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Mattel Girls Report

By Amy Lipkowitz


Mattel's Barbie doll is still going strong.  This year marks the triumphant return of her erstwhile sweetheart, Ken.  The post-makeover Ken appears in the Beach Fun line -- the brunet version in our photo gallery is a one-of-a-kind celebrity styled customized Ken.


The Fashion Fever line continues to expand.  New additions include a portable styling head that can fit in a snap-shut case for kids to travel with, and a styling head with hair-coloring that children can share with the doll.


Various aspects of Barbie's life are explored this year, including her pets, her family, and her careers (numbering well over 90).  The pets are a beautiful dog that "eats" kibble and eliminates it, requiring Barbie to scoop and dispose of the waste in a trash can.  The cat uses the clumping litter, continuing the theme of social responsibility. Tawny the Horse (available as a styling head and as a horse for Barbie to ride) really walks, and Barbie is articulated to allow her to mount her steed.


On the family front, Little Sister Kelly has received another update. The new Kelly is slightly larger than the previous ones, and includes a sound chip that allows her to interact with various playsets.  Barbie's under-teen sister Stacey also returns in various two-packs with Kelly.


2006 marks the tenth anniversary of Tickle Me Elmo, and Elmo returns as TMX (Tickle Me Elmo Ten, or Extreme).  TMX Barbie comes with Elmo-themed clothing and a plush Elmo of her own.  As TMX is still very much under wraps until the grand unveiling on September 20th, the packaging for TMX Barbie has TMX represented by a shadowy silhouette.


In playsets, Barbie has her first ever three-story townhouse.  The house features lights and sounds, and the third level is removable for on-the-go adventures. The townhouse is scheduled to be out for Christmas.


Other playsets include the Party Bus.  Continuing the portability theme, the playset features a couch on the interior and a hot tub on the exterior, both of which fold up and away for storage.  The hot tub includes flashing lights and bubbling sounds.


Barbie's world of Fairytopia continues in her first sequel movie, Mermaidia. Besides the currently available mermaids, the toy line includes the Glitter Swirl Fairy, with a swirling-glitter feature that sends glitter-infused water rushing through her fairy wings.  The Color Change fairies have hair and bodies that change color as water is applied to them.  Finally, the Sea Pixies are tiny dolls that fit into pendants that girls can wear.  The dolls themselves can be removed from the pendant and worn as rings.


The previous movie, Barbie in Fairytopia, is touring the country as a live stage show.  To commemorate Barbie Live in Fairytopia, a Collector's Edition Barbie as Elina doll is being released.  The doll wears a replicate of the stage show outfit.


The latest Barbie CG Fairytale movie is Barbie in The Twelve Dancing Princesses, in which Barbie (as Princess Genevieve) and her eleven multi-ethnic sisters must find the courage to save the kingdom.  The dolls have poseable elbows and various dance-related action features. Barbie and Genevieve, for example, has a spinning skirt.  Hadley and Isla, the twins, can spin on interlocking stands. The Kelly-doll triplets can be wound up on their stands, and then released on to a flat surface to spin and twirl like tops.  The dolls also come with collectible dancing-shoe themed necklaces.


In addition to being a large articulated talking fashion doll with poseable knees and elbows, the Let's Dance Interactive Genevieve can be placed on her stand for three different modes of play.  In Perfomance Mode, Genevieve dances along to music from the movie.  In Teach Me mode, the child places IR sensors on her arms and foot.  Genevieve can then detect the arm and foot movements, and instruct the girl on the proper dance moves.  A speech feature allows Genevieve to correct the dancer if she makes any false moves.  Finally, the Dance With Me mode allows the girl to lead Genevieve in a dance using the IR sensors.


Unfortunately, photographs were not permitted for the My Scene line. The big upcoming line if the Fab Faces series, with five different animatronic facial expressions; Surprise, Smirk, Smile, Talk, and Pout. Featured in this line are Nolee, Madison, Chelsea, and newcomer Kennedy, a blue-eyed blonde.  Other My Scene series shown included the UnFURgettable line of faux-fur fashions, the Let's Go Disco line, and a number of Swapping Styles dolls accompanied by a single swappable head/torso.


In non-Barbie news, the world of Winx Club has expanded to include make-over heads and other electronically enhanced toys.  The Magic Makeover Bloom head cooperates with the child, closing her eyes to allow eyeshadow to be applied, and puckering her lips.  She interacts with the child through speech and actions such as blowing kisses and winking.


The Pixies, introduced last year, are also available in Makeover format.  These feature color-change lips and light-up wings.


In addition to singing songs from their popular cartoon show, the Singsational Winx Club dolls feature a "working" microphone that makes the sound quieter the further it is from the doll's lips. The regular fashion dolls do not sing, but will have new Beach and Disco themed outfits.


The Puffy Ami Yumi series is focusing on roleplay items and small figures rather than 10" fashion dolls this year.  The main themes are make-up and music, with hidden make-up and applicators studding the guitar and other toys.


Holly Hobbie returns with a Direct To Video feature in March 2006.  The new Holly Hobbie has a contemporary flair, while keeping wholesome themes of friendship and activity.  The 12" dolls include accessories and activity kits such as beading and stickers that can be used to decorate the doll's clothing.  There will also be separately sold accessory fashion packs.  Holly and her friends all have pets, who will also be sold with decorating activity kits. The Holly Hobbie Clubhouse Girls series features smaller dolls with removable fashions.  There will also be poseable bendable dolls with plastic non-removable clothes.


The world of Teen Trends is expanding with a new character, Rayna.  Each Teen Trends doll has a personality and unique fashion style, and Rayna's fashions are inspired by Asian Fusion fashion.


The packaged dolls on display were dressed in their Back to School clothes; the unpackaged dolls are from the Winter Cool assortment. There will also be separately sold fashions, as well as separately sold pet dogs for each girl.


In the fall, a series of accessories called Create-A-Spa will allow children to build their very own Teen Trends spa.  They can choose from various sets ranging from a hair salon to a manicure station, with separately sold hair falls and other clip-on accessories.


The Pixel Chix series of digital girl friends are continuing to expand in 2006.  The new additions include the Road Trippin' Cars, which link up to the Pixel Chix houses to allow the digital characters to leave the home and go on adventures.  The Love 2 Shop Mall also connects to the cars, and allows the Pixel Chix to work, make money, and shop.  The two-story malls can be connected to make a mega-mall.  The Pixel Chix can traverse the two floors of the mall using an innovative flip-up LCD screen.  This screen will also be featured in the two-story Pixel Chix houses, coming out in the Fall.