The Ken Doll Got a Makeover (and a Man Bun). Here's Wha…


Mattel announced this week a new range of diverse Ken dolls — slim Kens, husky Kens, Kens with new skin tones and corn rows and even one with a man bun. It’s an overdue way to reflect size, ethnicity and the world kids live in, surely. But it’s also the company’s latest attempt to capture relevance and sales for an on-again-off-again legacy brand and its characters, especially Ken, who has sometimes functioned as one of Barbie’s most disposable accessories. 

Historically, Ken doesn’t get too much attention. When he does, it’s linked to some new humiliation, like the scarf-wearing character in Toy Story 3 or when he was dumped (yes, dumped) by Barbie so she could take up with surfer doll named Blaine in 2004. It looked like a mid-life crisis — but it was also a well-timed stunt. The announcement came right before Valentine’s Day that year — and that year’s annual Toy Fair, a key industry trade event.

Related: Mattel Introduces New Body Types for Barbie

She took him back seven years later, also around Toy Fair and Valentine’s Day — and just in time for the release of a fancy talking Ken doll. The reunion came with the help of an online vote, an extensive social media campaign and some well-chosen partners. (Ken reconnected with his old love through, which happened to be one of the biggest dating sites in the U.S. at the time.)