Doll news: RCMP Barbie a hot seller

RCMP Barbie on display at Toys 'R' Us. Photo: Gina Phillips, used by permission

RCMP Barbie on display at Toys ‘R’ Us. Photo: Gina Phillips, used by permission

Dolls are a part of many children’s lives. I gather they are seen as highly collectable items for some adults too, including this fellow in Singapore who owns 6,000 Barbies.

Dolls never appealed to me, so I probably lack proper appreciation of the subject. But I am keen on social trends, cultural practices, icons and stereotypes – plus aspects of marketing and so forth. Which is how this story catches my eye: the “Dolls of the World” series is offering an RCMP Barbie.

As reported by CTV:

Barbie appears serious about her career move into law enforcement, as she’s dressed in a close replica of the uniform Mounties currently wear: scarlet tunic with cross strap and belt, navy breeches with a yellow stripe, Strathcona riding boots and a Stetson, which “can be removed to reveal her bright red hair,” according to the official RCMP retail site.

The RCMP Heritage Centre has announced that the ‘Mountie Barbie’ is now on sale at its gift shop.

While RCMP Barbie is officially licensed by the RCMP Foundation, the noted fashion plate has been allowed to maintain her sense of style. Her red hair would normally have to be worn pulled back in a bun, and her heeled boots would, of course, be flat.

There is an authorized RCMP merchandise website called The Mountie Shop. (They are currently sold out of RCMP Barbie.) It’s a curious hybrid:

The Mountie Shop is a Not-For-Profit Corporation (830595-1 Corporation) established in 2007 to support and enhance the RCMP Foundation’s initiatives. The Mountie Shop specializes in providing high quality, Officially Licensed RCMP products representative of Canada’s iconic National Police Force to both the RCMP and the public. Net proceeds from the purchase of sales from The Mountie Shop go toward supporting community organizations who partner with local RCMP members to implement programs aimed at investing in Canada’s youth at risk.

This post could easily end up reading like free advertising for Barbie dolls, for which I apologize.

I’m mostly interested in how images are presented, as with the 203 dolls currently in the “Dolls of the World” series.

The waists are still anatomically impossible. The Hawaii Barbie wears (what else?) a hula dancer’s grass skirt and little else. Check out the Japan Ken doll as a samurai. There are 21 dolls in various stereotypical costumes in something called a Princess collection. (The word collection is used very intentionally, no doubt hoping you will buy them all!) It goes on and on.

I suppose we are seeing progress of sorts. Once upon a time the vast majority of dolls sold in the U.S. and Canada lacked diversity, in terms of race or doll-depicted vocations. That’s no longer the case, although some of that expansion is mostly about how to sell more product.

Of course, dolls span the globe and come in many, many brands. But Barbie is North America’s own special cultural mirror. There’s a Wikipedia page devoted to Barbie’s careers. No less than the New York Times grants Barbie her own “topics” page, so large does that doll loom in our cultural landscape, feminist critique, and so forth. Here’s a line from the topic intro:

Barbie has morphed into a legend and an icon. For Barbie is both mirror and model, reflection and avatar.

So I have a bunch of doll questions for any readers who are still with me. Does it bother anyone beside me that RCMP Barbie is wearing high heeled boots?! Do young kids play much with dolls anymore? As parents or grandparents, do you put thought into what particular dolls might represent before buying any for your young friends?

Or have we all started to over-think toys? Should we just get out of the way and let kids play with whatever catches their fancy?

Bonus question: Did you play with dolls in general – or Barbie in particular – and can you remember what that may have symbolized to you at that time?

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7 Responses to “Doll news: RCMP Barbie a hot seller”

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  1. Dale Hobson says:

    Now we need a “Snidely Whiplash Ken” villain doll, So RCMP Barbie can “Always get her man.” Sorry, someone had to say it.

    Dale Hobson, NCPR

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  2. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I’m going to avoid the obvious Barbie/Mountie jokes.

    Dale, have you seen the episode where Snidely piloted an airplane and “was soon high over Toronto?”
    Snidely turns to the camera and says, “I’ve never been high over Toronto.”

    Ah, kids shows. Did Snidely ever show up in the Venture Brothers?

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  3. Lucy Martin says:

    Snidely Whiplash, Dudley Do-Right, Bullwinkle J. Moose, Rocky the flying squirrel, Boris & Natasha, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Fractured Fairy Tales…if I only had a DVD player hooked up I’d go re-watch my box set of one of the best cartoon series ever!

    As described in Wikipedia:

    “Rocky & Bullwinkle is known for quality writing and wry humor. Mixing puns, cultural and topical satire, and self-referential humor, it appealed to adults as well as children.[8] It was also one of the first cartoons whose animation was outsourced; storyboards were shipped to Gamma Productions, a Mexican studio also employed by Total Television). Thus the art has a choppy, unpolished look and the animation is extremely limited even by television animation standards. Yet the series has long been held in high esteem by those who have seen it; some critics described the series as a well-written radio program with pictures.”

    Top that, Barbie.

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  4. Two Cents says:

    remember the kirwood derby?

    you put it on and you got stupid.
    durward Kirby didn’t think it was so funny…!!!

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  5. Alan says:

    Well, to be fair, even the riding boots of actual RCPM have heels to handle the stirrups. So more a matter of degree as anything.

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  6. Two Cents says:

    weren’t the venture bros a rip on johnny quest?

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  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Two cents, the Venture Bros. were SO much more than a rip on Johnny Quest…

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