use the "extra" doll I got for "parts". )

By the way, it also feels to me like the Chinese doll doesn't have glue in its head. The Indonesian doll definitely does. (If there is glue in the Chinese doll's head, it's much softer than the glue they're using on the Indonesian dolls.)

Um... Ouch?

There are some packaging variations - one of which is especially gruesome. The box liner is a collage of classic Barbie illustrations (mostly from the late 70's/early 80's), including this very pretty portrait of Barbie with flowers in her hair. Unfortunately, the Indonesian dolls have the hole for the elastic band that wraps around the doll's elbow punched directly through one of the portrait's eyes. Which is particularly traumatizing and disappointing to me since this is one of my all-time favorite Barbie illustrations. (Plus, it's so precise you kind of have to wonder if it was really a coincidence...)

Fortunately, the Chinese packaging has the hole in a different spot, totally avoiding the unnecessary gouging-out of Barbie's eye.

A mysterious illustration

At the bottom left of the liner (next to the brush) is an interesting new image. It uses exactly the same base as the illustration on the back and side panels that shows Barbie dressed like the doll, but this version is dressed differently; her top is completely different, plus she has a pink headband instead of sunglasses and ear buds in her ears. Maybe these are other ideas that were considered for the doll?

One last piece of trivia about the box liner: The picture right behind the purse is the illustration from the packaging for Barbie #2166 (which collectors usually call "Spiel mit Barbie" because, as you can see from the advertisement, that's what she was called in Germany). I just thought that was kind of weird, since it's a relatively obscure doll. Unfortunately, it's also "obscured" by the plastic piece that holds up the purse, so I can't take a picture of it.

(Sorry. Homonyms were coming and I couldn't resist.)

You may also be interested in these entries (or not - it's your call):
   • Bathing Suit Barbie® Giftset at Target
   • Variations Galore (Thanks to the Vintage Logo)
Doll Diary 13 April 2009