Barbie Basics: Bringing Barbie's Body to Life

By: Joe Thompson

Each Barbie Collector doll is a work of art.

This isn't an exaggeration. From incredible design sketches to wardrobe creation, hair styling, and face painting, all the work is done by hand and created with incredible care. Indeed, when the staff toured The House of Barbie we were so impressed by the craftsmanship that we asked if we could show our readers the process each doll goes through before being produced—again, by hand— as a limited-edition collector doll.

Here is the first step: Building the perfect Barbie body.

After the Barbie creative team decides on the theme or idea for an upcoming Barbie Collector doll, a designer creates numerous sketches and revises the concept until a finalized design is produced; the sketch above by Robert Best is for the Tribute Barbie® Doll, and is an example of what might be created for these purposes.

It's often assumed that Barbie has only one body, but that's not the case, especially when it comes to collector dolls. For example, the vintage Barbie is based on the original doll design and it will have different curves than the Barbie as Marilyn Monroe, which is trying to capture an iconic look and frame. And both of those will differ from, say, one of the fantasy dolls—like the new Moulin Rouge Barbie—where the body has to be crafted in such a way that it can hold larger, more incredible garments or accessories.

So with that in mind, the designer and sculptor will look at past doll bodies and heads in the archives (top and bottom images). They see if anything works for this particular doll they're creating, or if one of those bodies is at least close to what they need for the new doll, and then a sculptor builds the new frame from clay.

Just like with the new body, the sculptor will often need to create a new face to match the doll's expression, attitude and tone from the sketch.

Once approved, molds are made of the sculpts and the doll is ready to go into production. But before that happens, the makeup, hair and wardrobe must be finalized. We'll get to that next time.

So this raises one last question: When you've created this many dolls, what does the the head and body archive look like? Check out all the heads below to get a small idea.

And in case you wanted to see how the Tribute Barbie® Doll turned out from Robert Best's original design, here you go.

A Barbie Collector photo shoot

•Building a beautiful face and having a perfect hair day
•"Project Rungay" - Barbie fashion design and clothing creation