Collecting Barbie Dolls

Collecting Barbie dolls is not just for children, but adults too. This gives tips on safe, fun, and happy collecting!

The best way to have fun while collecting Barbie dolls is not to become obsessed by which dolls might go up in value. It's often too hard to tell and it's easy to lose sight of what the dolls were made for - enjoyment!

Mattel has made thousands of Barbie dolls since the classic blonde ponytail, black and white swimsuit one debuted in 1959. Today, there are dolls for politics, holidays, cultures around the world, the Olympics, movies, stores, sports, school, careers, and almost anything else imaginable.

While many young girls still rip a doll box to shreds, cut the hair off the Barbie, and lose their clothes (which is fine and a part of growing up for most youth!), more and more adults are prowling the toy store aisles, examining boxes to ensure there is no excessive wear, and looking for the doll of their dreams. But instead of taking it home and playing with it, these owners make sure Barbie stays in her box and sometimes displaye her in a curio cabinet, or place their new prize lovingly on a dresser top.

While many collectors prefer visiting toy stores or shows to buy their new dolls, don't discount Ebay or other auction websites. It is becoming an increasingly common way to find dolls. However, when dealing with an auctioneer, try to use escrow. This allows the buyer to actually see the condition of Barbie and her box before they send their payment. It also helps ensure that the seller does not take the buyer's money and refuses to send the doll. Be certain to check their feedback - a high number of "negatives" means there is good reason to be cautious.

There are also many mailing lists and clubs in Yahoo! and EGroups for selling, buying, trading, or just good conversation about the hobby. Again, before buying anything over the Internet, request references. Any honest collector or seller will be more than happy to offer sources, and shouldn't lack pleased customers. Also important - request insurance for packages mailed. It is usually less than one dollar, otherwise the responsibility for the loss will usually fall back on the recipient.

Fun is usually the main focus in collecting, but even if money is not a concern, it's not a happy day for the enthusiast when a beautiful doll is damaged. Keep the Barbie's box out of the sunlight and check it for dust often.

Terms common to Barbie collecting:

*Vintage: any Barbie doll made between 1959 and 1972.

*Modern: any Barbie doll made after 1972.

*NM: near mint.

*NRFB: often seen on auction listings, means never removed from box.

*MIB: another hot auction term that means the doll is mint in box. This does not mean the box has never been opened, but sometimes it says mint doll in mint box, the same as NRFB.

*MNB: a perfect doll without a box.

*OSS: original swimsuit. This is especially important for older dolls, since many times dolls from before 1980 could have a swimsuit from the 1990s. An original swimsuit makes an older doll more valuable than it would be with newer fashions.

*HTF: hard to find.

*Customized doll: one made for a store exclusively, such as Macy's, Target, and Bloomingdales.

Tips for money-conscious collectors:

* Try to keep your doll in her box if the doll's value is a concern. Many Barbies lose half their monetary value if there is no box.

* Dolls that are first in a series have historically higher values, but there are never any guarantees.

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