In most cases, turning a profit in the world of doll collecting requires a great deal of research and patience. But a very recent example shows that trend spotting can be an exception to the rule.
In October of 2011, Mattel released tokidoki Barbie, complete with a pink bob hairdo, tattoos and cactus friend, Bastardino. The dolls retailed for $50 and are, as of this writing, listed on Amazon.comstarting at $400 and going for as much as $1,590. That kind of escalation in value is rare in a market where vintage or antique is typically the way to go.
“There was a limited amount made,” said Sandi Holder, author of Barbie, A Rare Beauty and owner of the Doll Attic in Union City, Calif. “It was in the news and it became controversial because mothers disapproved. More media attention drove up the demand.”
Typically, though, the money to be made collecting Barbie dolls revolves around acquiring vintage dolls that are, optimally, still in the box with all their accessories, including the stand. Barbie was launched in 1959 and that original version, where she’s wearing a black-and-white striped bathing suit, can fetch between $7,000 and $27,000 depending upon the condition.
The latter price tag is a Guinness record set in May 2006 for “highest price paid for a Barbie doll in an auction” and is held by Holder’s store. During her last auction, in November 2011, a doll sold for a whopping $19,000.
“The Barbie market and values are strong,” Holder said.
There are two camps in the collecting world: Never Removed From Box (NRFB) and De-Boxed. For investment purposes, NRFB is ideal, but many collectors prefer to enjoy the dolls by displaying them out of the box.