Barbie's boyfriend is getting a makeover. Toymaker Mattel is giving its Ken doll a variety of new looks in hopes the makeovers will move the toys into the modern era.
There are 15 new Ken dolls with three body types: "slim, broad and original." They have seven skin tones, nine hairstyles — including cornrows and "man buns" — and styles from business casual to athletic-chic.
"We are redefining what a Barbie or Ken doll looks like to this generation," says Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and general manager of Barbie, McKnight says the new Ken, "allows girls to further personalize the role they want him to play in Barbie's world." The evolving Ken is just catching up with Barbie. Last year Mattel introduced three new body types for Barbie: tall, curvy and petite in addition to new skin tones and hairstyles.
The company has been looking to revive the Barbie business following a slump. Sales for the brand fell 13 percent to $123 million dollars in the first quarter this year, from $141 million the year before, according to figures released by the toymaker. Launched in 1959, Barbie has gained a bad reputation in some circles for her unrealistic proportions and sexualized appearance. And yet after nearly six decades, she remains a staple in children's toy boxes.