The new Malibu Ken came in a box similar to the ones shown in the previous year, but the box is much smaller, and the graphics have now altered slightly, with the Mattel logo at the bottom. It is still dated 1975 as are all the pink Malibu Ken boxes. This version has smaller, darker trunks, similar to the original Taiwan version.
MALIBU KEN #1088
My European version has slightly darker skin and larger white dots in his eyes, giving him a different look.
Another version was produced with a slightly smaller head and different markings. This was the last Mod era Ken mold to be used.
THE NOW LOOK KEN #9342
The second version of The Now Look Ken is made of an inferior plastic and has quite a ghastly skin tone, but is certainly better-looking. His rooted hair is shoulder-length, and he has rear-facing hands. There are also minimal differences in the outfit, with a lighter scarf, darker buttons, and trousers which are cut looser around the hips. His box is much smaller than that of The Now Look Ken from the previous year.
KEN SIMPATIA #7380
Mattel Italy produced a variation of Gold Medal Ken with no medal and a slightly different pair of trunks (orange, pale blue and yellow). He was packaged as Ken Simpatia. The code number remained the same. On the box side it says the contents were made in Taiwan, despite the fact that the doll is a classic Hong Kong-made Malibu Ken. My guess is that it is either a printing error for DOLL MADE IN HONG KONG, SWIMSUIT MADE IN TAIWAN, PRINTED IN ITALY or Taiwan was just a complete error, as I’ve seen several versions of Ken Simpatia, and the dolls themselves were definitely all made in Hong Kong.
The 1977 Canadian Simpsons Sears Christmas catalogue also shows this Ken, describing him only as “Sun-Tanned Ken in bathing trunks”. I have found this doll in Canada, packaged as Malibu Ken.
PARTYTIME KEN #9927
Partytime Ken was released in Europe and Canada. He wears a tuxedo which is a two-piece outfit, the dickey being attached to the trousers, and the whole ensemble quite shoddily made. Like the doll, the loafers were made in Hong Kong and are the soft, rubbery kind. Only this Ken and SuperStar Ken from 1978 came with squishy black HK loafers. All other black Hong Kong-produced loafers are made of a harder plastic. In France he was called Ken Party-Time, and in Canada he was also known as Ken à la fête.
BOOKLETS & CATALOGUES
The US Barbie booklet for 1976-7 features no Kens, not even older ones. The Mattel dealer and mail order catalogues for 1977 show that only The Now Look Ken and Malibu Ken were now available.
The Italian booklet below uses prototypes, which have side-facing hands. The actual Kens all came with rear-facing hands, as shown above.
This French Mattel catalogue from 1977 is interesting, as it shows a Malibu Ken with green shorts, but with the code number of Funtime Ken (#7194) and with a yellow towel. I remember hearing about this version, but have never seen one MIB and the picture next to it shows a French display stand containing this doll clearly boxed as regular Malibu Ken. The yellow towel belonged to Barbie, and just accidentally made it onto the photo – compare it with the page underneath from the German catalogue.
In the French Jouets Weber catalogue, The Now Look Ken is described as Ken New-Look. The French catalogue below right shows a Malibu Ken wearing the Partytime Ken outfit, but the written description and price suggest that they actually just have the regular Malibu Ken for sale. However, the Jeux et Jouets catalogue, shown at bottom, shows the same Ken clearly listed as Partytime Ken and costing twice the price. As far as I know though, no blonde version of Partytime Ken was ever sold.