KEN & FRIENDS: MALE FASHION DOLLS & CLOTHING FROM 1961-1987
1972 The Outfits
1972 saw the beginning of the Fashion Originals and Best Buy Fashions ranges. Gone are the zips and the fine tailoring of the early outfits. The trousers are simply half-elasticated at back with fly-stitching detail on front. This became the standard trouser design right up until 1980. There only are a few exceptions (for example some trousers which came with jackets), and those are fully elasticated with no fly-stitching detail.
The Fashion Originals were the last outfits to carry the vintage Ken label. From Best Buy Fashions #3376 until 1979 no Ken outfit was labelled. However, shoes and socks were still included (this was the last year they came as standard), and the clothing is great-looking.
Despite the fact that the quality is relatively poor compared to the previous years, these outfits were still produced in Japan. The earliest versions display booklets and the box has Fashion Originals in white writing on the front. On later versions (1973-74) the writing on the packaging is black, there is an age recommendation, and the Mattel logo has been modified. They were sold in several variation fabrics, especially in Europe.
FASHION ORIGINALS Casual Cords #1717
FASHION ORIGINALS Brown on Brown #1718
FASHION ORIGINALS Midnight Blues #1719
As well as the variations shown below, I have also seen the jacket in purple with a black collar, and in purple with a burgundy red collar.
FASHION ORIGINALS Way-Out West #1720
The later version of Way-Out West isn’t a variation as such, but does use a softer, shinier denim fabric, and has a bronze belt buckle instead of bright gold.
FASHION ORIGINALS Mod Madras #1828
The Mod Madras jacket has also been found in dark blue. The jacket below is made of a fabric with a more sackcloth-like structure. The blue shirt below right was found in a mixed lot in Europe with no other pieces from this outfit, so until a NRFB version appears it is impossible to say what other pieces it originally came with.
FASHION ORIGINALS Red, White & Wild #1829
BEST BUY FASHIONS
The Best Buy Fashions were made in Korea. They are given names in the Mattel ’72 catalogue, but these names are not found on the actual packaging. They are exceptional in that they are complete outfits. From 1973 onward none of the Best Buy Fashions would include shoes and socks as standard.
BEST BUY FASHIONS Denims for Fun #3376
BEST BUY FASHIONS Wide Awake Stripes #3377
BEST BUY FASHIONS Western Winner #3378
BEST BUY FASHIONS Cool ‘N Casual #3379
Beach Beat #3384
REVERSE OF PACKAGING
The Fashion Originals box was illustrated on reverse. The text mentions the use of zips, which is odd, considering that these were the first outfits to come without. The packaging of the 1972 Best Buy Fashions had a Barbie Fan Club application on reverse. The Fashion Accessories set #3384 Beach Beat packaging is blank on reverse.
BOOKLETS & CATALOGUES
None of the Best Buy Fashions came with booklets, and the Fashion Originals all appear to have come with the booklet from 1971.
The 1972 Fashion Originals were obviously sold in Europe for a few years, as they are still shown (with the variation fabrics) in the European booklets for 1974. Note how the Swedish booklets for 1973 and 1974 give the same outfits different names.