Barbie Barbie Collector

Japan Couture Convention Barbie doll and my thoughts about this year’s convention dolls

March 12, 2017

Phew! That’s a long title. :)) Sorry about that but I wanted to make sure everyone understands this article is not just about the convention doll from Japan, but also about the entire controversy that has started after the reveil of the Paris doll.

Let’s first look at the Japan doll (if you haven’t already seen her). The Paris one is posted below this article.

Thank you, Mario Paglino for the images!

She is a variation of the Paris doll but with a slightly different makeup, darker hair color, different hair style, dress and earrings. She is limited to 900 worldwide and she is Gold Label. The box, shoes, bracelet and little doll are the same.

Now, before I get into my thoughts about the direction the convention dolls this year are going, I want to point a few things out. I am an honest person. If I see something that is wrong I point it out. If I see something is good I praise it. If someone that I had a quarrel with does something good, I acknowledge it. I am like that. I simply can’t lie or pretend I don’t see things as they really are.

Keeping that in mind please read what my thoughts are below. :)

The majority of collectors HATE these dolls. They simply hate them and there is no way of sugar coating this. They think they are too plain, they look too much like a Black or Pink Label doll, they dislike that the face of the doll resembles The Look Sweet Tea doll too much. Collectors want dolls like La Reine de la Nuit, Spring Break 1961, Tribute Barbie giftset and so on. I want that too! I want each convention to have an over the top convention doll like Empress Josephine or like the Faberge dolls that I simply adore. I want to have a convention in each country and I want Mattel to come out with Collector dolls just like they did back in the early 2000s and for a good price.

But that is NOT possible! It is not realistic, it is not doable in 2017. Let’s see why.

1. The economy simply is not the same as it was before 2009. Yes, it is better than in 2009-2010, but it’s not the same as before the financial crash and I don’t think it will ever be the same. This translates into less dolls sold, less money for the company and bigger production costs. Hence the poor quality of a lot of dolls.

2. Barbie sales are down. There is no denying this. When your sales are down you must cut costs. Yes, you could take a plunge and create better dolls for a small profit, but then what about your employees? Who pays them if the profit is small?

3. I bet I am going to make people angry with this, but there are TOO many conventions! And Mattel sponsors them all. Let’s do a recap: Paris Fashion Doll Festival, Portuguese Doll Convention, Italian Doll Convention, Madrid Fashion Doll Show, Convencion Nacional de Coleccionistas de Barbie en Espana, Roma Fashion Doll Convention, Japanese Convention, National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention, GAW, Kenvention and there also is a convention in Brazil and Australia. That is 12 conventions! Not sure about the last two or GAW, but I think the other all get free dolls. So sorry to say this again, but approving so many conventions and trying to give each a unique doll created this mess. Mattel just can’t afford creating a unique and elaborate doll for each convention and then giving it for free. It’s bad business and Mattel is a business, not a charity. Yes, that sounds horrible, but it’s the truth and we are all mature and we have to understand this.

Tommy Courtney pointed this out about too many European conventions and I have to agree with him. I love visiting different countries and I love going places, but first of all it’s very stressful on my wallet and second it’s bad for Mattel because they have to cut corners with convention dolls so the hole in their budget is not so big. Now you understand? :) I hope so.

Yes, Mattel NEEDS TO MAKE CHANGES! They need to do something about the BC site, the forum, the membership (hello, we want the 2017 club to start!!), the design of collector dolls, the amount of boring play lines that even small girls don’t want anymore etc. Try releasing less pink mermaids and focus on bringing back good articulation to the Fashionistas, details and accessories on Collector dolls, relaunching the DOTW with never used before countries etc. I fully agree with you all on these issues, but with the convention dolls I can’t just because I have managed to see their problems from a financial point of view. Yes, I know… Me of all people have managed to see Mattel’s innocence. :))

I hope I have managed to convey my thoughts correctly and if you are thinking how in the world I am defending Mattel, read again what I said above. I am an honest person and I can’t hold a grudge in a situation like this.

Feel free to disagree with me. I would love to hear all your thoughts. :)

P.S. Somewhere along the line we forgot that going to conventions is and should be about having fun with dolly friends, meeting new people and just simply enjoying ourselves. ;)

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32 Comments

  • Reply Simon Farnworth March 12, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    I think you hit the nail on the head, darling. I feel sorry for Mattel – as you say, at the end of the day they are giving away free dolls and all anyone can do is slag them off (I’m trying no to, lol!)

    • Reply Ada March 12, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      :)) The funny part is that I actually do enjoy these dolls just as I have already told you. But even if I didn’t I would still have understood the issue.

    • Reply Anonym March 13, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      I don’t feel sorry for Mattel, I feel sorry for Kenner, Tyco, Konami, Bluebird, Remco, Mego, etc. They made great toys ’till the very end, they had pride in their products! Why should I feel sorry for giant corporation that make lame overpriced toys and bought so many great toy companies which it done nothing with their licenses or ruined them?! Let the giant fall.

  • Reply Anonym March 12, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    It’s not the genral economy main fault (stop using the economy for a scapegoat of overpriced bad toys), it’s Mattel management! They downgraded the quailty and creativity of almost all of their toylines! MH, EVA, DC Multiverse, etc. They keep doing the same mistakes and expect different results! I don’t understand why they canceled the Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse which was very successful and well made or ruining the EVA line which could’ve been a competitor to the Disney Princesses line they lost, or gave up on the She-Ra action doll line, returning to make dolls with glue, using the same mold for DC Multiverse since 2004 and this is just a tip of the iceberg. Mattel is no longer the only company who makes fashion dolls, I collect Licca Chan instead and soon plan to get my first Azone International when they switchd to the new articulated body. Mattel should either step up their game and take the risk before it will be too late or they just slowly keep on sinking as they do and they deserve it.

  • Reply Monster Crafts March 12, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Ada! I’ve been wondering for a while why Spain has TWO doll conventions that take place in the same city with barely a month of difference between the two . Do you have any info?

    Not that I think that those dolls are ugly, but they’re nothing special. They look like Barbie Basics a little bit. I totally agree about the changes Mattel has to make like “releasing less pink mermaids”. I’m glad you expressed your feelings, even though they may not be a popular opinion.

  • Reply The Paris Fashion Doll Convention 2017 Dolls - DollObservers.com March 12, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    […]  just remember she is comes free from Mattel. So play nice […]

  • Reply Monster Crafts March 12, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Sorry, I meant Barbie Look.

  • Reply Sara Lukic March 12, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    Do I need to be logged in to leave a comment

    • Reply Ada March 13, 2017 at 10:40 am

      No. It’s just that I need to approve your comment the first time you post.

  • Reply Dwane March 13, 2017 at 1:58 am

    Just to clarify. GAW doesn’t get free Convention dolls from Mattel. Those days are long gone. The club purchases the convention dolls each year and pays to have them customized thru OOAK talent. They also have the outfits and boxes made. Club members volunteer their talent and time each year.?Sometimes GAW can purchase dolls at a small discount or looks for dolls on sale. Mattel does sometimes donate dolls for center pieces or other small items. This is a non profit event and raises money for local charities. Mattel may let a designer attend but GAW pays travel and convention costs for them. Thanks

    • Reply Ada March 13, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Thank you for clarifing that. I was not sure how things are at GAW.

  • Reply Deb March 13, 2017 at 2:28 am

    Hi there
    Here’s my 2 cents – not so much about convention dolls but Barbie in general… I feel the collectors’ items have gone downhill very rapidly. Haunted Beauty was fantastic, Faraway Forest was pretty good, the Barbie Look used to be great until they gave the doll playline-type faces, and Barbie Basics was awesome for collectors.
    I would LOVE to see new DOTW lines as you mention, another Basics line, the Look dolls with older face sculpts again – Mackie, Kayla, Goddess, Steffie etc but NOT the Lagerfeld doll face which looks too cute and cartoon-ish for an adult collector. And another line of incredible display dolls like Haunted Beauty or similar – collectors don’t mind paying over $100 for a stunning doll of exceptional quality.
    It feels like the Barbie Collector Club (such as it is – as you say, there hasn’t been any memberships issued for 2017 – is doing a very half-hearted job. Maybe they need to either ditch it all together, or renew their focus and business model to ensure they’re attracting new collectors and keeping the ones they have.

  • Reply Julie Manley March 13, 2017 at 2:34 am

    I think you are absolutely right in your assessment of the economic pressures on Mattel. I seem to recall that at some point a few years ago the parent company of Mattel was not much interested in Barbie either, but I could be wrong about that. I don’t think these Barbies are anything special even though they are quite cute and have articulated bodies. Although I live in Australia and don’t go to the Barbie convention here, I can see how too many conventions in Europe would be a problem.
    I do really like their new ‘Made to Move’ bodies, except for those stupid molded-onto-the-body undies! I mean, are people’s minds really so in the gutter that Mattel has to do this (that’s my whine for the day)? Mattel were very slow to develop articulation which other companies did faster and better (Integrity Toys for one).

    • Reply Anonym March 13, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      You can say there is economic pressure on every toy company, but only Mattel deal with that badly. I like the new MoM line idea too, but the quailty of them is awful. I own one and she really bad finish of the plastic with lot of seam lines, not to mention glue head-.

  • Reply Beth March 13, 2017 at 4:04 am

    To clarify – Mattel does not sponsor the National Convention in the US. We’re grateful that they give us dolls, but they are not a sponsor.

    • Reply Ada March 13, 2017 at 10:39 am

      I ment to say the give the convention dolls for free.

  • Reply Leneda March 13, 2017 at 5:17 am

    Thank you Dwane, I was going to say something here but you said it all. May I add tho, that our dolls have been some of the most sought after convention dolls for collectors. GAW is about the collector, and we do our best to please them.

  • Reply Anon Y Mouse March 13, 2017 at 5:37 am

    More than the economy is the fact that the cost of labour in China has skyrocketed. Astronomically. That’s a huge issue. Combine that with the fact that collectors seem to have a tolerance for certain price points and will not move beyond them. There’s about a $30, a $50, a $75 and about $100– and if it’s $150 it better be a designer licenced platinum edition.

    Those tolerances haven’t changed or grown in years. So if Mattel can’t charge more, then they have to cut back. It’s unfortunate but it’s economics. It’s why you see more molded plastic pieces. Every run through a sewing machine is a charge at the factory. Every seam. Every top stitch. It adds up. It’s like people complaining about how a Barbie in 1960 was so much better and only $3. Well today you can still get a “basic” (beach) doll for about twice that– $6. And it’s almost 60 years later. Milk back then was about what, 25 cents a gallon? Now it’s $5. And that same doll would be $30 or more with inflation.

    Is it the entire problem? no, but it doesn’t help.

    • Reply Anonym March 13, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      I’m sorry, but even with the inflation, the prices of toys are ridiculously high. No other plastic products have seen such a rise in prices, besides toys. The real and main reason for that is the lack competition; haven’t you noticed how much less toy compaines there is compare to the early 2000’s and before?! Mattel and Hasbro have monopoly on the toy market and “swallowed” so many great small toy companies just to limit the competition (they done nothing with their licenses or ruined them), so they can allow theselves to make lame toys and sell them for high prices.

  • Reply Anon Y Mouse March 13, 2017 at 5:44 am

    to the above poster—- Life in the Dream House probably wasn’t as successful as we might think… or it ran it’s course. She Ra was abandoned (if it was) because the ToyFair dolls languished in their online shop, even getting discounted 50% at one point… that’s not successful. Monster High and EAH have dropped in popularity (MH selling half what it has at it’s peak year… and it’s slowly gone down each year since)

    Mattel doesn’t make decisions just because. They have to make money (and they have a lot of mouths to feed– it’s a huge company that spends millions in advertising) If a line works then they keep it going. If it doesn’t they kill it or pare it down. Those lines Apart from the She ra) are all geared towards kids, who grow out of things. Even the original MOTU juggernaut died at some point. Nature of the biz.

    • Reply Anonym March 13, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      I can understand the issue with She-Ra ( I blame Mattel for not reaching collectors abroad, they have international shipping without insurance and excpecting all people to buy one certain doll without any other options/variety and verdict the fate of an entire line based on one doll! ) and MH (though, Mattel made it worser with the reboot, instead of trying to have better ideas and desgins besides mini stretched tight boring dresses), but Life in the Dream House probably wasn’t as successful?! It ran it’s course?! The line was very successful (try to find doll/fasion pack from this line with a decent price and it’s not that old) and it barely have two waves. EAH dropped in popularity when they start to made the dolls cheaper with less accessories, articulation and molded clothes and without stands.

      “Mattel doesn’t make decisions just because. They have to make money (and they have a lot of mouths to feed– it’s a huge company that spends millions in advertising) If a line works then they keep it going…Nature of the biz.”

      As business and in general, you don’t make more money without taking risks, every new line or dolls are basically new risks.

      “..are all geared towards kids, who grow out of things. Even the original MOTU juggernaut died at some point.”

      It’s not always true; look at Transformers, calico critters, Licca Chan and Barbie (who survived until now), these are all very old lines that have exist for at least about 30 years. The problem, isn’t that the first kids who got into the line grow up, the problem is how to continue to appeal to kids! The answer is always to innovate, yet keep the original spirt of the line and what made it stand in the crowed, in the first place. MOTU is a great exmple for line that failed to reinvent itself in time and stucked in the past.

  • Reply Felix Kim March 13, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Ada, thank you for your opinion concerning the Convention doll 2017. I really enjoyed reading the article. It’s well delivered. Most of the cases, I agree with you.

  • Reply Marco March 13, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    I read it and really appreciate your analysis about M. last years issue. :-)

    The Parisian and the Japanese Souvenir Barbie dolls (and maybe even those for the next ‘International’ conventions of 2017) have just one thing wrong in many collectors eyes (not the body, not the face, not the hair, not the dress and not the quality), they will not sell well at secondary market. For many people, especially in the last 5/4 years, convention doll is synonymous of profit. We saw many times ridiculous prices of these dolls posted on Ebay one or two days after the event, not even considering if the doll is really an appreciable collector piece or if her ‘rarity’ will preserve a good value in time.

    I’m not a collector of ‘Barbie Look’ collection but it is one of the line that collectors love and follow for its affordable price, the cute style of the dolls and it has a big success at ‘@BarbieStyle’ Instagram fan page; I understand why Mr Bill Greening, this year conventions doll designer, choosed to celebrate the line with these souvenir dolls, because many of his fan collect ‘Barbie Look’ dolls.

  • Reply Lisa March 13, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I agree with all your viewpoints. Mattel is in trouble financially. And whether anyone wants to admit it or not, it IS the economy. Costs have skyrocketed in the manufacture process. They have to cut corners. I myself like these dolls, but I like any doll I get at a convention if I was fortunate enough to go. I love articulation.
    The fact is other doll companies are having it rough and are cutting corners too- Tonner is reinventing his company, Integrity is using hooks and eyes instead of zippers, decals instead of painted eyes, and the list goes on. I am a collector both of Mattel Barbie Collector dolls and Integrity and would be willing to pay a higher price point if they would get their act together. But until you posted it here, I did not realize there were that many conventions in Europe that you could attend. That amount is and must be simply staggering. It is no wonder that Mattel has cut back on the quality of the convention dolls.

  • Reply Cecile Favotti March 13, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I think adding a few inches of yellow fabric to mask the articulations would have not be armful to their benefits and everybody would have said woww (face and hair color are exquisite). Even if there are many conventions, they can afford to offer doll (a doll is few bucks out from chinese factories). Mattel has bad press to the collector community, they are aware of that and do nothing because they lost tracks. All that matters are figures and dividends. We’re not looking for silk and gold, you can be creative with tight costs. We need the flame to come back.

  • Reply Gertie March 13, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    There was the observation made many years ago that Mattel every decade tries to destroy itself. Unfortunately, at this moment we are in this rut.

    It may be easy to blame the ailing American economy for the current state of Mattel’s woes or the dramatic cultural shifts where Barbie has become the lighting rod of post-feminist angst but the bitter reality is Mattel’s management has failed to adapt to contemporary needs and maintain the nostalgic legacy across varying generations.

    The two key woes that are well within Mattel’s influence is quality control and distribution. You don’t need to venture far to see a doll that should never have left the factory floor. Look at the latest Fashionistas. It is hard to find a doll with decent paintwork (no smearing, paint correctly positioned on the mould) and clothes that look like they actually fit the doll. Of late, we have started to see the American collectors complain about the quality of the collector line dolls (and they pay no-where near the price that the international collector does).

    Distribution. Yes, Mattel is an American company but rather acting like an International company it acts like an American company with International dumping rights. Too often, we have seen a doll garner a lot of publicity but it never is sold here or they may release one or two dolls of a series with the rest suddenly unavailable to this market.

    This does not take into account the complaints we have read about access to dolls on the official site. It is not that people don’t want to buy the dolls, they just can’t get their hands on them.

    What we would do to fix the Barbie line?

    1. Streamline the Playline. There are too many dolls and they are just variations of the one that came out six months ago. Honestly, how many painted on swimsuit Barbies do you need to release in a year? (Before Christmas, we counted three different swimsuit Barbies available). We would issue one beach range per summer with real clothing based upon a different beach located worldwide each year.

    2. Ditch the plastic moulding for clothing. It is just wrong.

    3. Decide upon a Basic Barbie and commit to that for the year with accompanying fashions. There are too many dolls competing for this title ranging from the Fashionistas, M2M, I Can Be and whatever else that never reaches these shores.

    4. Have a new higher quality theme dolls (the 2017 equivalent to Peaches and Cream or Rockers Barbie) for each season which can also act as a Collector Doll.

    5. If there is the insistence on North American exclusive, then ensure that each region gets its own equivalent exclusive and acknowledge it as such for the canon.

    FYI, The Australian convention doll is not free http://www.abcdoll.org/pages/2017conv/convinfo.pdf

  • Reply Christian March 13, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    I agree with many of the comments here. It was a very sad day when the DOTW died- I would love to see that back with dolls from countries not represented instead of the same repetitions- Germany, Scotland, France, Japan,India, Mexico…I would live it if they were higher end…
    But something definitely is amiss- it’s like they are stabbing in the dark and really going nowhere. Like they don’t know what to make and when they do, the quality sucks. I haven’t purchased any barbies this year and don’t really plan on it – last year I think I purchased only a few –
    But the lines that once were great have fallen- including Monster High, ever after high, etc. I used to keep reminding myself that as much as I love collecting, initially these dolls are produced for children- at least, that is the primary market, but even the poor quality doesn’t account for that fact. Because kids and parents, want more quality and accessories for their buck. I know when I’ve shopped for gifts for my nieces, I look for not only visually attractive pieces,but dolls that will provide fun experiences and will hold up. Nothing is more embarrassing or frustrating than hearing that a doll u paid $20 for broke after a few days of play.
    Mattel has rebooted many lines when in fact, they should have rebooted their company in terms of production, quality management and focus. Until they do that, they will continue to chase their tails.

    • Reply Anonym March 14, 2017 at 1:04 am

      As someone who mostly and mainly collect playline toys through the years (since my childhood:P ), I have to agree about the poor quality of today’s children toys. While 80’s and 90’s (and even early 2000’s) toys can and known for surviving more then 20 years, I highly doubt current toys can even survive a decade. My childhood toys (inculding Barbies) are made from heavy, thick, high quality plastic with clean finish. On the other hand, most toys nowdays have hollow, thin, light weight, cheap plastic with ugly visible and even thick seam lines. The only toys that have comparable durability to toys from the past are pre-school lines such as Imaginext . I think something really bad happend to the toy industry (especially the American one) in 2012 and after, I don’t why or how exactly, but since then or at this point it was very noticeable the decrease in Playline toys quality; for example my MH dolls are quite fragile (I was a teen when I had them) and probably easy to break , not to mention some years later I got to encounter the lovely phenomenon of glue seepage (all of my childhood barbie dolls have very squishy head). I also got my last Barbie past year, Made to Move Lea. Though, I have a feeling that she is strudier then your regular 10$ fashionistas (my Action Man is way sturdier then those new 5 PoA 12 inch figures), she still have horrible quality with ugly thick seam lines and glue seepage (imagine what’s more fun as a little girl then play with your dolly hair and find out it sticky and yucky). Indeed Mattel need to shape up their company as whole and not just some toy here and there. I would recommended you to get Licca-chan dolls for your nieces, yeah they’re a bit more pricey (depends on where you live), however they’re basically the last good playline fashion dolls to exist.

  • Reply Steven Casey March 14, 2017 at 1:10 am

    All have a good point. The CEO was forced out by Mattel, no doubt with a Golden Parachute, and we may see a Lego Barbie, since Lego is now the top toy seller. All the dolls are looking like cheap playline items, the kind you’d see with ratty hair in a resale bin. What about the adult collectors? Remember all the great Mackie Faced girls from the the late 90s to the 2000s? Beautiful outfits, cool accessories. The Fashionistas concept is a great one for the playline doll. But the Holiday trio, with the small, child-like body, and molded bodices? First time I didn’t buy my Holiday Barbie. And again, the small Silkstone body? I do like them, just feel the elbow joint looks too fragile. Here in the USA, no mention (yet) of the Barbie Fan Club, although have heard there will be an announcement sometime in March. This will take Mattel awhile to extricate themselves out of this disaster. In the meantime, glad I have my “older” girls and boys.

  • Reply John C March 16, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    GAW pays for, and designs, their own dolls.
    Always has done this.

  • Reply Marina March 19, 2017 at 12:26 am

    Mattel has been struggling for so long now that they need to just retire the Barbie brand. Perhaps all of the people who really connected with the doll and collecting community are no longer there so they have no idea what to do because they really have no passion for the doll. Really they say what goes around comes around and since Mattel originally stole Bild Lilly and used that for the Barbie mold and pushed many competitors out of the business maybe they are just finally getting what they deserve.

  • Reply Chantale R. April 24, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Hello. I’m late to this conversation, but, of course, it’s still a relevant conversation. I am, like all of you, a serious Barbie collector. I am not a dealer; just a mature woman who grew up with the Mod-era dolls (still love them and collect them!) and fell in love around the 1990s with the early-vintage PT Barbies and, in the 2000’s, with the Silkstone Lingerie Fashion Collection Barbies (all five of them!). I’d like to know why the brunette variation of the original (White American) “Since 1959” Debut Barbie doll (from the 2009 Paris Convention?) is selling on the secondary market for as high as $500 to $1,500? Is there something I’m missing here? By the way, the Black/African American version of this doll — one of which I purchased several years ago and the other of which I just purchased (for $115) — has been selling for only $75 to $150. Was the Black/AA “Since 1959” Debut Barbie doll *not* sold at the 2009 Paris Convention? What is going on? Could you, Ada, and/or another Barbie collector please “school” me on this? Further, should I not bother purchasing either version of the “Since 1959” Debut Barbie doll going forward? My goodness, I’m suddenly feeling depressed

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