In defense of Barbie Video Girl

Video Girl Barbie

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.

The back of Video Camera Barbie

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, click here.

To read our article about all the other video cameras for kids this season, click here.


We’re getting ready for our annual trip uptown to see Richard Davies at ABC Radio Network.  Richard was one of the first members of the mainstream press to take a chance on the toyportfolio when we first started.  Each year we go up to the ABC studios with a collection of NOISY toys.  It’s radio after all–so the noisier the better!  Last year Richard started doing podcasts of his interviews – so now this also means there is video tape–calling for more toys and oh yes, some hair and makeup.

Radio -especially shows that are going to be edited always invite a much more laid back feeling to them.  The video camera is another aspect – you have to sit up straight–you can’t poke your mother in the same way you would if no one was looking.  No wacky faces. In other words you have to behave more.

We probably have too many toys in our bag–many are talking all on their own. The snake is hissing, Mickey is asking us to dance along!

Pick of the Day: Karito Kids

Laura Rangel - CEO of KidsGive

Laura Rangel - CEO of KidsGive

Karito Kids from Kids Give is one of our favorite award-winning collections of multi-cultural dolls this year.  The collection has been updated and features a range of dolls from all over the world.  When I was growing up I had dolls from other lands — but these were all no-touching dolls. The ones meant to be put on a shelf and appreciated.  The only one that was able to play with was my London go-go girl.  She had hair like Marlo Thomas and she had white go-go boots just like mine.  Maybe she wasn’t meant to be played with either–but since I so rarely played with dolls, my mother never said a word.

I love that these dolls are meant to be enjoyed. Their clothes reflect modern girls from all over the world. The books that come with them aren’t my favorite…but it doesn’t take away that these dolls do help introduce girls to a more global view. Here’s my visit with founder Laura Rangel. The company also has a commitment to giving back to the communities where the dolls come from as well as new bracelets that are being made here in the USA by people with disabilities.

Reviews of the new dolls are all on our site at

New Dolls from Karito Kids

Best Bedtime Books 2010

Read our article about the best bedtime books for 2010. Joanne worked on this article,  so, of course she did not include her book, The Prince’s Bedtime–that she wrote for me when I was little. It remains the BEST BEDTIME BOOK EVER. While I admit that I am completely biased about this particular book–it is still a must have for that 3-5 year old set that will see (and appreciate) the humor of the little prince that didn’t want to go to sleep.  Long before this book was published, it was the story I wanted to hear again and again!!