KEN & FRIENDS: MALE FASHION DOLLS & CLOTHING FROM 1961-1987
1983 The Outfits
In 1983 Mattel ended the Fashion Collectibles and Fashion Favorites lines, and replaced them with Fashion Classics. These outfits all came with shoes. They are better-made than the Superstar series, and there are some great classic outfits among them. The Designer Originals were also replaced, by the Designer Collection (also known in Canada and France as (La) collection haute-couture). The outfits were made in the Philippines or Taiwan, with the shoes still produced mostly in Hong Kong.
THE FASHION CLASSICS
Fun at McDonald’s was not available in Europe and I have never found a Kmart variation of it, but there is a Canadian version, with Fashion Classics translated as La collection classique. All other Canadian/French Fashion Classics from 1983 are called De vêtements classiques.
FASHION CLASSICS Fun at McDonald’s #4276
Kmart produced their own versions of all the 1983 Fashion Classics below. They are packaged uniquely, with a picture of Dream Date Ken on the front. The reverse of the packaging is dated 1983, so they were either sold in late 1983, or 1984. It is difficult to be precise, because I have yet to find any Kmart catalogues from this period. Many variation fabrics and/or shoes were used, several of which are shown.
FASHION CLASSICS Go-Anywhere Gear! #5819
FASHION CLASSICS Country Flair! #5820
FASHION CLASSICS Keeping In Shape! #5821
FASHION CLASSICS Cool ‘N Casual! #5822
FASHION CLASSICS Cool Captain! #5823
FASHION CLASSICS Date with Barbie Doll! #5824
THE KMART EXCLUSIVE FASHION CLASSICS
Kmart also sold their own exclusive range of Fashion Classics. They are dated 1982, with the same design on the reverse as the regular Fashion Classics, so were presumably sold in 1983, but I have so far discovered no contemporary printed reference (ie. a Kmart catalogue) to verify.
FASHION CLASSICS #4295
FASHION CLASSICS #4296
FASHION CLASSICS #4297
Throughout the 1980s Mattel experimented with new fabrics, especially fake leather. This has to be the worst fabric ever designed, and now flakes off at the lightest touch. Ironically, the flakes then stick like super-glue to anything they land on. To make matters worse Mattel used eternally-gooey sticky tape instead of sewing the outfit to the card. My mint-in-packaging pants were completely wrecked just by removing them and putting them on the Ken. I have retouched the photos below to disguise the worst of the damage.
FASHION CLASSICS #4298
REVERSE OF PACKAGING
All Kmart exclusive and regular Fashion Classics from 1983 came with a Barbie Fan Club application on reverse. The Kmart versions and variations of the regular 1983 Fashion Classics had a much simpler design on reverse. They are dated 1983, so were presumably released in late 1983 or 1984.
DESIGNER COLLECTION Date Night! #5651
DESIGNER COLLECTION Country Gentleman #5833
These white ‘leather’ pants are made of the same fabric as Fashion Classics #4297 shown above, and are equally as disastrous. Once more, a mint-in-box set was completely wrecked simply by putting it on the doll. The fabric crumbles at the lightest touch. I’ve had to retouch the photos again, to show how it could have looked originally.
WEDDING OF THE YEAR
Suited for the groom! #5744
The variations of the white wedding tuxedo below are quite subtle. There are differences to the fabrics used, and the ruffles of the shirt-front, but the most obvious difference is the cut. The first version is baggier, the trousers cut more like jogging-pants. The later version jacket and trousers have a slimmer fit. Note the different packaging of this outfit, how the later one has the simple bold Ken logo, and the first version has the new Barbie logo from the Designer Collection outfits. Some of these first versions have the extra title Bridesmaid’s Dream! This is a factory-flaw, taken from the Barbie Wedding of the Year outfit #5745.
The version below was presumably sold in 1984, as it also features the Designer Collection outfit #7084 Simply Dashing on reverse of the packaging.
Shoes & Extras #2459
BOOKLETS & CATALOGUES
The 1983 booklet came in two different versions. In the earlier version Fun at McDonald’s is missing. Wedding of the Year fashion is erroneously called Wedding Party in both booklets.
The page below shows older Superstar era outfits mixed up with the new ones. Although missing from the bottom of the page here, the French name for Fashion Classics #5821 is Jogging.