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Aussie hunk wins Barbie's heart
Mattel says popular doll finds new love from Australia to replace the dumped Ken.
June 29, 2004: 11:41 AM EDT
By Joseph Lee, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - If Britney and J. Lo can replace love so easily, so can Barbie.

Blaine doll, left, is Barbie's new love.  
Blaine doll, left, is Barbie's new love.

The popular doll from Mattel Inc. (MAT: down $0.16 to $18.09, Research, Estimates) has a new love in her life, an Australian surfer named Blaine, the world's largest toymaker said Tuesday.

Over the past few weeks, Mattel said more than 2 million people worldwide logged on to Barbie.com to help the world's most famous plastic-looking girl choose a new beau after Ken, her previous long-term boyfriend, was ditched earlier this year.

The Blaine doll was the undisputed winner, the company said.

After 43 years as one of the world's best-looking couples, Mattel announced the breakup of Barbie and Ken in February. But some experts saw the move by Mattel was purely "a publicity stunt."

"It's certainly getting grown-ups like you talking about Barbie, and the metaphor that they are using reflects the majority of people's fascination with celebrity," said Chris Byrne, an independent toy consultant.

Weak U.S. doll sales and a lackluster retail environment have hurt Mattel's profits recently. Adding some new romance to Barbie's closely watched personal life, Mattel not only raises Barbie's profile but also the awareness of Mattel's brand name, he said.

"On one level, the Hollywood-like romance is tongue-in-cheek. But on the other level, it means serious business," Byrne added.

Mattel reported in April that first-quarter profit dropped 73 percent on lower sales of its Barbie doll brand and higher administrative and sales costs, despite an increase in overall worldwide sales.

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Mattel also gave a murky outlook, saying it wouldn't be clear until 2005 whether new merchandising strategies were effective.

Despite their highly publicized breakup, Mattel said Barbie and Ken remain friends and will make an appearance in an upcoming film.

The popular Mattel doll, created and named "Barbie Millicent Roberts" in 1959, has played every role from a nurse to pop music idol, and she's available for sale in more than 150 countries, according to the toy company.

Mattel said the Blaine doll will be available in August at a suggested retail price of $14.95.  Top of page




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