When we were first brought around the corner at Mattel’s showroom space at Toy Fair – and shown Video Girl Barbie – I turned around several times. I was positive that we were being punk’d. I kept looking at my mother, the pr folks…but they were all going straight ahead with the demo of Barbie as a video camera.
Here’s the deal. Barbie has a camera in the middle of her chest. My mother points out that it’s on a necklace. “Where else would you have liked them to put it?” she asked. True, the middle of her forehead? I guess the necklace option was the best choice.
I have always had a very jumbled relationship with Barbie. My brothers shamed me out of playing with them as a kid. We were very much a Hot Wheels house. I didn’t much like playing with dolls anyway…and the only Barbie I can remember actually asking for – I bought at Davco’s toy store in Monticello. She had on go-go boots and a short mini-dress. As a 4-5 year old, this was my dream outfit. (I had two pairs of go-go boots and going to any restaurant with a jukebox meant it was a dancing opportunity). This Barbie doll was left in a compromising position with a GI Joe doll in our hamper — and that was the end of Barbie in our house.
As a tween and teen that advocated for women’s right, the whole Barbie mystique just didn’t fit with my desire for women to be taken seriously. By this point I had traded in my go-go boots for gender-free work boots (much to the dismay of my mother). I also would not play with anyone who had Barbies in their room. During the 70s- girls played with Barbies well into their tween years (as opposed to now when they seem to age out of Barbie earlier and earlier.)
So here I am defending Barbie. We got the Video Now Barbie during the summer when we had several teenage interns. They were quite amused that the batteries must be loaded into her thigh and that her display screen is in her back. We had to take many, many videos before I could get them to settle down. At the end of the day when we tested Barbie- we discovered that she worked extremely well. Our kid testers loved that her USB cord is pink (of course) and that they could use her with ease to record their doll play or other aspects of their life in general.
Could, as the Australian psychologist suggests, this video camera be used in inappropriate ways? Sure. As could ALL of the new video cameras targeted to kids this year. In fact, video cameras designed specifically for kids is one of the hottest categories in toyland this holiday season. I’m not sure why the Barbie camera should be singled out. On our award list this year, we feature a Fisher Price Kid Touch Video Camera–even easier to use than Barbie. There is also a Spy Watch Video Camera from Jakks Pacific and the new Air Hogs RC Helicopter with Video Camera from Spinmaster. All of these are marketed to children–and without supervision all could be used to capture and post inappropriate content.
To call for a boycott of the Barbie Video Camera is ridiculous. If you want to pick on Barbie because of the body image issues she raises, that’s one thing. But because she has a video camera proudly in the middle of her chest– that’s just really discriminating against a girl that just wants to be part of the digital age.
To read our full review at toyportfolio.com, click here.
To read our article about all the other video cameras for kids this season, click here.