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 Bargain….

1997BillBlass (2)

Barbie by Bill Blass © Mattel

As a collector you can pretty much justify paying any amount for any doll…

“Its really rare, another one may not come up…!”

“I’ll just eat at home every night this week / month / year….”

“Its MIB (Mint in Box)”

“I’ve seen them go for way more…”

But what is really exciting is when you find a doll at a price that just can’t be ignored. Don’t ever let anyone tell you when something seems too good to be true it is too good to be true….  That’s just not true!

I love the Mattel Designer collaborations and there have been so many good ones. Givenchy, Dior (twice), Versace (twice), Vera Wang, (numerous times!), Anna Sui, Burberry (twice), Herve Leger (yet to be released), Coach (just released), Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, The Gap… I could go on and on. At one point I focused solely on collecting the designer dolls (see excuses in The Doll that I always come back to…). The beauty of these dolls is in the detail (I’ve said it before!). Recreation in miniature…

Barbie by Bill Blass.

In true Bill Blass style, this Doll is W.O.W. Yellow satin dress, crimson satin lining,  signature Bill Blass B & W stripe, giant rose floral motif.

I’m not sure which face sculpt is used on this doll, but she smirks beguilingly and her make-up suits her outfit beautifully. Her hair is a perfect sculpted red, reminiscent of Linda Evangelista at the height if her Supermodel fame.

When this Doll came out she was expensive. I think if you tried to find her online today she would still be expensive. I found her BNIB (brand new in box) for the handsome sum of $35 Canadian dollars. Her original price of $112 Canadian dollars was still on the box.  It cost more to ship!

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 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…

Blog at