The Latest Doll Trends: Barbie and Bratz

By: davidgear6

Many of us who played with Barbies as children would be shocked to know that Barbie has heavy competition. Bratz are a collection of dolls that are becoming increasingly popular with the same age of young girl who enjoy playing with Barbie dolls. Bratz were introduced in 2001, and Barbie has been feeling the heat ever since.

Created in 1961, Barbie went through a few changed in her long history, but lacking any serious competition in the fashion doll marketplace coasted comfortably despite controversies over her waist size and IQ level. But when four teenage girls with an urban attitude hit the market, the hip and fashionable Barbie doll was suddenly feeling rather “old school."

Taking a few years to collect herself, Barbie started to fight back. With help from Mattel, the company responsible for Barbie over the last five decades, Barbie changed her proportions, had a fashion overall, and snagged back the newly stylish Ken before any of the saucy upstarts could get hold of him.

While her waist might have thickened to “facilitate modern styles" or perhaps to placate critics after so many years, Barbie still has an uphill battle to reclaim her position as the sole heiress of the fashion industry. Much of the fight, unfortunately, is against her own reputation.

Barbie’s Reputation
Despite an early career in 1961 as an astronaut, and her more modern forays into piloting commercial airlines, running major corporations and many medical careers, Barbie has earned herself the reputation of an airhead or ditz. Part of the problem stemmed from a talking teen Barbie that caused consternation among intellectual women with phrases such as, “I love to shop!" and “Math is hard!" but much of the animosity toward Barbie is more stereotypical slander. A woman, while plastic, is rich, powerful and beautiful, must be shunned by those who are jealous.

Regardless of her popularity with critics, Barbie is still a force to be reckoned with. Even with diehard fans and very dedicated young girls, the Bratz are certainly showing her a hard time. Even with her make-over a recent PR blitz, Barbie sales are starting to slump – mostly due to increased, and arguably worthy, competition. In 2004, Bratz seemed to be outselling Barbie, at least in the UK, with Mattel denying the charge.

Barbie Hits Back
By 2005, Barbie sales had slumped by 30% in the United States and 18% worldwide. While it might seem there could be other causes for the change, girls still love fashion, and if anything Barbie has even more to offer than before. This means that the four teenage dolls with big eyes and ultra trendy fashions are doing some serious damage. The Bratz are hitting Barbie where it hurts the most – in her pocketbook and in her sense of fashion.

But Barbie isn’t going out of the top spot without a fight. Her pink toy store aisle might now be shared with other dolls, but Barbie’s headed somewhere where she can meet and greet her devoted fans without interference. Barbie games are now online all over the internet, and fashion fans are finding one more way to play with Barbie. Will it be enough to keep her on top? It will be if Barbie has anything to say about it.
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