This Feature Story appeared in the Keeping Ken Ken News! on March 13, 2004.
Keeping Ken Ken News Feature Archive
KEN DOLL WISH LIST 2004!
HAPPY 43RD ANNIVERSARY KENŽ-MARCH 13, 1961
Dear KenŽ Doll Collectors,
On 3-13-04, KenŽ doll celebrated his 43rd Anniversary! Year 2004 is turning out to be a tumultuous one for KenŽ (so far), especially with the decision from Mattel to end his relationship with long-time girlfriend BarbieŽ. (See Feature Story Archive 02.12.04). Now more than ever, it's time to support the doll we love!
Below, I'm keeping my promise to Ken doll collectors around the world, by publishing your KenŽ doll line wish lists. These personal "wish lists" from you, the KenŽ collector, are items you would like to see produced to enhance the KenŽ doll line. Your items may include KenŽ dolls, fashions or accessories, or any other ideas that you'd like to see become a reality in the play or collectible KenŽ doll line. To give you an idea of previous "wish list" participants, visit the Feature Story Archive 01.26.02. When I originally asked for submissions, I asked you to be as specific as you want, and have as many items on your list as you desire. I combined each list to get a "Top Ten" (this year there were 12).
Continuing to publish these Wish Lists every two years is my way of communicating what KenŽ collectors want. At times, it seems to be a constant battle. As KenŽ collectors, we give KenŽ a voice. Collectively we have brought exposure to KenŽ doll collecting through this web, through our ideas, through our voices. Mattel has made huge steps to identify our wants and needs by recognizing we're out here. The BarbieŽ Collectibles team at Mattel has listened to what we want, and has taken action by enhancing the KenŽ Collectible doll line. It all started with KenŽ doll's 40th Anniversary.
With the BarbieŽ Collectibles team as partners, nowadays it seems KenŽ collectors have somehow lost our connection with the play line division at Mattel. The decision of the play line department to go forward with the Break-Up of BarbieŽ and KenŽ, placed 42 years of shared history in the spotlight. It made the news all over the country. And while the play line BarbieŽ brand will change in an attempt to draw a larger consumer base, after the announcement, most of the communication directed towards me has a tone of concern for KenŽ. For me, my connection as collector and consumer will always center around my love of the play line. A play line KenŽ was the first doll I received as a child. It's this connection that drives my passion for not only collecting, but for positively protecting and showcasing the KenŽ brand at Keeping Ken.
KenŽ collecting is not like Barbie collecting, we're never going to get comfortable. We have to get back to where we were in 2001. As KenŽ collectors, we have to first recognize the impact and the possible fallout the "Break Up" news means to the KenŽ brand. Right now, it seems like it does nothing but set us back to where we were before 2001. We have to turn the negative effects we may feel right now into positive ones. We have a voice, and that voice now needs to be directed to the play line division. On, March 13, 1961, a play line KenŽ doll was presented at the Toy Fair in New York. This date has forever changed a lot of our lives I urge you to make your voices heard by writing, calling and posting your feelings. We have 43 years of memories to share.
Wish List Summary
The #1 spot this year puts KenŽ under the microscope, as collectors request an image overhaul (which includes marketing) to modernize him in the play line. One thought given was that "Ken should repeat his 1992 history when Mattel used the Alan head mold with a box that read "Handsome New Face" (Sparkle Surprise Ken). Whatever happens, it's pretty clear collectors want a change, to make KenŽ more hip and trendy! And now with competition from Blaine doll, a modernization is just what he needs to get noticed again.
And with that handsome new look for KenŽ, the #2 Wish was new body mold that incorporates articulation. You not only want him trendy...you want him bendy! KenŽ collectors voiced dissatisfaction with the current modified Hot Skatin' Ken body mold. You wanted the entire body to have muscle definition and appear more realistic, unlike the current articulated body mold that is too skinny, with arms and legs that are too long, and joint mechanics that are too noticeable.
I was happy to see you haven't forgotten that KenŽ still needs a place to call home (especially now since he moved out of BarbieŽ doll's dream house). Wish #5 has collectors placing him in a environment that he can call his very own (and you were pretty adamant about having none of the furnishings be lilac or pink). Wish #6 included even more structure environments which included vehicles. Seems collectors want KenŽ to finally step out of the Beach Bum role and get a real job. (See the list below to see the most popular career choices).
Wish #3 carries over from the last Wish list, as collectors still want to see a teenaged male doll produced. Most all of us want the doll to be related to KenŽ, and we all agree we want him to be named Zach.
You haven't lost your interest in fantasy either. Wish #9 makes him a Super Hero, while #11 introduces KenŽ into a "Prince of the World KenŽ doll series to compliment the BarbieŽ "Princesses' of the World" series.
One other thing that I found interesting was your interest surrounding which KenŽ friend was the most popular. A lot of collectors added on their Wish Lists that Mattel bring back Brad doll. One thing is for certain, collectively, he seems to be your favorite friend of KenŽ doll, and I was surprised about how many people mentioned him in their Wish Lists! Enjoy the Wish List below, and thanks once again for sending them in! Happy 43rd Anniversary KenŽ!
Wish List (starting with the most popular wish)
1. Create a more modern image of KenŽ in the play line. 60% wanted Mattel to develop a brand new head mold for play line Ken dolls. 26% suggested Mattel use the Generation Girl Blaine doll head mold for KenŽ. 14% suggested Mattel use an existing collectible KenŽ doll head mold (1996 or 2001 KenŽ Collectibles head mold were suggested). Collectively, most collectors agreed that there need to be some kind of marketing surrounding the new look or image, or some other new marketing or media strategy that draws attention to a change to KenŽ doll's image or look. The most popular choice for a molded hairstyle was to have the 1991 Stars 'n Stripes KenŽ head mold brought out of retirement, and used for the play line. (NOTE: Similar to #10 request on the 2002 Wish List).
2. New body mold for KenŽ, that incorporates articulation. Suggestions submitted include an update to the 1968 body mold torso with more realistic muscle definition. The body mold should accommodate more articulated parts like arms, legs and ball jointed neck. These parts need to have muscle definition and appear more realistic, unlike the current articulated body mold that is too skinny, with arms and legs that are too long, and joint mechanics that are too noticeable. (NOTE: Similar to #11 request on the 2002 Wish List).
3. Create a new sibling or male friend for KenŽ doll. Like the 2002 Wish List, most collectors still want to see the (never manufactured) Zach doll (see picture on the Generation Girl Blaine page) should be introduced as KenŽ doll's brother or friend. (NOTE: Similar to #3 request on the 2002 Wish List).
4. Ethnic diversity in KenŽ doll or new friends of KenŽ doll. Hispanic and Asian are still the most requested races in that order. The third most requested race was "multi-cultural", with no defined or mixed heritage. (NOTE: Similar to #4 request on the 2002 Wish List).
5. Create KenŽ doll's apartment/home or living space. (My personal favorite was a submission that included a Super Bowl party theme). (NOTE: Similar to #7 request on the 2002 Wish List).
6. Create a KenŽ Career Collection doll line that incorporates career structure environments or career vehicles for KenŽ doll. Most popular ideas submitted include (there were many): Architect Ken, Stockbroker Ken, Policeman Ken, CEO Ken, Artist Ken, Musician Ken, Movie Star Ken and Scientist Ken. (NOTE: Similar to #7 request on the 2002 Wish List).
6. (Since this was so close to #6, we'll call it a tie). Licensed KenŽ doll. The three most popular requests included, United Parcel Service (UPS) or Fed Ex, The National Football League (NFL) and The United States Marine Corps (USMC).
7. Improvement in KenŽ play line fashions. More realistic clothes that average men wear, instead of shorts and sleeveless tops made of nylon. More career-minded clothing that includes suits with real, unattached shirts with separate ties and pants. (NOTE: Similar to #5 request on the 2002 Wish List). KenŽ accessory paks that include socks (still the most requested accessory), underwear, watch, shoes and ties. (NOTE: Same as the #9 request on the 2002 Wish List).
8. Create a Vintage or Mod reproduction KenŽ doll gift set in the BarbieŽ Collectibles line (NOTE: Same as the #8 request on the 2002 Wish List) that includes a reproduction of a Vintage or Mod era KenŽ Fashion (NOTE: Same as the #13 request on the 2002 Wish List).
9. Superhero KenŽ doll. Most popular ideas submitted include: Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Captain America, The Flash and Green Lantern. Most (but not all) collectors wanted to see Mattel use the the Max Steel body mold for a Superhero KenŽ doll, like they did for the Jude Deveraux "The Raider" BarbieŽ & KenŽ Gift Set .
10. Quality collector line KenŽ fashions that are sold separately and are made available from BarbieŽ Collectibles at a moderate price.
11. Introduce Prince of the World KenŽ dolls in the BarbieŽ "Princesses' of the World" series. (NOTE: Similar to #12 request on the 2002 Wish List).
12. Develop a Vintage reproduction play line that includes KenŽ. This line would include BarbieŽ, KenŽ and/or Vintage friend dolls.