The Barbie Collector™ website recently put up a sales page for the So In Style® dolls, and there are all kinds of fun interesting and confusing things on it.

However, before the fun part, I feel obligated to point out that, once again, the website erroneously states that So In Style is Mattel's first all-black doll line, continuing the theme of completely ignoring Shani®, Mattel's very similar all-black doll line that ran from 1991 through 1993.

So anyway.

Interesting & Confusing Thing #1   

The shop page for the dolls mixes up two of them - both Kara® dolls are called Trichelle®, and both Trichelle dolls are called Kara.

(Edit: Okay - before I even got to post this it had already been fixed. Believe me, they were mixed up. )

This same exact mistake has appeared on some websites selling the dolls - including Toys R Us. Now we know it wasn't a coincidence that so many people did that.

Interesting & Confusing Thing #2   

Next, if you look at the photos of the "Little Sisters" dolls' accessories (click "zoom" to see close-ups of them), there are some possible early names for two of them.

(Edit: By the way - I could have sworn the little sisters' names were also mixed up the first time I looked at the BC shop page. Maybe that got fixed as well?)

Photo Sample Courtney®'s backpack says "Erika®" on it

Kianna's accessories in the photos have the name Tia® on them, and Courtney's accessories say Erika® on them.

Then it gets really confusing. Janessa's accessories in the catalog photos include these three items:

Janessa®'s confusing accessories

That's a folder with the name "Erika" on it and a backpack with the name "Courtney". There's also a picture, presumably drawn by Janessa, which shows Trichelle and Barbie together. (It's labeled with their names. And Janessa's not just a good artist, she's also knowledgeable about trademark law - she wrote the trademark symbols after them. )

So, why would Janessa have a drawing of Barbie and Trichelle when Grace is the one who's friends with Barbie? Well, if the real Courtney was at one point going to be called Erika, these accessories might originally have been hers, and maybe the drawing was supposed to be of Grace and Barbie. Which might fit better - the girl in the drawing has bangs like Grace, but Trichelle doesn't have bangs.

It would also make sense for their accessories to be swapped - one of Trichelle and Janessa's themes is "art", and the drawings tie into that.

There's an explanation for at least one of these mix-ups. This is the first promo picture of Trichelle and Janessa I saw:

An early picture of Trichelle® & Janessa®

If you look really closely, you can see the s-shaped hang-tag-like thing with their pictures on it (what is that thing?) says "Courtney" instead of Janessa. So, at one point, Janessa was going to be called Courtney.

Of course, that means Courtney was going to have a different name, too. Was it Tia? Was it Erika?

Nope - it was Sierra™.

The s-shaped hang-tag-like things also solve another puzzle. Some early web listings for the dolls - including this one at Amazon.com (Side Note: Definitely don't buy them from that Amazon scalper person for $49.99 ) - identify Kara and Kianna as "Kendal & Kara".

Now, if you look closely at this picture:

An early picture of Kara® & Kianna®

...the s-shaped thing does appear to say "Kendal" instead of Kara. So, Kara was at one point going to be called Kendal.

(Another Side Note: I used to make a lot of OOAK dolls with Lea's head. Some of them were blond, and originally I was going to call that blond Lea character "Kendall" - except I changed my mind because I thought it sounded too much like "Ken® doll". )

I haven't found a version of this picture that's clear enough to read the second name on the s-shaped thing, but it doesn't look like "Kara" to me. Maybe it's "Tia"? That would match the catalog pictures I mentioned above where Kianna's accessories say "Tia" on them. (Actually, it almost looks like it might say "Mia". Yes, Mattel has a lot of "-ia" names trademarked, including Mia, Tia, Zia, Gia, and Nia. I think they were going to use "Lia" at one point too.)

Interesting & Confusing Thing #3   

Judging by the artwork on the sample spray bottles in the Stylin Hair® catalog photos on Barbie Collector, the So In Style line was originally going to be called "Sister Style™". (The water bottles packaged with the production dolls have the regular So In Style/SIS logo on them.)

This name plays on the "big sister/little sister" "mentorship" theme and the fact that some people refer to black women as "sisters". "So In Style", which is abbreviated "SIS", makes the same references ("sis" is short for "sister"), but in a less-blatant way.

(Personally I think the name "So In Style" is better for several reasons. )

One last thing: If you're a real detail-hound, you may have noticed that the photos above show both Trichelle and Kianna with wavy hair, not curly hair like the production dolls have. According to this article, the decision to change them to curly hair was made at the suggestion of an advisory panel of black women who viewed early versions of the dolls. (I previously wrote about the hair issue here.)

You may also be interested in these entries (or not - it's your call):
   • So In Style® Rocawear Tie-In
   • SIS - Website Updates....and More Dolls?
   • So In Style® on The View
Doll Diary 13 August 2009