1964 is arguably the best year for vintage Ken clothing. As well as loads of new regular outfits and accessories, Mattel also produced a Travel Costume Series and a Little Theatre Costume Series. Several earlier outfits were still being produced, and some were reissued with slight variations. The most sought-after of these nowadays is The Yachtsman, with the wonderful cap.
Most Ensemble Paks contain complete outfits, and Fashion Paks contain single items or accessories, but there are several cross-overs and exceptions. Many 1964 sets for example contain only a shirt/jacket and pair of slacks, but were packaged either as an Ensemble Pak (Going Bowling, Campus Corduroys, Country Clubbin’) or a Fashion Pak (At Ease, Soda Date).
The Ensemble Pak packaging went through several changes in 1964. The earliest outfits were packaged in the same boxes as 1963, with the old illustration on reverse. Later they were packaged with a new design on reverse which included Allan. Later still a packaging was introduced with thicker stripes in green-gold or turquoise a new Ken & Allan design on reverse (see section 1965 The Outfits for more details).
For more information and many more detailed photographs see THE VINTAGE KEN® BOOK.
THE ENSEMBLE PAKS
CAMPUS HERO #0770
DRUM MAJOR #0775
AMERICAN AIRLINES CAPTAIN #0779
This outfit was reissued in 1965 with the addition of a travel bag in navy blue (See section 1965 The Outfits).
SLEEPER SET #0781
As well as the new t-shirt, the reissue also came with different slacks, which have a hidden YKK zip and popper.
Tuxedo now came with a less-tailored shirt (very basic card-like collar) and trousers which fasten with a popper and hidden zip. The later-packaged versions have looser fitting trousers and regular cotton socks (instead of the stretchy nylon ones which usually come with this outfit).
My Japanese Dressed Doll version came with the revised shirt, but still has the original trousers. In the 1964 Japanese Barbie booklet, Ken is shown wearing the corsage as a boutonniere. In the later booklet he has the regular boutonniere and no corsage. For more photos and information about Dressed Doll Kens sold in Japan see section 1964 Allan & the ‘shorty’ Kens.
THE YACHTSMAN #0789
COUNTRY CLUBBIN’ #1400
SPECIAL DATE #1401
The Special Date jacket below has no breast pocket. This is unusual, but not unparalleled – Ken’s red plaid hunting shirt has also occasionally been found without a breast pocket (see Goin’ Huntin’ below). Whether they originally came like that or the pockets were removed later will have to remain a mystery, unless a pocket-less version is found NRFB.
From 1964 Ken’s regular and tuxedo dress shirts had a much more basic collar (below right), but they still fastened with two poppers.
There is no outfit with this code number to be found. Whether this was an internal error, or Mattel decided to pull an outfit from production, I can not say. If anyone knows the reason for the “missing” Ensemble Pak #1402, please write and let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GOING BOWLING #1403
Unlike the Fashion Pak slacks, these trousers are not labelled. Later versions have slacks with a looser cut. In 1965 a new version of this outfit was released which included white shoes and socks (See section 1965 The Outfits).
The earlier versions have much tighter-fitting trousers, like those from the Fashion Paks. Later versions are looser, like most trousers from 1965.
KEN IN HAWAII #1404
See Travel Costume Series further below.
ROLLER SKATE DATE #1405
This set came with either white or metallic-grey wheels on the skates. In 1965 it was reissued with a pair of white trousers instead of cap (See section 1965 The Outfits).
KEN SKIN DIVER #1406
FOUNTAIN BOY #1407
FRATERNITY MEETING #1408
The genuine Fraternity Meeting trousers are not labelled. The white polo shirt now came with a shallower neck-line, which works better with the cardigan. It was also used in the later versions of Time For Tennis (below).
GOIN’ HUNTIN’ #1409
The 1965 version of Goin’ Huntin’ came without socks and boots (see section 1965 The Outfits).
The shirt below has no breast pocket. Whether it originally came like that or the pocket was removed later will have to remain a mystery, unless a pocket-less version is found NRFB. The Japanese exclusive Goin’ Huntin’ Dressed Doll Ken came with the boots from Mr. Astronaut.
CAMPUS CORDUROYS #1410
VICTORY DANCE #1411
Most online sellers offer an approximation of this outfit, borrowing pieces from other Ensemble or Fashion Paks. The original Victory Dance came with a labelled jacket and short-sleeved shirt, but there was no label in either the waistcoat or the trousers.
THE LITTLE THEATRE COSTUME SERIES
THE PRINCE #0772
KING ARTHUR #0773
Some shields have a greater colour contrast between the center stripe and the background, but this could be the result of fading rather than a genuine variation.
This outfit is unusual, as the Ken label can sometimes be found in the ‘chainmail’ body armour, and sometimes in the satin surcoat.
ARABIAN NIGHTS #0774
RED RIDING HOOD & THE WOLF #0880
The page below from The World of Barbie Magazine Annual shows an entire wolf costume, and may well have been a prototype Mattel originally considered selling. Eventually only the wolf’s head (and grandma’s nightcap) was produced, though the trouser fabric was used for the huntsman’s cap, shown below right.
THE TRAVEL COSTUME SERIES
KEN IN SWITZERLAND #0776
Only the earlier versions of this outfit have a labelled shirt. The lederhosen are usually not labelled. Having never removed a later version from its packaging, I can’t say for sure, but, if the lederhosen are also not labelled, it would make this the only Ken Ensemble Pak to have been released without a single labelled item. The version below right does have what looks vaguely like a label poking out the top of the lederhosen. If anyone does have a labelled pair of lederhosen please let me know: email@example.com.
KEN IN HOLLAND #0777
KEN IN MEXICO #0778
KEN IN HAWAII #1404
THE FASHION PAKS
Unusually, TOP IT OFF! and the following two Fashion Paks all have code numbers.
TOP IT OFF! #1800
The Dreamboat hat can be found in this set with either a pink or a red hat band (though pink is more usual).
BEST FOOT FORWARD #1801
The Fashion Paks below obviously only originally included the items shown in the MOC versions. Any extra items or accessories are merely to enhance the photos.
Despite what other websites, guide books, and sellers on Ebay may claim, there is absolutely no proof that At Ease came in any other version than that shown here. All Barbie booklets and Mattel dealer catalogues from 1964 to 1967 clearly mention this one only, and I am yet to find any further physical evidence – such as a MOC set – of any other version.
DR. KEN’S KIT
Some earlier versions may still have had the regular shorts with zip only, but new shorts were produced which fasten with a hidden zip and popper. They are now quite hard to find.
SHOES FOR SPORTS
The Barbie For Fall ’64 catalogue shows Soda Date with what looks like the beige cotton slacks with back pocket from Casuals, but the Barbie Exclusive Fashions booklets for 1964, and all the MOC versions I’ve seen so far, have (unlabelled) cord slacks as shown here. The Barbie booklet also shows the keys from Rally Day (though they are not shown in the booklets for 1965), but I’m yet to find a MOC version with keys.
WHITE IS RIGHT!
THE GIFT SETS
Three gift sets for 1964 contained a Ken doll. They were Japan-made 750 Kens, mostly with the new hand mold, and came with either green or blue eyes. On Parade and Wedding Party gift sets have been found with both blonde and brunette Kens, but so far I’ve only seen the Little Theatre gift set with a brunette Ken.
ON PARADE GIFT SET #1014 included Ken dressed in the complete Drum Major outfit. The set came with a yellow or green backing card.
WEDDING PARTY GIFT SET #1017 included Ken dressed in the regular Tuxedo outfit, but instead of a corsage, he had a cushion with tiny ring set into it.
LITTLE THEATRE GIFT SET #1018 included Ken dressed in Arabian Nights plus the complete King Arthur and The Prince outfits.
PEP RALLY GIFT SET #1022 included the Drum Major outfit.
BOOKLETS & CATALOGUES
There were four booklets produced for 1964, all with a different layout and item selection.
Note that in the advertisement below left, Ken is wearing the blue suit from Special Date with the striped tie from Saturday Date. The Penneys Christmas catalogue from 1964 makes reference to such an outfit (see further below).
The Penneys Christmas catalogue is the only 1964 reference I have found to Saturday Date. Despite describing it as coming with a “blue” suit, it is definitely not a mix-up for Special Date. The photo clearly shows the classic grey suit, the description also mentions the striped tie, and besides, Special Date is also featured, two pages earlier. As a curious coincidence the Mattel advertisement from Easter 1964 (see further above) shows Ken wearing a blue suit with the striped tie, so maybe an ultra-rare version of Saturday Date with a blue suit really did exist. The 1966 Continental catalogue also sells “Saturday Date”, but the description mentions no exact tie or colour of suit, and the photo clearly shows Special Date, so this was probably just a printing error.
Despite having some up-to-date outfits, the Our Own Hardware catalogue shows early prototype photos of the previously-available items. The Spiegel catalogue below right describes Fraternity Meeting as Fraternity Party.
In the mid-sixties Mattel began their conquest of Europe. In some countries they set up subsidiary Mattel companies, while in others existing toy manufacturers (such as Ebiex in Belgium, Jouets Rationnels in France, and Brio in Sweden) imported and distributed the items.
Ken was also sold in Japan from 1964. The only ones I’ve seen so far are Dressed Dolls, like the Ken in Tuxedo shown further above. There is a unique ‘Royal Wedding’ Ken (see also section 1964 Allan & the ‘shorty’ Kens), but the Japanese booklets show only known Ken outfits, though many come with slight modifications. His outfits were also sold separately, packaged slightly differently to Ken outfits, and each contained a Japanese booklet.
All 1964 Fashion Paks were available from 1964-1967. The Ensemble Paks were available as follows:*
DRUM MAJOR (1964-1965) (Until 1966 in Europe)
AMERICAN AIRLINES CAPTAIN (1964-1965) (Until 1968 in Europe)
COUNTRY CLUBBIN’ (1964) (Until 1966 in Europe)
SPECIAL DATE (1964-1965) (Until 1967 in Europe)
GOING BOWLING (1964-1965)
ROLLER SKATE DATE (1964-1965) (Until 1966 in Europe)
KEN SKIN DIVER (1964-1965) (Until 1968 in Europe)
FOUNTAIN BOY (1964-1965) (Until 1968 in Europe)
FRATERNITY MEETING (1964)
GOIN’ HUNTING (1964-1965) (Until 1968 in Europe)
CAMPUS CORDUROYS (1964-1965) (Until 1968 in Europe)
VICTORY DANCE (1964). A reproduction of this outfit was issued in 2011 as part of the My Favorite Ken (50th Anniversary) gift set.
THE PRINCE (1964-1965) (Until 1968 in Europe)
KING ARTHUR (1964-1965) (Until 1968 in Europe)
ARABIAN NIGHTS (1964-1965) (Until 1968 in Europe)
KEN IN SWITZERLAND (1964) (Until 1968 in Europe)
KEN IN HOLLAND (1964) (Until 1968 in Europe)
KEN IN MEXICO (1964) (Until 1965 in Japan)
KEN IN HAWAII (1964) (Until 1968 in Europe)
*Based on information taken from US, Japanese & European Barbie booklets 1964-1968, Mattel Toy catalogues 1964-1967 and Mattel Employee Order Forms 1965-1967.