Barbie creator, Mattel founder Handler dies
April 29, 2002 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Barbie creator, Mattel founder Handler dies More than one billion Barbies have been sold in 150 countries and has inspired love from girls everywhere and pure hatred from feminists everywhere. "The impossibly well-endowed doll -- her original figure would be about 39-18-33 if she were human -- has infuriated feminists, inspired artists and intrigued academics around the world. Barbie even was placed in the official "America's Time Capsule" buried in 1976." Can you think of any other toy who has brought about as much ferver as Barbie???
posted by gloege (30 comments total)
Yes. The hula hoop. Most popular toy ever made, and caused more stampedes at stores than all the furbys and video game systems since.

Too bad about Mrs. Handler, though.
posted by yhbc at 7:22 AM on April 29, 2002

Weebles. Wobbly little bastards.
posted by Spoon at 7:29 AM on April 29, 2002

Locust Barbie scares me though...
posted by KnitWit at 7:30 AM on April 29, 2002

Toy Soldiers, not sure about the ferver, but boys gravitate to them, and certainly they have been around a long time.
posted by bittennails at 7:31 AM on April 29, 2002

Teen Talk Barbies growling "Vengeance is mine!", courtesy of the Barbie Liberation Organization.
posted by fatbaq at 7:39 AM on April 29, 2002

Best. Toy. Ever.
posted by grum@work at 7:44 AM on April 29, 2002

granted with the Lego, thou the original transformers (optimus prime, megatron et al) are a very second close

3)star wars, at-at that and that alone
4)mask - their mountain hide out
6)that slide show thing u look through and click to rotate
7)small sponge dinosaurs that u soak and they swell
8)magic sand
9)my A-Team kit
10)bucket of soilders
posted by monkeyJuice at 7:49 AM on April 29, 2002

Mask rocked, but not that many of my friends remember 'em when compared to Transformers, GI Joe, or TMNT (mid-80s, early 90s kid).

I was doing a search for the slide show thing, but came up with a site with a list of 80s. Too bad they don't have pictures of each toy... that would make my day.

Oh, the slide-show things (#6) were called Viewfinders. =)
posted by hobbes at 8:01 AM on April 29, 2002

Barbies... created by women, and hated by feminists. Kinda like porn.
posted by banished at 8:05 AM on April 29, 2002

Balls !
posted by Tarrama at 8:12 AM on April 29, 2002

(warning: self-link)
The daughter of a feminist remembers growing up without Barbies.
posted by arielmeadow at 8:13 AM on April 29, 2002

Wrong! The slide show things were called Viewmasters.
posted by starvingartist at 8:21 AM on April 29, 2002

Can you think of any other toy who has brought about as much ferver as Barbie???
can you think of any other toy company which has brought about as much litigation, barratry and as many assaults on free speech on the web as mattel?
posted by quonsar at 8:29 AM on April 29, 2002

hobbes - there you go.
posted by cashmein at 8:30 AM on April 29, 2002

I humblely bow to starving and cashmein... thank you.
posted by hobbes at 8:32 AM on April 29, 2002

quonsar - There's a reason they call it being Foxed.

And no, it's not because of Harry Fox ( (sigh)), though that does dovetail conveniently.
posted by NortonDC at 9:30 AM on April 29, 2002

Slinkies. Matchbox cars. Frisbees. Etch-A-Sketch.

All close but in terms of cultural footprint, yeah, Barbie rules. Even Ken is just a "boy Barbie."

Also, I think the Hitachi Magic Wand is pretty popular with the older girls.
posted by luser at 9:35 AM on April 29, 2002

luser: big points for that comment. You are so right.
posted by arielmeadow at 9:52 AM on April 29, 2002

Dude, Etch-A-Sketch was sooooo cool. Remember the Animator? I bought one on Ebay last year for about $5. Haven't used it since :)
posted by starvingartist at 9:55 AM on April 29, 2002

I loved that barbie liberation front thingy. that was really funny.

I played with blocks. And legos. And some hand-me-down fisher price sets (the barn with the mooing door, I remember, and a castle, I think...). But I probably spent the most time with crayons and paper mache and popsicle sticks and stuff like that. I never had barbies, but I do remember playing with them at friend's houses. They usually ended up naked, sometimes mutilated or at least with very bad haircuts...

frisbees, slinkies, etcha sketch, rubik's cube, tops, balls, ?simon says? where you have to repeat the tones it makes - , and best of all, cardboard boxes :)
posted by mdn at 10:01 AM on April 29, 2002

Calvin & Hobbes (March 18, 1989)
posted by hobbes at 10:14 AM on April 29, 2002

There have been many toys that caused short-term purchasing frenzies - the hula hoop, Tickle Me Elmo, Cabbage Patch kids. There are a lot of "classic" toys that have sold millions - Hot Wheels & GI Joe, to add to the others already cited.

But nope, I'd would say that none have invoked the long-term devotion and collectability of The Barbie. I mean, does anyone else even remember Chatty Cathy?
posted by groundhog at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2002

thank you hobbes! I tried to find it but couldn't. I would've settled for any one of the strips about transmogrifiers, time machines, and duplicators, but I couldn't even track down one of those.
posted by mdn at 10:34 AM on April 29, 2002

did anyone else have blocks? wood blocks? i played with blocks.

also: make-believe.

best toy ever?


nothing like beating the crap out of your sibling with what's called "an encounter bat". (except that, uh, it was usually me who got the worst of it, being the more poorly-coordinated child.)

sorry, can't find a photo anywhere. suppose they've really quite disappeared -- not even on ebay!
posted by fishfucker at 10:49 AM on April 29, 2002

When my wife and sisters-in-law conspired to get our son a Tickle Me Elmo during the craze, all I could do was shake my head sorrowfully as I recalled my Iranian college chum's observation: "In other countries they riot for food or freedom. In America they riot for Cabbage Patch Dolls."
posted by alumshubby at 10:52 AM on April 29, 2002

"In other countries they riot for food or freedom. In America they riot for Cabbage Patch Dolls."

I know, it's insane. When I was 10, my sister's class was chosen by the toy company that produced Cabbage patch dolls to be a kind of test market or whatever - they were taken to the factory and everyone could take a doll and an extra one for a sibling if they wanted, and so my sister gave me one, Rosie. Having never been a doll person, I put it on a shelf to keep it safe, thinking it would one day be worth quite a bit of money (I was really rather a greedy little capitalist as a child; i always hoarded up my easter chocolate too). i later accidently won a second doll in a raffle (a bald one, timothy) - I was just donating a dollar to the cause but my one ticket ended up being chosen. So I had two cabbage patch dolls that i didn't want, except as investments (which I mistakenly believed them to be). Of course, against my instructions, my sister and her friends played with them and got them all dirty anyway. Good thing, too - at least they got some use.

We had a great set of old wood blocks. That was definitely one of the best toys. And yeah, playing "make believe". Or just playing games that don't involve objects... though pretend is the best game.
posted by mdn at 11:06 AM on April 29, 2002

Just give me any of these transformers (but mainly Metroplex) and I'll be happy.
If you made me 8 again I'd be even happier.
posted by MUD at 11:38 AM on April 29, 2002

Mr. Potato Head, Light Bright, Colorforms, Etch-A-Sketch, Jane West doll, what memories!
posted by RunsWithBandageScissors at 12:29 PM on April 29, 2002

Barbies... created by women, and hated by feminists. Kinda like porn.

What's most amusing about this is that Barbie herself was inspired by a German comic strip character who guessed it, a prostitute. They mentioned this on NPR tonight. There's some background info about it on salon.
posted by Tempus67 at 3:14 PM on April 29, 2002

I'll go with the blocks, too. My grandfather made a set of wooden blocks of all shapes and sizes. Incredible fun.

I remember when the cabbage patch dolls were the big craze with some detail. My father was friends with the owner of the company, and we would have relatives begging him to ask for some. My father did, for a couple of years and then the craze, and interest, dropped off.

My dad also had a customer named the Marx Brothers. They wanted to make a tricycle with plastic wheels. He suggested that they make the whole thing out of plastic. They did. We got a huge box of toys from them that year for christmas. The brothers sold the company the next summer, but not before they had sold a ton of Big Wheels.
posted by bragadocchio at 4:52 PM on April 29, 2002

« Older The new Abercrombie Quarterly is another publicity...   |   Putting free, unencrypted copies on the web... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments