Anyone who knows me probably knows that I own far too many dolls for someone of my age. My collection of Christie, Wesley, Madison, Nikki and other black Barbie dolls is being taken out of the cupboard for self-isolation.
I wrote this post at Christmas so it needs to be updated. There are many new dolls on the scene. With the Corona Virus dolls are getting a lot of attention from doll artists on Instagram and doll events such as #ramandchariswedding on Insta are spreading the word about black dolls.
I am adding some new dolls – a mix of dolls for kids, grown women like me and men.
Disney Princess Tiana
Princess Tiana is an important doll – if we are talking about representation then that powerful group of Disney Princess really needs to have a black member.
The smallest of girls can cuddle a plush Tiana doll and the Disney company has the might to provide Princess Tiana as a black doll for al ages. She matters.
There are multiple Tiana dolls so I will just note this new comfy Tiana with natural curly, coily hair. She has always had an up do but the natural hair movement inspired a new approach to the doll’s hair.
I found this site when i was looking for Zuree the Patwa talking doll. Kunaka Kids has a fabulous mix of “African and Caribbean Inspired” accessories, stationery, book and, of course, dolls. There is even a music box with a tiny Nia ballerina! Very desirable and cute!
The the doll range is extensive. The African dolls have African names and clothing and come in many different sizes – soft rags dolls, Barbie sized girls and sturdy little girl dolls. I will highlight the 14.5 inch Molemo dolls, proudly wearing their tribal colours- Xhosa, Ndebele and more.
The Zuree doll with her fiesty Jamaican voice box can be seen and heard here. She comes from London but I suspect her heart is in Jamaica.
These flashy 12inch dolls are beloved by adult collectors. The collections of high end fashion dolls include the Ru Paul doll. The Fashion Royalty collection, which is updated every year, has dramatic characters with names like Dasha D’Amboise and Baroness Agnes Von Weiss.
The dolls live live exciting lives in stunning couture outfits, detailed sexy lingerie and glorious high heels. Check out the website to see black dolls like Jordan Duval and Miss Adèle Makéda.
The family owned company invites those who wish to buy a doll to contact them via the website.
You already knew it was not just kids, but grown ups too. And did you know it’s sometimes guys as well as gals? At the top end of the markets are 16 inch dolls like Superdoll London.
The dolls have a similar look to the Ru Paul doll – high glam femininity as drag queens do so well. Because the dolls are 16 inches high (1/4 scale not 1/6) like Barbie, the seamstresses and jewelers go crazy.
The dolls are investments, costing hundreds, but the craftsmanship is exceptional. The make up on the dolls’ eyes will give you hours of joy. i will share some of the wording about Piccolo – pictured below.
“Eyes in shades of hemimorphite, sky and virginal white with solid black eyeliner, turqoiser glitter surround etched charcoal under eye shadow accented with silver glitter inner under eye.”
Healthy Roots Dolls feature Zoe an 18 inch vinyl doll who teaches her ‘curlfriends’ how to handle their hair. This beautifully made toy is all about self-love, representation and hair care. Each doll comes with a Curl Care Kit. the website is full of positivity.
Taofick Okoya is the Nigerian entrepreneur who created this range of dolls to give African girls dolls that “reflected their culture and heritage” – in other words, dollies rockin’ a Naija look. The Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba dolls have royal ancestry. Maybe you do too?
The story is a good one. Local women hand braid the girls’ hair and sew the modern and traditional outfits. Recently the company was proud to announce the fact that they outsell Barbie in Nigeria! The website – which is full of lively African content – gives links to where the dolls are on sale globally. There are storybooks too.
- Zolie Zi – the girl who stands up to bullies
Our pals Zolie and her author, Sonya J Bowser, recently visited London so I’m sure parents and kids , and of course Santa Claus, will want to know where to get the gorgeous, plush doll. Girls and boys really bond with Zolie Zi (who is an unusually likeable character) and want to be ‘doll mommies’
US doll mommies can head to Amazon. The doll is not yet on Amazon UK so for nowyou may have to ask your friends in the US or try Coloured Goodies in the Netherlands. More on them below. Zolie Zi is back in London next year and I am sure the merchandise will become easier to buy.
Not met Zolie Zi? Our interview with Zolie herself is right here.
This site is a treasure trove of items that kids will love. After you log in, hit translate as the site is in Dutch. They have dolls, toys, books, a useful range of greeting cards and clothing.
They make good use of the famous Dutch wax print fabrics and you can buy dresses for Barbie-sized dolls as well as very sweet head-wraps for baby dolls. They have a wonderful range of baby dolls. There are plenty of baby boys in there. Shanice and Jaylee are not just beautifully dressed but soooo darn cute!!
Nia has a wide range of ballet themed items for little girls. As well as being stocked by other retailers, Nia has her own website.
It is easy to feel daunted when you go into Amazon looking for a black Barbie doll. The prices can be shocking and how on earth do you choose? I’ll give you a few tips.
Don’t look for “black Barbies” Amazon and Mattel who make Barbie dolls tend not to to use the word black. Barbies come from California so the terms AA or African American are used instead.
Keep it simple You know that your doll will probably spend most of her life in the bath in her swimming costume. Don’t overspend on lavish dresses unless you really want to – or if the doll is for a collector. I have put a few cash-splashing options at the bottom.
Keep it current The dolls are changing all the time and usually to current dolls are the most affordable. They tend to have simple outfits and cost around ten British pounds in the UK.
At the moment the Fashionistas collection seems to be where the new dolls are. For the gorgeous doll at the top of this page type in Fashionista Fancy Flowers. Other dolls of colour are Fashionistas Zig and Zag Curvy Doll, Fashionistas Boho Fringe, Fashionistas Emoji Fun.
Outside of the Fashionistas there are other dolls with more accessories that will make great Christmas gifts for around 20 pounds. Her name doesn’t trip off the tongue but Barbie Careers African American Doll and Play-set is a gorgeous doll who comes with very sweet, tiny babies that she has just delivered successfully. The Made 2 Move Soccer player is a beautiful athletic doll. So is Barbie Endless Moves Doll with Yellow Top. The urban gardeners in my gardening post include sister dolls like Chelsea too.
Don’t forget Ebay
In the 1990s I would go to Woolworths in Brixton and pay a fiver for a swimsuit Christie on my way to work. When ebay came along Christie was the name to type in. Or “black Barbie” if it was UK and AA for African American. I must do a list of the doll names…Nikki, Julia, Christie, Westley…
Barbies are endlessly issuing new dolls and exclusives so not every doll you see is available to buy in your local shop or Amazon. In my next doll post i will explain different Barbie face sculpts and the special editions with Afro and braided hair like the Ava Duvernay doll. I would look for Ava on ebay and be prepared to wait and pay premum.
You can’t go out but you can get shopping.