Barbie was born March 9, 1959, brought into the world by Ruth Handler, the wife of a Mattel Toys co-founder. Male toy company execs scoffed, but Barbie caught on quickly and soon dominated the doll market. Now Barbie is iconic. Mattel claims that, worldwide, nine out of ten people recognize her. Time magazine says that 92% of girls between the ages of three and twelve have owned a Barbie doll.
Our stores like to see collectible Barbies, because they’re collected by quite a few folks—including longtime HPB employee Beverly Bannister. I talked to Beverly about her fabulous Barbie collection on this Barbie birthday occasion.
Buy Guy: When did you start collecting Barbies and what got you into it?
Bev: I started collecting around 1990. My friend Claudia and I were wandering through a Toys “R” Us after lunch. I shared a story about when I graduated from high school and my mom wouldn’t get me a Barbie for graduation. Claudia said, “Why not get one now?” And that’s when the obsession began.
BG: Are you still actively collecting the dolls?
Bev: I still collect them, but not every one that they make. I limit it to the Holiday Barbies and some of the Designer ones or special ones.
BG: Do you remember the first Barbie you ever owned?
Bev: I had an original Barbie until my brother BJ came along. He decided to bite off her fingers and toes.
BG: Yikes! So how many Barbies are in your collection and where do you put them all?
Bev: I would guesstimate it at 200 to 300, give or take. I have what I call the Barbie Room, where most are kept. Some have migrated to other parts of the house, but I don’t know how that happened. I have a few in display cases.
BG: What’s your most prized Barbie?
Bev: The Purple Barbie that started my collection has sentimental value. The most valuable one, monetarily, is actually probably Limelight Barbie, at $400 to $500.
BG: Wow! What’s your most unusual Barbie?
Bev: That would be Harley-Davidson Barbie.
BG: Biker Barbie, huh? What about other characters in Barbie’s world—Ken, Skipper, Midge—do you allow them in your collection?
Bev: Ken is not allowed, but I do have Barbie’s sister and some of her sister’s friends.
BG: What do you think of the new petite, tall and curvy Barbies?
Bev: I have not made up my mind on the new Barbie line.
While Bev’s pondering that one, you can let us know if you’re a collector of Barbies (or Kens).
Happy Birthday, Barbie!