Ken (and Allan) Basics - 2.0

Of course this is an informal newsletter and I'm not citing my work or giving credit to what I've read or heard over the years.  Having said that, a lot of this is hearsay and speculation which may be juicier and more interesting than "just the facts".   So a lot of this is just my personal opinion or things that I've read and have not been vetted.  

It is my belief that Elliot and Ruth Handler (mainly Ruth, it's been said) were marketing geniuses.  BarbieŽ was such a mega hit there was no need to stop there.  They created the sequel.  Rumor has it that "Midge™" was already in the works.  Ruth was all about girl power but their was a clamor from mothers and the demand for a "date" for BarbieŽ finally won her over and she shelved Midge to create KenŽ.  We all know that Barbie was named after Elliot and Ruth's daughter Barbara, so the male doll was named ofter their son, Ken.  (I've heard he was terribly embarrassed about this)  

The first KenŽ Doll had Flock Hair.  It was soon discovered that the flocking was too hard to work with and also did not hold up well in play.  My dear friend, Glenn Mandeville has told me the story of his first KenŽ, that he was so excited about getting, but he put KenŽ in a swimming pool and KenŽ lost all his flocking, thereby, breaking Glenn's heart.   In production, the flocking not only got on the head but on the the arms and the legs and everywhere else and was hard to get off.   So KenŽ Version 2.0 was invented.  The Painted Hair KenŽ.  

Mattel soon discovered it had a new market.  Little  boys that wanted to play with dolls. And BarbieŽ had a boyfriend and a date!  While BarbieŽ had a more extensive wardrobe, KenŽ doll's was none too shabby,  Besides his career fashions, Doctor, Astronaut, Pilot, soldier, sailor, actor, he had sports attire for baseball, football, skiing and tennis.  Then his evening wardrobe included suits and a tux and lots of casual outfits for any occasion for which BarbieŽ would need him to dress.  

And just as BarbieŽ had to have a BFF, so did KenŽ, so in 1964, Allan Sherwood was introduced.  He was named after Ruth and Elliot's son-in-law.  Allan™ had molded red hair, brown eyes with a sideways glance. was dress in blue swim trunks, a multicolored swim coat and tan cork sandals.   He, of course could wear all KenŽ doll's clothes.  The only two fashions that have the "Allan" tag in them are his multicolored swim jacket and the white "Best Man" fashion.  Everything else he had to borrow from KenŽ.  I'd have to ask Jef, but I believe Allan was the first fashion doll in the Matttel line with brown eyes.  

In the next issue of the newsletter we will talk about the mod KenŽ, or also known as the KenŽ that has a gym membership! 


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