This Feature Story appeared in the Keeping Ken Ken News! on June 3, 2001.

Keeping Ken  Ken News Feature Archive 



For many people, collecting can be the thrill of the hunt.  For others, it is fulfilling a need.  For me it is capturing memories.  I always felt that my memories were captured by collecting my first recollections.  The 40th Anniversary Ken changed all that.  The landscape has changed.  Now, collecting is  about being truly proud of what you do.

Words really can't describe how I felt when the package arrived.  Many years of research and time lay in a nondescript mailer on the table.  Inside, I knew what was there.  To me, the package symbolized an effort that has consumed my space and time for over three years.  The package symbolized a reward.  Not only for me, but for Ken®, the doll.  

While apparently Ken® has become  as a viable commodity in the Barbie® Collectibles™ arena, the 40th Anniversary Ken® doll symbolizes the fact that he can make it on his own.  Mattel has masterfully captured 40 years in a single box, and artfully captures a likeness that breathes fresh air into his persona.  From the realistic facial paint and detailed costume, this doll will instantly become a favorite in your collection.  There is nothing standard about this doll.  I felt a personality and good natured feel to just by looking at the doll.  From the playful way his knee is bent, to his hand casually placed in one pocket, this doll delivers not only class...but life to your collection.  So without further he is...40 years of an American classic!

Above:  40th Anniversary Ken.  Below:  Closer look.

I made a big decision to partially debox the doll this week.  The box is the "window" style, held closed by "Authentic Barbie" round clear stickers on each side of the box.  I didn't release him, but did get some better pictures without the glare of the cello.  Just a note, the 40th Anniversary is the first version to be marked with a 2001 date on the box.  The pictures aren't great...but I hope they are better than the first ones I posted.  The first thing I noticed when comparing to the prototype is that the facial paint is not as detailed.  The 1996 Ken head mold is used, and it is nice to see this head mold "clean-shaven" for a change.  It is definitely a different look for this head mold.  I'll start at the top of the face.  While the eyebrows are slightly detailed, they appear at first glance to be the standard "line".  This was a little disappointing, because I preferred the bushier appearance of the prototype.  The eye paint is not as detailed either, with one dominate blue color, outlined at the bottom with a thin shade of darker blue.

Also, the darker brown crease in the lid is thinly painted, and not as heavily painted as the prototype.  But what really disappointed me is the fact that they didn't paint on the eyelashes.  This was one of the things I looked forward to seeing the most.  There are no painted eyelashes, which I felt would have given the doll a lot more character.  This one detail could have made this doll outstanding, and I wish more time would have been spent to make sure this facial painting feature would have been included.

One improvement to the prototype, in my opinion, was that a lighter more natural color is used for the lip color facial paint.  While it may have been nice to see some realistic "lines" in the lips, I like the more natural color that was used in the finished version.  I felt the prototype color was a little too dark.

I have already heard a lot of comments about the hairstyle.  Many of you, like me, wish the hair was swept across the forehead a little more.  I think that if the hair had not been cut all one length, and perhaps left a little longer in the front, this effect could have been achieved during the final styling of the doll.  While very similar to the Movie Date Ken, the 40th Anniversary Ken has a darker shade of brunette hair.  Also the hair is more closely cropped and lays flat.  I think when designing this doll, an updated version of the Flock Hair Ken may have been bandied about.  Personally, I like the hair style, but I wish it could have been even more cropped around the sideburn area.  It looks a little heavy there, especially with the painted sideburns.  But the final effect, while not exactly what I wanted, was close enough for me to like the overall look of the doll.

The costume is great.  Yes that is a real long-sleeved shirt, not sewn-in cuffs.  The jacket is lined and includes a snap, in case you would like to show the jacket "buttoned" shut.  Overall the costume is really nice!

Below:  Side view, showing the hair.


To me, this doll is hopefully a symbol of what is in store in the future.  Mattel has made it easy for the Ken and Barbie collector to recognize that Ken is truly worthy of being included in the Barbie® Collectibles™ line...on his own.  While the gift sets that include Barbie® are fun, imagine how fun it could be to collect  Ken® "only" dolls like a Ken as "Superman" with phone booth and Clark Kent outfit, or even a 2001 or Celebration line Ken® doll! The possibilities are endless...

Enjoy this version for the history behind it! Make 40th Anniversary Ken® a part of your collection in celebration of what Ken® means to you! He's still a doll!

Below:  Partial picture of the back of the box.

40th Anniversary Ken AA

40th Anniversary Ken AA

40th Anniversary Ken AA is indeed a modification to the Jamal head mold.  Here are the two head molds "facing-off".  Below you will see the molds together with the new markings.

40th Anniversary Ken AA with the rooted Jamal head mold is marked © 1991.97 Mattel Inc.

Rainbow Prince Ken AA with the Jamal head mold is marked © 1991 Mattel Inc.

Not only did we get a new rooted head mold for AA Ken, but 40th Anniversary AA also features the Hot Skatin' Ken (1975 Michael) body mold in an ethnic skin tone.  The 40th Anniversary Ken also has this body mold.  Upon closer inspection (actually undressing), I realized that both dolls use this "older" body mold marked © 1975 MATTEL, INC. CHINA, not the newer "beefier" collectibles body mold marked © 1975, 1999 Mattel, Inc. CHINA.

Hot Skatin' Ken® Body Mold Markings New "Collectibles" Body Mold Markings (Elvis, James Dean, Frank Sinatra)
© 1975 MATTEL, INC. CHINA © 1975, 1999 Mattel, Inc. CHINA

The hair is also different between the two versions.

40th Anniversary Ken 40th Anniversary Ken AA

Hair cut short at bang line and extends longer in back on nape of neck.  Hair is generally longer in length and straight.  Painted sideburns extend longer in length.  Darker brown sideburn and eyebrow paint.

Hair comes down further on the forehead and is cropped shorter on the nape of the neck.  Hair is cut shorter and is more textured.  Painted sideburns are shorter in length.  Lighter brown sideburn and eyebrow paint.