Saturday, April 14, 2012

Barbie Basic vs. Integrity Toys Basic Edition (I.T.B.E.) Comparison Review

Mattel and Integrity Toys both offer (or have offered) basic edition 12" fashion dolls in the $20 price range.  While Integrity looks like it might have phased out the ITBE dolls (there were no new releases in 2011 or 2102), there are still a few of the older dolls to be found at various doll shops, and I thought it would be fun to do a comparison review of these two very similar dolls.

Barbie Basics were first released in spring of 2010.  The original line included 12 dolls, all wearing a different simple black dress.  I thought the promotional pictures for this line were awesome.  Subsequent releases have included some dolls wearing red dresses (exclusive to Target), dolls modeling jeans and tee shirts, and, most recently, a small collection of dolls sporting swimsuits.

Integrity released their ITBE line in 2009.  The original collection had 6 dolls modeling a diversity of dress styles in an array of colors with no apparent unifying theme.  The second collection, "Roma 2010," has only 5 dolls and features fashions inspired by friends traveling together to Rome.

I wanted to compare two dolls that resembled each other in terms of hair, coloring and outfit, so rather than choosing my favorite dolls from these lines, I selected Barbie Basic Model 09 (from the first collection) and the ITBE Roma doll "Desirable" from 2010.  Both dolls are caucasian with blonde hair and bangs, and both are wearing little black dresses.

ITBE Desirable and Barbie Basic Model 09
Here's how they arrived:

ITBE Desirable and Barbie Basic 09
What I'll do is run through a series of categories and try to decide which doll wins in each category.  As usual, I'll start with packaging.  

Barbie Basics come in a plastic box with a cardboard insert.  It has black and pink decorations:

I like the modern all caps font and the minimalist design of the box.  I also like that black and white are the main colors and there are just a few hot pink accents.  It looks very sharp.  You can clearly see the doll and inspect her for defects.  The back of the box has the promotional picture I like so much:

It really does make you want them all.
The ITBE doll comes in a two-part cardboard box.  The outside of the box has a very beautiful, stylized black and white photograph of a scene from Rome (the Trevi Fountain).  You can't see the doll when the box is closed.  The outer sleeve slides off to reveal an inner pink cardboard background...and the doll herself:


When the outer sleeve is in place, it doesn't quite reach the bottom of the pink inner box, so there's a neat area where you can see a peek of hot pink next to the grainy black and white of the romantic photo:

This looks great.
Both boxes are appealing, and both use pink and black in an artful way.  It's good to be able to easily see the doll you're buying, as you can with Barbie, but you can slide the outer part of the ITBE doll's box off to quickly inspect that doll, too.

The outer box on the Barbie can be removed to reveal a cardboard backdrop with the doll attached.  Here are both of the outer boxes on their own...guess which one I like best?

ITBE wins the outer box category, hands down.
With the outer sleeve of the ITBE box removed, you can see how the two dolls would compare on first inspection:

Barbie makes a good first impression.  She is secured solidly to the back of the box and everything is where it should be.  Her hair doesn't budge, and must be shellacked in place:

The ITBE doll is a little frumpier in her box.  She's got hair going off in strange directions, a plastic strip running down the middle of her face, and she isn't necessarily standing up straight.  Also, her features aren't enhanced by the solid bright pink background: caught me at a bad time...
Barbie comes with her shoes already on her feet, and with a two-piece plastic stand that is pretty easy to get out of the box.  I had to cut about six fiddly plastic ties and strips to get Barbie herself out of the box, and even then, she still had plastic clinging to her limbs:

The stand is bent:

The Leaning Stand of Barbie

She's very easy to set up on the stand, and the bent part doesn't seem to be too much of a problem.  Her hair is crispy and covered in that yellowish hair control product--whatever it might be.

The ITBE doll comes with a more complex looking four piece stand, and her shoes are in a separate bag.  She was held in the box with two white ribbons:

The stand has a telescoping metal rod and two different plastic attachments, a saddle and a support that looks like it could hold the doll around her waist:

I have to say that I found this stand to be incredibly frustrating.  It looks cool, but the saddle part kept falling off, the telescoping rod kept collapsing and I still am not certain what that other piece is even for.  I only got it to work by wedging it around her thighs when she didn't have the dress on.

One of the rare moments when the stand was working.
There's a fancy plastic cover over her hair and face which does a reasonable (but not perfect) job of holding her long hair in place.

With the plastic removed, the hair has crazy static problems, but at least it isn't crispy:

I really wanted to examine these dolls' faces more closely.  I had never seen an ITBE doll before this, and the Barbie has a different face from the ones I have seen, so they're both new to me.  

The ITBE doll has light brown eyes and a slightly open mouth with visible teeth.  Barbie has a closed mouth and blue eyes:

The ITBE doll has soft hair that is free of goop, but as I mentioned, it is really prone to static frizz and I had to use a dryer sheet every time I touched her head.  Barbie has super stiff hair, and so it stays put nicely, but unfortunately there's a little crack in the wall of hair right in the middle of her head.  It's a bit distracting:

The ITBE doll has pink eye makeup and a coral/red tone to her lips.  Only the corners of her eyes have eyeshadow, which isn;t that noticeable in real life, but looks funny in the pictures.  I think the ITBE doll's eyes are a bit too bright and would have preferred a richer shade of brown.  She has sparse upper and lower lashes.  Barbie has two-toned eye makeup with metallic gold and purple.  Her eyes are beautifully painted. She has no lower lashes and very long upper lashes.  Barbie's lips are a nice plum shade.

They both have a pretty half-profile:

Barbie's full profile is strange.  She has helmet hair and a very short jaw:

Barbie has better makeup and better eyes.  ITBE has much better hair and a great mouth. I slightly prefer the overall look of the ITBE doll's face.  Barbie looks a little annoyed at me for some reason--I think it is the shape of her upper lip.

Barbie is wearing a very simple stretch cowl neck black dress and black plastic pumps.  The fabric of the dress is a soft knit (maybe a cotton blend?) and looks great.  It's hard to see in the picture, but the dress has one horizontal seam along her ribcage and two vertical seams under her bust.  I love this dress:

Could I have this in human size 10, please?

It closes in the back with two metal snaps:

Her shoes are simple, but fit pretty well and look good:

The ITBE dress is more ambitious in terms of its design.  It has a patent leather belt, half sleeves and several cutouts along the chest and back.  I imagine that the cutouts would have looked great on a full size dress, and they're definitely sewn well, but on such a small doll, they look a bit messy.  The material is shiny and synthetic and nowhere near as nice to the touch as Barbie's knit dress.

The back has some larger holes that are filled with black netting.  Again, these areas look a bit sloppy. The dress and the belt close with metal snaps.  The snaps are too bulky for the parts of the dress that are made of netting.

Sorry about the stand wedgie.

The whole dress is lined with white gauzy material--presumably to keep the dress from staining the doll. This lining is impossible to deal with.  It gets snagged on everything, especially the doll's fingers and the metal bracelet.  It also shows at the neckline and hem of the dress, and contributes to the messy overall look of this outfit.  I literally could not put the dress back on with this liner in place, so I ended up cutting it out of the dress.  This was simple to do since it is only attached to the dress in four spots.

Most. Frustrating. Dress. Ever. 
 The ITBE doll also comes with sheer underpants and black plastic shoes.  The shoes have cool red/pink soles and heels.  They're a tiny bit too big for her:

The shoes are very similar to Barbie's shoes, except the ITBE shoes are made of a slightly softer plastic (vinyl?), and so the heels tend to buckle underneath the sole.  Barbie's shoes are solid.

Here are the two dolls without their clothes so you can see the differences in the bodies (I could not remove that metal bracelet).  The ITBE doll is taller and more articulated.  They are both striking a very similar pose:


The ITBE doll has 8 points of articulation--neck, shoulders, torso, hips and an internal knee joint (I love these joints!).  It's not your imagination, she also has about three different colors of vinyl and plastic in her body.  The legs are a bendable rubbery vinyl, the torso and arms are hard plastic (although the arms are the same color as the legs), and her head is a third color of vinyl.  Very strange looking:

She looks scary skinny, too.
You can see the actual colors better against a blue background:

Barbie has five points of articulation--neck, shoulders and hips.  Her body is all made of the same material, and is all the same color.  She has a much smoother, more uniform look to her.  It is a very pretty body:

The arm articulation is about the same in the two dolls:

The leg articulation is quite different.  Both dolls can do forward/backward splits very well:

The ITBE doll's bendable legs make it possible for her to do a full split.

Barbie's bent leg prevents her from doing a full split.
The ITBE doll can also do side-to-side splits because of a much more flexible hip joint:

The dolls have different hands.  The ITBE doll has a few fingers on each hand that are sculpted separately.  They are very elegant and slender with red nails.  Barbie has all of her fingers somewhat crudely molded together, with a paler shade of nail polish:

Because both dolls are more than a year old, and both dolls are wearing black, staining was certainly a possibility I was concerned about.  Barbie has a few faint stains on her neck and back, but that's it:

The ITBE doll is stained all over the place, most severely on her arms and legs.  I guess that silly white dress lining didn't help much in the end:

I'd like to say a few words about the price of these dolls before I show them off a bit more.  I paid $19.99 for each doll.  This seems a bit high for a basic doll.  My highly articulated Barbie Fashionista cost less than that.  You could also compare the price to the Liv Brites dolls that I thought were overpriced at $20. Barbie Basics are probably equivalent to that Liv line in terms of outfit and articulation.  Integrity puts more on the doll for the same price (fancier dress, metal jewelry, more articulation).  Aside from the added articulation, I am not sure Integrity's additions are to the doll's advantage.

 Now, here are the two girls doing some modeling.  First, the ITBE doll is wearing Barbie's dress:

Here she is wearing the Stardoll dress (it fits pretty well, but doesn't close completely in the back) and the belt that came with the ITBE outfit:

Here she is trying to get back into her original outfit.  The dress has a very hard time sliding over her rubbery legs--they cause too much friction for the tight skirt.  Already, the dress is showing signs of wear:

Awkward moment in the doll dressing room...

Now, here's Barbie modeling the ITBE dress:

She looks like she's lecturing me in this picture:

I am sick and tired of hearing your nonsense! 
She looks happier here, but that neck seam is really visible:

Wearing the Stardoll dress:


And in her own dress:

Here are both dolls together in their original outfits.  Notice how much taller the ITBE girl is!




One final note: after washing Barbie's hair, it is much, much nicer:

Bottom line?

Packaging: ITBE wins.  The box is beautiful to look at and is made entirely out of cardboard. It is very easy to get the doll out.  No plastic to cut, very little garbage.

Stand: Barbie wins.  Even though the Barbie stand I got is bent, it works much better than the ridiculous ITBE stand.

Face: ITBE wins.  Lovely open mouthed sculpt and pleasant expression.  Barbie looks pissed.

Makeup:  Barbie wins.  The detail around her eyes is very nicely done.  The colors in the makeup are much better than the ITBE colors.

Hair: Right out of the box, ITBE wins.  Despite the static, the Integrity doll's hair is nice, soft rooted blond hair with even bangs.  Barbie's hair has too much product in it, which stains the face and looks like a helmet.

Dress: Barbie wins.  No contest.  Barbie's dress is beautiful and simple and looks great on everyone.  Very easy to get on and off.  The ITBE dress is a nightmare.  It stained the doll badly and I had to cut the lining out to even make it possible to get this dress on and off.  

Shoes: Too close to call.  The ITBE shoes look more special, but the Barbie shoes are sturdier. 

Body: Barbie's body is much better looking.  All of the plastic matches and the shape is lovely. The ITBE body has great sculpting and articulation, but the mismatched vinyl looks odd and it is prone to staining.

Hands: I had to make a special category because the ITBE hands are so much more detailed and expressive.   ITBE wins this easily.

Modeling: ITBE out models Barbie significantly.  Her added articulation, especially the bendable legs, make her much more fun and versatile.

Overall?  Despite the really bad stains and funny colors on the body, my favorite combination to play with and photograph is the ITBE doll in Barbie's dress.  This is an amazing combination:

They are both fun dolls.  I'd like to have another ITBE doll (maybe one without a black dress...) and I think some of the newer Barbie Basics are really cute (I love the ones in swimsuits), but I'd be much happier paying about $14.99 for these dolls--especially the Barbie. 



  1. I have found several of the Barbie Basics at discount stores like Ross and TJ Maxx--one I even got for $5! They sell them for 12 at big lots.

    1. Oooh! $5 would be a dream, but I'd settle for $12. $5 is worth it for the dress and shoes alone, I think. I like using those black dresses for my Pullip dolls.

      I have a Big Lots nearby--not a great one, but I might have to check it out! Thank you for the tip. :)

  2. I have that exact Barbie Basic doll, here is my own post about her I don't mind her pissed off face just because it's kindof unique, and I think it makes her look like a robot. I should try washing out her hair though.
    I've seen the Barbie Basic dolls at Toys R Us for around $15, they had a lot too like they were having a hard time getting rid of them or something. I'm considering getting one to try doing my first face up because they're cheap and basic.

  3. Hi Molly--thanks for the link to your blog! You got a crooked stand, too...ugh. I actually like those stands, but it stinks when they're crooked. I love the name Nitra 09. That's very Blade Runner. :)

    I think I paid too much for my Barbie. I bought her online with the Integrity doll (one stop shopping) and probably could have gotten a better deal elsewhere...the thing is (like you mentioned in your blog) she's an older doll and probably getting hard to find.

    The washed hair is much softer, but it does get a bit poofy and less chic when it's dry, so watch out for that.

  4. Thanks for this thorough review, Emily. Nice to see these two dolls side-by-side. Even better to learn that the ITBE doll has some articulation.

    1. Hi Dana! Yes, I like the articulation a lot. It makes a big difference. I read somewhere that some of the newer Barbie Basics (maybe the tee shirt and jeans group?) have more articulation...I wonder if this is true? I can't remember my source.

  5. I absolutely love your blog. Your posts are thorough and well written. You are obviously experienced in the field of dolls and you give great information. Your photos are great. I am joining your blog right now and will take my time to read through all your stuff. I'm new at blogging. I only started 4 weeks ago. I make 1/6th scale jewellery for fashion dolls like Barbie. I never even knew dolls like the Integrity Toys line existed until I started blogging. I am from South Africa and it seems my country is a bit bereft of an "International" doll experience. Would love to get your opinion on my blog and the jewellery I make. My blog also combines my dolls and their jewellery with a fictional story involving Royalty and all their goings-on. I am a bit of a Royalist and enjoy photographing my dolls in life-like Royal scenes. Please have a look at your leisure. Tnx again for a gret blog and doll experience.

    1. Thank you, Daniel! I love your blog, too. It took me a while to read through all of the interesting things you have written (in 4 weeks??!!). Your tiaras are beautiful and some of the outfits are extraordinary! I especially like the crowns (King Ottokar's crown--eee!). I've never seen anything like that in the doll world. I lived in Great Britain when Charles and Diana got married and that was it for me--I have been a fan of royalty (especially royal weddings) ever since. It's no surprise that I especially like your post about the Von Bismarck wedding. :) Thank you for sharing your blog here--what a wealth of knowledge and creativity. I look forward to following along and being inspired by your rare and wonderful imagination.

  6. man if I had seen the ITBE doll in a store,I would have thought she came from the Dollar Store lol,she looks like a Barbie knock off but the Articulation is nice as are her hands and face. Barbie's make up is so much better! I would not pay $20.00 for either of them though.

  7. The barbie stands are meant to be bent slightly though

    1. Yep, all the Barbies with Model Muse bodies have bent stands. It's on purpose so that the dolls pose with the bent leg slightly forward.

  8. That Barbie doll kind of reminds me of Tiffany from Luann... I don't know If you know the comic, but if you search it it is easy to see the resemblance.
    Awesome review!

  9. Do the Barbie Basics dolls come with pierced ears?