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|August 28, 2000||
A fuller Barbie debuts in SydneyMary Binks
Barbie, the doll that has captured the hearts of millions of girls worldwide for generations, is donning her handbags and high-heels for the Sydney Olympics.
After watching how Atlanta did it four years ago, the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) has launched its own retail outlets.
In doing so, it created one of the world's biggest licensing programmes with Olympic souvenirs from boxer shorts to Barbie dolls which have become one of the hottest items on the shop floor.
"Barbie has certainly been an important part of our licensing programme," Cat Bateman, market project manager for SOCOG, told Reuters.
This year, Barbie, the world's most famous plastic bombshell, has been modelled on the rather "fuller" Australian woman.
There are Barbies in every conceivable Olympic uniform and even a wind-up Barbie that can do the freestyle.
And the biggest-selling Barbie is not the blue-eyed blonde, but a black Barbie in an Aussie-style slouch hat.
SOCOG says the black Barbie is not an Aboriginal Barbie, even though indigenous issues and protests are likely to steal some of the limelight from the athletes.
"I think this is probably bronze Barbie. She comes in a fairer skin version as well, as do most of the Barbie dolls. Mattel offers them in a range of skin tones," Bateman said.
The Paralympics will be held in Sydney after the September 15 to October 1 Olympics, and a Paralympic version of Becky, Barbie's disabled friend, has gone on sale.
Becky, who comes with a wheelchair, first went on sale in 1997.
"I think Barbie has always been an able-bodied doll," Bateman said. "So it would probably be confusing to children particularly to suddenly have Barbie as a disabled athlete."
Since she was first introduced by U.S. toy-making giant Mattel more than 40 years ago, Barbie has had more than 75 careers.
In May, a "Barbie for President" doll was launched in the United States, backed by the non-profit White House Project that promotes women political candidates which teamed up with Mattel.
Overall Barbie sales generated more than $1.5 billion in revenues for the California-based company last year.
No sales figures for the Olympic Barbie were given.
Mail Sports Editor
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