How to identify your Barbie doll with Google

Google image search is gold when it comes to identifying your dolls. Here are some tips on how to do it:

  • Find the unusual traits; for dark skin, use the search term AA (African American) or Christie, the name of Barbie’s friend. Describe the doll as if you would try to describe it for someone trying to find one just like her.
  • Name the head sculpt used if you know it,
  • Search by the year you bought the doll if you got it from a store, if you can’t find it, search one or two years before. The “shelf life” of Barbie dolls is not more than 1-3 years, usually only a year, but some smaller stores that sell low quantities can have previous year’s dolls for a few years after markets have stopped selling them. Curiously, as a kid, I got all my dolls between 3 year’s time span, although it seemed a lot longer time then… Don’t use the stamp markings on the doll (unless the search becomes desperate), necessarily, because they refer to the year of the patent of the body parts, but the dolls are listed online by the year of the release, and thus adding the stamp years to the searches will only mislead Google, not help it.
  • If you can only guess when the doll was first produced, go by the decade or year-by-year
  • Name the body type
  • Make a note of the arms; are they straight, bent, or ballerina etc.? The 80’s and 90’s bent arm dolls were the upscale expensive ones, so they should be easy to find compared to straight arm dolls.
  • Once you get to know the way Mattel thinks, you can sometimes guess the production name of the doll, the names can be very predictable at times. However, Ballerina Barbie, Mermaid Barbie, Doctor Barbie – and such will often narrow the search down quite a bit if applicable. They usually produce a new variation of popular themes once or twice a decade. (Long hair? Rapunzel? Although a 90’s mermaid doll also had really long hair. Stars in the eyes? Star Eye Barbie? You get the idea.)
  • If this was your own doll, you can pretty much tell whether this was a popular one or a cheapo from the chemist, right? The popular ones are still popular because people tend to wish to find a replacement for their old childhood dolls, so the search is much easier with the popular ones. Do you remember what you called her as a kid? “The Star Shine Barbie?” Search with that.
  • Sometimes it is a good idea to browse sale pages by the decade of your doll. The popular ones, in particular, will pop up often.

Good luck!

Please note that when you ask me to identify a doll for you, I most likely don’t know it straight away. I use your description to Google them, and I can, often, find a match. I’m not very good at identifying dolls, but I’m good at using Google. 🙂 That is to say, that my reader’s descriptions of the dolls is often enough to find the doll – apart from the Superstar era blond, blue-eyed girls stamped 1966, they are most often too generic in the description without their dresses and they can sometimes be identified only by counting their eyelashes… 

Johnny Depp might collect Barbies – but not these

johnny-barbies

A few days ago the net got saturated with stories of celebrities weird hobbies, along which was Johnny Depp‘s collection of (all) limited edition Barbie- and Ken dolls. Some of the stories were also equipped with the proof, Johnny Depp posing with a bunch of dolls. Any collector would have looked at them with a bit of amazement: “What’s so limited about these?” Granted, for a lot of collectors the dolls in the photo would be more than welcome (gotta love that Versace) but the man in the photo was not originally Johnny himself. It’s a photoshop.

Depp is a rather private person, and getting him to pose with his dolls was probably too much to ask, so they got a photo of a London based collector Giovanni Madonia, published in the Telegraph in 2009 and pasted Johnny’s face on top. Even I was fooled for a moment and snickered to myself that the poor celeb has totally been had by some mean Barbie dealer who has sold him $20 dolls for thousands. That’s not the case. I’m sure Mr. Depp knows what he’s doing – if the story is real to begin with. 🙂

Good on ya Johnny, give me a call so we can play. 🙂

johnny-barbies

Tutorial: Creating a partition after rerooting Barbie

This tutorial has been a long time coming, but here it finally is! This is how you can do a partition on your Barbie doll (or other fashion doll) after rerooting.

First, separate the two part lines of hair, which you see in the hole pattern as being in two tight lines in the middle of the Barbie head. This is where the partition goes, of course. I usually tie the rest of the hair in a ponytail or two… What do  you call them in English? These are not pig tails, are they? Well, you see what I mean in the photo. Just get the rest of the Barbie hair out of the way and you’ll have easier time fixing the partition.

I use the rerooting needle in the separation of the hair, as well as what follows. You could also use a spiked comb but since you have the needle handy after the rerooting it works fine.

 

Starting from the back of the Barbie head, start turning each plug from side to side. They should cross over the part, where it’s been rooted on the left, turn it over to the right side of the head, then take the next one from the right and cross it over to the left. You may need to have some clips handy to keep them in place for now, as they sometimes want to pop right back where they were.

 

 

Continue this way through the partition. There may be times when the plugs simply don’t align well, and you may need to separate one plug by pulling an opposing plug stright through it, or you may need to run two plugs between the opposing two, instead of one like normally. Use your best judgement here.

 

 

 

Here the whole part has been separated, and as you can see there’s a small bald spot that will require an extra plug in there. I’m feeling lazy so I’ll leave that until later.

Get that rubber band out and put the freshly parted strands in with the rest of the hair so it won’t get messed up.

 

 

Next, we have to set the part with some boiling hot water. Now, in my house, the water straight from the tap is ridiculously hot, this is an old house with no thermostats, that’s why it comes out near the boiling point. You might need to boil some water for this.

Holding the hair in place, pour the hot water onto the Barbie’s hair part to make it set. The rubber bands will most likely snap in the hot water so you’re better off taking them out and holding the hair with your fingers, just make sure you don’t burn yourself. (As in, if you’re not an adult, ask your mum for help!)

This step sets the rest of the Barbie hair in a natural position. Take the doll by the legs and put her in the sitting position while keeping her under the hot water for a few seconds, allowing the water to run over the top of her head. If you boiled a kettle, pour the whole thing on, if you’re using tap water, you need to run the water just long enough as it would take for a kettle to run empty. (This won’t take long, in other words.)

 

 

Here we go with the end result. Now, let it dry up or go onto curling/styling it if you like. As you can see, Elphie here needs another plug, I did give her one more after I took the photos. 🙂 If you like Elphie, you can join her fan page here. Elphie is my friend’s Barbie doll and came over to my place for a quick reroot before I took her over to Finland with me and Elphie’s owner Rachel was too busy to do a reroot at the time. We had fun, but I also forgot I took the partition photos and I’ve been back for months already… Anyway. Hope this helps you!

 

Analysing Barbie body types

These are the most common body types of Barbie, lots of variation also occurs, but you will find these helpful in choosing and fitting outfits. I stopped collecting few years back so this post isn’t up to date.

vintage repro Barbie body type The Vintage (and reproduction) body. This is the first body type created for Barbie. The same body type is used for reproduction dolls, but is identifiable by the stamp on her bottom, which includes the year “2004” in the original stamp.
Barbie tnt body TNT, which is short for Twist n’ Turn is probably the most common body type of them all, because it was used since the early 70’s all the way to the 90’s. All TNT bodies are stamped 1966.
There are 3 types all put together, one being the mod-TNT, with the difference to the modern straight arm TNT that the turn joint was tilted as shown in the image. The only difference between the two modern versions is the arms, which are clear to see in the photo, and marked with number 3.
Barbie  shani body The Shani-body
The most common body type used in the Mackie-era. Compared to the straight arm TNT, which most resambles the shani-body, the easiest identification method is the arms: Simply put; shani arms move to the sides, where TNT arms only turn front and back. The shape of the arms is also different. (See later for clear comparisation picture.)
Barbie fully jointed body Fully Jointed body
This is the first fully jointed body type, of which there is 2 different versions; the flat feet (pictured) and the high heel or ‘pointy toe’ version. Usually referred to as “jointed body”, “articulated body” or “poseable body”.
Barbie belly button body Basic Belly Button
This is the basic belly button body, but in the ID area “era” is separated by the size of the head, the body is the same. (In the photo, it’s the bigger head.)
There is also a versions of the belly button that has jointed elbows and one that has Fashionistas arms.
This body type was introduced in 2000, starting with the Ever Flex -variation of it. (Below)
Barbie everflex body Ever Flex belly button
Same as above with the difference of the mid section of the torso, that is covered with rubbery skin-like material. The Ever Flex -material is hiding a joint that allows free movement of the waist.
Barbie model muse body Model Muse
Collector doll special body, which had non-bendable legs, with a body that allows very little movement at all. Intended for display instead of play.
Barbie pivotal body Pivotal / Jazz Baby
Officially named as “Pivotal”, but often referred to as “Jazz Baby Body”, because the Jazz Babies were the first ones to get this body. In proportions and shapes, it is almost identical to the Model Muse, apart from the waist.
Barbie fashionistas body Fashionistas
This bodytype is the latest addition – released in 2009, and is the most freely moving body type made for playline Barbie. The Pivotal body has one extra moving part (the knee) compared to Fashionista. Shapewise, Fashionista is a belly button body.
Comparing similar bodytypes
analyzing differences between Barbie's vintage, tnt and shani bodies Vintage, TNT and Shani
First, click to see the larger version of this image.
1. Difference in the waist of Vintage and TNT. Note that vintage body has no waist joint.
2. TNT body is taller than Vintage.
3. The ONLY visible difference between two types of TNT bodies is the arms. (Neck joint varies.)
4. Difference between straight armed TNT and Shani is easy to see by the hands and arms. (Sometimes TNT body is combined with Shani arms, check step 5.)
5. Also a difference, a very subtle one, is the shape of TNT hip compared to Shani.
comparison of different versions of Barbie's belly button body types Belly Button variations
Comperison between the Barbie pivotal body and Barbie Fashionistas body Pivotal and FashionistasIn 2010 a new wave of Fashionistas was released with technically the same knee joint as the Pivotal body, but with same proportions as the old. (My personal favourite body of all of them!)
Comparisons between the different jointed body types of Barbie Different sort of jointed bodies
(why we can’t just call them “jointed”)
Comparison between the pivotal Barbie body and the model muse Barbie body Muse & Pivotal
The skin colour doesn’t effect the name of the body.This is pretty much all you need to know about body types. Even though there are variations, the bodies are well grouped together.
If you have any questions, please comment below.

Finding clothes and patterns

Currently the shops are selling belly button clothing only, so to find clothing that fits other body types you’ll have to hit the op shops, flea markets or websites such as eBay. There are some patterns available for Barbie fashions, but you still have to check the date they’ve been published to properly match a body. The most common, and the most problematic doll type to clothe; TNT-bodies match the Superstar era clothing, and they stopped making those in the early 1990’s.

Restoring Barbie

There are plenty of things you can do to restore a Barbie. The method you choose will depend on

a) The condition of your doll

b) What you want to achieve

c) The value of the doll and your skills

If you’re a first timer, I suggest if you have a doll that is from 1970’s or older, you teach yourself a few things with newer dolls before you get to the old one, that are a bit tricky in comparison to the new ones. (See about the year 1966 on Barbie.)

Dirty Barbie

If your Barbie is dirty, you can wash her in soap and water. For other stains on different parts of the doll, you can read some basic Barbie cleaning methods here.

Matted Barbie hair

If your dolls’ hair has gone tangled and matted, you can fix this by using a Barbie hair straightening method, described here. You may also want to recurl it, and the instructions can be found on the same page.

Cut hair

If your doll has had a matted hair crisis or ended up playing the role of Ken with her hair cut off, you can check out the Rerooting Barbie’s Hair instructions. It’s a slow process that takes patience, but isn’t very difficult. If you don’t want to spend that much time rerooting, you could always buy a Barbie wig or make one – I will be adding a wig tutorial later on.

Touch up the makeup

This is the hardest part of restoring Barbie. If her make-up is rubbed off or faded, you might want to touch it up with some special Barbie facial paints. You will have to be very confident in your abilities or alternatively not care if the doll ends up spoiled.

Redo the whole doll

You can always change everything about the doll, change the hair colour, style and do a repaint and then dress her in clothes you made yourself. In this case, we are talking about customising Barbie, and OOAK Barbies, One Of A Kind Barbies.

Barbie 1966

One of the biggest misunderstandings in putting a value on Barbie is the stamp “Mattel Inc 1966”. This stamp is the same thing as any website that announces their copyright to the content, starting from when it was first published. The stamp on Barbie is the year the TNT body type (twist n’ turn) was first used in Barbie, and was widely used from the late 60’s to early 90’s. Therefore, if you have a Barbie with the year 1966 stamped in the back, you’ll need to find out more about the doll to determine whether she’s valuable or not. (The same goes with Ken.)

You will get instantly closer answer to the age of your Barbie by checking if she has a stamp in the back of her head, just in the seam joining the body to head. There has been several big revamps of Barbie’s heads; One in 1976, in 1985, then again in 1998. In a rare case the 1966 stamped TNT or Shani body is joined with a larger head type that collectors disrespectfully call BHS which means “the big head syndrome”. The large headed dolls are never older than from 2006 regardless of the stamps.

Boldly generalizing, Barbies stamped with 1966 are worth approximately 20 US dollars mint in box, so a played with doll is not worth much more than 4-10 dollars depending on the condition of it. There are some individuals that were so popular when they were new, that they have more interest value than normal. (Rockers-series, Peaches & Cream, Dream Glow etc.) Also, ironically, the cheapest dolls (such as Fashion Play -series) that were not really valued at the time and not often saved are now the ones that go for high prices because they are rare finds in good condition.

Rerooting Barbie’s changing Barbie’s hair

rerooting05

This article will advice you on rerooting your Barbie’s hair. This means you will actually change the hair into new by sewing it in. In this tutorial we’re using Katsilk Saran hair from Restoredoll.com (Click on the images to view them larger.)

You will need: – Tweezers.rerooting01Bear-thread.(Or similar.) You will need thread that is fairly thick, and won’t wear out while being pulled through holes.

Doll needle. About 10 cm long needle, with the hole equally wide as the stem. Can be ordered online or bought at some local craft shops.

Saran or Nylon doll Hair. Can be ordered online for example at RestoreDoll.com or dollyhair.com. RestoreDoll sells hair in one long roll, that you can easily cut to the length you want to use, while Dollyhair sells precut hair packages. (I prefer to cut my own because I don’t necessarily know what length of hair I want on the day and on the doll I start it on.)

– A tray that you can easily move away when you want to take a break. The top lid of a shoe box works fine, metallic is ideal, for example the lid of box of cookies.

– scissors

– Behead the Barbie. Be careful not to break the neck joint if you want to use the same body on the ready doll. The older the doll, the more brittle the neck will be. To make it easier, you can warm the head with hot water, it will soften the vinyl and will make it easier to pull out. The head itself is not brittle. Pull directly away from the neck, and don’t twist strongly. If you do break the neck and have the joint suck inside the head don’t panic! You will get it out by tying a loop of thread around the neck joint and a pen, that you can use as a handle to pull the joint out. You can find a new body on the doll later on.- Remove all hair off the Barbie’s head by cutting it as short as possible and then pulling the rest out with a pair of tweezers.- Cut the hair to length and set it on the tray. I usually separate a smaller part of it to take the plugs one by one, to keep the hair tidier. If you take a plug by plug from the stack, you easily end up with a big mess in the end. If you are a first time rerooter, use about a half of what your instincts tell you for a plug. I use about 20 hairs per plug, (Katsilk saran) a little more for the plugs in the hairline, but little less will do if you want a more natural looking hair. (Using this method the amount of hairs will double per plug as the hair is on a loop.)- Begin operation reroot by making a big sturdy knot at the end of the thread as if you were sewing. Pull the thread through a hole in the top of the scalp (plan your route as the holes are in kind of an order). The middle of the head is a good place to start because you won’t be blocking your way to the next hole like you would do starting from the hairline. (Been there, done that.) Usually you can find a spiral path starting from the middle of the head towards the hairline, broken by the part holes that go straight from the forehead towards the middle. Study the holes and plan your path.
rerooting04– Pull the needle inside out, like in the picture, and pull through until the thread stops. If you have to pull so hard that the head goes into a dimple caused by your plug, you’ve got too much hair. WAY too much hair. The hair should not cause stress to the vinyl.
rerooting05– Pull the thread to the side so that you can push the needle back through the same hole more easily.
rerooting07– Pull the thread through, but leave a loop. Take a small amount of hair (about 15-20 strands of hair) and pull that through the loop as shown in the picture. You don’t need to count the amount of hair for each plug, I give you the number of hairs just so you get the approximate idea of how thick plugs we’re talking about here. (The plug in the photo looks utterly too big by the way.)
rerooting08Pull the thread back into the head.
rerooting09… until the thread disappears and holds steadily inside the head.
rerooting02– Continue endlessly. In the photo you can see how to hold the already set hair out of your way as you work.

Common and not so common mistakes when rerooting Barbie:

– Using too much hair is by far the most common mistake, of course not necessarily a bad thing. When I first started rerooting, I used two punts of Saran hair for one head, the first time, I actually ran out of hair and had to use a second colour for streaks! Now, I don’t use one whole punt, and I’m a lot happier with the result. To control your urge to use more hair, you can buy just one punt, divide it in 4 and keep in mind that after each quarter of the head you still need to have enough hair to finish.

– Starting from the hair line will seem like the right place to start at first, but the trouble with that is that as you get closer and closer to the middle, you have to navigate in a big bush of wild hair to get where you need to get. Not fun! 😀

– Not following the hole row will easily result into a malformed head. Imagine first putting a plug on the right side of the head, then putting one on the left. Tighten, and you’ve got a very narrow face on your doll. :p (Yes, I’ve done something similar!) To avoid this, when you have a break, always finish with the thread coming out of the head so you’ll know where to continue when you get back to it.

Selling a played with Barbie

The collectors often buy playline Barbies that are good for restoring. Many times over I have found awesome dolls that to the average person seem like pure junk. Most second hand market, flea market or garage sale sellers don’t take time to fix the doll up at all. I don’t mean that you should start rerooting them or anything, just a few simple steps. Just the first one will do fine:

1. Wash them! For the love of God, wash your doll before selling it! Ask yourself, would you find it tempting to buy a doll with sticker glue and crayon in the eyes, in filthy clothes and hair that sticks to your hands when you touch it? Don’t worry; Barbie dolls (Mattel originals) can handle water and common soap. The hair (if any is left) hold the curl if you don’t use boiling hot water. The value of your doll “sky rockets” from one Euro/Dollar to five if it’s clean.

2. Clean up paint and permanent marker stains and other gunk. Children are sometimes inclined to drawing on their dolls… While some pen marks cannot be removed with common house hold methods (unless your kids are teenagers and using zit cream) you can remove some by scrubbing – a tooth brush is a great aid in washing a Barbie – and some will come off with nail polish remover. However, the nail polish remover can also take off the face paint, so if cleaning the face it’s advised to use a q-tip to keep away from eyes, eyebrows, lips and cheeks. Leave the rest to the “professionals”.

3. Comb the hair if possible. If you feel unsure or you don’t have the time, you can skip this part. A lot of collectors know how to do it without pulling out half of the scalp with it.

4. Dress her up in the best clothes you’re ready to part with. If you don’t have any clothes, that’s fine, but position the doll in the table in respectful manner (instead of just throwing her into a box of junk). The more you respect the doll, the more your buyer will.

5. You might be surprised what condition dolls will sell. However, don’t expect big dollars for a used playline Barbie doll, most collectors are not ready to pay more than 7 dollars of any such doll. You should rather consider things like recycling and the planet when selling a used Barbie doll, instead of striking gold. 😉

6. Give this web address handy. My blog will give easy instructions for any enthusiast on how to fix Barbie dolls – the crafty types will not be able to resist!

Barbie collector

When we say we’re “Barbie collectors” it includes a wide variety of related hobbies, and funnily enough “Barbie collecting” is not the best way to describe all of it. Collectors buy stuff of some description for the sake of ownership. According to Wikipedia: “The hobby of collecting includes seeking, locating, acquiring, organizing, cataloging, displaying, storing, and maintaining whatever items are of interest to the individual collector.” Some collectors collect nothing more than list of sightings, like a list of car license plate numbers they have seen on the streets. However, a person who defines themselves as a Barbie collector very often does a lot of other things besides collecting, some of the most popular things:

– Building dioramas and 1:6 doll houses
– Sewing for Barbie
– Photographing
– Creating photo stories with Barbie (mini-plays)
– Maintaining a website or blog about Barbie
– Modifying and/or customising Barbie or kitbashing

In a word, Barbie collectors are not really collectors but Barbie hobbyists, that collect Barbie as a necessary adjunct to their hobby. If your aim is to create stories and share them with the world, you HAVE TO buy some stuff, aka collect things for Barbie, not to mention the main characters; Barbie and Ken dolls.

This is why I personally call myself a Barbie hobbyist, as “collector” is really misleading – I can’t remember the last time I bought a doll just for the sake of the doll without the intention of pulling it apart and making it into a cast member… Plus, for a “collection” my dolls are not much to look at -most of the time they’re not neatly displayed like a collection should be, and “mint condition” isn’t really what you would describe many of them. 😀