Listen, there’s no getting rid of the guy. The girls love him and boys have identified with him for more than a half century. But wait, change is in the air for the plastic molded creation that lives on, according to our own toy treasure seeker Lance Avery Morgan. [Photos courtesy: Mattel]
He’d likely introduce himself as Ken. Ken Carson. But you know him as a Ken Doll from Mattel. Yes, he’s the same Ken you’ve always known about who has historically led his life much like a soap opera character: he’s handsome, dresses well and asks the females in his life a lot of questions.
But there’s a new Ken Doll in town and he’s ready to mingle. He now goes by Next Gen Ken® and looks like the sort of friend you might want your daughter, or son, to possibly have. The guy next door, the chap on a scooter, or the winning goalie at Saturday morning’s soccer tourney. He’s an integral part of the Barbie New Crew® and these new kids on the block are all about living an active lifestyle… in Malibu with dream cars and dream houses…and beyond.
By our estimation, Ken’s ideal dream age to be is about 11-14 years old, but he actually turned 56 this year since he first came on the market in 1961 to be Barbie’s perfect escort. And, let’s face it, he’s led a life of an Endless Summer, just like the seminal 70s slacker film of catching the perfect wave. Even though Barbie had every occupation under the sun (and a robust wardrobe to correlate), Ken, who had a few career clothes, liked to keep it casual as Barbie’s fun guy to have around. A dream relationship for her indeed.
Nowadays, the new Ken likely looks different than the doll your sister had (or you if your GI Joes needed back-up). That guy used to be sort of blah and quite white. Now, coming in an array of 15 choices, Ken has options like seven skin tones, three different body types, eight hair colors to choose, and nine hairstyles (including a Mun, the Man-bun). Mattel, his creator, states he now has “modernized fashions, ranging from casual business attire to athletic wear. The brand is also introducing 25 additional diverse Barbie dolls. These dolls join the 100+ diverse looks launched in the Barbie Fashionistas line in the last three years.”
Aside from some 70’s furry hair that evolved into 80’s mullet he sported, this is the most major body sculpting and make-over the fellow has ever had.
As the joke goes, if a fictional divorced Barbie comes with all of Ken’s things, what might this 21st century Ken ideally come with? We’re guessing a yoga membership, an Audi, vintage jazz albums, some student loans to pay off…and some sort of downtown dream loft? He doesn’t, surprisingly, come with a skirt that was the talk of the men’s runway collections this year.
But at $9.99 retail, Ken is still a deal for any child — and the child at heart — looking to see what the adventures of being grown up might be like as lived through a 12” figure and his gal and guy pals.
Also, in case you’re wondering how your own action jackson G.I. Joes would fare these days, take a look at what he might look like…