Beginners guide to Barbie collecting

People often seem to think that any Barbie is worth a zillion. Of course that is not the case. That is to say, that the amount of money you spend on your collection is completely up to you and in your hands. If you want to spend loads of money, you have to go with vintage dolls. They are dolls manufactured after 1959 and before the year 1973, after which Mattel, the company, was sold to new owners, who are responsible for the modern Barbie – known to most of us as the smiley blonde that some people have grown to hate. The original Barbie was actually a brunette with dark eyes. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Barbe stamped 1966 from the 1980’s Vintage Barbie from 1966

However, don’t be fooled to think that a Barbie that has been stamped with the year 1966 is a vintage – it’s actually a year of patent for the body, used all through seventies until late 90’s. (The valuable 1966-marked Barbies are also stamped with some form of “patent pending” like U.S. Patented U.S.Pat. Pend.” on their butt.) If, however, you want to spend the contents of your piggy bank on Barbies, you probably want to go with the 80’s to 90’s playline (pink label) dolls. These are the dolls most of us have played with, the super popular toy for any girl, as they were produced as “cheapy” versions as well as “luxury toys”. In 60’s Barbie was somewhat of a rich kids toy, increasing popularity in time. You can still get these 80’s and 90’s dolls mint in box, that is to say, in unopened boxes from places like eBay, and they don’t cost you much more than what they did the day they were released. In played with condition you can find these dolls anywhere, like in garage sales, flea markets; and a lot of times when you mention you collect Barbies, your family friends will start dumping their old dolls on you, which is absolutely fabulous! Always remember to tell EVERYONE you collect Barbies, don’t be afraid of any stigmas, people might think you’re crazy, but they will bring you even vintage dolls for nothing if you’re lucky, and that’s well worth the potential loss of your reputation! (Barbie is one of the most popular collectors items in the world, but we’re somewhat a breed of our own, and don’t necessarily identify ourselves as “collectors” but specifically “Barbie-collectors”.)

In addition to vintage and playline you also have the option to collect the collector line dolls, which are especially designed for Barbie collectors. The collector dolls are roughly divided into two categories; the Modern Barbie and Silk Stone Barbie. Silk Stone Barbies are made with the same (similar) face mold than the original Barbie, making them more appealing to the people who appreciate the original look of Barbie. There are more Barbie designs in the world than you can understand, so don’t aim for a complete collection. There’s only one complete Barbie collection in the world, and that is the one of Mattel’s. They even have the very first Barbie, the first of the first, safely locked away in their collection vault, and the estimated price tag on that one doll is one million dollars. Something tells me that is an underestimate…

However you can aim for completeness by deciding on a production line, like “all the dolls of the world Barbies” or “all the Rocker Barbies” or “all the swirls”. Or, you can just do like most of us: if you like it, you buy it – if it of course meets your price range. Take a look at some of the vintage dolls that our Nina has in her collection. Compare them with her vinyl collectibles, which is the collector line with modern Barbie style. Here are some of the newest playline dolls and compare them with the classic 80’s. Nina also has a fantastic sample collection of the silk stone collectibles, which you can again compare with not only the vintage but the modern collectibles. (Thank you Nina for so neatly organising your collection!) This should give you an idea on what type of collections Mattel offers, but in addition to that you can leave your own mark with customising them for yourself by picking up some tools like paint and sewing needle. Here is some of my work (don’t look too closely, please). These dolls are mainly created using some old doll found in a dreadful condition on a second hand market for couple of Euros, which is to point out, that it’s not about the money – unless you want it to be. One more thing before I leave you to google things; You know genuine Barbie by the stamp on her back or her buttocks. If it is a Barbie, it is stamped with the word “Mattel” somewhere in her back. This is also true with Ken-dolls and the other friends of Barbie.

Link: Barbie Collector the official Barbie collector site by Mattel.

Also, try Google. There’s too many sites to mention here!

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4 Comments on "Beginners guide to Barbie collecting"

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Szilvia Kudlák

I’ve just found this website, I really enjoyed reading your posts. One thing I especially found very interesting:
“There’s only one complete Barbie collection in the world, and that is the one of Mattel’s. They even have the very first Barbie, the first of the first, safely locked away in their collection vault, and the estimated price tag on that one doll is one million dollars.”
Does Mattel has one piece of each doll the company ever made??
Do they possibly have a complete list of all the dolls (including the ones produced by Congost, LEo, Cipsa etc.)?

Best wishes,


Yes, they do have one of each doll that they’ve ever produced – wouldn’t you love to see that room?! I would imagine they’d have a list of their productions, yes, quite likely a legal requirement. Whether it’s available to the public or not is another question entirely.

I’m glad you liked the posts!


Great info! I decided to go for the City Shine set. I think if you just buy ones that you like, you will never go wrong.