Posted in Dolls

by Ruby Lane

Ruby Lane Blog This Isn't the First Time the Ken Doll Got a New Look

Arguably, they are the most famous couple in the world.  Their break up in 2004 and eventual reconciliation made international news; even CNN reported it.  In the tradition of Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Heloise and Abelard, Cathy and Heathcliff, Brangelina, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Ken and Barbie have inspired collector and pop culture enthusiasts for over fifty years.  Their exploits and escapades have captivated us, too, and we thrill at their new looks and makeovers.

 Ken, in particular, has come a long way.  Originally named for the son of Barbie’s creator and her husband, the Handlers, the first Kens flocked crew cut and American Boy good looks made him look like he stepped out of an Ozzie and Harriet set. 

First issue Flocked Hair Ken Doll with Original Swim Trunks

First issue Flocked Hair Ken Doll with Original Swim Trunks

Flocked Hair Ken Doll, Case and Clothing, Mattel, Circa 1961-63

Flocked Hair Ken Doll, Case and Clothing, Mattel, Circa 1961-63

 It was hard not to confuse him with G.I. Joe, and rumors surrounded Barbie, Ken, and Joe.  In fact, Ken came first, and there is a close facial resemblance between Ken and Joe.  Later figures like the Soldiers of the World Series also closely resemble Ken, so he has had an influence on male dolls everywhere.

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Then, Ken changed his look, almost as often as Barbie did.  He went Malibu, mod, wore an earring, had beards, sported a Harley Davidson look, Samurai costumes, rooted hair, everything.   Ken has had over 40 different careers since his debut in 1961.

Vintage Mattel Ken Doll in Ken In Mexico, 1964

Vintage Mattel Ken Doll in Ken In Mexico, 1964

Vintage Ken blonde flocked hair via Ruby Lane

Vintage Ken blonde flocked hair via Ruby Lane

Vintage 2nd Issue Talking Ken Doll

Vintage 2nd Issue Talking Ken Doll

Mattel 1978 Sun Lovin' Malibu Ken in Best Buy Outfit

Mattel 1978 Sun Lovin’ Malibu Ken in Best Buy Outfit

Mattel Mod Hair Ken Doll

Mattel Mod Hair Ken Doll

1968 Vintage Ken Doll

1968 Vintage Ken Doll

Ken has four new looks with varying hairstyles, eye color, skin tones and body types.  Doll 9 Plaid on Point Ken has a slim build and wears a plaid shirt with slim black jeans and brown boots.  He is an African American doll with an open-mouthed smile. Doll 10 Classic Cool Ken is portrayed as an African American and wears dark jeans, silvery high tops, and a white shirt with skinny black tie.  He has the body type of the original Ken dolls. Doll 11 Hyped on Stripes Ken.  His molded hair appears tousled, and he wears jeans, white high tops, a striped tank top and sun glasses. Doll 13 Distressed Denim Ken has a broad build and his molded hair is styled in a “man bun.”  He wears a camp shirt and denim walking shorts with white sneakers.  These new dolls are diverse in everyway imaginable; their debut shows that with the older dolls, there is a Ken for every type of Barbie, and the possibilities for more Barbie and Ken fashion adventures are endless. 

 These new dolls are diverse in every way imaginable; their debut shows that with the older dolls, there is a Ken for every type of Barbie, and the possibilities for more Barbie and Ken fashion adventures are endless.

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