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Monday, May 1, 2017

A random post about head molds

This could've been a post for Sunday since this is a random post and I like posting random stuff on Sunday.  But I like for Sunday posts to have just one picture and a brief blip of commentary (Gerda's post was an exception), and this post became more labor-intensive than I had planned.  I was farting around with my Barbie boxes this afternoon (I have five of them), trying to pick out favorite head molds, when it occurred to me that most of my favorites have something very crucial in common.  Barbie is known nowadays for having a smile with teeth showing, right?  Something like this:
I'm extremely fond of Mara, who has the new Teresa sculpt, but a lot of Barbie dolls look like that.  They have big, infectious smiles that convey excitement or unbridled joy, and that's fine.  But if y'all know me by now then you know that I love to be the oddball, and a lot of my favorite heads have closed smiles that show no teeth.  The pictures are all poorly lit; I promise to rectify that in the near future.

DOLL PICTURED:  Palm Beach Lea
I own several dolls with this face, including one (Keiko) who has made several appearances here in the past.  The face was initially used for two friends of Barbie named Kayla and Lea, but other characters use it as well.  This is the first doll I saw with the face, being a member of the Palm Beach Barbie line.  This particular doll is obviously supposed to look Asian, but the Kayla/Lea head can be any race one chooses.  She makes a good black doll, and a good Latina, and good white chick.  The Fashionistas line appears to be fond of this head; I've seen several with it, and I even own one.  This is Fashionistas #19 Ruby Red Floral, but I just call her Junko.
The Fashion Fever line liked it too, as can be seen with the un-renamed Kayla (left) and Keiko.
And lastly, my beautiful Shakira doll uses this head.  I never was a big Shakira fan during my adolescence, but this lovely doll was too much to pass up.
This head was also used in the Dolls of the World series, usually for Latina or Oriental characters.

DOLL PICTURED:  Western Fun Nia
DOLL'S NAME:  Imelda
Imelda's hair has seen better days, but her facepaint is intact so here she is.  Unlike the Kayla/Lea head, this one is almost exclusively for Oriental dolls.  She had two names, Kira for North America, Marina for Europe.  I'm not going to lie; I like the name Marina better.  Regardless of the name this has always been one of my favorite heads.  I only owned one Kira as a child (Sun Jewel Kira), and I still only have a few, two of which happen to be the same doll.  Yep, I own two Very Velvet Kira dolls, one with shorn hair and one that's almost all-original.
Go figure on how that happened.  Anyway, I always loved Kira's sweet face.  I liked her friends, but in my child's eyes Kira was always more approachable with her closed-lipped smile that didn't look like Miss America.  Kira is unfortunately a rare breed now; she saw heavy usage during the early Dolls of the World run appearing in Latina, Oriental, and Native American form, but since then this head has slowly dropped off the map.  The last Kira I saw was the relatively recent Mutya Barbie...and she has teeth showing!!!  What a beauty Mutya is, though!  This head needs a playline revival in the Fashionistas line.

DOLL PICTURED:  Butterfly Art Barbie
DOLL'S NAME:  Madeline, or "Maddie"
First of all...FIRST WAVE DOLL!!!  She has the tattoo on her tummy and everything.  That being said, I started seeing Mackie dolls when I was about eight.  The head got its start on those crazy-expensive dolls that Bob Mackie designed, but later started popping up on playline dolls as well.  Bead Blast Barbie is my personal favorite of these, but it's hard to pick just one when there are so many nice ones out there.  The Mackie head was used heavily during the Fashion Fever years, and during the Barbie Basics era, and it still appears on the more affordable collector dolls, like the Christmas dolls.  I only have four Mackie dolls, and of those four I could only find and photograph Maddie (above) and Cherry, a rebodied Christmas doll. 
For some reason Cherry has a Stardoll body.  Remember those, the ones that had no joints at the hips?  Yeah...I'm going to have to fix this somehow.  eBay might have a spare Made to Move body somewhere. 

DOLL PICTURED:  So In Style Baby Phat Grace
This face is used almost exclusively for black dolls, though I have seen one Latina with this face.  I didn't like the first doll with this face, but it's since grown on me and become one of my favorites.  The Mbili face can look approachable and fun-loving like Grace, or focused and ambitious like Chandra...
...or innocent like Trichelle...
...or edgy and fierce like China. 
I like the detail in this face as well; if you look closely it's possible to see laugh lines and other contours that a real face has.  I've heard collectors complain that the Mbili head is overused, and this may be a valid claim since I see it in every major Barbie line that Mattel uses.  Basics, LOOK, and Fashionistas all use this face heavily, and I have so many that I can't show them all here without making this post crazy-long.  I do love the face, though.  It's very versatile, which may explain why Mattel uses it so heavily.

DOLL'S NAME:  Raquelle
I'm pretty sure that this one is a one-off; after the Dreamhouse line ended I never saw it again.  I can understand why since it's pretty character-specific, but I still think it's a shame to only use it once or twice.  Dolls with lopsided smiles are not particularly common inside or outside the Barbie world; Raquelle and her Dreamhouse compadre Teresa both had cockeyed grins, but that's it!  I love the goofy snarkiness of this face, by the way.  It's perfect for Raquelle's role as the show's "antagonist," of sorts.

DOLL PICTURED:  Cool Times Midge
DOLL'S NAME:  None yet.  I tend to call all my Midge dolls "Midge" for some strange reason.
The Steffie head goes back quite a way; I think 1971 was the year that the first doll was released.  The character herself didn't live too long, only seeing three incarnations (Busy Steffie, Talking Busy Steffie, and Walk Lively Steffie).  The head though...it's been around a lot.  Midge has used it twice so far, first in the late eighties (seen above) and again in the Dreamhouse line.  Christie, Teresa and P.J. used this face, as did a long list of short-lived characters and Barbie herself.  Pilar, below, is an All-American Teresa.
It saw usage in the Barbie Basics line, and the entire Birthstone Beauties line was comprised of Steffie dolls.  Like the Kayla/Lea head this head is very versatile, lending itself to all the main races at will.  Given the wide array of head molds used in the Fashionistas line, I'm surprised that no Steffie has cropped up there yet.  Maybe I just need to be more patient.  Either way I'm extremely fond of this head and I never pass up an opportunity to add another one to my collection. 

DOLL PICTURED:  Fashionistas #57 Zig and Zag, curvy
DOLL'S NAME:  Deborah, usually shortened to "Deb."
This is apparently a newly introduced head, so new that I don't know the name of it, or even if it IS named.  I didn't like it at first, but as you can see it grew on me.  It's the lip color that I don't love, and I apparently am not alone in thinking that.  I lack the ability to repaint doll faces, so my doll is stuck with that pink crap for now.  I'm looking forward to seeing what else Mattel may do with this head, though. 

And there is your random load of dolly blather!  LOL, sometimes I get the mood to post something for the sheer pleasure of it, and this is one of those posts.  I make no guarantee that you'll learn anything, but I do hope you'll enjoy my pictures...even if they are poorly lit.

Cordially yours,


  1. The Lea mold is probably one of my favorites too! I have many of this mold and love that she can look so different depending on how her eyes, skintone, hair, etc is done. I also have several of the Kira molds since much of my early collecting was in dolls of the world. I do get like the Zig Zag face too, but agree about the lips. I removed the lipstick and left them natural as I too have no experience in any kind of face painting. I also gave her a haircut, and think this really transformed her!

    1. That Zig Zag doll really is a blank slate. My doll can look a little devious in pictures due to my craptastic lighting, but she's really very pretty. I'm excited to see what else they might do with that head...and what they name it. Do you have your doll visible anywhere? I'd love to see what she looks like now.

  2. I like these doll molds, too. Thanks for sharing examples of each doll mold.

    There is going to be a Kira/Marina Fashionista this year. I think she's Petite - a tan Kira with her hair swept back. She's wearing a silvery jumper and white tee shirt under that. I hope you get her when she comes out.

    1. What delightful news that is! That gives me hope for the revival of some of the other molds. Yes if I see her, I'll definitely try to get her. Thanks for the info!

  3. Great post! I love "just because" posts and I feel like that is what blogging should be about. :) I enjoy learning about the different face molds as even though I am a long time Barbie lover, I've only been collecting as an adult for a a couple of years. I love the Lea mold as well and I think it's one of my favorites in the modern line. She can have a tendency to have wonky eyes in some of the fashionistas, I feel, but when you get a good one, she's so pretty! The Kira mold always reminds me of my childhood as my favorite was Tropical Miko! :)

    1. Oh Miko...I think the Mike dolls are some of the prettiest out there. She was just a teensy bit before my time so I never owned one, but never say Never!

      Interesting point about the wonky eyed Fashionistas; I got very lucky with Junko, but one of the tall dolls I saw at the store was definitely a little wonky! Not terribly unlike us humans, actually.

    2. LOL, I meant Miko the second time too, not Mike!