Mattel produced no new items for Ken in 1967, but continued to sell off old stock in the US and Europe.
The Braniff International Pilot Uniform was produced by Marx Toys (Louis Marx Co.). It was released in conjunction with four Braniff air stewardess outfits for Barbie, based on original designs by Emilio Pucci. The pilot uniform was sold through the 1967 Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogue as a set together with a Ken in his beach outfit. The catalogue doesn’t specify, but whenever boxed versions come up for sale online, it is with a bright blue-eyed 0750 blonde or brunette Ken packaged in a ‘shorty’ Ken box stamped Imported From Japan (see also section 1964 Allan & the ‘shorty’ Kens). The outfit itself was packaged on printed card with cello-wrap, so was presumably also available to buy separately.
My version is in remarkably good condition (usually the caps are missing most of the gold paint) and even came with the original luggage tags. Only the genuine pilot’s wings are missing, if they indeed exist. Occasionally sellers of this outfit will include a regular Mattel wings badge (as shown here), but I’ve never even seen the gold one featured in the Ward catalogue – not even on the only ‘MOC’ version I once saw – so maybe it was not produced. The outfits as shown in the Ward catalogue must have been prototypes anyway: Note how different the actual cap and luggage tags are from the ones illustrated.
The uniform has some lovely attention to detail – the eight buttons on the jacket front have the BI logo molded into them. There is also some unexpected lack of detail: Like the 1966 Ken shirts, this one fastens only with a single popper, but unlike Ken shirts, it has no buttons down the front.
Ken was Japan-made, but packaged in a US ‘shorty’ box. Mattel occasionally sold Japan Kens in US boxes, always stamped extra with Imported From Japan / Printed in U.S.A. (below right). The box lid below left is even stamped with the code number Montgomery Ward used for the Braniff Pilot Ken – 10497.
BOOKLETS & CATALOGUES
Ken does not appear in the US Barbie booklets for 1967 or 1968. His original clothing is featured in all three Mattel Toys catalogues for 1967,* but does not feature in the Mattel Employee Order Form from August 1967, or any 1967 mail order catalogues. The Montgomery Ward 1967 Christmas catalogue is the only department store catalogue to feature Ken at all that year. However, many Mattel outfits were still being sold in Europe until Spring 1969.
THE BRANIFF AIR HOSTESS BOX SET
This Braniff Air Hostess box set came with a clone doll, so does raise the question of whether a similar boxed Braniff Pilot exists, with a clone Ken.
*As well the February 1967 preview issue, there are two versions of the regular 1967 catalogue owing to a Matt Mason prototype appearing on the original (black) cover, which was ultimately not produced for sale. Despite the Ensemble Paks not featuring in either of the earlier catalogues, they did finally appear in the replacement (blue cover) catalogue.
The Swiss booklet shows the same pictures, but says that these items are not available.