As much as I’m sometimes nostalgic for the simpler days of my own ’80s childhood, there’s a whole lot kids today have that I never dreamed would be possible: Like, say, several lines of Barbie dolls that actually reflect a little bit more diversity and expressive personality than a single plastic mold could do. This week, Mattel announced an addition to the ways in which the toys are appealing to today’s kids with Barbie Extra.
As the name suggests, these five new dolls are over-the-top in their fashion choices and hairstyles. If your kids are into L.O.L. O.M.G. dolls, they’ll look a little familiar in that these ladies are also absolutely ready to go to a club or an underground art opening, or whatever it is uber-hip youngsters used to do before COVID. In announcing the line to USA Today on Monday, Mattel explained its vision of “Extra.”
“When it comes to fashion, Barbie Extra has a ‘more is more’ attitude, as even their pets are accessorized,” Kim Culmone, Mattel senior vice president and global head of Design Barbie & Fashion Dolls told the paper. “Barbie is at her best when she connects to culture and Barbie Extra does just that from the name, down to every detail and accessory. The dolls are fun and playful, letting kids dial up their self-expression and fashion fantasy play by showing them you can be a trendsetter at every age.”
The idea of these girls being trendsetters, not trend followers, would have been huge for me as a kid who was always pressured to fit in, and yet somehow incapable of it. I hope it means children are feeling more free to express themselves, both in doll form and real life.
Barbie Extra also follows in the footsteps of that other recent line, Barbie Fashionistas, in that they do not look like typical Barbies. They have different facial features, body types, skin color, and hair textures. They’re still, of course, all traditionally very attractive — the day someone introduces a “plain” fashion doll will be interesting indeed — but we’re enjoying these baby steps. Take a look at each doll. Some of them are already sold out at Target and Walmart, but you can pre-order them at Amazon.
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The Streetwear-Loving Pop Star
This girl’s puffs and braids are enviable, and I want those silver booties in my closet. (I am making up the titles for these characters, whom Mattel has simply numbered.)
The Art-School Star
She’s got a curvy shape and gorgeous Asian facial features. That long hair will also be extra-fun to play with.
The One With the Pet Unicorn Pig
Though she looks like a traditional Barbie, something about her choice of pet and coat makes us think she’s just a little bit quirkier.
Not only does she have freckles, #4 has thighs that look somewhat like a real girl’s, and she’s not forced to ride a skateboard in heels.
The Music Festivalgoer
Something tells us those braids are not going to last long in the hands of most kids. But the dog has his own car!
Looking for more of this year’s trendiest toys? Peruse this Amazon guide.