Mattel makes prototype dolls and fashions. These are one of a kind test items. Mattel needs to see every small detail of the doll or the ensemble prior to production. Each doll and/or piece of clothing is meticulously handmade and their makeup and hair precisely done by professional hair and makeup artists. They are rare products and very hard to come by. Some people will claim that Mattel uses cheaper workmanship in these test products. You’ll have to judge for yourself! You will find that there may be only a slight difference between the test product and the promotional pictures that came out to announce the new product. There have been cases where the promotional picture debuted and then the product changed. As an example, take the color magic swim suit in 1965. The booklet showed it as a floral suit. But when it came out it was actually a diamond print. Prototypes also do not usually have a clothing label. Some prototypes may have a slight variation in the cut of the garment. Boxes for prototypes may be just plain white boxes with hand written permanent markings on them labeling the doll or labeled in sloppy handwriting. Sometimes you will see variations in fabric or fabric colors. That was because Mattel wanted to use up some old fabric or ran out of their standard fabric and had to use something different to complete the production. Some foreign outfits will have a little different fabric too. Those would not be true prototypes. Prototypes can sometimes be difficult to detect. But whatever the case in the variation, you may have yourself quite the find!
This is a nice example of a prototype Sausage Curl Skipper Doll. She is still with her white prototype box. She is dressed in #1747 Pink Princess from 1970.
OOAK stands for “One of a Kind”. OOAK products are not Mattel Products, but they are makeovers of Mattel products. There are many artists that enjoy the art of making over a Barbie into a beautiful creation of their own. Since these are one of kind products, some can command a high price. A very beautiful OOAK Bild Lilli Silkstone doll by Pania, who is a highly skilled artist in New Zealand. She completely removed the makeup from a Silkstone Barbie and repainted her face free hand. She also removed all her hair and rerooted her with lovely titian hair. She washed, conditioned and reset her hair. She dressed her in an amazing handmade aqua linen fitted skirt and matching jacket trimmed in white. It included hand painted gold buttons and gold “flight wings”. Her matching pillbox hat included the “flight wings” also. The style was that of Barbie’s Pan Am ensemble. She is stunning!
Photo Courtesy of Nick Almond
Photos Courtesy of FXTOYS
This doll originated from a Mattel Employee who was in Product Development at Mattel. This doll is from the 1960's and was never produced. The doll is marked on her back with a Mattel Identification number. Also, if you look at her eyes, they were a new design as well. The designers were trying to get them to look more realistic. The talking body she is on was just used as a mock up. It did not have a voice box. She is also wearing a prototype outfit, that does have the black and white Barbie tag. The outfit was sewn on to the doll so it could not be removed.
Photos Courtesy of FXTOYS
This Fashion Fitness Stand gift set #363 from 1971 originated from a Mattel Employee who was in Product Development at Mattel. This set is marked #363 with the 2/71 date, but the stock number is just a pre-production number. The set is all handmade and it was never produced for retail sales. It is shown with a blonde and a brunette Francie Doll.
This American Girl Prototype is dated 1/12/68. Mattel was experimenting with different arm movements on this doll. It is on a TNT body with straight-legs. She is wearing an un-tagged one-piece outfit. This doll originated from a Mattel Employee who was in Product Development at Mattel.
This European high-color American Girl Barbie doll is mint in her original box. She is wearing an extremly rare "sample" swimsuit, rather than the one shown on her box. Included in the box is the fold-out pamplet , her red sunglasses, and red open-toe heels.