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Doll News 12/30/2002

By John Medeiros

Barbie’s Happy Family Expands

If you cruised down the Barbie aisle this past month you may have spotted a new line Mattel has added to its roster. The "Happy Family" dolls include Baby Doctor Barbie, a pregnant Midge with tiny newborn baby girl and hubby Alan with 3-year old son Ryan. All the dolls in the series come in Caucasian and Ethnic versions. Collectors will find it interesting that this is the first time Midge and Alan have been released in ethnic versions since their 1960s introduction to the Barbie family. All the dolls have rooted hair with the exception of the newborns.

The Midge doll comes with a removable tummy that the tiny baby fits inside. She comes dressed in the first maternity fashion ever designed for a Barbie family and friend. According to an article on the website "The pregnancy-themed Happy Family™ dolls complement children's strong interests in family relationships, and supports their social and emotional development. Girls in this age group are likely to find Happy Family™ dolls highly entertaining when they play alone, with their peers, or with their parents."

Already causing quite a stir, the dolls have reportedly been pulled from the shelves of one of America’s largest retailers, Wal-mart. They are currently listed as sold out or discontinued at the online Toys R Us website. At the time of this writing, my eBay search for "pregnant Midge" turned up 3700 listings. So, the doll is far from rare.

Happy Family Midge & Baby come with a 3-in-1 crib, table & cradle. Midge is dressed in a two layer lavender floral print maternity dress and grape see-thru wedgies. Her little baby girl is wrapped in a soft yellow blanket and also comes with a tiny kitty-cat shirt and diaper that has to be one of the tiniest fashions ever produced by Mattel. Accessories include a layette, receiving blanket, crib blanket, baby monitor, baby bottle & warmer; baby wipes and wipes box, powder bottle, bottle & warmer, shampoo, bear and tiny rubber ducky. Several chipboard pieces include a baby book, birth certificate and family photos. Midge wears a simple wedding band on her left hand.

Alan and Ryan come in matching Dad and Son outfits that include blue plaid shirt, tee shirt, tan walking shorts and white sneakers. Included accessories are a blue stroller, toddler sip cup, boxed snacks, Frisbee, radio and camera. The Alan doll also sports a simple wedding band on his left hand. Chipboard accessories include a family portrait and two lollypops for Ryan.

Baby Doctor Barbie looks every bit the fashion conscious professional in her crisp white and lavender scrubs with stork print lab coat with big functional pockets and sensible high-heeled sneakers. Her two tiny charges are wrapped in pink and blue blankets with matching caps. Accessories include exam table with rocking cradles, clipboard, pen, two baby bottles, powder bottle, shampoo, thermometer, tongue depressor, stethoscope, ear scope, eye checker and medicine bottle. Chipboard pieces include birth certificates, a growth chart and clipboard file.

But the fun does not stop here. An enclosed "Happy Family Album" booklet promises a Happy Family Gift Set that includes maternity fashions and accessories for Mom and Baby as well as a Happy Family nursery style play set.

The packaging is a pastel feast with cheerful cartoon-like graphics and a neat added touch of small pink flocked detailing on the text. I think this is one of the most charming series of dolls Mattel has offered in quite a while.