THE SPORTS SET SUN VALLEY KEN #7809
The new boy for 1974 was The Sports Set Sun Valley Ken. He is probably my favourite Mod blonde. His skin is paler and his hair is a kind of mustard colour, his eyebrows light brown. He looks more like a natural blonde than the other ‘peroxide’ boys, with their yellow-blonde hair and dark eyebrows. In France he was also known as Ken au Ski.
From 1974-1978 the complete skiing outfit was also available to order from the Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue, together with the matching Barbie outfit. They were packed in a simple stamped brown cardboard box numbered 7948. It is mentioned that colours and fabrics may vary, and, as seen above, the jacket and trousers were available in either royal blue or purple.
ACTION KEN #1159
Live Action Ken was repackaged in a plastic bag and sold as Action Ken. I have not found any contemporary reference to this version, but as the card is dated 1973, it was presumably sold in either late 1973 and/or 1974.
The version below appears to be genuine, yet is missing the ‘suede’ vest and wrist tag. It is possibly from 1975, as by that time most Kens were no longer tagged, and the fringe vest would have been too outdated.
BOOKLETS & CATALOGUES
There doesn’t appear to have been a US Barbie booklet showing the range for 1974.
Sears was the only mail order catalogue to sell Sun Valley Ken. Montgomery Ward had the skiing outfit (as part of a set), but not the doll itself. The Ward’s catalogue also offered their special edition Mod Hair Ken (see section 1974 The Outfits).
The other catalogues continued to sell genuine Mattel dolls, but only offered their own ‘clone’ clothing. Spiegel even has a clone doll this year, which is a blatant copy of the classic Mod-era Ken.
A common ‘disease’, even among otherwise healthy Mod Era boys, is ‘Melting Joints’. I have no idea of the cause (though would be grateful for any suggestions), but the symptoms are a swelling of rubbery plastic between the torso and leg joints, resulting in an apparent glueing of the leg to the body. It actually looks and seems a lot worse than it is. With slow, careful pressure, holding the entire leg around the hip joint, the leg can easily be freed from its locked position, and made to move again, without causing him any harm whatsoever.