The 1966 outfits are the most collectable and expensive of all, but not quite as well-cut as the earlier stuff. As well as having basic collars, the shirts for Summer Job, Best Man and Here Comes the Groom only have one popper (at the collar), rather than the usual two. Grumbles aside, there are some great outfits here, though finding them is becoming increasingly difficult. This isn’t helped by online sellers listing fake and clone items as genuine Ken, so be very careful before spending a lot of money.
THE ENSEMBLE PAKS
TIME TO TURN IN #1418
TV’S GOOD TONIGHT! #1419
JAZZ CONCERT #1420
SEEIN’ THE SIGHTS #1421
Some period advertising shows Seein’ the Sights with a red tie, but despite even being shown like that in the Barbie booklets and Mattel catalogues for 1966, this was almost certainly never part of the set. The tie is not mentioned in the written description in the Mattel ’66 catalogues, it does not feature in all US (or in any European) advertising, and I’ve yet to find a tie in a NRFB version. It was merely used as a ‘serving suggestion’, much like the extra clothing often shown with Campus Corduroys.
SUMMER JOB #1422
KEN A GO GO #1423
The Ken A Go Go shirt has a total of eight buttons: six down the front and one on either side. The ‘Beatles’ wig is very difficult to find, but unfortunately not particularly convincing. The outfit looks much better displayed without the wig.
BUSINESS APPOINTMENT #1424
BEST MAN #1425
The genuine bow tie is made of the same fabric as the cummerbund (note that the cummerbund has red elastic at back). The bow tie originally came with a regular rubber band, which usually perishes, even when kept MIB, so any bow ties sold online with white ‘knicker’ elastic are almost certainly fakes (see bottom of page for more information). The trousers are made of a cotton twill, with a distinctly different piping down the leg from Ken’s regular Tuxedo trousers (see section Vintage Comparisons for more details).
The shirts from Best Man #1425 and Here Comes The Groom #1426 came with either silver or clear pearl buttons.
HERE COMES THE GROOM #1426
MOUNTAIN HIKE #1427
The sweaters which came with Hiking Holiday and Mountain Hike have no labels, so genuine shorts all have a Ken label sewn inside. The clone shorts (below right) are quite similar at first glance, but notice the difference in size and stitching. Note too that the genuine shorts fasten with popper and zip (the clone shorts have popper only).
BOOKLETS & CATALOGUES
The pre-Christmas catalogues were still selling items from previous years.
Mattel also produced European booklets and brochures but, rather than using illustrations, the European versions had photographs. The titles of the outfits are often quite different. For example in German Here Comes the Groom is called Auf der Rennbahn (At the Races).
The almost identical BRIO brochure in Danish is for Barbie og hendes venner.
As collectors are prepared to pay high prices, many online sellers claim they have rare items or outfits which, on closer inspection, are clone or even homemade clothes. The Best Man outfit is a prime example, as there were several similar clone outfits produced. Someone even listed a white clone pullover (exactly like the one shown below) on Ebay as a “rare Mountain Hike variation”, and actually sold it (after many bids!) for a huge amount of money. Fake Business Appointment hats and gloves are regularly listed as genuine. Rival brands like Totsy, Premier and Shillman produced masses of similar clothing and accessories (see section Vintage Clones).
The genuine Business Appointment hat is oval with a wide brim. It is made of soft felt, and has a thin hatband. The piece for the head is like a half-sphere, with a single, elongated dent in the top. This is the only true Mattel hat.
After I first began exposing Ebay fakes on my original blog, sellers continued listing the fake hats (like the one below right) as genuine, but did start to mention the “missing hatband”. This deception still regularly occurs.
The newspapers below are all genuine Mattel, but belong to completely different outfits and decades.
The Best Man bow tie is made of the same fabric as the cummerbund, and came with a regular thin rubber band, like all genuine Mattel neckwear from 1962 on (see directly below). This usually perishes with age, even with NRFB versions, so the genuine bow tie is almost never found with the band still attached. Clones can easily be spotted by the white ‘knicker’ elastic used. They are also usually longer than the genuine Mattel tie, and made of a cheaper, slightly brighter fabric.
* See section Vintage Clones.
Despite my best efforts it seems there are still collectors who don’t know the difference between the clones and the genuine Mattel items. In September 2016 the Ebay auction below containing a clone hat, clone gloves and the 1982-version newspaper sold for more money than some genuine NRFB Business Appointment outfits.
The ‘Best Man’ auction below sold at over 200 dollars in December 2016, despite the fact that the only genuine Best Man piece is the jacket. The shirt, bow tie and cummerbund are all clone pieces, and the trousers are from Ken’s regular 787 Tuxedo.
It doesn’t surprise me that some sellers are totally dishonest when there’s a lot of money to be made. What does surprise me is that so many collectors are still so ill-informed that they will pay hundreds of dollars for clone items (which when listed correctly as clone pieces, do not fetch more than a few dollars).