Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blonde, Well-Balanced And Boring: The 1994 Hallmark Barbie Debut Ornament Underwhelms!

The Good: Good sculpt, Vivid coloring, Exceptional balance
The Bad: Dull, No flexibility, No imagination with sculpt.
The Basics: In 1994, Hallmark Keepsake kicked off their annual tribute to the Barbie Doll line with Barbie Debut, a surprisingly dull ornament.

What catches on and what does not is always of interest to me. So when a product is popular, sometimes it baffles me what succeeds and what does not (I'm currently rooting for the Monster High doll line because I think geek girls need cool toys!). More than that, it always surprises me when there is merchandise based upon merchandise. When the Enchanted Evening Barbie Hallmark Ornament (reviewed here!) crossed my desk a few weeks ago, I was surprised to learn it was not the first in the line. No, that honor went to the Barbie Debut ornament from 1994 and as I sit considering this Barbie ornament, I am not only surprised Hallmark was able to keep making successful Barbie ornaments, but that Barbie dolls actually caught on!

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 was the first of many Barbie ornaments produced over the last twenty years.


The Barbie Debut ornament recreates the Barbie Debut doll that was put on the market in 1959. The ornament features the recognizable visage of Barbie with her blonde hair pulled back and blue eyes taking up a disproportionately large percentage of her face, along with a disturbingly high forehead. This Barbie is has the blonde 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) that are immediately reminiscent of the earrings on the Slave Leia ornament (reviewed here!).


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 decent-enough start. 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 inspire a whole line that followed, but was vastly overproduced. There were Barbie fans who bought it and almost no investors or general fans of ornaments picked it up. It is one of the easiest Barbie ornaments to find on the secondary market and its value has plummeted.


Fans of the Barbie franchise, even those with retro reminiscences of their old Barbie Debut dolls are likely to be largely neutral to the Barbie Debut ornament. It is a good recreation of Barbie, but it could have been more; from fabric clothes to some poseability. But for a statue of the first Barbie, this fits the bill just fine.

For other ornament reviews of characters, please check out my reviews of:
2010 Bella And Edward Twilight ornament
2009 Wonder Woman
2009 "Frankly My Dear" Gone With The Wind ornament


For other ornament reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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