MALIBU KEN #1088
The final Malibu Ken was released, looking exactly like the last model from the previous year. The packaging is different (‘open’ on one side, resealable ends), with slightly different graphics and illustration. He was called Malibu Ken everywhere except Italy, where he was repackaged as Ken Portofino to fit with their new Barbie.
This Ken was sold in Europe. He was also known in Belgium as Ken Sun and Surf and in Germany as Spiel mit Ken. Practically identical to the last Malibu Ken above, except that he came in a completely different packaging and wore orange trunks. He had a very limited release and is exceptionally rare, especially in original packaging.
SUPERSTAR KEN #2211
SuperStar Ken was the first Ken to sport the brand new ‘Robert Redford/Movie Star’ head-mold and flexible body. As with the Rockers series a decade later, this highly fashionable Ken soon dated. Despite his now somewhat embarrassing attire, he is one of the few highly collectable dolls of the SuperStar era.
The identification marks on almost all Kens with this new body mold still show the 1968 date, even though logically this is a new design, and should read 1977 like the head (their necks are marked © Mattel Inc. 1977, though on the inner rim, so hidden from view). The single exception I’ve found is the SuperStar Ken produced in Germany, which is marked © Mattel GmbH 1978 West Germany.
My first version came with an ‘instruction manual’, which describes how the sunglasses should be fitted into holes on the sides of his head. “Look closely,” the instructions warn, “the holes are small and hard to find.”
I’d say they are – they must be microscopic, as there are no visible holes on this doll (below left). Which is a shame, as without the grooves the sunglasses are impossible to fit on his head. After a little hunting online, I found another SuperStar Ken who was made with the necessary holes (below right). As you can see, the sunglasses are firmly slotted in. In fact, it is impossible to remove them!
Quite why Mattel produced one doll incapable of wearing the sunglasses, and another incapable of taking them off, is beyond me, but it is worth finding a version with holes, as the sunglasses really add the finishing touch to his look.
BOOKLETS & CATALOGUES
SuperStar Ken was given a totally new articulated body-mold with swiveling head and waist. As with GI Joe, he may be able to assume more poses, but the downside is a less natural-looking doll when undressed. From 1979-1984 Mattel used his head mold on most new Kens, but wisely kept the Mod era body for all beach-themed boys.
Note that SuperStar Ken uniquely has no molded-on underpants (see also 1980 boys section for comparison with later versions). This body mold was used until 1982, when it was modified, becoming less flexible, with sideways-only turning heads and waists.