Ken (doll)

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Ken
First appearanceMarch 11, 1961; 61 years ago (March 11, 1961)
Created byElliot Handler
In-universe information
Full nameKenneth Sean Carson
NicknameKen
OccupationAt least 40 occupations
Family
  • Edna Carson (mother)
  • Kenneth Carson (father)
  • Izzy Carson (sister)
  • Tommy Carson (brother)
  • Barbie Roberts (best friend (currently); girlfriend (currently))

Kenneth Sean Carson is a fashion doll and fictional character invented by Elliot Handler and introduced by American toy company Mattel in 1961 as the counterpart of Barbie, who was introduced two years earlier. Ken was named after Kenneth Handler, son of Barbie creator/inventor Ruth Handler, just as Barbie was named after her daughter. Ruth Handler died in 1994 of a brain tumor.[1]

Similar to Barbie, Ken is from Willows, Wisconsin[2] and has a fashionable line of clothing and accessories (although he made his debut wearing only a swim suit).[3] In the Barbie mythos, Ken met Barbie on the set of a TV commercial and has been her boyfriend, per promotional box inscriptions from his debut until 2018. Currently, he is perceived as one of Barbie's main friends. Since his debut, Ken has held over 40 occupations; the latest being a marine biologist as depicted in the 2017 Netflix film, Barbie: Dolphin Magic.

Overview[edit]

Superstar Ken[edit]

From 1961 to the debut of Superstar Ken in 1977, Ken had straight arms that didn't bend. His head could only turn left and right. Ken's hair was made of felt in his first year (known to collectors as the "flocked" hair Ken), but this was replaced with a plastic, molded hairstyle when the creators realized that the felt hair fell off when wet.[4] Superstar Ken featured a dimpled smile, a head that could swivel, bent arms, a more muscular physique, jewelry, and underwear permanently molded to his body. The woman who made the Ken doll made it to resemble her husband.[citation needed]

Ken's Friends[edit]

Ken's best friend, Allan Sherwood (Midge's boyfriend, later husband), was introduced in 1964. The first African-American male doll, Brad, was introduced in 1968, as the boyfriend of Barbie's African-American friend, Christie, who was introduced in 1967.[5]

Earring Magic Ken[edit]

In 1993, "Earring Magic Ken" was released. The style of the doll was thought to resemble fashions and accessories worn by some segments of the gay community at the time, and "Earring Magic Ken" subsequently attained a cult following, becoming a collector's item.[6]

Breakup and rekindling with Barbie[edit]

In February 2004, Mattel announced a split for Ken and Barbie, with Russell Arons, vice president of marketing at Mattel, saying that Barbie and Ken "feel it's time to spend some quality time – apart...Like other celebrity couples, their Hollywood romance has come to an end", though Arons indicated that the duo would "remain friends".[7]

In February 2006 however, a revamped version of the Ken doll was launched, though it was stated that his relationship with Barbie was still purely platonic.[8][9] In 2011, Mattel launched a massive campaign for Ken to win Barbie's affections back.[10] The pair officially reunited on Valentine's Day 2011.[11]

Sugar Daddy Ken[edit]

In October 2009, Mattel announced a new Palm Beach line which included a "Sugar's Daddy Ken" doll aimed for adult collectors. The said line officially debuted in the spring of 2010. The line proved to be controversial, because of Ken's suggestive-sounding name. The doll had a more mature appearance and came with a West Highland Terrier puppy. Mattel defended the doll's name, saying that the puppy's name is "Sugar", thus making Ken "Sugar's Daddy".[12]

In 2011, Mattel introduced Japan Ken, the first Ken doll to be included in the "Dolls of the World" collection, which was formerly a Barbie-only line. The Japan Ken doll features a new face sculpt.[13]

New Looks[edit]

In 2021, Mattel announced 15 new looks for Ken. This included looks with different skin tones, body shapes and hair styles. Barbie underwent a similar makeover in 2020. Outside of this change, Ken hasn't changed much since he was introduced 56+ years ago.[14]

Careers[edit]

  • Astronaut (clothing pack 1965[15])
  • Banker (playset 1995[16])
  • Barista (2019[17])
  • Baseball player (clothing pack 1991[18])
  • Basketball player (clothing pack 2021[19])
  • Boxer (clothing pack 1963[15])
  • Businessman (clothing pack 1992[20])
  • Cameraman (playset 1987[21])
  • Coach (clothing pack 1992[22])
  • Country Western singer (1999[23])
  • Cowboy (Venezuela-exclusive Llanero 1989[24])
  • Dancer (2011[25])
  • Dentist (2020[26])
  • Doctor (1987,[27] 1988,[28] clothing pack 1992,[29] 1998,[30] 2010,[31] 2012[32])
  • Dog trainer (2020[33])
  • Drum major (clothing pack 1964[15])
  • Farmer (2019[34])
  • Fashion model (2003[35])
  • Film art director (2003[36])
  • Firefighter (2010,[37] 2019[17])
  • Football player (clothing pack 1992[38])
  • Golfer (clothing pack 2019[39])
  • Hamburger chef (clothing pack 2020[40])
  • Movie star (1977,[41] 1988[42])
  • Ice skater (1990[43])
  • Lifeguard (1995,[44] 2019[17])
  • Nurse (clothing pack 2021[45])
  • Olympic athlete (Venezuela-exclusive 1988[46])
  • Olympic figure skater (1997[47])
  • Olympic hockey player (clothing pack 1975[48])
  • Olympic skier (1975[49])
  • Olympic swimmer (1975[50])
  • Photographer (2000[51])
  • Pilot (clothing pack 1964,[15] clothing pack 1973,[52] 1990,[53] 2014[54])
  • Pizza chef (clothing pack 2019[55])
  • Rapper (1992[56])
  • Referee (clothing pack 2019[57])
  • Reporter (clothing pack 1965,[15] 2015[58])
  • Rock star (1987,[59] 1989,[60] clothing pack 1991[61])
  • Sailor (clothing pack 1963[15])
  • Saxophonist (clothing pack 2020[62])
  • Science teacher (clothing pack 2020[63])
  • Skier (clothing pack 1963[64])
  • Snowboarder (2012[65])
  • Soccer player (2019[17])
  • Soda fountain worker (clothing pack 1964,[15] 2000[66])
  • Spy (2015[67])
  • Starfleet engineering officer (1996[68])
  • Tennis player (1979[69])
  • United States Air Force pilot (clothing pack 1963,[15] 1993[70])
  • United States Air Force Thunderbirds pilot (1994[71])
  • United States Army officer (clothing pack 1963,[15] 1992[72])
  • United States Marine Corps sergeant (1992[73])
  • Wildlife veterinarian (2020[74])

Criticism[edit]

Ken's body proportions have been described as unrealistic by scholarly studies (his chest is estimated to be about 27.5% too large for a representative human male).[75] Unrealistic body proportions in Barbie dolls, including Ken's, have been connected to some eating disorders in children.[76][77] Another controversy has also centered around the visibility (or lack of it) of Ken's male genitalia.[78]

Media/Multimedia Appearances[edit]

Ken has starred in various roles not disclosed by Mattel in the Barbie media franchise including the Barbie films, Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse, Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures and Barbie: It Takes Two.

Billy Flanigan appeared as Ken in "Disney’s Magical World of Barbie".[79] René Dif appeared as Ken.In the music video Barbie Girl

Ken appeared in the Toy Story films from Pixar from Toy Story 2 onward. His vocals in the third film which he appeared in as one of the henchmen of the film's villain, Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear, was provided by Michael Keaton.[80]

Lil B's 2017 mixtape Black Ken was named after Ken.

In 2019, Pete Davidson and Julia Fox were a part of a photo shoot in Paper Magazine where Davidson posed as Ken and Fox posed as Barbie. The photo shoot was created for the 'Break the Internet' series of the Magazine which was made popular by Kim Kardashian's popular, "Champagne Incident" portrait.[81]

Names[edit]

Ken's personal name is Kenneth Sean Carson. His given name comes from the son of Elliot and Ruth Handler. In the 1960s Random House books, his surname is Carson. According to Mattel, his middle name is Sean.[82]

Bibliography[edit]

  • "Barbie and Ken: History." Olsen, Eric. Blog Critics Magazine, 15 February 2004.[83][self-published source?] 15 February 2004.
  • "How do Barbie and Ken Measure Up?" Linda Berg-Cross, Psychotherapy Letter, April 1996, Volume 8, Issue 4, Page 3.
  • History[5] from Mattel Inc. 2001

References[edit]

  1. ^ Woo, Elaine (28 April 2002). "Barbie creator Handler, 85, dies". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 3 December 2021. Her son, Ken, died of a brain tumor in 1994.
  2. ^ Neporent, Liz (10 March 2011). "Ken Doll Turns 50, Looks His Age". ABC News. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  3. ^ "Barbie's friend Ken celebrates a milestone birthday: 60". Associated Press. 12 March 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  4. ^ "Keeping Ken 101". Man Behind The Doll. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  5. ^ a b "About Ken - Mattel" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2016. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "The Man Behind The Doll presents Earring Magic Ken". Man Behind The Doll. 1 July 1993. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Barbie and Ken: History". Blogcritics.org. Archived from the original on 14 February 2006. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  8. ^ CNN.com – It's splitsville for Barbie and Ken – Feb. 12, 2004 Archived November 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "CNN – Madeover Ken hopes to win back Barbie – Feb 10, 2006". CNN. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  10. ^ STRANSKY, TANNER (14 February 2011). "Valentine's Day Surprise! Barbie and Ken are officially back together". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com.
  11. ^ Kavilanz, Parija (14 February 2011). "Barbie and Ken: Back together on Valentine's Day". CNN Money.
  12. ^ "ABC News | Business | 'Sugar Daddy Ken' Doll Raises Eyebrows". ABC News. 30 October 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2010.
  13. ^ "Japan Ken Doll". Barbie Collectors. Mattel. 2011. Archived from the original on 23 December 2010. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  14. ^ Press, Joseph Pisani | Associated (20 June 2017). "Barbie's companion Ken gets new looks: Man bun, beefy bod". www.abqjournal.com. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Vintage Ken Dolls & Clothes". Fashion Doll Guide. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  16. ^ "Barbie So Much To Do Bank Playset (#67401, 1995) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  17. ^ a b c d "Barbie® Ken Barista Doll". Mattel Global Consumer Support. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  18. ^ "Ken Cool Careers Baseball Outfit (#2950, 1991) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  19. ^ "Ken® Fashions". Mattel Global Consumer Support. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  20. ^ "Ken Cool Career Fashions Business Man (#866, 1992) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  21. ^ "Barbie TV GAME SHOW Playset (#7766, 1987) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  22. ^ "Ken Cool Career Fashions Coach (#866, 1992) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  23. ^ "Barbie and Kenny Country Duet (#23498, 1999) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  24. ^ "Llanero Ken (#51-0297, 1989) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  25. ^ "Barbie I Can Be Dance Superstar Giftset (#V9308, 2011) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  26. ^ "Ken™ Brunette Dentist Doll With Professional Dental Coat". Mattel Shop. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  27. ^ "Doctor Ken (#4118, 1987) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  28. ^ "Dr. Ken (#10.53.14, 1988) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  29. ^ "Ken Cool Career Fashions Doctor (#866, 1992) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  30. ^ "Dr. Ken & Little Patient Tommy (#18898, 1998) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  31. ^ "I Can Be Doctors Barbie and Ken Set (#W1379, 2010) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  32. ^ "Barbie I Can Be Doctors Barbie and Ken Dolls (#3094, 2012) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  33. ^ "Ken™ Dog Trainer Playset". Mattel Shop. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  34. ^ PoodleLambAdmin (28 April 2021). "2018/2019 Barbie Sweet Orchard Farm Ken (GCK73)". Toy Sisters. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  35. ^ "Fashion Insider Ken Giftset (#56706, 2003) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  36. ^ "1 Modern Circle Ken (#B2245, 2003) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  37. ^ "Barbie I Can Be A Police Officer And Firefighter (#W1378, 2010) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  38. ^ "Ken Cool Career Fashions Football Star (#866, 1992) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  39. ^ "Barbie Clothes: Career Outfits for Ken Doll, Golfer Look with Golf Club, Gift for 3 to 8 Year Olds". Amazon Canada. Archived from the original on 28 July 2022. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
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  41. ^ "SuperStar Ken (#2211, 1977) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  42. ^ "SuperStar Ken (#1535, 1988) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  43. ^ "Barbie Ice Capades Ken (#7375, 1990) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  44. ^ "Baywatch Ken (#13200, 1995) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  45. ^ "Ken® Fashions". Mattel Global Consumer Support. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  46. ^ "Olimpico Ken (#51-0408, 1988) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  47. ^ "Olympic USA Skater Barbie & Ken (#18726, 1997) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  48. ^ "Barbie Ken Get Ups 'N Go A Hockey Champ's U.S. Olympic gear! (#7247, 1975) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  49. ^ "Ken Gold Metal Skier (#7261, 1975) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  50. ^ "Gold Medal Ken (#7380, 1975) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  51. ^ "Photographer Ken (#29903, 2000) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  52. ^ "Ken Doll Vintage Mod Clothes Identified 1969-1976". www.dollreference.com. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  53. ^ "Flight Time Ken (#9600, 1990) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  54. ^ "Barbie Careers Airplane Pilot Dolls Giftset, Barbie and Ken (#CCY12, 2014) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  55. ^ "Barbie Clothes: Career Outfits for Ken doll, Pizza Chef Look with Pizza, Gift for 3 to 8 Year Olds". Amazon Canada. Archived from the original on 28 July 2022. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  56. ^ "Rappin' Rockin' Ken (#4903, 1992) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  57. ^ "Barbie Clothes: Career Outfits for Ken Doll, Referee Look with Whistle, Gift for 3 to 8 Year Olds". Amazon Canada. Archived from the original on 28 July 2022. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  58. ^ "Barbie™ in Princess Power Reporter Ken Doll". Mattel Global Consumer Support. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
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  60. ^ "Ken Rock Star (#10.53.20, 1989) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
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  65. ^ "Barbie I Can Be Snowboarders Ken and Barbie (#X4479, 2012) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  66. ^ "COCA-COLA Ken (#25678, 2000) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  67. ^ "Barbie Spy Squad Ken Doll (#DHF19, 2015) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  68. ^ "Star Trek Barbie and Ken gift set (#15006, 1996) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  69. ^ "Sports Star Ken (#1336, 1979) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  70. ^ "Stars 'n Stripes Air Force Ken (#11554, 1993) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  71. ^ "Air Force Thunderbirds Barbie and Ken Stars 'N Stripes (#11581, 1994) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  72. ^ "Stars 'N Stripes Army Desert Storm Ken (#1237, 1992) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  73. ^ "Marine Corps Ken AA (#5352, 1992) details and value". BarbieDB.com. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  74. ^ "Ken™ Wildlife Vet Playset". Mattel Shop. Retrieved 29 July 2022.
  75. ^ Baghurst, Timothy; Hollander, Daniel B.; Nardella, Beth; Haff, G. Gregory (1 March 2006). "Change in sociocultural ideal male physique: An examination of past and present action figures". Body Image. 3 (1): 87–91. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2005.11.001. ISSN 1740-1445. PMID 18089212.
  76. ^ Brownell, Kelly D.; Napolitano, Melissa A. (1995). "Distorting reality for children: Body size proportions of Barbie and Ken dolls". International Journal of Eating Disorders. 18 (3): 295–298. doi:10.1002/1098-108X(199511)18:3<295::AID-EAT2260180313>3.0.CO;2-R. ISSN 1098-108X. PMID 8556027.
  77. ^ Dijker, Anton J.M. (1 March 2008). "Why Barbie feels heavier than Ken: The influence of size-based expectancies and social cues on the illusory perception of weight". Cognition. 106 (3): 1109–1125. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2007.05.009. ISSN 0010-0277. PMID 17599820. S2CID 26233026.
  78. ^ MacDougall, J. Paige (2003). "Transnational Commodities as Local Cultural Icons: Barbie Dolls in Mexico". The Journal of Popular Culture. 37 (2): 257–275. doi:10.1111/1540-5931.00067. ISSN 1540-5931.
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  80. ^ King, Susan (2 May 2010). "The Actors: 'Toy Story 3's' Michael Keaton". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  81. ^ Choudhury, Meghdeepa (1 February 2022). "Julia Fox and Pete Davidson's Paper magazine Barbie and Ken doll photos take the internet by storm". Sportskeeda. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  82. ^ Galindo, Brian (11 March 2021). "The Ken Doll Is Turning 60 And Here Are 15 Facts You Might Not Know About Them". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  83. ^ "Barbie and Ken: History". Blog Critics. 15 February 2004. Archived from the original on 12 April 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2010.

External links[edit]