The Curious Collector: Gene Doll Stewardess; Brazilian ‘Barbie and the Rockers’
(This article first appeared in the April 2013 issue of DOLLS magazine)
Made in 2002 as a souvenir from the Modern Doll Convention, this Mel Odom, Ashton-Drake Galleries, 16-inch Gene flight attendant doll was a numbered, limited edition of 250. Few seem to hit the secondary market today
QUESTION: I purchased this amazing Mel Odom/Ashton-Drake Galleries 16-inch Gene doll at a show recently. She is dressed as a stewardess, or as they say now, flight attendant, from the 1950s. What more can you tell me about this great doll?
ANSWER:The Gene doll, in my opinion, was responsible for starting the 16-inch scale fashion doll. What started as a dream for designer Mel Odom became a reality when he paired up with Ashton-Drake Galleries. Soon the storyline of the doll became a legend in itself. Gene wanted badly to be an actress and journeyed to the West Coast to fulfill her dream of becoming a star. The storyline was as exciting as the dolls and fashions, and was set in the 1940s, 1950s, and up to circa 1962.
Odem was able to entice collectors with special offerings, such as your doll. Made in 2002 as a souvenir from the Modern Doll Convention, she was a numbered limited edition of 250 pieces. Few seem to hit the secondary market today. Included in the box with the doll was a certificate of authenticity and story card. One example recently traded for $200 for just the doll itself. You might double that price for a doll still perfect in the box with all items.
It’s also interesting to note that a 200-piece edition dressed in a beige stewardess uniform with red hair was an F.A.O. Schwarz exclusive. Odom later paired with Integrity Toys for a “new” Gene, but that doll has also been discontinued. In my opinion, most versions of Gene are undervalued today, and this would be a great time to buy some rare dolls at great prices!
Barbie and the Rockers
This “Em Ritmo De Rock” (“In Rhythm of Rock”) Barbie was made by license by Estrela in Brazil. The doll also wore a rather daring fashion, complete with scarf and black heels.
Collectors of the dolls made by Estrela in Brazil consider this the rarest and often the best of the line. Ken is called “Bob” in Brazil, hence “Barbie and Bob” printed on the box.
QUESTION: During a recent Mattel Barbie doll event, I brought some dolls to trade. Some people got very excited over one doll in particular, a Barbie doll with a purple curly hairdo. I brought the doll home with me, and frankly, I don’t remember where I got it. Can you tell me about this doll and why all the interest?
ANSWER: Your doll is one of the most hard-to-find foreign-made Barbie dolls. She’s from Brazil and was made under license by the Estrela Company. Produced circa 1986, the stock number was 105166. It was unusual because of her huge purple curly hairdo, which, of course, was not the usual style that Barbie sported! The idea was that she was a rock star, and the logo “Em Ritmo De Rock” means “In Rhythm of Rock.” The doll also wore a rather daring fashion, complete with scarf and black heels. Collectors of the dolls made by Estrela in Brazil consider this the rarest and often the best of the line.
The American versions of “Barbie and the Rockers” were tamer, which only adds to the fun for many collectors. I have seen this doll sell for $500 when perfect in the box and about half of that value out of the box. Not all Barbie collectors are interested in dolls made under license, but those who are collect vigorously! Another interesting fact is that Ken is called “Bob” in Brazil, hence “Barbie and Bob” is boldly printed on the front and back of the box. Collectors consider this doll an interesting part of Barbie doll history, which explains why there was such interest in your doll!
A. Glenn Mandeville has written several books about collectible dolls. Send your queries about vintage and modern dolls with photos to email@example.com or Curious Collector, c/o DOLLS, P.O. Box 5000, Iola, WI 54945-5000.
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