Barbie options embody Sindy, Queens of Africa, Lottie and Bratz

With the discharge of the “Barbie” film, the American doll’s hot-pink empire has reached a complete new degree. “Barbiemania” is sweeping a lot of the world, influencing clothes types, make-up merchandise and even the food trade.

Given the hype, you may be forgiven for considering that the toy launched by Mattel in 1959 is the one doll to ever exist. However whereas many contemplate Barbie to be the doll of all dolls, many others got here after her — usually marketed as extra relatable or consultant options to Barbie, and gaining die-hard followers alongside the best way.

Right here’s a take a look at among the non-Barbies — and the way they fared in contrast with Mattel’s prize doll.

In 1963, 4 years after Barbie’s launch, British firm Pedigree Toys launched Sindy.

Together with her fuller determine, spherical face, side-glancing eyes and informal apparel, Sindy was offered because the relatable girl-next-door. “Sindy is greater than a doll, she is an actual character. The … grown-up woman who lives her personal life and clothes the best way she actually likes,” the original advertisement reads.

For a lot of Brits, Sindy’s authenticity was a big a part of her attraction, mentioned Christina Paul, editor of the members journal for the Doll Membership of Nice Britain, in an interview. “She was the woman subsequent door, somebody I may establish with,” Paul mentioned. “She wasn’t haughty and glamorous like Barbie.”

Sindy was not deliberately designed as a rival to Barbie, Matthew Reynolds, managing director of Pedigree Toys and Manufacturers, mentioned in an interview.

Nonetheless, media retailers have been eager to pit the 2 dolls towards one another, with the Occasions newspaper labeling Sindy “the courageous British anti-Barbie.”

Mattel additionally launched lawsuits focusing on Sindy dolls within the early Nineties, alleging that the facial options on the most recent model of the doll had been too just like Barbie’s. Ultimately Mattel and Hasbro, which had purchased rights to Sindy on the time, reached an settlement, and Sindy’s face was modified.

Controversies apart, Sindy dolls had been beloved by many, significantly in the UK, the place they commanded 80 % of the style doll market in 1985, according to a 2012 report by the BBC.

“Sindy is Barbie’s largest rival, little doubt about it,” Reynolds mentioned. “She is the primary doll talked about after Barbie.”

Reynolds famous that whereas Sindy had reached abroad markets, the model by no means managed to crack the US. About 150 million Sindy dolls have been offered worldwide thus far, however that pales compared to Barbie, the place greater than 100 dolls are offered each minute, according to Mattel.

16 methods we take into consideration Barbie

The Barbie model — and the doll trade extra typically — has lengthy been criticized for missing range.

Taofick Okoya, a Nigerian entrepreneur, based the Queens of Africa model of style dolls in 2010, a line of dolls that characterize completely different tribes and will be bought with varied hair sorts and types, together with braids and Afros.

Hs mentioned a turning level for him was when his eldest baby, who had lengthy been showered with fair-skinned dolls to play with, mentioned she “wished she was White.”

The Queens of Africa dolls confronted challenges after they hit cabinets in Nigeria, as critics and even some kids made the identical assertion, “we don’t want Black dolls” — a mind-set that took awhile to vary, Okoya mentioned in a cellphone interview.

Ultimately, he mentioned, as a result of native advertising and marketing and an inexpensive worth level cheaper than different overseas dolls, gross sales started to climb. At one level, media reports suggested that the model was outselling Barbie dolls in Nigeria.

Mattel created Christie, Barbie’s first Black pal, in 1969, and launched a Black model of Barbie in 1980. Nonetheless, the Barbie model remains to be strongly related to the blond-haired, blue-eyed model of Barbie, and Okoya thinks that Queens of Africa was “forward of the sport” when it got here to diversification within the doll panorama.

Bear in mind the ‘Barbie Lady’ tune? Mattel truly sued, however was advised ‘to sit back.’

One model that isn’t shy about advertising and marketing itself as a rival to Barbie is the Lottie Doll. The doll’s website particularly describes Lottie as “an alternative choice to Barbie.”

“We selected to base Lottie on a 9 yr outdated, a prepubescent baby which permits us to deal with childhood and never should instantly take care of sexualisation or sexual id,” co-founder Ian Harkin mentioned in an e mail. “We wish youngsters to be youngsters they usually can put on no matter they need or be whoever they wish to be.”

Arklu, the corporate that makes Lottie Dolls, notes that, not like Barbie, who typically has completely arched ft, Lottie is ready to stand upright with out help. “Getting that weighting and rigidity was essential to us, it might appear minor but it surely took us fairly a little bit of time, to us it was a subliminal empowerment message,” Harkin wrote in a 2021 blog post titled “The Story of Lottie Dolls.”

Arklu, primarily based in Eire, says it has offered greater than 1 million of the dolls — though Harkin says surviving within the “ruthless” toy trade panorama has been a problem.

Nonetheless, he says he thinks the corporate has completed its objective of making a extra optimistic doll for youngsters to play with — significantly given a 2021 study suggesting that enjoying with dolls with real looking childlike physique shapes, together with Lottie, was higher for promoting body satisfaction in younger ladies.

Barbie’s producer has additionally revisited the concept of physique picture over time, launching in 2016 the “Fashionistas” line of dolls out there in curvy, petite and tall types to a lot optimistic media consideration. “It may be demotivating seeing the market chief get all the credit score for change,” Harkin mentioned.

One of many manufacturers thought of the most important menace to Barbie’s empire was Bratz, which was vastly fashionable within the 2000s. Marketed as an edgier, extra street-smart model of Barbie, it was the top-selling fashion doll throughout some durations.

The 4 authentic Bratz dolls — Yasmin, Cloe, Jade and Sasha — had strikingly pouty lips and enormous eyes, and, in response to the Guardian, introduced in $1 billion in annual income on the peak of their reputation.

The recognition of Bratz dolls within the early 2000s was linked to a decline in Barbie gross sales, with Mattel, in certainly one of its long-running authorized battles towards maker MGA Leisure, saying that the creation of Bratz had led to Barbie losing greater than $300 million in revenue. (Barbie gross sales have been resurgent in recent times, and specialists predict that the discharge of the “Barbie” film will doubtless gas additional gross sales.)

However Bratz has had an everlasting influence on Barbie, and a few followers speculated that Greta Gerwig’s movie, launched Friday, had included a Bratz reference. In current days, some followers professed their loyalty to Bratz, whilst they admitted they’d nonetheless watch the “Barbie” movie.

Gymnastics star Simone Biles was amongst these declaring their love for the choice dolls, writing on Meta’s new social media app, Threads: “I used to be by no means actually a barbie woman, at all times a bratz woman.”

“Isn’t it about time we acknowledge the superior doll?” Melanie Curry, an assistant editor at Cosmopolitan, wrote. “Bratz simply felt extra mature and enjoyable and funky.”

Sameer Hosany, professor of selling at Royal Holloway College of London, mentioned in an e mail: “Whereas most toys stay fashionable for less than two to 3 years, Barbie’s long-term success displays Mattel responsiveness and adaptableness to the altering cultural and political discourse in society.”

Mattel has adopted varied methods to repeatedly revitalize Barbie dolls, Hosany mentioned, from introducing further characters with storylines like boyfriend Ken and sister Skipper, launching the “Fashionistas” line with completely different physique sorts, and drawing on “a robust sense of nostalgia” from generations that “grew up enjoying with the doll.”

And the various controversies across the Barbie doll’s picture might have helped her keep related, Hosany mentioned: “The numerous criticisms of Barbie comparable to being accused of selling unrealistic physique requirements, stereotyping and objectification of girls amongst others have maybe stored the Barbie model on the helm of cultural and sociological discourse.”

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