I do enjoy collecting Barbie dolls. They've been a part of my life for as long as I remember. I currently have quite a lot of them, mostly from my childhood as well as some new additions I purchased after growing up. Mainly I collect dolls from the early 2000s right up to today, since those are the dolls I like the best and the ones from my childhood. My collection also has a few My Scene, Ever After High and Monster High dolls because I love them too.
A lot of people start collecting after they've grown up, but I've never stopped collecting them since I was a child. I mainly have just a lot of playline dolls, because I prefer them. I do love my Barbie Collector dolls, but I don't like them as much because you can't dress them up and style their hair without being afraid of breaking them. Most of my collector dolls just end up staying in boxes so that they don't get damaged. A lot of collectors keep even their playline dolls in boxes or they get them out and just keep them on a stand and never change their clothes. I don't like doing that because it's not fun! Part of the enjoyment of dolls for me is dressing them up and messing around with them. Keeping them in boxes seems like a bit of a waste if you don't plan on selling them off. Dolls were meant to be played with and dressed up! A lot of the dolls that have been stuck in boxes for years often get marks on them from the elastic ties, crimped hair and funny feeling plastic.
This page is basically going to be a guide on collecting Barbie and other Mattel dolls, specifically the ones from 2000 and onward, because I know more about them. I'm mainly going to be focusing on playline dolls, but I will mention collector ones too. I'm sorry if some of the pictures are the wrong way round, I don't know why they're like that because on my computer they're just normal.
Collecting Barbie is a lot cheaper than porcelean dolls or those ball-jointed dolls that everybody likes. Often you can find decent dolls for quite cheap either in your local supermarket, on eBay or in a second hand shop. They're more appealing to me because you can do stuff with them and not get scared of breaking them. I wouldn't start collecting if you just want to make money selling them off. It's a risky investment, and it's not really that fun. If you just want to make money, there are a billion better things you can try than buying fashion dolls. Only collect dolls if you actually like them, otherwise, what's the point?
I probably don't even need to tell you how easy it is to start buying Barbies. If you're looking for the best cheap dolls that are currently on the market, I would recommend the Fashionistas line. They only cost less than ten pounds/dollars, which may make you think that they're cheap and nasty, but they're actually decent quality. There are so many different body types and skin colours available too. The only problem I have with them is that the legs don't even bend. Older Barbie budget dolls used to do this, but for some reason Mattel have gotten stingier over the years. If you don't like the outfits they come with, you can always buy a clothes pack. A lot of people dislike dolls with less articulation, but these dolls look decent so I don't mind. The Dreamtopia dolls are also super cheap, but they're for younger children, so they're built cheaper to be harder to break. These dolls have moulded on outfits, limiting the dress up possibilities. If you don't like any of the new Fashionistas dolls but are still on a budget, consider checking out second hand shops or car boot sales. You can find cheap dolls there. Often they are quite heavily played with, but all you need to do is wash them a bit and you have a perfectly good doll. Sometimes it just feels nicer giving an old, unwanted doll a bit of TLC.
This is Ariana. She's a girl I got for �6 second hand. I believe that she was produced in either the very late nineties or early noughties. A doll more expensive than this that's brand new would have a lot less articulation than her. The dress she's wearing is from a Fashionistas doll I got a few years ago.
The cheapest toy shop I've found in the UK is Smyths. I always preferred it to Toys R Us because of their great prices. In North America I've used Walmart and Target for doll shopping, and they were always quite cheap.
If you prefer articulation in your dolls, you have to pay a bit more. Barbie dolls were never too articulated until 2016, when what is quite possibly one of the best dolls I've ever had came out: Made to Move Barbie. Made to Move bodies have amazing articulation, better than I've ever seen before. You can get different hair colours and body types for them too, not just the generic blonde Barbie you've seen a billion times. Mattel also tend to use this body on a lot of their collector dolls too. I currently only have one MtM doll, but I wish to get more one day. She's just a wonderful little model. A lot of collectors buy them to place heads from less articulated dolls on, but that's a bit costly and I've never done it before. I didn't even know you could remove heads until a few years ago. When I was a kid, if a doll lost a head, she'd be heading for a one way trip to the bin. If I had known this from the start, I wouldn't have lost some of my dolls. :(
This is my Made to Move girl wearing a wedding dress. You can't really see how well she can pose here, but at least you can see her nice joints.
Earlier examples of some well articulated dolls include some of the older Fashionistas dolls, the Barbie Style collection and some of the Life in the Dreamhouse girls. Monster High and Ever After High dolls are discontinued now, but they also had wonderful articulation, until about 2016 when they started going all cheap and nasty. I loved these dolls and I'm sad that they're gone. Monster High dolls are so diverse, with lots of different face moulds and colours. Ever After High dolls usually have the same moulds but they had such good quality outfits and accessories until their downfall.
There are also some recent Mattel dolls of Harry Potter characters and BTS that seem to have good articulation. They're not marketed as Barbie dolls but they really are. I hope to get some of them in the future.
This is Jinafire Long, a Monster High doll released in 2012 as part of the Scaris: City of Frights line, which is based on a direct-to-DVD film. She did have more elaborate hair, but I took it down.
Collector dolls are usually more expensive, but some can be the same price as a regular doll. They usually share the same bodies as normal Barbies, except for the Silkstone dolls which are made to look like vintage Barbies. They had a labelling system for them, but I don't know if they still use it. Pink label dolls used to be common and cheaper, Black Labels were a bit less common and anything higher than that was rarer and more expensive. I've rarely seen them in toy shops in the UK, but when I've been to the US the cheaper ones are in Walmart alongside the playline dolls. My favourite collector dolls are my Tokidoki girl, the Modern Circle collection and some of the Twilight dolls. The Barbie Collector line has a lot of pop culture themed dolls, so chances are that you can find a doll of your favourite character.
This is my Tokidoki 10th Anniversary doll. She's so pretty but I'm afraid to take her out of the box!
This isn't really much of a guide is it? It's so easy to start collecting dolls.
I'll just finish off by listing a few decent doll lines that are worth checking out.
Barbie's Fashion Fever line existed in the 2000s until it was replaced by the Fashionistas in 2010. When I was a kid I remember buying a whole pack of about ten FF outfits and playing the games on Barbie.com. My two Fashion Fever girls are Teresa (from my childhood) and Drew (I bought her a few years ago). They have really nice outfits that are well made and there are many different hair colours and face moulds. Later in the line they started using the slightly smaller body mould that collectors call the "hobbit body". A lot of people don't like this body type, but I suppose it keeps things a bit different. There was a line in the early nineties and noughties before this called Fashion Avenue, but I believe they only produced clothes packs. I don't really know too much about it though.
This is Drew, one of my Fashion Fever girls. She came with a stand, which is rare amongst playline Barbies.
Dolls from the 2000s Barbie films are also worth checking out. (You should also just watch the movies too, they're really good) A lot of them have gimmicks like singing or wings, but they're always really decent dolls. My favourite movie dolls are those from the Princess and the Pauper, the Barbie Diaries, Princess Charm School, the Diamond Castle and the Island Princess. If you like fantasy themed stuff, you'll probably like these dolls. The ones from the more recent Barbie movies are cheaper and nastier though, but some are still quite nice.
My Scene is a Mattel line that was made to compete with Bratz in the early 2000s. I actually prefer these to Bratz, but I'm biased because I had a lot as a kid. They're still Barbie dolls though because they use the same body, and Barbie was part of the main cast. They're a bit quirkier and maturer than Barbie, designed to be hip teenagers. Some of the outfits they have are absolutely gorgeous, and they always had cute little accessories. An alternative to this line is Generation Girl, a Barbie line from the late nineties which is sort of the same but less edgier. Barbie's also part of that gang too.
This girl is one of the first My Scene dolls released. The later dolls have a slightly different face-up to the initial batch. This girl's name is Madison, but in the UK she was called Westley for some reason.
If you like comics, you might also want to check out the DC Super Hero girls line. While Barbie does have some DC themed dolls, these are a separate line made to be like Monster and Ever After High. Some of the dolls are a bit cheap and nasty, but most of them have full articulation and nice outfits. I never got to buy any of these before they went. There's also a new Mattel line that literally just came out that looks promising. They're called the Wild Hearts Crew, and they're like a cross between My Scene and Monster High. I believe that they have proper articulation too.
Before I end this page, I'd like to mention a few other decent Barbie lines that you can research yourself. Those are called Dolls of the World, Chat Divas, So in Style, Barbie Style, Candy Glam, Hollywood Nails, Jewel Girl and Cali Girl. These ones are all really good but it would take me forever to talk about them!
Hopefully this page was useful to somebody! Here are some other useful doll-related links:
Barbie Body Types
Kattis Dolls - A decent site for identifying face moulds
The Official Barbie Collector Site
How to Boil Wash Doll Hair