Ken, the Barbie-adjacent man doll with no reproductive parts, is no longer just a vapid white surfer dude. In its broadest Ken expansion to date, Mattel has introduced 15 realistic Ken dolls that more closely resemble the dorks you come across on Tinder.
This calculated diversification includes black Kens with cornrows, Kens with a man bun, and male fashion blogger Kens in flannel, Gingham, and skinny ties. People reports that these clones “have three body types—slim, broad and original. In addition, the dolls will feature seven skin tones, eight hair colors, nine hairstyles, and chic, modern fashion looks unlike any other Ken dolls you’ve seen before.”
Ken’s definitely got a chiller vibe. Go ahead and have your children place these new Kens in sexually suggestive positions they don’t yet understand.
From The Los Angeles Times:
It’s certainly not the first time the 56-year-old boyfriend of Barbie has switched up his look. (Who could forget 1993’s Magic Earring Ken?) However, it does mark the most diverse Ken squad to date. Mattel frames it as a natural progression, coming the year after the Barbie diversity push, but this is just as much, if not more so, a business decision for the toy company that’s been trying to turn around its core Barbie business.
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Last year’s Barbie expansion reportedly helped Mattel up its profits 7 percent that year—almost as if the company was unaware that kids love to see dolls that look like them. However, the company’s 2017 first-quarter figures are back down 15 percent.
Robert Best, senior director of Barbie Design says, “We want to do beards. Facial hair is definitely a thing. There’s going to be changes that we keep pushing, but you have to launch with something. It’s progress, not perfection.”