The Doll I always come back to part II…

Live Action Christie

Live Action Christie


Christie. 1968. Barbie’s first African American friend. Christie was part of the first group of talking Barbie dolls introduced in 1968, and was soon followed by Twist ‘n’ Turn Christie. Both dolls featured more ethnic features, brown coloured eyes and a short afro hair-do that often oxidised over time to a vibrant red.

Interestingly a black version of Barbie’s cousin, Francie, was introduced in 1967. Known as ‘Black Francie’, Barbie had an AA cousin before she had an AA friend. This doll is now highly sought after by collectors due to its limited release.

Christie was reincarnated in 1969 as ‘Julia’ a sassy, shorter haired version of the doll modelled after the Diahann Carroll TV show character of the same name. Julia was a widowed, single mother and a nurse. Very progressive themes in a very conservative era, that usually only depicted AA characters on television as servants.

Christie kept pace with Barbie over the years, adopting many of Barbie’s popular incarnations including; Malibu Christie, Superstar Christie, Fashion Photo Christie, Magic Moves Christie, Pivotal Mod Christie and one of my all time favourites – Live Action Christie!

Live Action Christie featured long silky hair, rooted lashes and orange coloured eyes that matched her psychedelic threads. She had a live action body that meant she could do the twist, wahtusi, frug and I am sure mash potato if she really wanted to. Live Action Christie embodied everything that was carefree and cool.

The Doll Quest…..

twiggy ad

Twiggy! © Mattel

Some dolls just seem so perfect. Perfectly covetable. The perfect justification for collector madness. A perfect reason to travel to New York in search of a doll. Twiggy was that doll for me…

I briefly had a fascination with the Mego Farah Fawcett doll that coincided, at the time, with my obsession with the TV show Charlie’s Angels. Farah Fawcett in all her flicked hair glory. I knew there was only one place I could possibly find her, ‘Love Saves The Day’ in New York City. So I set off in search. I was right. She was there. And I bought her on my first trip to the Big Apple. Mint in Box.

But Farah paled in comparison when I chanced upon Twiggy.

Lee Hornby AKA Twiggy. The face of 60’s Swingin’ London. Doe eyed, boyish and unconventional. Everything I loved in one little doll. In 1967 Twiggy became Barbie’s first ever celebrity friend. The advertisement stated:

“Here she is! London’s Top Teen Model Twiggy ᵗᵐ”

“Twist ’n Turn Waist”

“Bendable Legs!”

“Real Eyelashes!”

The genius of the Twiggy doll was that she perfectly re-used the Casey face mold. Heavily accented, painted on lashes perfectly complimenting her “Real Eyelashes!” Combine this with Francie’s lithe body, a beautiful white blond asymmetric bob and top it all off with a big toothy grin. Like I said, perfect!

Twiggy came with four G-Roovy outfits; Twiggy Gear, Twigster, Twiggy-Do’s and Twiggy Turn Outs. Each one a little piece of carefree 60’s perfection.

Just like Farah, I knew there was only one place I would find her. Once again I returned to New York, with a new quest.

It wasn’t hard to find Twiggy. The East Village. 40’s50’s60’s, a little off beat collectible and toy shop. Twiggy cost the princely sum of US $229. She was still wearing her original striped dress and yellow mod boots. At the time the Australian dollar was worth just over half the US dollar. You do the math. She was, however, in great nick.

I carried my precious little cargo back to Sydney in my hand luggage, wrapped her in tissue and put her away in a box.

Over time Twiggy’s arms paled a little. So did the tip of her nose. A common problem with these dolls.

When I unexpectedly ‘left’ my job I decided to sell Twiggy. I immediately regretted the decision, but consoled myself with the thought that one day I would find her again. Mint in Box. No paling.

The Doll that was a welcome discovery…

sun sun malibu francie

The VERY rare Sun Sun Malibu Francie © Mattel

The beauty of collecting something, anything, is that as the world of collecting that particular object or thing opens up for you, all of a sudden you are coveting items you never even imagined…..

Enter Francie Fairchild, Barbie’s Mod-ern cousin!

I had always loved Barbie, I mean, who doesn’t right?

As I took the first tentative steps into starting my Barbie collection I started with things I knew. Dolls I had as a child. Dolls I wanted as a child. Dolls I thought I should be collecting – old & new. Dolls that were a bargain – thrift stores, eBay, second hand stores…. And on and on it goes.

Then something happens as a collector.

“Oh I love Mod Barbie. I’m going to specialise in that….” Famous last words.

I was drawn to Mod Dolls because I have always loved 60’s fashion and culture. The hair was fab, the clothes were fab, the make-up was fab! Francie was F.A.B!

Francie Fairchild hit the scene in 1966. Barbie’s cousin was young, hip and English. She had a smaller, less curvy body than Barbie, reflecting the mood of models at the time and she embodied the cool Britannia craze that was sweeping the world. She was also incredibly cute and difficult not to like. Ofcourse Barbie changed also. She became younger looking, fresher of face and embraced the Mod-ern look!

Francie paved the way for many innovations in the Mattel doll line, most notably a version that was the first true African American (AA) doll, a brave move for a time when the civil rights movement was in full swing.

Francie will always be a favourite.

The Doll I always come back to…. Part 1


Reproduction ‘Nite Lightning’ Stacey © MATTEL

Stacey. Barbie’s ‘British Chum’. Introduced in 1967, Stacey arrived from Swinging London and turned Barbie’s world Mod-side down!

Stacey came in two versions, Twist’n’Turn and Talking Stacey. Two hairstyles, a long pony and a short flip. Two colours, Blonde and Titian, a whole new wardrobe of groovy fashions, and in the talking version, a cute British accent…

Collectors always have favourites. Usually many favourites and usually favourites that change. All the time.

“Francie is my favourite!”

“PJ is by far the prettiest…”

“ Christie is the craziest!” (Watch this space for part 2)

Stacey has the prettiest smiley eyes and little toothy grin. No matter how many favourites I have, I always come back to Stacey… 

The Doll that was the Holy Grail…


Barbie as Marie Antoinette © Mattel

Every collector has one. The Doll that becomes the Holy Grail. You find yourself constantly google searching it, google image searching it and of course there are always at least three lined up in your ebay watch list… Usually they are either extremely rare or just very expensive. Sometimes both. For me, that Doll was Marie Antoinette.

I went to a collector’s club meeting once and the subject of wish list came up. I mentioned Marie Antoinette and received knowing, if somewhat pitiful glances. Apparently when Marie Antoinette was released, Mattel couldn’t give her away. I found this very hard to believe. Her original price was around US$250, a fortune in collector terms at the time. I had seen her selling on the secondary market at anywhere from US$800 up to US$2500. Crazy days….. But the detail in this doll is remarkable. Her pale complexion, her elaborate hairstyle, the details of her dress, the authentic underpinnings, tiny ribbon bow shoes and miniature replica of the tragic queen’s legendary, lost forever, diamond necklace…

This Doll marked a new era in Collector. No longer were Barbie collectibles just your basic Superstar doll with caricatured make-up and a Halloween costume style gown. Every last detail thought out! Set were made to shoot her in! What I wouldn’t do for some of the props from those sets…

I finally managed to track one down at a price I thought reasonable. The seller also kindly let me lay her aside and pay her off little by little. A very similar experience to Golden Dream. What a shame there is always more than one Holy Grail out there…

The Doll that started it all…

Photographer: Joe Dias Stylist:Jnnifer HoonGolden Dream Barbie ©Mattel

My Grandmother was very progressive. I loved Barbie and my Grandmother loved me and she saw no reason that I shouldn’t have a Barbie. Even though I was a five year old boy.

It was coming up to my 6th birthday and my Grandmother took me to the local Fossey’s store in the main street of our hometown. I walked up and down the Barbie aisle and eventually settled on Golden Dream. Excitedly we went home to hide Golden Dream in my Grandmother’s wardrobe, as we both knew my father wouldn’t be happy.

It seemed to take forever for my birthday to come around, but every time I went to my Grandmother’s house I would ask to see Golden Dream and my Grandmother would oblige. Quite a process to get her down from the top of the wardrobe, right at the back.

I don’t remember my birthday or opening the doll or any other details from that day. I do remember many happy hours with my small suitcase full of doll clothes, Golden Dream and my Grandmother’s smile. Happy days…

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