Barbie is probably one of the most iconic toys in human history. That probably goes without saying. At this point, she’s had so many different jobs that her resume would make Forrest Gump’s seem empty. She’s also had a ridiculous number of sisters and friends, all with their own activities, families, and careers. Barbie dolls have also been released with the themes of well-known fairy tales, along with memorable public figures. If you can think of something, there is probably a Barbie that relates to it in some way.
Growing up, a lot of us had Barbies. I had a couple, much to the disdain of pretty much every male relative I had. But this list might have you wishing you’d kept hold of a few of your childhood treasures.
While Barbie might seem like “just a doll” for some, the dolls on this list are both rare and valuable. Some can be found if you have a high enough budget and know exactly where to look. But it won’t be an easy journey. Some of these dolls weren’t even released that long ago, in the grand scheme of things. But they can still be almost impossible to find. Some of these dolls are a little weird and questionable; others are quite sweet. But all of them were made by Mattel for the Barbie franchise. If you recognize any of the dolls on this list, you might want to take a quick visit to your parent's attic afterward!
25 “Coca-Cola” Barbie (1998)
Nowadays, it’s recognized that advertising unhealthy foods to children isn’t the best thing. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, the adverts Coca-Cola still puts out are proof of that, but it’s recognized the using a child’s favorite toy to get them to buy your product is morally questionable.
I don’t know how much Coca-Cola paid Mattel to make this, but I’m fairly certainly plenty of children wanted to drink Coke to “be like Barbie.”
Although Mattel doesn’t make this Barbie anymore, it is very popular amongst collectors due to its uniqueness. Even those who drink Pepsi.
24 Flashlight Fun Stacie (1997)
I remember these dolls. I actually had the “Whitney and Piglet” version, who I completely adored and carried everywhere with me at one point. My sister also had “Stacie and Pooh” and “Janet and Tigger.”
Knowing what I know now, perhaps we should have taken better care of them. The dolls were very popular at the time, but haven’t been made by Mattel for a long while. I’m sure that if I did manage to hunt my one down through my relatives, it would be too loved to be worth anything!
23 Happy Family – Midge And Baby (2002)
I also remember having this Barbie. I remember desperately wanting it and saving up for weeks. On reflection… I’m not sure what the appeal was. It’s certainly a reasonable idea for a children’s toy. I hate hearing parents telling their kids that storks bring babies or that women lay eggs.
But parents who can’t stand the idea of their children learning the truth about pregnancy lead to the doll being redesigned.
A non-pregnant Midge was then released instead. A complete version of the original pregnant doll, in good condition with no missing parts, is now hard to find.
22 Original Midge (1963)
The Happy Family series, which started with Midge’s wedding to Alan and ended with baby Nikki’s first birthday, was not the first appearance of Barbie’s friend Midge.
Midge first appeared in the early days of Barbie, when the company was trying to branch out by introducing friends for their blonde superstar. After all, your child may have their Barbie doll, but they’ll surely start to wonder if Barbie is getting lonely and needs some girlfriends to chat too. Midge’s original face here is a lot more classic and a lot creepier than the Happy Family doll.
21 Magic Curl Barbie (1981)
This Barbie was insanely popular. Why wouldn’t she be? She was a doll you could dress up and style her hair! Since the eighties were all about having big, outrageous hairstyles, it makes sense that this doll would be popular alongside the fashions.
The doll came with a hair solution, that made straightening her hair possible.
You’ll find lots of online discussions with people talking about this doll with nostalgia. But finding one for yourself may be more difficult.
20 Lorraine Schwartz Barbie (2010)
Sometimes, a special set of Barbies will be made to commemorate an event or to celebrate something. The above doll was part of a twelve-doll set, designed by jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz. According to rumor, this was commissioned to draw attention to Barbie joining Twitter.
Unfortunately, you can scour the doll fairs all you like, but you’ll never be able to hunt this one down. Only one set of the twelve was ever made and sold at auction for $7,500 USD. However, the real diamond jewelry on this doll is valued at $25,000.
19 Totally Hair Barbie (1991)
After the success of the eighties Magic Curl Barbie, Mattel decided to go down the same path and create a doll for the nineties girls.
This Barbie had ridiculously long hair, reaching down to her ankles, that children could style, braid and do up.
She also came with a tube of hair gel that kids could use to… well, gel it. This doll was so well remembered that a revival doll was released in 2017. While you can still find the revival doll fairly easily, the original is rare and expensive!
18 Bicyclin’ Whitney (1996)
Barbie’s little sister Stacie was ever present in the nineties, often taking part in sets with her two besties Janet and Whitney. Like in the already mentioned Flashlight Fun series. However, they must have had a fight sometime in the mid-noughties as the trio seemed to go their separate ways.
This series saw the girls riding their bikes together, with jointed knees that allowed them to ride their bicycles. Reuniting the dolls to relive those summer days might be a challenge, as all three are now expensive and rare. For some reason, locating Whiney can be harder than the other two.
17 Frida Kahlo – Inspirational Women Barbie
Frida Kahlo is one of the most recognizable female artists who ever lived. So, she very much deserved her place, alongside Amelia Earhart and Katherine Johnson. However, finding your own Frida Kahlo Barbie might prove expensive and difficult depending on where you live.
After the doll's release, distant relatives of Kahlo took out an injunction, officially banning sales of the doll in Mexico. There were claims that Mattel did not have the rights to Kahlo’s image and that the doll did not truly reflect who she was. There have been several lawsuits about the matter, making the doll harder to find.
16 The First Barbie (1959)
Which Barbie could be harder to find then the originally Barbara Millicent Roberts herself? This doll may seem like a completely different girl to the Barbie we know today. Her face is certainly creepier and a lot colder without her bright, plastic smile.
While many versions of early Barbie have the same face and hair, you can tell if yours is really the first edition by checking her feet.
The original had holes in her feet while the second had solid feet. If you do have an original keep it safe, as a mint condition version was reportedly sold at auction for $27,450.
15 The First Black Barbie (1979)
I mentioned earlier with the first Midge doll, that soon after Barbie’s release, the company realized they’d make more money if they gave Barbie a few friends. However, it wasn’t until 1979, twenty years after the first Barbie, did Mattel release their first black version of the doll.
It feels questionable to me to just name the doll literally “Black Barbie.” The creators could at least have given her a real name! While I’m sure the creator's hearts were in the right place, seeing the way this doll has been described these days, makes me rather uncomfortable.
14 The Red-Haired Barbie (1962)
This Barbie was released a year before the first ever Midge doll came out. While it had the same ginger hair, it didn’t have the same freckles and cute smile that Midge brought to the franchise.
I haven’t been able to find a name for this Barbie, only that she was released sometime during the early years in 1962. Perhaps she was released to see if friends of Barbie would sell. Maybe that’s why both Midge and she have ginger hair. I’d like to more about this doll, but it appears information is rare.
13 Marie Antoinette Barbie (2003)
Although I’d love to see children playing with more historical figures rather than fashion dolls, I wouldn’t let this big, gorgeous gown near any sticky fingers! This beautiful doll was inspired by the French royal Maria Antoinette. The last Queen of France and a fashion icon of the Georgian era. One would hope she’d feel better about the revolution if we could go back in time and tell her that, two-hundred and ten years after her passing, there would be a doll based on her created by the most successful doll manufacturer of all time.
12 Golden Dream Barbie (1980)
While this look may appear rather old for Barbie nowadays, who has been in her early twenties for the past sixty years, once upon a time this look was fashionable and current.
Maybe this says more about me than anybody else, but when I first saw this she immediately reminded me of Beverly Goldberg.
While not exactly as inspirational as some of the Barbies mentioned or as good for the minds of young children, this Barbie had a big puffy coat and billionaire dreams. Which for some is enough. You do you Barbie.
11 Audrey Hepburn Roman Holiday Barbie (2013)
There are many things in this world that recognize someone’s stardom and achievements. A star on the Hollywood walk of fame. Awards like the Oscars. Having your portrait hung in a National Gallery.
But one level of achievement for a select few is having a Barbie doll in your honor.
Hollywood legend Audrey Hepburn has four! Two released in 1998 and two more in 2013. While the 1998 Breakfast at Tiffany’s doll was so popular you can still easily find one today, 2013’s Roman Holiday doll is just popular enough and obscure enough to be a challenge.
10 Pink Splendour Barbie (1996)
One of the first things to come to mind when you hear Barbie is pink! Barbie loves pink. Her logo is pink and many of her accessories come in pink! This extravagant hairstyle and big pink frock seem to represent everything that Barbie is about.
This is one of the rarest retail Barbies ever made, with only ten thousand ever produced in the world.
It holds the record as the most expensive retail Barbie at $900. The price has gone down a little over the years but can still set you back $399.
9 Dolls Of The World: Japan Barbie (2008)
Barbie’s Dolls of the World have been around for a little while. The first editions came out in 1985, with a revival in 2008, introducing more children to other cultures and other fashions. Other dolls for the series have come out between these times. Although they have often been more popular with collectors than children. This Doll of the World from 2008 was popular with both! This Japanese Geisha themed doll came in a beautiful kimono with beautifully styled hair. While a second-hand one can be obtained easily, finding one in mint condition can get competitive.
8 De Beers Anniversary Barbie (1999)
While Barbie is a children’s toy, this doll is without a doubt for adults only. Not because of her clothes, but because of her price. This doll was commissioned in 1999 by the De Beers Diamond Company (famous for the invention of engagement rings) to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.
The belt and bikini of this doll featured one hundred and sixty real diamonds, designed by De Beers. Only one was made to celebrate the anniversary and was sold at auction for $85,000 USD. Sure, it’s pretty, but were those tiny diamonds really worth it?
7 Perfume Pretty Barbie (1987)
This is another Barbie that the world will never forget, but getting your own these days requires patience, know-how, and money. The big, poufy dress is certainly something one can picture Barbie in. Keeping that dress pretty and clean must have been a challenge. I’m sure small children running around with this doll would tear it on something now and then. But, the good thing about this Barbie is that it would always smell good! This Barbie came with a small bottle of perfume, safe for Barbie and the child playing with her. I wonder how many eighties parents had to clean that smell of the couch?
6 Stefani Canturi Barbie 2010
This Barbie is probably the most beautiful looking doll on this list. I honestly can’t take my eyes off those eyelashes! This Barbie was commissioned in 2010 and is, to date, the most expensive Barbie ever sold.
The Necklace was designed by jewelry designer Stefani Canturi.
The center is a one carat emerald-cut Australian pink diamond, surrounded by white diamonds, totally three additional carats. Only one doll was made, which was sold at auction in New York for $302,500 USD.
5 Beautiful Bride Barbie (1976)
Over the years, there have been a lot of Barbie brides. While sometimes the bride in question has been presented as one of Barbie’s friends, such as Midge’s wedding to her boyfriend Adam, Barbie has put on a white dress herself now and then. Although Ken is always described as her “boyfriend,” he always seems to play the part of the groom.
Personally, I prefer the newer wedding sets, with Barbie in pink or purple rather than white. This white wearing bride Barbie one of the first made by Mattel and is far too traditional for my tastes. Fortunately, I’ll probably never see it in person.
4 Pink Jubilee Barbie (1989)
Pink Jubilee Barbie was released in 1989 to celebrate thirty years of Barbie. Very few of these were made, as they were given as gifts to the attendees of the invitation-only anniversary party, at the Lincoln Centre in New York.
With her big blonde hair and shimmery pink dress, Pink Jubilee Barbie represented everything that Barbie had come to be known for.
One can only wonder what kind of ideas Mattel have for their sixty-year anniversary Barbie in 2019. It should be twice as glamorous and pink as this one for sure.
3 I Can Be: Caregiver Barbie (2010)
In general, Mattel’s You Can Be Anything Barbie series has been pretty awesome. At the time of writing, their website sends the positive message that you can be a Pilot, an Athlete, a Skateboarder or a Fairy Princess. Whatever you want to be.
This doll was not the most popular one in the series. For obvious reasons.
This doll is discussed a lot by collectors and toy reviewers, but actually finding one to play caregiver with can be difficult and expensive.
2 Happy Meal Stacie (1993)
While Stacie, Whitney, and Janet took part in a lot of active things in the nineties, such as cycling and bowling, like all young kids they also expressed their interest in MacDonald’s. Barbie has often appeared as the additional toy in a Happy Meal, but Mattel advertising MacDonald’s like this feels a little slimy.
This doll, however, is ridiculously popular among collectors. Four editions of this doll were released, Stacie, Whitney, Janet, and Todd. In the same year, a Birthday Fun MacDonald’s set was released featuring Barbie, Stacie, and Todd. (With a creepy Ronald MacDonald cake.)
1 Growing Up Skipper (1975)
This doll has become incredibly infamous in recent years. Growing-Up Skipper was a coming-of-age themed doll. If you rotated her arm, she would immediately grow an inch taller.
The concept of the doll does sound rather cool, but papers at the time complained about the controversy of it.
Even today, the doll has been the subject of internet ridicule, including being a feature on Good Mythical Morning in a video entitled: “Worst Toys Ever.” (2015.) Despite the fascination with the doll, finding one in good condition is difficult.