I remember, in 1978, being frustrated by barbie arms that did not bend to my will. Legs that made the clicking sound and bent only about 15 degrees.
There have been some barbie bodies however, over the years, and currently – that have much more moveable joints, Adult barbie enthusiasts refer to these dolls as “articulated”. As of this writing, in 2011 there have recently been the Fashionistas – which were a big hit for body swapping.
I used Artsy Fashionista bodies to re-body SIS dolls Trichelle and Grace as well as a few others – mostly dolls that were supposed to be “ethnically ambiguous” like a Cali Girl Lea and other “Latinas” as well as Pocohontas.
Every other Fashionista had the same white-girl skintone so I used a few of those to rebody some interesting heads I got through garage sales. Mostly brunettes and redheads from the 90s when the heads were not so large on the non-Collector dolls (Mattel calls these the “Playline” dolls).
Leah and I don’t want to bother with any dolls that can’t move their elbows and knees and we don’t like the giant heads. There are times when we have to play with dolls who don’t have truly bendable knees. But if we have a face we like and a body we don’t, I try to do a re-body as soon as I find a usable body. I have low standards, too. If I can just approximate a skin color I am willing to make the switch.
Re-bodying is so important to me that Leah actually things one of the reasons I love her is because her knees bend. She has heard me rave about the Alvin Ailey collector doll to other mothers for it’s natural hair, brown skin, ebony eyes and full articulation. One day I was telling my daughter how beautiful she is to me and I said “Leah, I love your Cinnamon skin, your Rotini hair, your Ebony Eyes…” and she interrupted me and said “Yeah! And I can bend my knees too!”
For darker skinned dolls like SIS Kara, I use dolls from the 90’s that have a body called the “Poseable” body. The upside of this body is the jointed knees and elbows, the downside is the giant boobies from the pre-Bratz-Phenomenon redesign. My SIS Pastry Kara came with click legs so they bend only about 15 degrees and her arms don’t bend at all. She’s not fun to play with because of this.
You can find lots of the Poseable bodies on eBay – just type in Barbie Gymnast, Barbie Hot Skatin Fun – anything about Skating, Ballet, Gymnastics and Olympics can yield good results. They run $10 to $15 each. You can add “AA” or “Black” or “African American” but sometimes it’s just easier not to add that and eyeball the search results.
There are lots of tutorials online regarding methods for re-bodying dolls. I have created my own as well because my method is an amalgamation of the methods of others – the way things seem to work best for me.
Once this doll has the Poseable body, there will be modern clothes that will not fit across her bustline. She will be able to wear stretchy fabrics but other items will be too small.
Another difference is the feet. Poseable has big flat feet, which I don’t mind since I personally hate wearing high heels, but the cute high tops that came with Kara’s Pastry outfit won’t fit the Poseable body so I will have to substitute some LIV shoes.
So when all is said and done Kara is a little raggedy from the re-body experience but we are glad we did the rebody work anyway because it makes her so much more fun to play with.
That, in a nutshell, is why we re-body – because articulated dolls are much more fun to play with!!