Taking the world by storm, surprising skeptical toy critics at New York's Toy Fair in 1959, Barbie with her good looks, charm, and charisma won audiences over in record time. Soon, little girls across America, and later, the world, were singing her praises. In the coming years, both adults and children would collect her in record numbers. Today Barbie remains one of the hottest selling toys in the world.
Like any other great invention does, Barbie began as an idea in a visionary's head. Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel Toys, was watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls and imagine them in grown-up roles when the idea hit her - why not make a teenage doll that little girls could play and dream about the future with? Ruth recognized the value of helping children realize their dreams and goals through play. After researching the current doll market, Ruth confirmed that while there were plenty of baby dolls available, there were no three-dimensional teenage dolls. She then resolved to create such a doll through her own company, which she co-founded with her husband Elliott Handler.
BarbieŽ doll, the teenage fashion model,was unveiled by Ruth and Elliott, at New York's annual Toy Fair in 1959. Initially, toy buyers were skeptical. Never before had anyone seen a doll so small, yet so sophisticated. As a teenager, Barbie was completely unlike any of the baby or toddler dolls popular at the time. Critics posed the question - Would anyone buy her?
Undaunted by skepticism, Mattel stood firmly behind the first Barbie doll.She soon became a worldwide sensation, and remains as popular as ever today...
As a teenage fashion model, Barbie has worn many fabulous fashions.Barbie has followed style trends as well as blazed her own fashion trail. Over the years, as fashion and teenage lifestyle trends have shifted, so has Barbie. As hair play became an important aspect of the Barbie doll experience, Barbie began wearing her hair long and straight, and in varying colors - perfect for little girls to brush and style. Later, Barbie became more poseable than ever before, with bendable wrists, elbows, and ankles.
Barbie collecting soon became more than a childhood pastime. With her original fans now in their twenties and thirties, the hobby of collecting Barbie dolls began attracting adult women as well as little girls. For many of these women, Barbie symbolized the innocence of their youth; she was a part of them that was timeless, ageless - and they wanted to reconnect with their favorite fashion doll! To meet the needs of these sophisticated adult collectors, Mattel issued the collector line.
Some of the world's most famous designers began creating fashions for Barbie. Their intricately designed doll fashions generated a great deal of excitement in the doll collecting community.
Barbie continues to inspire as she moves into the 21st century.