Monday, July 24, 2023

Barbie and Ken from Barbie, the Movie

I don't think I've ever anticipated a movie as much as I did Barbie.  And now I've seen it!  As one of my kids said, it felt like a movie that was made especially for me.  And I'm sure a lot of doll people feel exactly the same way.  I mean, when has there ever been a movie that was entirely about dolls?  And there was so much Barbie history in it, too!  It's so clever.  I will definitely have to watch it again, to pick up on more of the details and nuance.  No spoilers here, but I laughed a lot, I cried a little, and it was everything I hoped it would be.  It was a fun experience at the theatre, too, even though we went to a matinee.  The seats were all full, and I'd say about half of the women (and some of the men) were wearing hot pink--including me and Lena.  I hope many of you got to see it over the weekend, too.  I'd love to hear what you thought (and what you wore!).

Based on Barbie's popularity, I suspect a lot of people will be shopping for the movie dolls during this next week (in addition to the "I am Kenough" shirts...) so this is a good time to start talking about the options.  So far, there are nine available dolls: four Stereotypical Barbies, three Kens, President Barbie, and Gloria.  Of those nine dolls, only two cost under $30.  The rest are priced at a whopping $50.  I'll look at a few of the more expensive dolls in my next review, but for today I want to focus on the pair that is the most affordable: basic Barbie and Ken:

Ken and Barbie from Barbie, the movie.  $25 each, by Mattel.

These are also the only two dolls that ever showed up at my local Target.  There were two Barbies and a few Kens on the shelf a week ago, but right now my store has no Barbie movie merchandise whatsoever, just a photograph of the dolls on one of the end displays:

It's pretty clear that Mattel was assuming that the majority of movie-related purchases would be made by older kids and adult collectors.  I think the movie is appropriate for younger kids (as young as ten, maybe), although there's some mention of genitals (or a lack thereof) and a lot of the jokes and dialogue are aimed at an older crowd.

Regardless of the assumptions Mattel made about who might be buying these dolls, pricing most of them at $50 feels exclusionary.  But even with the high prices, a few of the dolls are already sold out and hard to find for normal retail.

Judging by pictures that are circulating on the internet, I think there might be another wave of movie-themed dolls released at some point (Weird Barbie, please!).  I hope a few of those are in the $25 price category.

Before I get into de-boxing Barbie and Ken, Lena wants to show you her movie outfit:

She brought her 35th Anniversary doll.
She wore a hot pink shirt and leggings set from Elite Doll World.  And she "borrowed" some hot pink boots from Justine.

Lena and I matched the color of our outfits pretty well, so when my husband produced some coordinating flowers on the way to the theatre, it wasn't clear who they were for.  I figured it was a corsage for me, but Lena insisted that the huge bouquet was for her:

Oh, Andy!  You shouldn't have.
After the movie, Lena was asking me whether or not the dolls were worthy of Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling--the amazing actors who played Barbie and Ken.  Let's get going with this review so that I can tell you what I told her.

I really like the presentation of these dolls, especially because the boxes look almost exactly like a box that is featured in the movie.  

It's a simple window box with the hot pink Barbie movie logo at the bottom:

The box has hot pink cardboard sides, too, with a few heart decorations:

The back of the box has a small amount of text, wishing us the Best Day Ever, and a large photograph of Margot Robbie looking adorable:

I haven't purchased the extra fashion pack that Mattel its offering (yet), but I'm tempted because it includes the outfit in that picture:

Many of the best outfits from the movie have been translated into doll clothing already, but I hope we'll see even more options in the future.

Another detail from the box that I want to point out is that a few of the heart-shaped decorations have a little photograph of the Dreamhouse inside:

The Dreamhouse in the movie is epic.  I mean, the attention to detail is incredible.  My only complaint is that the movie didn't spend enough time inside the Dreamhouse.  I wanted to see more!  It would be a dream come true to wander around that set and explore all of the houses.

This Architectural Digest video has a nice tour of the Dreamhouse that I like to watch over and over.

The Dreamhouse makes an appearance again on the box's shiny cardboard backdrop.  The backdrop slides out of the main box:

The packaging is easy to manage, and I love the hot pink accents and the photos of the Dreamhouse.

However, the doll herself did not make a good first impression on me.  Look at her bangs:  

I'm not wild about doll bangs under the best of circumstances, but this is ridiculous.  Not only are the bangs crooked, and gelled into a slick sheet, but they're monstrously thick.  They stick out like an awning over Barbie's face:

A tarpaulin of bangs.
I mean, how did they decide on that style based on this reality?

The doll's hair also looks too yellow.  I'm getting ahead of myself, though.  In the short term, I tried to ignore the hair so I could get to work removing Barbie from her backdrop.

She was fairly easy to extract, with just vinyl bands holding her in place, but of course there were several plastic ties in the back of her head that were a pain to cut.  The movie makes me think about living Barbie dolls and their boxes, and in that light those plastic ties raise questions that I'd rather not have in my brain.

Anyway, here's a look at the exposed backdrop, which is centered on the amazing water slide (that leads to a pool with fake water):

Have I mentioned how much I like the Dreamhouse in the movie?  Borderline obsessed.

Ok, now let's take a closer look at this big-banged Barbie:

You get a lot of bang for your buck.
Other than the bangs, she's really cute!  I love how the movie outfit has been so carefully replicated--including the jewelry.

But the bangs!  It's impossible to ignore them.  I can't even clearly see Barbie's face because of that visor of bangs:

She has large-brim bangs.
And the bangs don't angle around her face, either.  It's just a hard wedge of hair sticking out:

The duck-billed platypus of bangs.
Did I get unlucky with this doll's hair?  Are all of the dolls like this?  The promotional pictures don't look too bad:

The hair looks so much softer and more restrained in that picture.

Barbie's hair doesn't look great from the back, either, although I'm a lot more optimistic that this matted mess will brush into something lovely:

Indeed, a quick brush was all the hair needed to look soft and full:

The fiber feels like saran, and the color looks lighter after its been brushed.

Barbie's hairstyle is simple, with hair from around her face pulled back into a ponytail that's accented with a pink ribbon:

The pink ribbon is held in place with a plastic tie, so once it's removed it can't be put back.

A plastic-tied hair bow is another visual I don't need in my head.
This makes it seem like the doll isn't even meant to be played with.  I mean, a bow that requires a plastic tie to stay in place?  That's pretty lazy.

Underneath the bow is a clear ponytail holder:

The ponytail and ribbon look fine, but the pulled-back hair only serves to accentuate the severity of the bangs.

Hatchet bangs.
At this point I thought that perhaps relaxing the gel in the bangs would make them look better.  So I used my fingers to disrupt the shelf of hair, and I don't know.  Is this any better?

It's softer, for sure, but also shaggier.  And still uneven.  It's more like the used head of a broom now.

Do you know what does look better, though?  Barbie with her bangs pulled back.  And we can get a good look at her face this way, too:

That's better.
I'm not sure how much she looks like Margot Robbie, but she has a pleasant, distinctly Barbie face.  The smiling mouth is very broad, which is appropriate.  I also like the shape of the eyebrows, but there's no hairline detail in the brows and my doll has a few small spots of missing paint.

This head mold is new and has a 2022 copyright on the back of the neck:

In addition to some gruesome plastic tie holes.
Barbie has beautiful, vivid eyes with three different colors of blue in the iris.  The eyes are framed by thick, dark lashes on the top and lighter lashes on the bottom:

The eyes are a missed opportunity to me, though.  Doll eyes tend to be exaggerated in size, and yet here, when faced with crafting the portrait of a woman with mesmerizingly large eyes...

...the designers decided to give the doll relatively small eyes.  Go figure.

In many ways, a standard Barbie like Nikki from my last review looks more like Ms. Robbie to me!

Those are some big eyes.
Okay, so try not to focus on the bangs in this next picture and instead look at the earrings:

Gah!  But the bangs!!
The earrings are small white flowers with tiny pink painted centers:

They leave behind large holes in the ears, though!

Who cares about the ear holes.  Are the bangs alive?
Barbie is also wearing a matching necklace:

The bracelet on her right wrist doesn't match the earrings and necklace perfectly, but it has the same white and pink floral theme:

Here's a closer look:

Before moving on to look at Barbie's outfit, I paused for a second and played around with her to see if I could get a nice portrait shot.  It wasn't easy.  This hairstyle feels so awkward to me, and those bangs are just...a lot.

They keep the rain off her face, though.
I feel like her gaze is hyper-intense, too.  She looks a little possessed sometimes:

The bangs have taken control of her brain.
I think the shadows on her face from the bangs are making her facial features look more intense and freaky then they actually are.  She looks so much better with her bangs pulled back.

I'm going to try and focus on the outfit now.  It consists of a pink and white belted gingham dress and a pair of pink high-heeled shoes:

Here it is from the back:

I captured a screenshot from the movie trailer so that you could see what the full-sized dress looks like:

All of the details are replicated really well, except for the fact that there's no petticoat underneath:

The fabric is stiff and shiny, too--not like the soft cotton-like material in the movie costume.

My doll's dress has a very minor sewing defect.  The seam on the right side of Barbie's chest is not as neat as the seam on her left, so there's a little pucker in that area:

The dress is made out of a stiff, shiny synthetic fabric that does not have any drape.  This type of fabric doesn't feel good, but it seems durable.  It also holds the pleats in the skirt nicely:

The dress closes in back with a small strip of velcro, and is easy to get on and off:

The belt is not separate, but is stitched to the rest of the dress and opens in back with the velcro closure.  The belt buckle is metal, though, and looks good.

The construction is standard, with neat, simple seams:

The hem is impossibly small, but it's very tidy and even!

I wish that the dress was made out of a softer, more natural-feeling fabric.  I hope that the more expensive dolls have better fabric choices.

Barbie's shoes are pink plastic pumps with a molded heart design on the toe:

The shoes come rubber-banded to Barbie's feet, which is a good thing because they fall off really easily.

Basically whenever Barbie lifts her feet, her shoes fall off.

Under her outfit, Barbie has a standard high-heeled Gigi body with eleven points of articulation:

She can only balance on her own when she's wearing her shoes.

She comes wearing fabric underwear, but underneath that she has the typical molded underwear pattern:

It's frustrating because the President and Gloria dolls both have bodies with double-jointed limbs, but poor Barbie is stuck with this less posable option.  I speculated in another review that this body might have been chosen because in the movie, Margot Robbie's version of Barbie is called "Stereotypical Barbie" and is meant to have a more traditional shape.  Perhaps the Made to Move body felt too modern for this character--and it has flat feet.  Blech!

Here's Barbie next to Lena so that you can see the differences in body shape and joints (Lena felt a little starstruck to meet this Barbie!):

Made to Move body (left) and Gigi body (right).
I'm not sure I've ever reviewed a Gigi body before, so l'll quickly run through the joints.

Barbie's head can look from side to side:

It can also tip back and forth:

And look up and down:

Her shoulders are rotating hinges that can lift away from her body to about 60 degrees:

And her arms can spin around as well:

Her elbows and wrists also have hinged rotation.  Both joints can bend to 90 degrees with the exception of the wrist's backwards flexion; that stops shy of a full right angle.

Barbie can touch her bangs (but not her mouth), and she can rest a hand on her hip:

She can also cross her arms in front of her:

Barbie's hip joints feel like ball-and-socket, but they do not allow for side-to-side splits:

The front-to-back splits are better, but not full:

Barbie can sit on the ground if she's leaning back a little:

She has hinged rotation in her knees, which allows her to kneel:

She can even kneel on two knees if she distributes her upper body weight backwards:

 Barbie can sit in a chair in a relaxed-looking way:

And the rotation in her knees accommodates some diversity in her sitting positions:

The Gigi body is nice.  I'm spoiled by the incredible Made to Move body, so I'm always wishing I had that in front of me, but this body is really good.  It's certainly much more flexible than the Fashionistas I was looking at last week.

After I'd inspected all of Barbie's joints, I was itching to try and fix her hair.  The first thing I did was take out the ponytail holder and brush the hair thoroughly:

I like the added volume of hair around Barbie's face, and the hair itself feels good.

But, yeah.  Barbie still looks bad in profile because of those silly bangs.

The rooting on the back of the head is quite dense.  It's hard to see the scalp, which is painted yellow for better camouflage:

The rooting in the bangs is also dense, though, and this is a problem.  There are about five rows of rooted hair in the bangs.  Five rows.

That's insane.  Do you remember what the 35th Anniversary Barbie's bangs looked like?  Those bangs were rooted (in one row) back away from the hairline:

Mattel could have taken note of this technique and used it for the new Barbie.  There's just no way that five rows of rooted bangs were going to work on a doll this size.

I wasn't exactly sure what to do to try and fix Barbie's hair, so I boil-washed it and then trimmed the bangs, trying to even them out, thin them, and also cut different lengths to eliminate the severe straight edge:

Haircuts are not my thing.
It still doesn't look very good, but there's mild improvement.

Edging towards Weird Barbie.
Now I have two reasons to learn how to re-root doll hair: Ella Enchanted and this Barbie!

Or I could always just call in the stunt double:

I'll be very interested to see what talented people can do with this doll's bangs.  I was nervous to try anything more because I had to make it through the rest of the review.  So my cautious bang trim will have to be sufficient.

I found that it helps to store Barbie with something around her head, like this LOL scrunchie:

This at least keeps the bangs from sticking straight out.

Here are a few portraits of Barbie back in her complete outfit (minus the disposable hair bow):

She looks pretty cool in the 35th Anniversary Barbie's sunglasses!

I find it impossible to dislike Barbie, especially after seeing the movie, but those bangs are such a shame.

Now I'll shift gears and talk about Ken for a bit.  He deserves his time in the spotlight, too, right?  We can't let him feel marginalized.

Ken's box is almost exactly the same as Barbie's:

However, instead of a photo of Ryan Gosling on the back, there's a photo of the Dreamhouse:

I certainly don't mind more photos of the Dreamhouse, but why doesn't Ken get a photo of himself on the box?  Now I'm curious about what's on the back of the other character's boxes.  It would be funny if all of the Barbies had portraits on the back but Ken had only the Dreamhouse.

Unlike Barbie, Ken makes a good first impression.  He looks happy and casual, standing with one hand in his pocket and the other hand supporting a large blue surf board:

Everything's gonna be fine, fine, fine.
He was easy to remove from the backdrop...with the exception of the three plastic ties in the back of his head:

Son of a beach.
Those tie ends will have to be cut really short or pushed all of the way inside Ken's head.  Yet another visual I don't need in my brain.

Here's everything that was in the box:

The surf board is an amusing accessory because Ryan Gosling's character in the movie is Beach Ken, and so when anybody asks what his occupation is, he says "beach."

I was surprised to see how many actual Beach Ken dolls are on the market.  It seems to be the preferred profession for this character.  It's also interesting to me how some of the dolls are a much better deal than movie Ken.  For example, look at this articulated Ken with his decorated surfboard and all of those accessories:

He's only $19.99.  

And of course the Made to Move Ken dolls are usually under $25, too.  Like this handsome fellow from the most recent wave of Signature Looks dolls:

He's not technically a Beach Ken, but he looks the part.

The higher price for the movie dolls must be because of the unique heads and the special licensing.

Also, I think that the Barbie movie Ken has a lot more personality than either of those other options.  He fits Mr. Gosling's affable, enthusiastic portrayal of Ken really well:

Ready to beach.
The surfboard is pretty basic.  It's made out of blue hard plastic and does not have any decals or painted decorations.  There are two foot grips on the surface and the bottom is plain:

Ken wanted to try out the surfboard right away:

It looks like he might be able to catch a wave...if only there was water in Barbie Land.  But with the stability of dry ground, he can do some fancy poses:

Beachin', Ken!
Ken can stand solidly on his own without the surfboard, too:

He has a friendly face with short blonde hair that's slicked back into a gelled helmet:

Here he is from the side:

Ken has a strange profile.  His chin is rounded at the tip, and then angles upwards towards his ear.  This shape follows the normal line of the jaw bone, but ordinarily there'd be skin making the connection between neck and chin more horizontal:

The hair on the right side has an approximation of sideburns, with a bit of the ear exposed.

The shape of the hair is roughly the same on the left, but less pronounced:

Here's Ken from the back:

And a close-up of his hair from this view, too:

I'll definitely wash out the gel at the end of the review, but I wanted to leave it in place for a long as possible because I had no idea what the hair would look like without it.

Ken has a unique face mold, presumably intended to resemble Ryan Gosling.  Here's a screenshot from the trailer as a reminder of what Mr. Gosling looks like:

He's definitely a cutie.  But while the Barbie doll's eyes were too small to accurately resemble Ms. Robbie, this doll's eyes err in the opposite direction: they're too big:

The smiling shape of the eyes was captured really well, though.

My Ken came with hairs stuck in his mouth:

But I was able to pull those out with a pair of tweezers.

Here he is again, without the mouthful of hair:

His face paint is nice.  He has bright blue eyes with no upper lashes, thick brown eyebrows with two hairlines, and a broad, friendly smile with a lot of exposed teeth.

Overall, I feel like the face mold does a nice job of capturing some of the physical traits of the actor, while also being clearly a Ken doll.  Barbie strikes this balance, too, although I feel like the Ken doll is slightly more successful.  I'll reserve final judgement until I take a closer look at one of the Barbies without bangs.

Ken comes wearing his beach outfit from the beginning of the movie.  This consists of an open-front collared shirt and matching shorts:

The shirt has five decorative buttons on the left side.  These are glued on in an uneven row:

The collar and cuffs of the shirt are sewn nicely, though, and look great.

The inside of the shirt exposes tidy seams and some raw edges

The shorts are tailored well and even have working pockets on each side:

The shorts close in back with a single plastic snap.  This area was also stitched closed with pink thread:

Here are the shorts on their own:

I really like the waistband and pockets on these shorts.  I also like that both the shirt and the shorts are made out of a woven fabric that feels less stiff and more natural than Barbie's dress.

Ken is also wearing simple white vinyl sneakers with no painted detail:

The shoes have molded laces and areas of molded stitching, and there's a large "Ken" label on the soles:

Underneath his outfit, Ken is sporting the "new poseable Ken" body with its eleven points of articulation:

I haven't owned many Ken dolls without the Made to Move body, so I'm not sure how this body differs from, say, the Beach Ken that I showed you a little earlier.

There's a 2022 copyright mark on the back of Ken's chest.  He was made in Indonesia:

The last Ken dolls that I reviewed were the amazing Signature Looks guys, which is a hard act to follow. But let's see how this Ken's articulation measures up.

His head can spin around:

It can also look up and down:

And it can tip from side to side:

So basically Ken has really good neck articulation.

His shoulders are rotating hinges, so he can lift his arms away from his body:

And spin them around:

His elbows and wrists are also rotating hinges, and while his elbows can bend to 90 degrees, his wrists aren't quite as flexible:

Like Barbie, he can rest a hand on his hip, but can't touch his mouth:

He can touch his hair, though, and fold his arms across his chest:

I like Ken's detailed hands.  They look very realistic:

Unfortunately, Ken doesn't have much side-to-side movement in his hips.  This is as far apart as he can move his legs:

Why is that such a big problem?  Well, we know from the Barbie movie that Ken is passionate about horses.  So am I, for that matter!  But with this hip articulation, Ken will never be able to ride a horse properly, and that's really sad.

He can do partial front-to-back splits:

But that won't help him ride a horse.
Ken's knees are rotating hinges, and this allows him to kneel on two knees:

But he can't balance upright when he's kneeling on only one knee:

He can sit nicely in a chair:

But of course when he's dressed, he has the very typical Ken problem of not being able to keep his shorts fastened in back:

Oh, Ken.
I'm surprised that this detail wasn't in the movie, but I suppose they couldn't include everything.

Overall, Ken's articulation is very good, but of course it's not as good as the Made to Move body.

I put Ken back into his full outfit for a few quick portraits:

I think he's a really fun doll.  He's full of character and a great reminder of the movie.

I thought that Ken, given how much he loves horses, might want to meet Dancer!

Dancer is Barbie's very first pet, and her first articulated horse.

*Update: actually, Dancer is not Barbie's first pet!  According to a knowledgeable anonymous commenter, the first pet was actually a dog from a Dog & Duds set that was released in 1964!  Thank you for this information, wise Barbie fan! 

Too bad Ken can only ride side-saddle!

I love riding my horse mount steed!
As promised, the last thing I did with Ken was to wash all of the stiff gel out of his hair.  He actually looks good like this--especially from the front:

Very beach.
He'll need a haircut on the right side to even out some of those sections:

But the left side looks decent:

Now I'll reverse time and go back to before Ken's hair was washed, because that's how he looked when he met Barbie:

These two look really cute together, but I wish the relative size of their eyes was more in synch with the movie and with each other:

Ken and Barbie had a fun time dancing around:

Barbie is my female woman girlfriend.
Except that Ken's shorts kept coming unsnapped and falling down!

I think your patriarchy is showing.
No wonder they were stitched in place.

Still, Ken is solid on his feet, and is always there to lift Barbie up when she's feeling down:

And even if they're not boyfriend and girlfriend, they're still good friends:

I wanted to photograph Barbie and Ken in natural light for this review, and I thought the best way to do it would be to recreate the scene from the movie where they're driving Barbie's pink Corvette.  

And I just happen to have a Corvette:

I'll do a super-fast mini review of the Corvette, since it's pretty cool.

This toy is one of two cars that were released alongside the Barbie movie dolls...three if you count the AMC popcorn holder car:

AMC Theatres Corvette popcorn holder, $34.99.
The two toy releases were a remote control car for $54.99:

Remote control Corvette, $54.99.
And the car I bought, which costs a staggering $75:

Regular Corvette, $75.
Why do I always pick the most expensive option?

Well, the car is pretty great in real life.  It's made out of hollow plastic, but the whole thing has a nice weight--not too heavy, but substantive.  It also looks very realistic:

I almost didn't purchase this car, but it brought back fond memories of the Ken's Mini Cooper review that I wrote waaay back in I splurged.  I'm glad I did, because it sold out quickly and costs a lot more now.

One of the things I prefer about this car as opposed to the remote control version is that it has a back seat:

The Corvette in the movie definitely has a back seat, and Ken is always sitting in it.

There are several moving parts on this car, too.  For example, both of the doors open, the steering wheel turns (and actually moves the wheels), and the little manual window openers spin, too--although there's no window to slide up and down.

There's a lot of detail on the dashboard, and the steering wheel looks very authentic:

I wish the rear view mirror had a reflective sticker, though.  That would have looked better.

Here's an aerial view from the back:

The trunk opens, and is great for holding items like Barbie's shoes, which always fall off:

Here's an aerial view from the front:

The hood doensn't open, but I love how the front grille looks, with the Chevrolet logo and the Barbie license plate:

The car is certainly an indulgence, and I'll eventually sell it (probably during the November sale), but it was fun to have this prop around right after the movie, while my mind was buzzing with all of the most memorable scenes.

Again, I don't want to give away spoilers, but anyone who's watched the trailer knows that at one point during the movie, Barbie sets off in her car on an adventure:

She's just a Stereotypical Barbie, heading out to save the world:

Just me, my bangs, and the open road.
The best thing to do when you're on a solo road trip is crank up the music and sing!

🎶 Closer I am to fine, yeah. 🎶
Until a Ken pops up out of the back seat and scares the living daylights out of you!

After some reluctance, Barbie agreed to let Ken come along on the adventure:

But you have to stay in the back seat, Ken.
Ken doesn't mind the back seat, because he'd do anything to make Barbie happy:

Good boy, Ken.
So Barbie set off driving again:

While Ken relaxed into his cramped space:

And so began the epic adventure,

Of a brave, truth-seeking Barbie...and her Ken.

Bottom line?  Given how good the Barbie movie is, Mattel is on really safe footing with these dolls.  Doll collectors are going to love the movie, and do you know what else doll collectors do?  They buy a lot of dolls.  So it's a pretty easy win.  I was thinking that the dolls should have been on sale at the theatre, but then I read online that some AMC locations were selling Barbie and her Corvette popcorn holder--for $65 (including a large serving of popcorn).  And I'm sure they sold out.  The dolls were going to be a retail success no matter what, so the question is, do they deserve that success?

I'll talk about Ken first because he, while a critical and hysterical part of the Barbie movie, is not the focal point of the movie-related doll sales.  That's just how it goes for poor Ken.  As an aside, though, I'm really surprised that there isn't a new Allan doll, because after seeing the movie, that's the character I desperately want in my collection.  But anyway, the Ken doll is very good overall.  I don't think he looks much like Ryan Gosling, but he certainly has the right energy for the movie character, and he's unmistakably a Ken doll.  His outfit is true to the movie, if a bit simple.  I like the addition of the surfboard, because it enforces the Beach Ken identity.  Ken is well-articulated for the most part, but I really wish that he had better hip joints.  The lack of side-to-side leg movement condemns Ken to an existence where he can't ride horses, and that borders on a criminal offense.

I'm less happy with the Barbie doll, and it's all because of those bangs.  They're so ridiculous and so hard to ignore, it really takes away from my enjoyment of the doll as a whole.  The bangs are also completely inaccurate to the movie hairstyle, which is annoying.  And they obscure the doll's face.  They just make me cranky, okay?  But I know that the other Barbie dolls associated with the movie do not have bangs, which is great.  So I've resigned myself to stealing this Barbie's outfit and using it on a doll with better hair.  But because this is the only movie Barbie with a $25 price tag, collectors who are unable or unwilling to plunk down $50 are stuck with bangs.  And that's not a great situation.  I can't wait to de-box one of the versions of Barbie without bangs, because I think it will make a world of difference.

In the rare situations where I was able to put Barbie's bangs out of my mind, I could she that she's mostly a wonderful doll.  Her articulation is great (although not as good as a Made to Move doll), her outfit is movie-accurate and well-constructed for the price point.  The fabric of the dress is a little stiff for my liking, but it feels appropriate for play.  Barbie's non-bang hair is soft and manageable, with dense rooting and high-quality fiber.  She also has a very pretty face...when the bangs are out of the way, at least.  I don't think she looks a lot like Margot Robbie, though, especially because her eyes seem too small and there's not enough radiance in her smile.  But she's an attractive doll with some personality, and she makes a great souvenir from the movie.  

All in all, I had an amazing time at the Barbie movie, and a lot of fun playing with these two dolls.  I don't think I ever would have bought the dolls if it weren't for the movie, though.  There are plenty of other Barbies and Kens that are more appealing to me.  But because of a very special movie, these dolls end up feeling pretty special, too. 


  1. I've been looking forward to this review, and it was such a fun read! I saw the movie on 20th with my sister, and it was amazing! I'm already thinking about pre-ordering a digital copy of it. It was fun from a doll fan's perspective, but it holds up on it's own as well!

    I purchased the $25/Perfect Day Barbie and Ken, as well as the $50 Barbie in the blue plaid/Back to Barbie Land outfit. I was hesitant to pay $50 for her, but I was very happy with her (well... after I washed her crooked gelled curls), especially with how she has an actual petticoat!

    My Barbie's bangs are much longer than yours, and a touch sideswept. They're a bit crooked, but definitely better than your poor Barbie's! I'm sorry you ended up with such a choppy one. I've seen a few with nice bangs, but many seem to be crooked or too short (doll hair just doesn't behave when it's that short!). She definitely seems to be a doll best purchased in-person.

    On the topic of her shoes- they don't fit my Barbie either. With a bit of experimenting, I came to discover that they aren't arched as much as her feet, if that makes sense, which makes them fit poorly. They fit great on 90s Barbie feet (which are almost completely pointed), as well as the 2000s pivotal body with the hinge knees, which has the same shape.

    I'm excited to see which of the $50 dolls you bought!

    - Cole

  2. I had a wonderful (even transcendent?) time with the film just a few hours ago. So funny, smart, and careful with everything it did! It's one of those rare films that sets a high bar in hype and exceeds it in viewing! It definitely left me wanting Ken from the movie. He needs a place to figure himself out...and that could maybe be in my collection. It's a little disappointing that the dolls don't look more like their actors and have some of Mattel's typical manufacturing deficits, but...well, the movie makes a pretty good argument for celebrating that disconnect and the ridiculousness of the toys!

    I saw pictures that indicate that Weird Barbie is apparently in the pipeline for releases, and I'm pretty sure I'll absolutely need her if that's the case.

    I was actually face-to-face once with the original Allan at an antique store I live near, with his box and everything! Had I known he'd be such a good character in the Barbie movie, I probably would have gotten him!

  3. I insisted on picking my Barbie out in person so I could avoid disastrous bangs! 😂Also in every display I've seen, all/almost all of the Barbies are sold but there are several Kens left...Poor Ken. :(

  4. I was so excited for this review and you sure didn’t disappoint!
    Excellent points particularly about the price range and I honestly wonder if Mattel made the cheapest Barbie doll somewhat disappointing on purpose, so we’ll buy the more expensive option? I hope not.
    That corsage/bouquet is adorable!
    The Barbie fan in me has to correct a point though. 😅 The USA Today article isn’t correct, Prancer is adorable but not in fact Barbie’s first pet, which was an unnamed dog with many accessories sold in the ‘60s with the name “Dog ‘N Duds”. If you look it up, the dog isn’t as cute as some of Barbie’s later pets but she had to start somewhere! Funny how she had horse riding outfits for years (starting in the mid 1960s) but no horse!
    Thanks for another great review! SO excited to see this movie!

  5. The bangs on Barbie are making me laugh way too hard.

  6. The $50 dolls looked cute to me but not worth the price tag in the promotional pictures. I'd be curious to see a review, maybe I'm misjudging. You definitely got me hyped up for the movie, I still haven't seen it. Everything I've heard is great. I've been loving the Barbie posts. So many fun dolls. I can't say I'm too impressed with the hair on these two, though your styling did a lot to improve their looks. The bangs are just silly and not in what I think of as a good way. Thanks for another great review!

  7. Great review! I'll have to check the movie out once I can watch it at home - I just don't feel like I can justify the price of movie tickets. Ken is cute, though... I wonder if he's a match for one of the wheelchair Fashionista Kens?

    For Barbie's bangs, you could try looking for water wax. It works pretty well for controlling doll hair without being stiff, although it doesn't last as long as the stuff they come with. I got mine from Volks, but I'm sure it's available elsewhere.

  8. What a fun review! I‘m going to the cinema next Saturday and I‘m really excited. I already got the Cowgirl one and paid a crazy amount of 70 for her…and sadly I do think the quality is terrible for that price. Her hair is so so cheap, such a terrible fibre…and the outfit, well…not worth more than 25 I think. And still I want the new Skate Barbie from the secobd wave. Love the colors 😉

  9. They definitely rooted too much hair in those bangs . Like one row’s good, two row’s pushing it, but FIVE? I am curious how Lena looks in the Barbie movie dress.

  10. I feel like I'm missing something. Every review loves Ken and prefers him over Barbie. To me, this Ken doll has two big problems: 1) Gosling looks nothing like a typical Ken doll. 2) The doll made in his likeness looks nothing like Gosling. His eyelids and eyebrows slope downwards at the outer corner. I don't care how much his nose or chin or whatever is said to match the actor's face. I can't find any similarity even knowing who it's supposed to be.

    Barbie, on the other hand, doesn't have these problems. Robbie already looks like a 2010s Barbie and the doll is easily recognizable as her. It's a pity about the hairstyle. Maybe a sun hat would help? I have the same problem with Barbie Extra Fancy in the pink vinyl dress - you'd think they would have taken notes not to do that style again :-/

    Speaking of Extra, it looks like both dolls use the same bodies as the Extra line. I had no idea the original female body is called Gigi! Was it Gigi Hadid that used this body for the first time? It's the "original" era equivalent of the articulated "bellybutton" (old fashionista) era. The proportions are nice, but I wish they had kept the bellybutton era range. Those could sit with a vertical back and knees together. It's a small difference, but very noticeable when trying to add a row of seated dolls on a shelf and they take so much space that you can't put any standing dolls behind them. Ken too is more realistic, but less mobile than pre-MTM articulated males. It's such a shame he can't even ride a horse. Thanks for the review anyway, I won't be buying these dolls but you convinced me to give the movie a chance when it becomes available on TV.

  11. I loved the movie so much! I have 3 of the dolls so far, and all of my movie doll choices seem to trend towards the $50 ones: Gloria (petite MTM!), a blue plaid Margot who will stay unaltered and is meant to be my default doll for any form of the Barbie character, and a disco Margot who I turned into Harley Quinn (I haven’t yet changed her lipstick to red or added any of her tattoos, because I don’t have enough experience doing either of those things to dolls and need to practice first, but I put Harley on the purple/pink tie-dye leggings MTM body-the best match for all the Margots-and colored her hair from roughly-Harley’s too chaotic to worry about precision-the middle of the cheek down with fabric markers). I’ll also be getting Weird Barbie (I want her and especially NEED her green snakeskin boots in my collection!) and Simu Liu Ken once Weird Barbie releases next month. From what I’ve seen of all of them, I think the disco and blue plaid Margots have the best resemblance to Margot herself.

  12. The dolls are okay, I’m hoping maybe they come out with more. I want the cowgirl outfit one but she’s hard to get now. When I was watching the movie I recognized a certain dog from this blog!! I had a fun time and I really enjoyed seeing some of the real dolls they shouted out. Also, Margot Robbie did some appearances on red carpets dressed in lookalike Barbie clothes!

  13. I haven't seen the film yet, and I appreciate the lack of any big spoilers. :) Learning about ajen and horses just delights me, so I've got that to look forward to!

    I'm so pleased you have an OG Barbie horse! As soon as you spoke of them, I knew you either already had one, or were going to hunt one down.

    Both outfits look really good, to me, though that's too bad about the material choices. They seem otherwise very well tailored. The faces lack resemblance, fully agreed, but hey, they're still very, very barbie and ken.

    Your husband is so sweet with that corsage! I love that you brought Lena and absolutely pinked it up. Watching Barbie right!

    Finally, that last shit with the corvette is a perfect closer. Expensive, but it looks great, and it's nice you got to try it out.