In response to the civil rights climate, Mattel brought out its first African American Barbie in 1967. According to Suzie Max, the owner of the Fashion Doll Guide and seller of vintage Barbie dolls, her name was “Francie.” Unfortunately, “Francie” was the exact mold of the Caucasian version dipped in chocolate. As a result, public response was mixed, and a few historians discount her heritage.
A year later, “Christie” emerged from Mattel. Her features were more ethnic and skin, a bit darker. It was the beginning of a wonderful “love affair” that this doll-maker has had with black beauty. Since then, several forms of African-American Barbie dolls have come to light, and today you can find them in a variety of stylized looks.
Below are a few my favorites. These African-American dolls are collector items and worthy of a spot on a shelf in your house.
Beyonce Knowles Barbie Doll
Beyonce Knowles introduced herself to the world in the 90’s through her group Destiny’s Child. From that point, her image grew and she began to act and eventually went solo. It’s been a 10-plus year ride that’s burned her name and likeness into the minds of music lovers everywhere. These things are why I believe Mattel created a Beyonce Knowles Barbie doll.
You’ll love her look. She’s shapely, light caramel and draped in a pink, flowing gown. Her hair is long with blond high-lights. Get her while the price is “dirt” cheap. In a few years, you’ll be paying a pretty penny to get this doll.
Your Cost – $13.99
Kimora Lee Simmons Barbie Doll
Kimora Lee Simmons is no longer just the side-kick to (ex-hubby) Russell Simmons. She’s now her own persona. With a reality TV show, KLS, jewelry and Baby Phat, she’s the female version of hip-hop success. This symbol is one big reason why you should purchase this doll, she’ll remind you along with your daughter of what a determined woman can do in her life. Also, she’s Black-Asian. She’s one of the few multi-ethnic dolls under the Barbie brand.
The Kimora doll is sleek in shape, with long-flowing black hair and beautiful skin. Always the consummate business woman and fashion icon, she’s dressed in a mini pink skirt and halter with a matching boots and a faux, leopard, fur coat. The KLS logo is on the front of her halter helping any buyer remember her clothing line. Get this doll as a representative of all that is good about hip-hop.
Your Cost – $59.95
Hard Rock Café Barbie Doll
According to its corporate web site, the Hard Rock Café opened its doors for the first time in June of 1971 in London. Since this time, it has branched off into a chain that is known for exhibiting rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia all over the world. Therefore, it’s no wonder that Mattel decided to create a doll in honor of it.
The African-American version of the Hard Rock Café Barbie doll is “hot” because she looks like a “real” rocker. While flaunting a big, curly fro, she sports an 80’s sheer skirt, jean jacket and electric guitar. Her make-up is opaque and beauty, unique. You’ve never seen a Barbie doll like her in the past and you may not see it again in the near future. So, she’s worth the money. Plus, this doll comes with a keepsake pin.
Your Cost – $69.96
Pepper Barbie Doll
Pepper is the creation of Byron Lars, a fashion designer straight out of Oakland California. If you’ve ever visited this area, you’ll be amazed at the variety of African-Americans living there and their “street” looks. Lars brought this image to an upscale, Chapeaux Collection Barbie.
Pepper’s features are very ethnic. She has full, red lips, a broad nose and thick curly hair that is styled up in a form reminiscent of the “Freeze.” To compliment all of this, she’s wearing a long, denim top with detailed stitching over white leggings and mid-ankle black boots. Pearls wrap around every inch of her neck and Pepper is wearing white gloves to match. To add to all of this pizazz, she sports a black top hat with flowers and a veil. Pepper is a ghetto-glam at its highest form. Buy this doll as a conversation piece.
Your Cost: $99.96
Sugar Barbie Doll
If you have ever visited the South, you know that the ladies down there have a style of their own. This style was brought out in the Barbie doll Sugar. She’s sassy, classy and everything you like about a modern-day, Southern Belle.
Sugar is what some African-Americans refer to as “high-yellow.” Her make up is bold and beautiful which rightly compliments the curly, strawberry Afro she touts along with the coloring of her clothes (red/tan/blue). However, always a lady, even her Afro has a barrette in it. It’s also topped with a stylish, tilted, pagoda hat. Sugar is curvaceous and stands with her hands on her hips. Her outfit consists of a floral skirt and corseted top. Get this doll because her style is “flavorful.”
Your Cost – $99.96
If you’re interested in checking out more Barbie dolls worth collecting, go to www.BarbieCollector.com. Believe me, you’ll love what you see.