KEN & FRIENDS: MALE FASHION DOLLS & CLOTHING FROM 1961-1987
1979 The Outfits
In 1979 the Best Buy Fashions and Get-Ups ‘N Go ranges were replaced by Fashion Collectibles and Fashion Favorites. The Collectibles, like the Best Buy Fashions, tended to be just a basic outfit with an occasional accessory, and the Favorites, like the Get-Ups ‘N Gos, contained more elaborate accessories and shoes. A new range, Designer Originals, was also released, which sounds expensive, but is mostly cheap glitz. There are many Superstar era variations, some quite obvious and others more subtle.
During 1979 production moved over to the Philippines for the outfits themselves (though the earliest outfits were still made in Korea), with the shoes and packaging made in Hong Kong, and the booklets printed in the US. Despite this amazing feat of coordination, it was not an improvement. The result was clothing of such poor quality that even the staunchest Barbie fan must have refused to buy it. It’s such a shame as from a design point of view they are fantastic – stylish and fun – and had they been made well, would now be as treasured as anything from the 1960s.
In Canada and France the Fashion Collectibles were also known as Habillages “Mode”, the Fashion Favorites as Ses habillages préférés, and the Designer Originals as Habillages Couture.
None of these Fashion Collectibles originally came with socks or shoes, so I’ve added some for the photos.
FASHION COLLECTIBLES #2791
FASHION COLLECTIBLES #2792
There are at least three variations of Fashion Collectibles #2792. I took these photographs before I discovered the MOC versions, so the first two have the t-shirts and trousers mixed up.
FASHION COLLECTIBLES #2793
FASHION COLLECTIBLES #2794
FASHION COLLECTIBLES #2795
FASHION COLLECTIBLES #2796
FASHION FAVORITES Silver Diller #2797
FASHION FAVORITES All Weather Favorite #2798
FASHION FAVORITES Vest Dressed #2799
FASHION FAVORITES Bluechip Dressing #2800
REVERSE OF FASHION COLLECTIBLES/FAVORITES PACKAGING
All Fashion Collectibles and Fashion Favorites packaging (except the very earliest Korean packaging, like the two above) was printed on the reverse. They either had dressing tips or an application to join the Barbie Fan Club. I’ve seen versions of most outfits with either design. Some came with a bar-code.
REVERSE OF CANADIAN/FRENCH PACKAGING
Shoes & Cases #2459
The Fashion Add-Ons were made in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and introduced three new designs; the motorcycle boot, the hiking boot and the heeled shoe. Mini-versions of the black shoes were used for the Jimmy Osmond doll, but apart from those, the heeled shoes were never produced again.
DESIGNER ORIGINALS City Sophisticate #2801
DESIGNER ORIGINALS In the Limelight #2802
BOOKLETS & CATALOGUES
Some of the Fashion Collectibles and Fashion Favorites came with booklets, some not. This seems totally random. The booklets were printed in the USA. The photos obviously use prototypes. Note how much better some of them are than the real items – in particular the trench coat from All Weather Favorite.
Sears sold Fashion Collectibles #2793 and #2795 together as an exclusive set. I haven’t seen them packaged, but they were possibly also sold in the Sears stores in a Fashion Favorites packaging, similar to the set from 1980 (see section 1980 The Outfits).
The French catalogue below right is interesting, as it shows City Sophisticate with a tie in what looks like a fabric with the pattern from the Suede Scene shirt and the Fashion Collectibles #3777 bathrobe. It is not the prototype, as that has quite a different tie (shown in the German booklet below left).
LABELS & SHOES
1979 saw the return of the ‘Ken’ label, now with the new-look Superstar logo. Not every outfit carried this, but most did. As before, with the vintage and Mod era clothing, usually only one piece from each outfit was labelled. I’ve found labels in jackets, shirts, and even tucked down inside trouser-legs. This design was used until the late 1980s/early 1990s, when the pink Barbie label took over.
All Superstar era loafers which came with the Fashion Favorites, Designer Originals and Wedding Party Fashions were produced in Hong Kong and made of hard plastic. The sneakers were also made in Hong Kong, but still of the soft, rubbery type.