Changes Based on Collectors' Input
The staff at Barbie® Collectibles has said that they have based the changes on input from the Barbie Collector Advisory Panel, doll dealers, and through collector interaction at conventions and doll shows.
The staff has said that they ahve learned a lot about what Barbie doll collectors would like to see in the future. "They would like dolls to stay limited in production number yet reasonably available. They'd like us to make the collecting hobby more exciting. They'd like us to find innovative ways to feature the beauty of the dolls in packaging" said the release from Mattel this week. Overall, I think that the changes will please both collectors and Barbie dealers alike
Beginning with the Badgley Mischka Bride Barbie doll,(available mid-2004) the new look for Barbie Collectibled will be revealed. First, the name and logo - from Barbie Collectibles to Barbie Collector will be changed. This is the one change that makes little sense to me. It makes sense to talk about "Barbie Collectibles" since they are dolls. Why, exactly, is Mattel calling the line "Barbie Collector" which, to me, describes the consumer and not the product.
Time will tell if this shift makes any sense to the collecting community.
Another major change will be a new four-tiered structure which will organize the dolls released by Barbie Collectibles....oh, wait, I mean Barbie Collector. This change makes good sense, and will help all collectors be on the "same page" when they purchase a doll.
Barbie collectible dolls will no longer be designated as "Collector Edition" or "Limited Edition" as they have for many years. Instead, there is a color-coded system with each color level having its own per-doll production range, retail strategy, and new packaging. The packaging both tells a collector which color tier the doll belongs to, as well as lets the collector display the doll beautifully without having to de-box the doll. Since Barbie collectors mostly keep their dolls in boxes, this new packaging should be a huge hit.
How The Tiers Were Selected
The Barbie Collectibles staff explain the new collecting tiers as follows: "because Barbie has such a long and celebrated history with fashion, the names of the tiers have real fashion roots. Initially, the Barbie® Collector team looked at some of the most successful fashion designers currently on the market. We were inspired by their innovative approach to representing their fashion lines. For example, you can go into an upscale boutique and buy an outfit from a famous designer and you can also walk into a major department store and purchase something from the same designer's more mainstream line.
In a way, our new label colors are our way of segmenting our collectible dolls and communicating to you where they might be found."
The Pink Tier
The first tier is pink--Barbie doll's signature color - and then the additional tiers add other colors representing even higher standards like silver, gold, and platinum. The Pink Label will include fun, keepsake dolls such as the Dolls of the World - The Princess Collection and the "I Love Lucy" celebrity dolls. Pink Label dolls will come packaged in a box with a clear acetate front trimmed in pink, which makes a nice display for NRFB (never removed from box) dolls.. The Pink Label dolls will not be limided in production numbers. Although all Barbie dealers can carry these dolls, shops such as Wal-Mart and WalMart.com are their main destination. This, I think, is the one detriment to the whole multi-tiered plan. Before, dolls like the "I Love Lucy" celebrity dolls WERE designated as "Collector" level dolls. Pink feels like a type of "demotion" for them. And, I know that my doll shop, for instance, really doesn't want any "collectible" dolls that are designated to mainly be found at Wal Mart. Dolls such as the Princess line have always been found everywhere, and the fact that they will be at the Pink level makes sense. Selected dolls from Pink to Gold will be available at the Barbie website and through their catalog as well.The Silver Label tier includes the Birthday Wishes dolls. Each doll is limited to no more than 50,000 pieces created worldwide, and comes packaged in a silver-trimmed "reveal" package, known as a "new version of the "cake box package," which features a closed box with a beautiful doll photo or other artwork on the cover. Remove the lid to reveal the doll, protected behind a layer of acetate. Just slide the top portion of the lid onto the packaging back to create an easel-type display, ideal for NRFB collectors." OK, now THIS is where the levels become interesting, and a benefit to collectors as well. I've seen the new boxes at Toy Fair, and they are FANTASTIC! I am NOT a NRFB collector, I like to debox my dolls, but I can definitely see myself leaving some of the dolls in this nifty display which shows ALL the doll in her full beauty. Also, limiting the dolls to 50,000 helps define the production of the dolls better than the old Collector edition dolls which were simply at "more than 35,000" dolls. Silver Label dolls will be available at select retailers, including their "premiere" destination at Toys 'R Us and Toysrus.com.
The Gold Tier
Next, there is the more exclusive Gold Label tier. Each doll in the Gold Label tier is limited to no more than 25,000 pieces created worldwide. Gold Label dolls include such popular collector series as the Barbie® Fashion Model Collection Model of the Moment. Previously, these dolls could be in editions as large as 35,000 dolls. Because of the glut of Barbie dolls on the market thanks to eBay, I think that the reduction in edition size will be a welcome change.
Gold Label dolls include such distinguished series as the Barbie Fashion Model Collection and Model of the Moment (featuring the newly-sculpted ModelMuse body) and designer dolls like the Bagley Mischka Bride doll, the first Barbie® Collector doll which will be released to the public later this year.
Gold Label dolls come in a "cake box" type package just like the Silver Label dolls, complete with the acetate layer to protect the dolls and the easel-style display packaging, and with the artistic interpretive photography or other artwork on the gold-trimmed packaging lid and back. You can find Gold Label dolls at authorized Barbie® doll dealers as well as at fine retailers.
The Platinum Tier
The last tier is the very limited Platinum Label. These dolls are produced in editions of less than 1,000 worldwide, and the tier includes premium one-of-a-kind dolls available at select events (like a Bob Mackie OOAK (one-of-a-kind) Barbie® doll created for Dream Halloween).
Specialty Retailers May Carry All Tiers
All Mattel authorized specialty retailers will have the opportunity to carry the full range of dolls from Pink to Gold. The transition from Collctor and Limited editions to the new colored tier will transition slowly throughout 2004. By 2005, all dolls will be classifed using the Pink Label, Silver Label, Gold Label , or Platinum Label designations.