Updated: May 4, 2020
This article from 1982 about Barbie-mania is still relevant in many aspects and can be a good source for interesting and helpful information. Enjoy the reading.
BY VIVIAN BRADY
Source: February/March 1982 • DOLL READER , Pages 44-47
Barbie-mania is sweeping the country and to those new to Barbie collecting, the question is, "Why?". There are several reasons why this is happening: (1) Antique doll prices have reached hysterical proportions. Few can or wil I pay the prices. Barbie prices, on the other hand, are still low and within the grasp of most of us. (2) For the person who seeks knowledge and a challenge, no other doll comes close to Barbie. In her 22 years, there are so many variations that for even the most curious and ardent collector the search never ends. (3) As her age increases so does our appreciation of her small beauty.
To many, however, Barbie yet remains an enigma. Collecting Barbie and her family can become complicated and many collectors are frustrated in not knowing how to identify a "good" Barbie and what to pay for her. It is easy to pass over a rare one or think it is too high and not be willing to pay the price. One misguided conception is that the older the doll is the better it is. This is simply not true in Barbie collecting. There are several Barbies from the 1970s that are much more rare than a bubble cut from the early 1960s. Another factor which contributes to the wide variance in price is the condition of the doll. Many modern doll collectors, especially Barbie collectors, will pay much more money for a mint-in-the-box doll than they will for a naked doll that someone picked up at a flea market. This is also true with antique collectors, but not to the degree it is with Barbie and modern doll collectors. Condition, scarcity and desirability are the traits to consider when buying Barbies; forget the age, it is of very little significance.
Below is a list of my top 20 Barbies in the order of their scarcity. No other family member has been considered for this list. (The price list is from 1982 and doesn't reflect current market prices).
1. No. 2 - More rare than a No. 1. - $400-$800
2. No. 1 - Still the most sought after. - $400-$800
3. Barbie Gift Sets and Store Displays. - $75-$500
4. Dressed Barbies in boxes. - $200
5. Sears' Special Barbie Hair Happenin's, 1971. - $50-$300
6. "Side parted" Barbie, 1965. - $100-$300
7. Ward's Anniversary Barbie, 1972. - $50-$150
8. Miss Barbie, "Sleep-eyed," 1964. - $75-$00
9. Color Magic Barbie, 1966. - $45-$250
10. No. 3 Barbie, 1960. - $50-$200
11. Bendable leg Barbie, 1965. - $35-$200
12. 1144 - Barbie with Growing Pretty Hair, 1972. - $35-$125
13. No. 4 Barbie, 1961. - $35-$150
14. 1195 - Talking Busy Barbie, 1972. - $25-$75
3311 - Busy Barbie, 1972. - $25-$75
1115 - Talking Barbie, 1968. - $25-$75
15. 0850 - Swirl ponytail Barbie. - $25-$50
16. Stiff bang ponytail, 1962 to 1963. - $20-$50
17. 2in (5.1cm) Miniature Barbie, 1965 to 1967. - $15-$50
18. 1152 - Live Action Barbie on Stage, 1971. - $15-$35
1155 - Live Action Barbie, 1971. - $15-$35
1182 - Walk Lively Barbie, 1972. - $15-$35
19. 850 - Bubble Cut Barbie, 1961. - $15-$35
20. New York Convention souvenirs. None for sale.
Now, the question is, "What do we need to know about these dolls to make a decision on what to buy?" Everyone knows that the No. 1 Barbie with the round holes in the balls of her feet is worth "$500.00" and rare. Everyone seems to think they have the first Barbie and the general knowledge of her worth has made it almost impossible to "stumble" across a No. 1. The No. 1 and No. 2 Barbies with their slanted Oriental eyes and their sharply pointed eyebrows have the same markings on their buttocks: "Barbie, T.M./Pats. Pend./MCM LVI I I/by/Mattel/Inc." The only difference between the two is the No. 1 has the round holes in her feet and the No. 2 does not. If you have a choice to make between a blonde No. 1 or No. 2 and a brunette - always choose the brunette, unless, of course, you already have one. There were fewer brunettes made and the price goes up accordingly.
Barbie Gift Sets and Store Displays are most difficult to find. The best chance you have of finding a Store Display is by checking stores in your area that have been in business for the last 20 years. Perhaps there is one in their basement gathering dust. Gift Sets are more easily obtained, at least those made from 1969 to 1972. These sets were most often specials offered by Sears, Wards or Penneys. They usually contain at least one doll, separate outfits and sometimes a few accessories.
Sears has been a main distributor of Barbies and their line has carried the majority of Gift Sets and specials. The 1971 Sears' Special Barbie Hair Happenin's is just one such offering. She came with wigs, but no extra clothing. You might pass her by because her hair looks like it has been cut. Her hair color is Titian (a very light brown), her eyes are centered and she has bendable legs. She wears a peasant-looking white blouse and rose-colored skirt with a ruffle at the bottom.
In 1964 Mattel introduced the bendable leg Barbies. The first one was 1060 Miss Barbie. She is most often referred to as the "sleep-eyed" Barbie. She is the only Barbie whose eyes open and close. She is seldom found mint-in-the-box and when found out of the box is often missing her onepiece pink bathing suit with sparkles on the bodice, attached flared skirt and her matching pink bathing cap. Her hard plastic head with the molded hair often has mold flaws above the eyes and onto her head. The source of these flaws may have come from the factory, although the suggestion has been offered that they were caused by the tightness of the bathing cap. Her markings are: "1958/Mattel, Inc./ U.S. Patented/U.S. Pat. Pend." Most of these markings have intaglio (inset) lettering.
In 1965 we saw a new bendable leg Barbie and she is called the "bendable leg" Barbie. Her markings are exactly like those found on the "sleep-eyed" Barbie, but her head is entirely different: a classic "American Girl," short flip hair style with bangs and a middle part crown her soft pliable head. At the same time she was being made, Mattel gave us a variation of her which is considered a rarity. This variation is exactly like the regular bendable leg Barbie except her hair, parted on the left side, is longer and fuller. She is called the "side parted" Barbie. Their stock number, 1070, is the same; they came in identical boxes and wore the same one-piece bathing suit with blue trunks attached to a pink, green, red, purple and blue striped top. Both of these dolls are desirable, but the "side parted" Barbie is almost as difficult to find as a No. 1 Barbie.
In 1966 a third type of bendableleg Barbie was made: 1150 ColorMagic Barbie. Her markings are exactly the same as the other bendable legBarbies - except two lines have beenadded: "Made in/Japan." These twolines have raised lettering. Some of thelater Color Magic Barbies had allraised lettering. Her distinguishingcharacteristic is her hair. If found out of her original package, her hair is usually bright yellow or orangish-red.
The texture of her long, straight hair is coarse and after a child has played with her, the hair is unmanageablelooking and rather unattractive. With a little work, she can be restored. If you have one that you would like to experiment with, the bright yellow hair can be changed to red by putting the hair in a solution of water and baking soda or by spraying it with Fantastic Spray Cleaner. To change the red back to the yellow, immerse the hair in vinegar.
All ponytail Barbies are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Once, a No. 3 or No. 4 Barbie was taken for granted. Not so any longer. If you have a No. 3 or No. 4 with the solid bodies, look for variations. One variation of the No. 3 is a doll lacking the normal ponytail with the hair twisted into a bun on top of her head. Another variation is the braided or plaited ponytail. To make the search even more demanding, look for a stiff banged ponytail in a "Dressed Box."
The "Dressed Box" Barbies came out in 1963 and were also available in 1964. The stiff banged ponytail and the bubble cut Barbie were both used. They did not wear the typical Barbie bathing suit, but instead were dressed in the regular line of clothes made for Barbie. Approximately 20 different outfits were available in the "dressed boxes." This special "Dressed Box" Barbie did not come in just any box; in fact, the box is what sets this doll apart from other Barbies. The main characteristic of this special box are two grayish-blue bands that wrap around the front and sides of the boxes. This box should have the name and number of the outfit that Barbie is wearing. A dressed Barbie in a regular box is not a "Dressed Box" Barbie and does not command the same price by any means.
One ponytail Barbie that has caused a lot of confusion among collectors is the Ward's Barbie of 1972. To commemorate their 100th anniversary, they attempted to duplicate the earlier (1964) Barbie with the ponytail. It is difficult to see the differences unless you look especially close. The Ward's Barbie has the same markings as the earlier stiff ponytail, but the print on Ward's Barbie is slightly smaller than on the earlier dolls. Her most striking difference is the suntan brown tone. Her hollow torso itself does not have a pinkish cast and appears to be more nearly the color of her arms and legs, unlike the earlier version. The nails on the Ward's Barbie are not painted; the earlier ones are. The hair on the Ward's Barbie is shiny and silky feeling as compared to the 1960s' ponytail. Examine your ponytails with these details in mind and you just may find one of these most desirable Barbies. For those of you who have a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and other rare Barbies, the search has not ended. It really has just begun and that is half the fun of being a Barbie collector.
Every year Mattel comes out with a Barbie that cannot be resisted. Those being made today could be rare in a few years. Especially attractive on today's market are Department Store Specials. These specials are found in most areas of the country, but are often difficult to locate. They are not found in such stores as K-Mart or Toys "R" Us. They are found in large department stores, usually in metropolitan areas. Some of the specials available in 1981 include: Oriental Barbie, Royal Barbie, Parisian Barbie, Beach Party Malibu Barbie and Italian Barbie. Another interesting Barbie is the Western Barbie, who winks and comes with bangs or without (you must have both). If you really want to be exotic in your search, you can find Barbies in Mexico, France, Germany and other European countries. There you will find variations and totally different ones than are available in the United States. All of this variety makes Barbie the most challenging doll to collect today.
At the bottom of the list of top 20 Barbies are two that should really be at the top. They are the two souvenirs from the 1980 New York Barbie Convention. There were fewer of these made than there are No. 1 s or No. 2s in collections today. However, I doubt very seriously whether there are any available at any (?) price. The tiny gold electroplated Barbie charm is a copy of the 1965 miniature Barbie and the other is a very limited Beauty Secrets Barbie with a special sash that proclaims: "21 Years of Barbie." These two Barbies were only available to those who attended that convention.