History of Classic Toys, Barbie

Posted by GoGo Goodie on February 07, 2012.

Today, I'm winding down my blog series about classic and retro toys with my last singular post about....none other than Barbie!  If you missed any of the posts, don't despair, I'll recap the top 10 Classic Toys in my next post.  After that, look for some early spring cleaning from GoGo Goodie as we introduce some new Goodie Bags and party favors for the spring!

Back in the mid 50's, Mattel cofounder Ruth Handler noticed that her daughter enjoyed playing with paper dolls and giving them more adult rolls.  She realized that dolls made for girls were always babies or toddlers and that there was a gap in the toy market.  She pitched the idea of an adult doll to her husband Elliot, also a cofounder, and Mattel's board of directors.  The idea underwhelmed them all.  Then, while on a trip to Germany, Ruth discovered a doll that was exactly what she had envisioned.  It was called Bild Lilli, a doll fashioned after a popular comic strip by Reinhard Beuthin.


Bild Lilli illustration & Dolls

Ruth purchased 3 of the German dolls, giving one to her daughter to play with and bringing the others to Mattel.  She was determined to make an American version of the doll and went straight to work.  The original Barbie made it's first appearance at the International Toy Fair in New York on 3/9/1959.  She came dressed in a zebra swimsuit as either a blond or brunette.  The doll was named Barbie after Ruth's daughter Barbara. Sales soared to 350,000 in the first year and Barbie was on her way to becaming the best selling doll of all time.  Later, in 1964, Mattel bought the rights to the Bild Lilli doll and stopped all production.

The First Barbie Doll - 1959

1961 Commercial Introducing Ken

Today, it is estimated that worldwide sales exceed one billion Barbies!  Mattel states that for every second there are 3 dolls sold....and now you know the rest of the classic toy story!

Thanks for stopping by GoGo Goodie, your Goodie Bag headquarters....


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