A less busty Barbie is on the drawing boards at Mattel Inc. in a make-over designed to give a more realistic profile to the curvaceous, best-selling doll.
Barbie's new look will also include a thicker waist and slimmer hips. Changes above the neck will include a new nose and softer, straighter hair, El Segundo-based Mattel said Monday.
Some features of the new Barbie already are on store shelves. The "Rapunzel Barbie," a long-haired variation based on the classic fairy tale, has a more refined nose and closed mouth--part of the new design, said Lisa McKendall, Mattel's director of marketing communications.
Other features will be introduced during 1998. By the end of next year, six of 24 versions of the 11 1/2-inch doll will have the new look. The rest will have the old face and body.
"She looks more youthful and more contemporary," McKendall said.
The plastic surgery is part of a continuing evolution for Barbie, which got a face lift in 1967 and another in 1977, said McKendall. More than 1 billion dolls have been sold worldwide since Barbie was introduced in 1959.
"Barbie's kind of like Betty Crocker. She gets updated to make her look more appropriate to the times. She is a fashion doll first and foremost," said Chris Byrne, an analyst with Playthings MarketWatch, a monthly toy industry magazine.
On Monday, Mattel shares rose 75 cents to close at $39.94 on the New York Stock Exchange.