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.
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…