Dug through your old stuff (or your kid’s old toys) lately? Did you find some Barbies? If so, you’re in luck. When it comes to old toys that are worth a pretty penny to collectors, nobody takes the top spot like Barbie. By answering three simple questions you can start the hunt to ID your Barbie

  • Do her legs bend?
  • Does she have a circular mattel mark on her booty?
  • Does she have “JAPAN” on the underside of one foot?

If you answered “no” to the first and “yes” to the other two - then you’ve got a vintage Barbie, the cream of the crop! That’s the easy part. Now, use this exhaustive quiz to determine further what Barbie you’ve got: (BE CAREFUL AS YOU MAY STILL HAVE A VINTAGE REPRODUCTION BARBIE)

Now, condition is CRUCIAL. Obviously, this is true for pretty much everything that collectors are on the prowl for, but especially so with Barbie. Here are some common condition issues –

  • Hair cuts: Kids cut their Barbie hair almost as much (if not more than) their own, and a haircut on a Barbie is a value killer. You’re gonna want that hair as close to factory original as possible.
  • Green Ear Disease: early Barbies had earrings that would eventually corrode and leave Barbie with gangrenous-looking ears. Not a deal breaker on its own, but it will need some restoration.
  • Completeness and original outfits: Barbie had quite the closet, and parents universally hate buying doll clothes that were just going to end up lost or eaten by a pet. True early Barbie clothes had a stitched in mattel tag, YKK zippers, and other signs of commercial garment quality. Set aside a couple of hours for Googling, and do some research. Look for the shoes, handbags, sunglasses and other small pieces that tend to vanish early on - they are valuable as well.

With these tips under your belt, you stand a better chance at staying afloat in the mysterious world of Barbie Collecting. Let me know if there’s anything I missed, or if you have some tips of your own that have been helpful.