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The Legacy of Barbie: All the Dolls Barbie Left behind

What makes a Barbie stand out in a world of dolls? The 11.5-inch figure was one of the first of its kind back in the 50s. Barbie is essentially a plaything sculpture made of plastic. In every sculpture, it is the design and themes that play a huge part in shaping the perception in the minds of the buyers. The design of Barbie was essentially to look more adult. The basic theme of the doll was a white blonde who belongs to Wisconsin and has a huge family, a group of friends, and a range of diverse professions. The message aimed at young girls was that “She (Barbie) can be anything she wants, and so can you!”. With the signature Audrey Hepburn ponytail, Barbie dominates the market to this day. Like it or hate it, Barbie surely is everything. 

Famous Dolls in History

Toy dolls have been around for centuries now. With archaeologists finding traces that date back to 8000 BC, most of the dolls were made of materials such as wood, clay, wax, bones, ivory, stones and clay. Following are some of the instances of dolls from various countries:

Matryoshka Dolls (Russia)

Matryoshka Dolls.
Courtesy: The Russian Treasures-Medium

The infamous nesting dolls made of wood with intricate hand paintings originated in Russia. The Matryoshka Dolls were essentially tea dolls that were first made in 1890. As one separates the first layer of the doll they unbox another doll all encapsulated one after the other decreasing in size. 

Hina Dolls (Japan)

Hina Dolls.
Courtesy: Kyoto National Museum

Japan is incredibly famed for its dolls that date back to 8000 BC. They are usually utilized in religious and cultural settings specifically on the festival of Hinamatsuri or Doll’s day. Made of materials such as strays and clays, the Hina dolls are decorated and displayed on alters which also include peach blossoms and offerings of rice cakes.

Layli (Iran)

Layli Dolls.
Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The Puppet Dolls in Iran are called Layli. They are essentially dancing dolls, that was inspired by the folklore of Laila-Majnu.

Wood and Clay Dolls (Dutch)

The Dutch dolls.
Courtesy: WorthPoint

The Dutch dolls were made of wood and clay. This made the dolls cheaper so as to be affordable to children from low-income backgrounds.

Porcelain Dolls (Germany)

Porcelain Dolls.
Courtesy: Galamaga

Due to the Industrial Age, the dolls in Germany were made of new materials such as plastic, porcelain and bisque. This essentially made Germany a birthplace for modern dolls with features that were more realistic. 

All the Dolls That Weren’t Barbie

Every toy company wanted their own version of Barbie but even Mattel themselves could never make another Barbie. There have been several dolls in and around the 20th-21st century era i.e. during the reign of Barbie released by varying toy companies as competitors to Barbie. Some have even been around before the launch of the first Barbie. However, they could never garner a similar worldwide craze. Nevertheless, these dolls pertain to their own separate fanbase and own childhood nostalgia(don’t even get us started on the whole Barbie vs Bratz debate). Some were made of plastic, some of ceramic and some of cloth, following is a list of all such dolls that Barbie left behind: 


Kewpie dolls.
Courtesy: Wikipedia

Originally created by American artist Rose O’Neill in the early 20th century, these charming collectables were symbols of innocence and cuteness.

Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann Dolls. Courtesy: Dolls Magazine

Created by Johnny Gruelle in 1915, Raggedy Ann dolls are classic handmade toys known for their simple, raggedy appearance. These featured red yarn hair, button eyes, and a stitched-on triangle nose.

Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple Dolls.
Courtesy: Vip Art Fair

Shirley Temple dolls are iconic collectables inspired by the famous child star Shirley Temple, featuring her signature dimples, curly hair, and bright personality, reflecting her popular roles in films during the 1930s. These dolls became highly sought-after memorabilia, embodying the charm and innocence of the beloved actress and entertainer.

Ideal Baby Dolls

Ideal Baby Dolls.
Courtesy: Pinterest

Ideal Baby Dolls are a renowned line of lifelike and realistic baby dolls produced by the Ideal Toy Company, known for their high-quality craftsmanship and intricate detailing, offering a delightful playtime experience for children and collectors alike.

Cabbage Patch Kids

Cabbage Patch Kids.
Courtesy: Syracuse

Cabbage Patch Kids are iconic soft-sculpture dolls known for their unique, adoptable “birth certificate” names and adorable, cherubic faces, capturing the hearts of children and collectors worldwide since their introduction in the late 1970s. They were created by Xavier Roberts.

Rainbow Brite

Rainbow Brite Doll.
Courtesy: Etsy.

Rainbow Brite dolls are colourful and vibrant figurines based on the popular 1980s animated series, featuring the adventurous character Rainbow Brite, who spreads joy and brightness throughout the land of Rainbow Land.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake Dolls.
Courtesy: City Live

Strawberry Shortcake is a beloved character and doll line introduced in the 1980s, known for her sweet-scented strawberry-themed appearance and her adventures in the magical land of Strawberryland.

American Girl Doll

American Girl Doll.
Courtesy: Cosmopolitan

American Girl Dolls are a collection of highly popular and historically-inspired dolls, each with unique stories, representing diverse backgrounds and time periods, fostering a love for history and encouraging positive values among young girls. 


Courtesy: Fort City School

Bratz dolls are edgy and fashion-forward figurines, known for their exaggerated features, bold makeup, and trendy outfits, appealing to preteens and teenagers with their sassy attitudes and modern style. These iconic dolls have gained a dedicated fan base and have become synonymous with contemporary fashion and pop culture.

Polly Pocket

Polly Pocket doll.
Courtesy: The Toy Box Philosopher

Polly Pocket is a miniature doll line originally introduced in the 1980s, known for its compact playsets that unfold to reveal tiny, portable worlds, offering imaginative play opportunities and convenience for children on the go.

Monster High

Monster High Dolls.
Courtesy: Pinterest

Monster High dolls are a line of fashion dolls created by Mattel, featuring teenage characters who are descendants of famous monsters, blending unique fashion styles with a spooky and playful twist, captivating kids and collectors with their supernatural charm and individuality. 

Blythe Doll

Blythe Doll.
Courtesy: Beth Ramsden

Blythe dolls are distinctive, big-eyed fashion dolls originally created by Kenner in 1972 and later revived by Takara and Hasbro, known for their changeable eye colours and the unique pull-string mechanism that alters their expressions, appealing to collectors and enthusiasts for their retro charm and customizable features.

Topsy Turvy

Topsy Turvy Doll.
Courtesy: Autop.be

Topsy Turvy dolls are whimsical and reversible toys with two dolls in one, featuring a different character on each end and allowing children to flip their dresses to reveal a new playmate, offering double the fun and imaginative storytelling possibilities. 

Madame Alexander

Madame Alexander Doll.
Courtesy: Inviting History

Madame Alexander dolls are classic and intricately designed collectable dolls created by Beatrice Alexander in the early 1920s, celebrated for their high-quality craftsmanship, attention to detail, and representation of historical and fictional characters, appealing to both children and adult collectors as timeless keepsakes and treasured heirlooms. 

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls.
Courtesy: Theriaults

Nancy Ann Storybook Dolls are a charming collection of small, bisque figurines created by Nancy Ann Abbott in the 1930s-1940s, each representing a different character from popular children’s stories and fairy tales, cherished for their delicate craftsmanship and nostalgic appeal to doll collectors and vintage toy enthusiasts.

Chatty Cathy

Chatty Cathy Doll.
Courtesy: What Portal.

Chatty Cathy dolls are iconic talking toys introduced by the Mattel company in the 1960s, featuring a pull-string mechanism that allowed the doll to speak various phrases and interact with children, becoming one of the most popular and sought-after dolls of its time, sparking imagination and conversation in playtime. 

Baby Nancy

Baby Nancy Dolls.
Courtesy: Black Doll Collecting

And finally, Baby Nancy dolls are historically significant and groundbreaking African-American baby dolls first introduced in 1968 by Shindana Toys, designed to represent a diverse and inclusive range of ethnicities, becoming a symbol of representation and cultural empowerment in the toy industry. 

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