Over the five years she was sold (1967-1971), her swim-suit and box changed once, and her eyes changed from a side glance to a center glance in 1971.
The Standard Barbie dolls came in boxes similar to the early Barbie dolls, which I prefer because they make a nicer display box. Kids could use the box for play, pretending they were bathtubs, boats, or even a car. The early “rose” colored box, which was for sale from 1967-1969, featured the doll in a bright pink two piece swim suit with a white vinyl flower on the left side of her swim-suit bottoms. In 1970 and 1971 her swimsuit transformed to a green and pink one-piece style with a pink vinyl rose on the left side towards the bottom.
The box graphics weren’t a perfect description of what was in the box. The later box shows a picture of Barbie with real eyelashes (which she didn’t have) and even reads “with real eyelashes”. After the error was discovered in late 1970 and the wording “with real eyelashes” was omitted. the picture remained the same.
Both versions of Barbie came in four pretty hair colors; blonde, ash blonde, light brown and dark brown. The Standard didn’t assign fancy names for their hair colors as the twist ‘n turn dolls had, such as Chocolate Bon Bon for dark brown. Sometimes you may see a red head, but they are usually light brown dolls that have oxidized over time to a red color. Nevertheless, in the Barbie world there are rarities, and you may find yourself a true red head!
Just like the twist ‘n turn dolls, the Standards pulled up a little bit of hair on top of her their head and tied it with a cute little pink hair ribbon (the TNT dolls used a salmon colored ribbon). In the box with the Standard doll came a clear X stand and her fashion booklet.
This fabulous new modern head mold could be found on another doll besides the Twist n’ Turn version in 1967. The Hair Fair Barbie head featured it as well. This was the first head mold change in eight years.
The first of three gift sets that featured the Standard Straight-leg Barbie was available by mail-in only in 1967. It is the rarest gift set of them all! “Barbie Loves the Improvers” was an Inland Steel Gift Set promotion, which was extremely limited. There are only a few that have ever been found. Barbie wore the same pink two-piece swim suit and had the pink ribbon in her hair. She’s been found with blonde and red hair. She also came with hot pink shoes and a cool metallic silver cardboard dress that looks like a tin can, that has a cut-out for her belly button (which she doesn't have!). Also, there was a flier showing an actual model wearing the “Warrior Women” tin can dress. All of this was packaged in a brown mailing box marked “Barbie Loves the Improvers”.
This hip doll was fashioned after a design by Paco Rabanne, who was a Spanish Fashion Designer. He was born in 1934. He and his mother fled Spain in 1937 and moved to France, just after the Spanish Civil War broke out. Paco studied architecture in Paris. He began his career in the 1960’s designing jewelry for big names like Givenchy, Nina Ricci, Pierre Cardin, and others.
In 1966 he started his own fashion house, and created controversial fashions using mediums such as paper, hammered metal, fluorescent leather, and plastic, to name just a few. His designs were wild, but they fit right in with the 1960’s teenage culture. His first couture collection was named “12 unwearable dresses”.
As he was designing this unusual clothing, he was also working on the wardrobe for the movie “Barbarella”, which is a French-Italian sci-fi flick that was released in 1968. It was based on the French Barbarella comic strip, and starred Jane Fonda as Barbarella. The clothing in the film was made of hard plastic, metal, and other uncomfortable fabrics, and was also quite revealing.
There isn’t a lot of information about this very limited edition doll. It is believed that it was never released to the public and it was probably available for Inland Steel’s larger clients since there are so few ever found. I read somewhere that Inland Steel also thought of themselves as “The Improvers” at the time.
It’s a known fact that there are only a few of these special dolls in existence, and having one in your collection is like finding the Holy Grail!
In 1968 the #1544 Sears Exclusive Travel in Style Gift Set was released. It contained the doll in her pink two-piece swimsuit along with a print coat, matching skirt, knit shell, travel hat box, sheer hose, blue one-piece swimsuit, and blue bow shoes.
The 1969 #1592 Twinkle Town Sears exclusive gift set was available and also contained the standard-straight leg Barbie. In the set she wore a blue two-piece swim-suit exactly like the pink, which included the white vinyl rose on the left side of the bottoms. She had rare platinum hair color, and wore a blue hair ribbon. The set came with the outfit #1866 Movie Groovie, which consisted of a hot pink skirt, long sleeve pink and silver top, hot pink hose, and pink shoes.
At the time these dolls were sold, they were considered the inexpensive version of the new “Mod” Barbie because they didn’t have the twist waist, rooted eyelashes, and bendable legs.
Too bad I didn’t pick up a few hundred of them back in the day! Buying one of these beauties mint in box now is rarely economical!
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