/// 25 October 2010 ///

It's almost November (), and if you collect toys, you know what that means: New stuff.

In Barbie Land (or in my Barbie Zip Code, at least), it seems like the first new doll that shows up is always Ken, and he's usually a let-down for a lot people. However, next year is Ken's 50th anniversary, and Mattel is commemorating the milestone by actually producing Ken dolls!

Plus, like many of today's most popular pseudo-celebrities, Ken is celebrating his 50th birthday by getting a bunch of new body parts!

It's the new face of Ken®

This promotional picture showing Ken with a new head appeared earlier this year. Now, the first dolls with this head are starting to show up - two new Fashionistas Ken dolls, Cutie (with blond hair) and Sporty (with brown hair).

2011 Fashionistas™ Cutie Ken®

You can see some nice pictures of them on Flickr here.

The new Ken head looks a little wierd from some angles, but I like it a lot better than the previous head - now he looks somewhat happy, whereas before he tended to look kind of disinterested. Plus, he's got rooted hair again - and, most excitingly (if you're me, at least), the new head is proportionate with playline Barbie's!! The previous head seemed to have been made in the smaller "collector size", so it always looked "too small" to me compared to playline girls.

Ken®'s heads - slightly-upbeat-looking new guy on the right, less-upbeat-looking old guy on the left

More amazingly, along with the remodeled head.... wait for it.... Ken is finally getting a new body!! (If this website had a soundtrack it would currently be playing Ding Dong the Witch is Dead. It doesn't really apply that well but you get the idea. ) Hopefully this means that, after 42 years, every 1968 Ken body mold and PTR arm mold has been banished to the back of a warehouse, never to be heard from again (except for any reproduction dolls that might appear in the future).

tru_fashionista posted a great picture of the new Fashionistas Ken body style on this message board. The new torso is nice - which is good in case it ends up being around for 42 more years. I'm very relieved it isn't horrifyingly muscular like toy-boy-bodies tend to be now-a-days - I was preparing for the worst. Also, you can see in the picture that the new Ken body is a bit shorter than the old jointed "collector" Ken body that was used on the previous Fashionistas Ken dolls - which is good since that body was too tall. Also, the arms actually fit into the shoulder sockets, which isn't so good for clothes with a lot of layers, but it does mean there will be no more scary disjointed shoulder thing when he's wearing t-shirts.

Thanks to the new torso, it looks like all of the new Ken dolls also have a ball-and-socket neck joint like Barbie's that lets their heads tilt as well as turn. This is nice, since basically every playline Ken doll for the last six years has had a stuffy planar "side-to-side" neck joint. (None of the new male heads used in the playline in the last few years were ever re-engineered to fit a ball joint.)

The new swimsuit Ken® doll

NuKen has also been gifted with at least three new sets of arms. Several dolls (including the new beach doll shown above and the Princess Groom™ doll) have new straight arms that are much more natural-looking than the 36-year-old PTR arms that are despised the world over. (They are. I asked.) It would be great if these new straight arms were able to move out from the sides instead of just up and down, but that's pretty unlikely.

Shaving Fun™ Ken®

Some dolls (including the new Shaving Fun™ Ken) apparently have new SuperStar-style "karate-chop" bent arms.

Ken®'s new wrist

And, of course, the new Fashionistas have articulated arms with joints at the elbows and wrists. This isn't the first time Ken's had articulated wrists - Busy Ken and Busy Talking Ken technically had them in the 70s, as did a couple of other late-70s/early-80s dolls, and Harley Davidson Ken re-introduced them earlier this year. But it's still exciting to see them on a playline Ken doll. (By the way - these arms and hands are different from Harley Ken's.)

Unfortunately, as tru_fashionista points out, the new Fashionistas Ken body style has some problems. The new legs do have a ball joint at the knee (which gives more poseability than the old hinge joints); however, the legs don't spread apart at the hips. They only move up and down, which severely limits his poseability and makes it hard to pose him in a seated position.

This is a pretty significant step backwards - but, it may have been done so all of the dolls could use the same torso. It's cheaper to make a doll with this type of hip joint, so if there was only going to be one new torso, it makes sense that it would be like this. It's still a shame, though. I really hope at some point a modified version with splayable-legs (and maybe some kind of torso-joint) will be be made - preferably before Ken Anniversary Fever dies down, since at that point we may be stuck with what we've got.

PS: I'm waiting until I can tear apart a beach Ken doll (it's a yearly tradition) before getting worried that all of the new non-Fashionistas Ken dolls don't have bendable legs. Because - confidentially speaking - it kind of looks like they don't...

PPS: I'm also anxious to see what Steven® is going to look like now. Hopefully he'll continue to use the Jamal® head sculpt he's been using for years, since that's my favorite head. Plus, there's already a "playline-size" enlarged version of that head that uses rooted hair and has a ball-joint neck, which would go perfectly with Ken's new head. The "enlarged rooted-hair Jamal head with ball-jointed neck" (long name) hasn't been used in several years and it also happens to be my all-time favorite version of the Jamal head, so a basic beach Steven doll with it would be very good.... So, to summarize, I really really hope Steven isn't getting a new head too. *crossing my fingers* *and toes* *and eyes* *etc.*

You may also be interested in these entries (or not - it's your call):
   • Fashionistas™ Ken®
   • A New Layout
   • Barbie® Unveils 125th and 126th Careers - News Anchor and Computer Engineer
   • Tyler Wentworth® Gets her Old Head Back
   • New Liv® Dolls
Doll Diary 25 October 2010