Sorry, I'm in a Halloween mood and my Oogie Boogie is coming out. But back to the topic at hand. Looks like Mattel is finally getting the picture from it's consumers, maybe. A promo pic seems to have been released showing Barbie with 18, that right 18 points of articulation; neck, bust, double jointed elbows, upper arms, wrists, hips, upper thighs, double jointed knees, and ankles. Here are a couple of blog posts on the subject.
And here is what appears to be a leaked Mattel photo.
Now, I'm not getting my hopes up too far with this one. I know that they have released their 18" Monster High with all but the ankle articulation like this for 2015, but I have yet to see them go this far with their Barbie Lines.
Marketing wise it is the smart plan. As Asian Articulated bodies have become ever increasingly popular here in the US they have no choice but to adapt or fade away. The rules of business make evolving an ever present pressure on a company this big. And with their sales falling rapidly in their Barbie Lines they really have no choice.
Do I look for them to keep the line? Well now that depends on two things; Cost Effectiveness and Popularity. What I mean by that is the cost of production verses the customer demand. Yes there is a demand for this type of doll in today's market but unless the bodies are well made I am not so sure it will pick up for them. Obitsus and other action figure bodies might have their faults, but not nearly as many as Articulated Barbies of the past have.
Examples are the poor joints of the Fashionista line of dolls. The delicate elbows, wrists, and knees made many who were at first excited about them flee for the hills. They they did the second wave that resolved very little. A few customers gave them the benefits of the doubt but got burned. The last line that came out with the ankles also had faults and although they sold well customers were still more likely to buy Asian dolls first.
But I think their saving race in this particular case my be DC Comics. That's right, DC Comics. See after Disney cut ties with Mattel earlier this year for their character dolls, to be faded out over the next two years, Mattel was in a really tough spot. They needed that line of dolls to keep up sales up on their Fashion Doll Lines to which the Character Dolls were attached. But it opened up a hole for someone to come in and partner with the doll company.
Since Disney is teamed up with Marvel Comics they cannot gain a foot hold into the DC Comics. DC is owned by Warner Bros movie company, Disney's biggest competition. Making the partnering of the two Comics with Disney impossible.
The saving grace comes in the form of DC announcing a launch of toy lines targeting girls. A series of Action Figures (they are not calling them dolls) for girls based on their female characters. Here is a blog post with a little more on that.
So if this line of Mattel dolls has evolved from what DC has partnered with Mattel for then it might just sale. I think they have been made to see that girls don't just want Princesses and Fashion Models as role models any more. Not that they ever did, but in the last 15 or so years they have proven that even more.
Comic book sales have increased with more and more of the customers being female. Not nearly as many as males but surely inching closer to the divide. Girls and women were never an absent market for comics but in the past they were not considered a target market due to the percentage being so low. Boys seemed to be, by the numbers, the markets gold at the end of the rainbow. Now that has started to change.
This fits in with the changes I've seen and read about in the comic book market. The companies are now adding newer female character and changing their old ones. Some changes have caused more problems, I will have to give you that. I am not one who is a fan of changing established male characters into female ones as a band aid to please the PC public.
If you wish to modernize your characters for the female, and the LGBT communities then make new characters for them. It is more of a slap to say "You want this then well change this character into it for you." That isn't creativity nor is it evolving. That is a band aid and band aids hurt when you have to remove them. With so many creative talents in the comic book industry it is a better business innovation to create something new. To create something better. I do not see this as a lasting idea when it comes to revenues or marketing. This type of thinking fades far too quickly.
If Mattel has seen the light at the end of the tunnel they've found themselves in I think this might just be a possible future for Barbie. Until it proves out I am not getting my hopes up for this new line. DC might have partnered with them but that doesn't mean they are learning quickly.
I see this as a good thing for both companies. Maybe an outside eye might just spark a creative revolution for both industries that will benefit all their consumers. We can only hope.