OUR COLLECTION: Asian Barbies

So I wanted to give an overview of all our Asians. We currently have four gals, three guys, a five year old (Kelly), a toddler and a baby.

Our Asian Barbies

THE WOMEN:

Late 80’s Nikki, Basics 001/Model 5, Basics 002/Model 5

Our Nikki was originally an Animal Lover when she was released in 1989 but is now dressed as a police officer because I’ve never seen an Asian Police officer. I’m sure they MUST exist. The Basics Line dolls are re-bodied on LIV Hayden bodies.

THE MEN:

2011 Japan Samurai Ken, Takeo from Integrity Toys, Unknown Action Figure

We love our Dolls of the World 2011 Japanese Ken. We changed him into “street clothes” and I thought I was going to cut his hair but decided not to. He’s our only ken with facial hair. So he’s great in three ways – 1) Asian, 2) Long hair on a man, 3) facial hair.

Takeo Mizutani is a great doll. He’s made by Integrity toys. He’s part of their line called “Fashion Royalty”. He’d probably be easier to find on eBay than on the Integrity Toys website. He was very expensive and his price will only continue to climb. I had not been able to find any other Asian male prior to purchasing him and after a few months mulling it over I saved up and bought him.

The third Asian man in our current collection is an action figure I found on eBay. Most action figures are just too short for barbies but I bought him anyway. There’s a lot I don’t like about action figures: they look terrible without shirts, their heads are too small and their necks are too long. We’ve only used him as a villian so far.

THE KIDS:

Kelly-sized Asian girl, Asian Toddler, my poorly painted Asian baby

Asian children are rare. Kelly sized Asian girls are usually available only as part of Kelly and Friends gift sets that include a panoply of ethnicities. I am not aware of any Asian Kelly that was ever sold alone. I have probably seen about five different Kellys that would be considered Asian. Only one of the five had an actual eye paint difference. The one shown above has the standard Kelly eye shape.

An Asian toddler was created as part of the Happy Family series. Nikki’s one year birthday party included a red-haired toddler, an Asian toddler and a brown skinned boy with curly hair. The best way to find the toddler is to put “Barbie Toddler” or “Happy Family barbie” into eBay.

Asian babies have only been produced once by Mattel (more below) so I tried to paint my own. I didn’t have the right paint brush so even after ten attempts the result is pretty bad – but she’s what we have for now.

STUFF I WANT:

Amazing Nails Lea, Generation Girls Mari, Going Home

Three things on my list to buy are Amazing Nails Lea, Generation Girls Mari and Going Home Barbie. Amazing Nails Lea is just gorgeous to me because she uses the Lea/Kayla Mattel facemold and that is probably my favorite head of all the Mattel heads. Generation Girl Mari is a favorite of mine because she has such a trendy look and Asians in the U.S. are stereotyped as being very bookish.

The Going Home doll set is a sad commentary on U.S. culture. These dolls are given to families adopting from China. So, is Mattel saying that the only way we ever have a need for an Asian baby is when BBBBarbie adopts an orphan from China? Ouch.

LOOK INTO THESE:

While you can’t get a very wide range of Asian ethnicities (they do all tend to look Japanese) you can purchase more ethnic clothing variations from this cool Asia for Kids website. They have barbie sized traditional Korean and Vietnamese dresses for about $10.

Another source for cheap variations on traditional Asian dress styles can be found on the Hometown China website.

Ms. Leo’s blog has a blog entry on “the Cousins Play Outdoors” showing three different Asian Kellys. Plus – the unheard of – a way to make an Asian boy that is Stacie/Janet/Whitney-sized and can wear Todd clothes.  Do a search of Ms. Leo’s blog using the word “Asian” or use her keyword/Label “Asian” to find several other interesting entries.  Including one showing Samurai Ken re-bodied onto Ken with fully poseable knees and elbows!

Ms. Leo’s blog led me to the Yu-Sai Wa Wa dolls that can be found China Sprout toy shop website.  This site doesn’t have the Doctor version of her but that one is exceptionally cute.

A blog called Asian Mommy includes a survey of all Mattel’s Asian Dolls of the World. I would caution however that many of these dolls do not necessarily have what I would call “Asian-looking” faces. You can sometimes find their costumes for sale separately on eBay which will save you money over a New-In-Box doll. But this is a nice overview of the traditional dress dolls available.

34 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks so much for those websites for clothing. I will definitely have to invest in some of those. I really miss the Happy Family line. That was definitely one of my favorites. Now it is ultra difficult to find any new babies of any race. Toys R Us did just recently put out a very cheap rendition of a family that included an infant baby, but other than that, nothing. The Happy family series had the best baby props, too! I love the Asian dolls that I have, especially the two men that I have. One is tall enough for the regular sized doll. The second one is a little shorter, but rebodying my Asian doll on a LIV body was the perfect solution.

    1. Can you link to your Asian man that is tall? And tell me what his name is? Brand name and model name I mean.

      I agree about Happy Family. My site gets at least 10 hits a week of people looking for “pregnant Barbie” or “Pregnant Midge” or “Happy Family” by name.

      1. I found your site by searching for “Happy Family”! And I was going to suggest looking for those M&C Power Team World Peace Keepers action figures, to find not only good Asian males that go well with Barbie size, but also a large variety of skin tones and facial features you don’t find in the world of fashion dolls. If you have access to Big Lots stores, they’ve restocked their World Peace Keepers selection for Christmas (they used to carry the figures all year, with interesting new face sculpts appearing frequently, but, alas, no more.)

        I’ve been interested in diversity in dolls ever since the late 70s, when I realized that none of my Barbies even had a combination of blond hair and *brown* eyes like mine. I’m reading your archives, and making a list of things to share with you that I’ve discovered over the years that I hope can help your search for doll diversity! (I’m a doll customizer now–if only I’d known about re-painting when I was a kid…)

        1. Hey Andrea – I am excited for you to help me. I have heard other doll friends talk about the World Peace Keepers being a bit taller.

          You sound so much like me in your attitude of “I want what I want, not what Mattel or someone else thinks I want”. I see my core audience as frustrated moms and crazy, creative, independent pre-teen and teen girls. I guess because I am the former and years ago I was the latter.

          You sound like you have been both as well – maybe not the mother part but at least the frustrated adult. I emailed you about some other things. Going to check out your Flickr account NOW.

  2. My tall Asian guy is a WorldPeace Keeper Action Figure. In his original family picture his gloves are still black. I have since painted them to match his skin tone. I really have to redo them because I did a quick job just to test it out. Now that I am getting more familiar with acion figures, I really think I can find him a pair of matching real hands. The other thing I considered was making a mold of the real hands on my other WPK action figure and them making hands for the 3 gloved men that I have. The second link it to my latest video, which has this Asian man in it.

    http://vansdolltreasures.blogspot.com/2010/11/introduction-to-lee-family-one-of-my.html
    http://vansdolltreasures.blogspot.com/2011/07/need-good-laugh-or-godd-cry-watch-my.html

  3. shutupmeg says:

    i have a few asian kelly. they are kind of old. and bought separately. i think most of them were dressed in halloween costumes and found at target. i know for sure one was a witch.

    1. This is great to know. That means anyone searching for an “asian” face could use “halloween kelly” as a search term and might find them. One thing I should have mentioned in my post is that you can put kelly heads on the new blond chelsea bodies and get a sister for kelly that is a year or two older.

  4. Lola says:

    I have the Star Trek Sulu (the john cho version) and he’s pretty awesome. He does come in some weird rubber underpants, tho. I actually have a lot of asian barbies–I pick them up whenever I find them at thrift stores, even if its one I already have. Japan Ken is the first collector barbie I ever paid full price for. I had to do a neck modification, but put him on an articulated Prince Aiden body.

    1. I cannot find a Star Trek Sulu…I have to keep looking I guess. I mean I can’t even find a photo.

  5. Lola says:

    Oh, and there is a blog of a guy who collects a lot of asian dolls–might be worth a look:
    http://1-6thsensedolls.blogspot.com/

    1. I checked out his blog – looks like the blogger is a Philipino guy. I put his blog in my Reader so I can check back often.

  6. barbielea says:

    Hi – I’m still pretty new to collecting and I’ve just spent an interesting hour browsing your blog – it’s brilliant! And useful too. I love asian dolls and have the Generation Girl Mari you mentioned you want – I had to fight hard for her on eBay -worth it, though. I also love Lea/ Kayla, she’s my favourite too. I think the angel/ goddess face makes an outstanding Asian doll and dedperately want model four from basics 2.5 (sigh – I’m in England and it’s harder to source dolls here). Anyhoo, thanks very much, really enjoyed reading this blog

    1. I checked out your blog and found all your pretty Lea faced dolls. Good stuff.

  7. Paulette Richards says:

    Hi,

    I’m new to your blog but I really appreciate the lengths you have gone to in order to build an ethnically diverse collection. Back in the 90s I did find an Asian Kelly sold separately. She was wearing the cutest little raincoat which only added to her “must have” value in my eyes.

    1. Great tip Paulette. A person looking for her could check the ebay group for Kelly sized friends of barbie and do a search to include “raincoat”. She sounds so very cute. 🙂

  8. FothhestNus says:

    Hi, your posting is extremely helpful in my opinion. I will, no doubt continue to keep a close eye on your web site. Please do update.

    1. Thanks friend. I love getting comments.

  9. D7ana says:

    Hi Kristl! I’ve got some links to Asian and Asian American dolls and action figures that I own as well as links to other sites:

    http://phillycollector.blogspot.com/2010/02/loren-javier-and-asian-asian-american.html

    http://phillycollector.blogspot.com/2009/07/where-are-asian-fashion-dolls.html

    http://phillycollector.blogspot.com/2009/06/we-do-exist-asian-playscale-men.html

    Those are some I recall about Asian dolls and/or action figures.

    Other notes: Hasbro G.I. Joe lines sometimes have Asian characters. They usually are shorter than Barbies. Playmates produced both Star Trek Sulus – you can find the latest one at Toys R Us. Action figures are your best bet for finding Asian male figures. They usually are jointed though so you might look into

  10. D7ana says:

    Oh, TRU has the latest Star Trek Sulu on sale for $9.98! Here is a link: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3519381&prodFindSrc=search .

    Good luck getting him, if you decide to do so.

    1. I just ordered 3. I have some Asian friends and I might gift them with full Asian families at some point. I have a doll crush on this guy. Dani uses him all the time on Vita Plastica!!

  11. D7ana says:

    … look into rebodying the Asian action figures heads onto Ken or Ken type bodies.

    I used to dislike the jointed action figure bodies, but I like how pose-able they are so I accept the “breaks” better than I once did.

    This message is to continue from my first one here today. I hit SEND before I meant to with my first message. Ugh. Type in haste, lol.

    1. Dana,

      First (I can’t believe your name is Dana – I always thought it was Diana). I didn’t reply to your comments at first bc there is SO MUCH information that I wanted to follow up on first.

      Then after time, I forgot it was here.

      I want to compliment you on your encyclopedic knowledge of both dolls and action figures. when I first started this experiment I didn’t like the look of action figures, but they really grew on me over time. Esp for the men.

      I want to introduce action figures more into Leah’s barbieland bc I think little boys are drawn to play with action figures and that would solve problems for people who want to use the concepts with boys.

      But I have to find some I like first. I had looked at Sulu but I need to go back and look again.

      I love your blog by the way – it is so very informative.

  12. meg says:

    another asian kelly at target in the valentines section.

    1. Meg – I saw them too!! Technically they are Chelsea-sized, which is a new size, taller than Kelly with longer, thinner legs. There are six of them: two bondes (do we REALLY need two blondes? we couldn’t get a Latina?) anyway – two blondes, an Asian named Renee, a black girl (?) named Tameka, a burgandy haired girl named Kitsy and a girl who seems to be strawberry blonde but not quite Strawberry Blonde as much as a golden blonde so YAY (sarcasm) three blondes and three non-blondes. Yet still no doll that could represent say, a brunette white girl or an Italian, Portugese, Greek, Armenian, Romanian, Turkish, etc, etc, etc.

      Anyway, I am glad to have Renee and Kitsy!!

      1. meg says:

        chelsea is the new kelly? ive never heard of a chelsea.

  13. Yes – she was announced to Kelly lovers at a Barbie convention and the Kelly collectors were not pleased. Kellys cannot sit up by themselves.

    The new Chelsea size has long enough legs that she can sit without other aids. I dont know if this is what drove the decision. I only know that is one reason I am happy to have them.

    Then again, I am always looking for age diversity so this gives me yet another age variation.

    Remember that you can pull Kelly heads off and put them on Chelseas to get even more variation still. Even boy heads – so you will have chelsea-sized boys. This would be a great use for all those blonde Chelseas.

    What’s happened with blonde kellys over the years is that there are so numerous you can’t give them away. If the same happens with Chelsea I will scoop up the bodies and give them Kelly heads. You could also chop off their hair, and flock their heads to make boys.

    1. meg says:

      i see.
      this site is great. i used to get all the kellys and tommys for the holidays when i was in high school because i would paint them and give them new outfits and create short stop motion movies with them. most movies ended with a dead kelly. wish i still did that now with all the technology and user friendly programs they have …. and youtube. ugh. oh well.

      1. Thanks. So – that sounds really fun. When you say you painted them, what kind of painting? and do you have any of your movies left over? You should totally try to resurrect them.

        I agree the video editing tools they have today are AMAZING. Cheap and easy. I worked in video editing professionally and at that time (mid 1990s) you could not have had a home system for video editing under say, $3,000.

  14. Shelley greenaway says:

    hey, i believe there was an Asian get real girl doll; the snowboarder. am i right?

    1. That’s true and I have her. She is a Get Real Girl. I don’t like their heads because they are large, but I adore the body, the clothes and the snowboard!!

  15. Hi!!! You mention you didn’t find asian kellys that came on their own and not in a set (sorry if it sounds off, English is not my first language). Here, in Argentina, my mom got me a kelly of the “kelly club” line. She came in an Arlequin outfit and she looks Asian to me. I olso have a Kira doll and they were pretty similar. I am pretty sure her name is jester, and I bought her for what now would be 5 or 6 dollars. I also had an Indian Kelly.

  16. Mari says:

    Adding to other comments here:

    They’ve always sold individual Asian Kelly dolls. There are two: Jenny and Belinda. Each one has several versions/costumes, so they shouldn’t be too hard to find. Amazon’s got some; looks like they’re about $10 each.

  17. Sue Phillips says:

    Captain Wu Shah with Mulan is Asian, so is Pocohantas’ bf and there is a Yul Brenner doll that is difficult to find. I have a Bruce Lee that I got from China and you can move his eyeballs to make different expressions. At one time a doll artist redid Ken for me as an Asian, but too expensive for me to buy. Also the My Scene has Asian guy.

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