Smoke Gets In Your Eyes


So my Mad Men Season 3 discs arrived yesterday and when I opened the box, a little postcard fell out. On it is a sketch that is labeled, “Ken as Roger Sterling.” Flip the card over and it says, “Award-winning Series. Award-winning Style. Mad Men and Barbie Debuting Summer 2010.”

Woah. Hold on. This is a whole dimension I never thought of before. And of course I want every single doll.

Is that weird? I don’t want to be the weird Barbie collector but I do have history.

My sister and I had about 20 Barbies between us. These were not collector dolls. These were dolls that were played with on a daily basis, thrown down on the basement floor and picked up again when the whim hit us. They were probably played with long after they should have been stored away with other toys we’d outgrown. My defense is that our Barbie games were much more sophisticated than just, “Ken and Barbie Go On a Date” or “Barbie and Friend go Shopping.”

See, we watched a lot of TV. Three’s Company, Love Boat, Charlie’s Angels, Little House on the Prairie, soap operas… So our games usually involved a divorced mother trying to control her teenage daughter who wanted to run away with her motorcycle boyfriend. Or popular, bitchy Barbies trying to keep all the other dolls down. There was also a lot of going to clubs to go dancing in disco finery. There were rehashes of the plot of Grease. There were stolen babies. Loser teens. Speeding in the yellow truck that actually belonged to The Sunshine Family. The Sunshine Family… they were missing eyes, limbs and clothing. But their baby was always good for a Barbie baby stand-in. So what if the disproportionate infant looked like a circus grotesque in Barbie’s arms?

And our Barbies were never, ever named Barbie. For a long time my favorite name was Elizabeth. My sister fell in love with the name Lauren. She also had a Melissa. I think I had a Debbie. For a while I thought the name Sahara was the shit.

We had a lot of Barbie clothes (bonus – our mom would sew us Barbie outfits! Now if that isn’t a labor of love, I don’t know what is). Barbie shoes, purses and other accoutrement like tennis rackets, golf clubs, phones. We had the Barbie Townhouse, complete with elevator. My sister had the pool. I remember once we put chunks of brown watercolors from out little paint sets into the pool and pretended that someone pooped in it. Of course that led to us using the red… you get the idea. We were gross.

So where am I going with all of this? I’ve heard a lot of moms say they are leery about getting their daughters Barbies because of the body proportions and I can understand that. But I also realize that if I hadn’t had Barbies, I wouldn’t have had an outlet for all the storytelling I wanted to do. I also had an extensive collection of Star Wars action figures and all the Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I was an equal-opportunity toy employer. But I think if I’d had to make a choice, I would have chosen my Barbies. I loved to put the radio on and have Barbie disco action. I loved pretending my Barbies were models, teachers, spies, naughty teens, etc.

So I understand why people, like me, want these Mad Men dolls. Because Mad Men is a great story well told, one that a whole lot of people like to engage with. If you played with dolls, there’s that link, a tiny piece of the Mad Men mystique that can sit in your office or home and just… make you happy. It’s why people like to dress up as the characters for Mad Men premiere parties or Halloween. You want to be involved more deeply in that world, even if for only a few moments.

A search of the Barbie Collector site revealed the official press release and a photo of the dolls, not available for purchase until July 2010 (I’m a little disappointed in Betty Draper’s face and that Joan Holloway isn’t more curvaceous. Suggested retail price of $74.95 per doll.

But I signed up for the newsletter anyway, so as to get updates. You can get the sketches by Robert Best if you order the Mad Men Blu Ray set. But I guess for now I’ll be content with my little postcard of Roger Sterling, the sliver fox.

Check out these other sweet Barbie finds that are available now:

Tribute to THE BIRDS

Joan Jett

30th Anniversary of Star Trek

1970s Cher

And, a personal favorite, Pan American Airways Stewardess