PHILADELPHIA — She's Barbie's oldest friend, happily married and visibly pregnant -- which, some parents complain, makes her unfit as a children's toy.
The pregnant version of Midge, which pops out a curled-up baby when her belly, attached by a magnet, is opened -- has been pulled from Wal-Mart shelves across the country after customer complaints, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said Tuesday.
"It was just that customers had a concern about having a pregnant doll," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Cynthia Illick said.
Illick said the retailer would no longer sell the Happy Family set, which included pregnant Midge, her husband and their 3-year-old son.
Illick said the decision was made in the last couple of weeks. "What we try to do is listen to what our customers want," she said.
Messages seeking comment left for representatives of Mattel Inc., the toy's maker, were not returned Tuesday.
Midge was introduced in 1963, the first of a slew of friends and family members for Barbie, who appeared four years earlier and has been one of the world's top-selling dolls ever since.
The pregnant Midge wears a wedding ring and comes with doll-size crib, cradle, changing table, baby toys and a baby monitor. The husband and son are sold separately.
Mattel posted an article on its Barbie Web site by USC psychology professor Jo Ann Farver praising the doll as a "wonderful prop," particularly for families expecting a new sibling.
Manager Bill Boehmer of the KB Toys store in Philadelphia's Roosevelt Mall said he had heard only positive responses from customers.
"I've had people laugh, but I haven't had anyone say this was ridiculous or, 'What are we trying to tell these kids?' or anything like that," Boehmer said.
But at another KB Toys in downtown Philadelphia, customer reaction Tuesday was uniformly negative.
"It promotes teenage pregnancy. What would an 8-year-old or 12-year-old get out of that doll baby?" asked Sabrina Fagan, 29, who has a 9-year-old son.
"Most girls want to be like Barbie" or her friends, said Kenya Williams, 29, who has two daughters, ages 9 and 7. "Maybe if they would have put them all together as a family, it might be a little different, but alone it sends out the wrong message."