The Good: Accurate sculpt, Vivid coloring, Exceptional balance, Collectible Value
The Bad: Dull, No flexibility, No imagination with sculpt.
The Basics: In 1995, Hallmark Keepsake reused the same mold as their first Barbie ornament, recolored the hair and sold it to collectors . . . who have kept its value high since!
It’s hard to critique Barbie dolls or licensees of Barbie for being lazy with collectibles. After all, I am a trading card collector and fans in that market geek out about getting an autograph card with a signature in blue as opposed to black or a card where all that differentiates it from another is the precise color of a fabric swatch contained within it! So, even though it might seem exceptionally lazy of Hallmark, the first real collectible ornament they attempted for Barbie was the 1995 Club Exclusive Barbie Debut (Brunette) ornament. If the ornament seems at all familiar to ornament fans, it might not be because you have seen it before; it is identical in sculpt and coloring, save the hair, to the original Barbie Debut ornament that made its debut the year prior! Yes, for the first exclusive to the fanbase, Hallmark just repainted the hair on the ornament those fans already had. But, again, I’m not complaining. Hallmark managed to limit the ornament enough that the cheap repaint actually held its value over the years!
For those unfamiliar with them, Barbie dolls have been a leading trademarked doll (and model for unrealistic female bodytypes!) from Mattel for over sixty years. Hallmark Keepsake picked up the Barbie license in order to produce Christmas ornaments and Barbie Debut (Brunette) was the first of many exclusive Barbie ornaments offered to club members.
The brunette Barbie Debut ornament recreates the Barbie Debut doll that was put on the market in 1959. The ornament features the recognizable visage of Barbie, save that she has black hair, with her black hair pulled back and brown eyes taking up a disproportionately large percentage of her face, along with a disturbingly high forehead. This Barbie is has the black pony tail with a slight upward curl at the back of it and bright red lipstick which is pretty iconic for the doll's head. The ornament has Barbie wearing a simple black and white striped bathing suit with a 1950s cut to it.
The Hallmark Barbie Debut ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the feminine icon standing alone, holding a pair of sunglasses in her right hand. Her swimsuit is colored bright white and a deep, contrasting black and her unrealistic proportions end in two tiny feet with black heels which are fused to a black disc that tells collectors exactly what the ornament is. The Barbie Debut also features a neck that is disproportionately long. The detailing of the sculpt is decent and it is enhanced by two wire earrings (one in each ear).
As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, Barbie Debut could have a function like a sound chip or light effect, but does not. This is just an ornament, a low-cost (comparatively) option for fans of Barbie. I think it's disappointing that Barbie Debut does not have any articulation to her limbs. It was well within the abilities of Hallmark to make the ornament articulated at least at the shoulders or neck, but they opted for a boring statue look for the ornament and that disappoints some.
As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake Barbie Debut ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Barbie Christmas Tree, the Barbie Debut ornament is a completely unnecessary redundancy.
The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the character's head. From there, one hangs the ornament and this Barbie ornament is perfectly balanced! Unlike the doll itself, which is almost impossible to get to stand up, the Barbie Debut ornament has great balance and hangs perfectly!
Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition original U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (reviewed here!). Since then, they have branched out into every major franchise from Barbie to Gone With The Wind to Twilight. The Barbie Debut ornament sold well-enough to collectors and was limited enough to make those who did not get their hands on it eager enough to keep its value inflated for almost twenty years, which is pretty impressive in my book. Now that the Barbie ornament line has been terminated and there is a finite collection, I suspect this ornament will actually appreciate a little bit more. If one can find it inexpensively, now is the best time to get one to hoard it as an investment piece; usually after a collection ends, collectors start looking to fill in the gaps in their collection and are willing to spend to do so (or, conversely, fans who are pissed about a collection ending, sell off their collection to be rid of it!). Either way, despite how lame the ornament itself is, it might well be a wonderful investment piece.
Fans of the Barbie franchise, even those with retro reminiscences of their old Barbie Debut dolls are likely to be largely neutral to the brunette Barbie Debut ornament. It is a good recreation of Barbie, but it really is just the first Barbie ornament with two repainted elements. It is hard to get excited about that.
For other Barbie ornament reviews, please check out:
2012 Brava, Ballerina! Barbie
2012 Holiday Celebration Barbie (Black)
2012 Holiday Celebration Barbie (Caucasian)
2012 Matinee Fashion Barbie - Final In The Series!
2012 Tweed Indeed Barbie
2011 Celebration Barbie (Black)
2011 Campus Sweetheart Barbie
2011 Prima Ballerina Barbie ornament
1996 Enchanted Evening Barbie ornament
1994 Barbie Debut ornament
For other ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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