Plastic Fantastic: The Bowie Barbie


Two of the 20th century’s icons combine in a high-priced collectable.

Taking a break from their holy war on plastic, the BBC have today been gushing about the new David Bowie-flavoured Barbie doll from Mattel (which is arguably a less necessary use of plastic than holding food or drink, but what do we know?), while The Guardian have put aside their disgust at naked consumerism and capitalist greed to also post excitedly about this $50 collectable (arguably a worthwhile investment given the market for both Bowie and Barbie collector’s items). This Ziggy Stardust version of Barbie – ostensibly still a female character, though who can say in these gender-fluid times? – would seem to be both a fantastic novelty and a depressing sign (as if we haven’t already seen that with numerous collector editions in the last few years) of just how much the Bowie estate will cash in on his fan base. Though perhaps Bowie himself might have seen the amusement value in this and given it the nod. And if any male rock star is suited to being represented by a female doll, then I guess it’s Bowie, who was blurring the lines of gender and sexuality when it was still daring.

The doll does feel especially cynical, though, ostensibly released to mark the 50th anniversary of Space Oddity – a point when the Ziggy character was still several years away. The 1969 Bowie probably wouldn’t make a very impressive doll, though.

Funnily enough, Mrs Reprobate is a big fan of both Barbie dolls and Bowie, but greeted the news of this with little more than a shrug – perhaps there’s only so far you can go with these cynical cash cows. Or perhaps she’s just jaded.

Personally, I’m all in favour of naked consumerism. Let’s have more rock star Barbie dolls, I say – perhaps a Lemmy Barbie, or better yet a GG Allin Barbie (perhaps one that dispenses chocolate from the butt for added realism). I’d definitely buy that.


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