Barbie can be somewhat easy to identify because they all have markings on their right buttocks, feet and the back of their heads. Sometimes you’ll find marks on the stomach which is usually just the mold number and not the year the doll was produced.
The height of the doll can give you a clue of to what year it is, such as Ken. Ken from 1963 was actually a little bit shorter than Ken from 1962.
The neck knob can give you a clue as well as to the year of the doll. Take the Bubblecut Barbie from 1961, she had a smaller neck knob than the Bubblecut doll in 1963.
Eyes are another help in identification. The way the dolls eyes are glancing, or the eyeliner color are other ways to determine the year of the doll.
The earlier vintage dolls used the Barbie mold for their hands which gave them divided fingers. By about 1968, the Barbie molds were still used but the fingers were not completely divided. They are often referred to as Francie hands. Some dolls were made in Mexico, which gave the doll long, slender hands with undivided fingers. These are referred to as dolls with Mexico hands. And of course this varies from doll to doll!
The very first ponytail Barbie actually had holes in the bottom of her feet with copper tubes to fit her stand. Other dolls have “made in Japan on their feet”. So looking at the bottom of the feet can also give you clues to what doll you have.
Take Skipper as an example. She looks pretty much the same as she did in 1964 as when she was reissued in 1970. Except in 1970 she has a much pinker skin tone. Some dolls will have high color make up on their face where the same doll will not. That can bring up the value. Take the Japanese side part American Girl, she will have a pinker skin tone than the american version who has more the tan tone.
Hair color can help determine the price too. Some dolls came with a color magic hair, and others came with a rare platinum color. You will find some with a rare light brown hair. Depending on the doll and their standard hair colors, something a little out of the ordinary changes the value. Also style of hair can be a factor. Some dolls came with longer hair styles, side parts, and factory braids. Unusual hair style changes the value.
You will find this marking on the early Barbie Ponytail dolls (1959-1960) and some of
their ensembles. It stands for Trademark. The later dolls had a ® in the marking.
Vendors will describe Barbie using the letters C-1 to C-10. C-1 would be a doll in very poor condition and a C-10 doll will be a doll in "mint condition" or M/C.
NFRB, which stands for “never removed from box”. Even if the doll is in mint condition, but if it has been removed from the box, it will be worth about 20-25% less.
Other abbreviations used are NMIB which stands for "near mint in box" or MIP which means mint in Package.
A/O stands for "all original", OOB stands for "out of box" and TLC basically means, "the item as seen better days!" So when you're shopping and run into some of these terms, now you know what they mean!
Country and Year:
The early dolls from 1959-1972 were made in Japan, but you'll also find dolls from 1968-1990 that were made in Mexico. A few dolls from 1970 were made in Hong Kong or Taiwan. By 1973 you will see some Korea marked dolls. Yes, this can be a bit confusing!
These are left over dolls Mattel wanted to use up that were originally packaged in boxes and they repackaged them in bags.
Reproductions and newer dolls:
Most of the dolls from the 1980's and 1990's were made in the Philippines, China, or Malaysia. There are also dolls from the 1990's made in Indonesia. So if you have a doll made from one of these countries, then you have not found yourself a true vintage doll!
For more specifics on an individual doll, click the links above to take you to the doll you are looking for detailed information about.
Barbie Doll Identification
Sometimes determining what year or even what doll you have can be tough. Below are some things to look for when you are trying to identify your vintage Barbie doll.