Published: Wed, June 21, 2017
Culture | By Stewart Greene

Ken gets makeover: Cornrows, beefy bod and new skin tones

This photo combo of images provided by Mattel shows a variety of Ken dolls now available from Mattel.

- Konnie Huq (@Konnie_Huq) June 20, 2017But in all seriousness, @Barbie finally has dolls that more than one type of child can relate to and that is fantastic.

The company just announced that it is expanding its Barbie Fashionista line with a more diverse range of Ken dolls.

Ken, full name Ken Carson, was first introduced by Mattel in 1961 as Barbie's boyfriend - always standing half an inch taller than her - and has gone on to experience some 40 occupations and model the full range of the decades' fashions, including 1993's Magic Earring Ken.

The new doll comes with three basic body types: slim, broad and original.

In a press statement, Senior Vice President and General Manager Lisa McKnight said, "By continuing to expand our product line, we are redefining what a Barbie or Ken doll looks like to this generation".

The original Ken doll was dressed quite skimpy, sporting only his tiny lifeguard suit, towel and sandals.

The company had a rocky start to 2017, with a 15 percent drop in sales in the first quarter; sales of Barbie were down 13 percent.

Barbie got a similar treatment about a year ago, and the move to makeover Ken is part of the toymaker's plan to market the dolls to a new diverse group of children and collectors.

Ken was in need of a makeover, said Jim Silver, the editor-in-chief of toy review website TTPM.

So if Cactus Cooler Ken and his man bun isn't your speed, perhaps Plaid On Point Ken and his close-cropped hair is more to your liking.

The spokeswoman declined to say how much Mattel had spent on market research and manufacturing to launch the new Ken dolls. Since introducing the different body types for the dolls in 2016, Mattel saw a 7 percent boost in sales. As with the announcement of new female dolls, it can be argued that Barbie should be pushing the envelope even further. Mattel's portfolio of global consumer brands includes American Girl®, Barbie®, Fisher-Price®, Hot Wheels®, Monster High® and Thomas & Friends™, among many others.

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