In the Beginning
In 1991 the first little girl doll in the Barbie world named Kelly was released.
Wedding Day Kelly and Todd and Midge's Wedding Party Giftset
included an 8 inch tall doll named Kelly. This sized doll was
introduced later that same year as one of Barbie doll's younger
sisters, Stacie. The first Kelly may have looked like a Stacie doll to
the average collector, but this doll had many features never repeated
with Stacie, including freckles. Sadly, Kelly's origin and relationship
to Barbie was not revealed at this time. After this initial doll, there
were no more Kelly dolls released for several years. Thus Kelly
appeared and disappeared without explanation.
A few years later, in 1995, Kelly as the New Baby Sister of Barbie
was introduced. Although unconfirmed, it is widely held that Carol
Spencer, a long time Mattel designer, was the creative force behind the
development and ultimate production of the Kelly doll. The 1995 Mattel Catalog,
sent to toy dealers worldwide, marked the debut of Barbie's New Baby
Sister. In the many years preceding the "birth" of Kelly, there had not
been another baby doll in Barbie's world as a recurring character with the
exception of the Heart Family Li'l Friends of Barbie lineup. These chubby
dolls were adorable toddlers and paved the way for the next appearance of Kelly.
Mattel's intention behind the introduction of Kelly as a baby within
the realm of Barbie was to provide a character that children could
explore nurturing play patterns with. At this point in Barbie doll's
character development, she was no longer being portrayed as the
ultimate teen fashion model. Instead she was pursuing more adult roles,
such as Doctor, Fire Fighter, and Astronaut. Therefore it seemed that
Barbie doll would naturally play a more maternal role to baby Kelly
doll in the enactment of nurturing scenarios by children.
Measuring a petite 4 ½ inches tall, Kelly doll was an engineering
marvel of minutia. She had a full head of glossy platinum blonde hair,
an established trademark of Barbie dolls of the time. Her facial
features were screened in a fresh and simple manner, reflective of the
real life toddlers she was modeled after. Adding to her charm and
innocence was her "bottle-mouth" for inserting a bottle or pacifier,
both of which came with the first Kelly. A fun addition to the "baby"
theme was that her body was made to smell baby powder fresh! Kelly was
no inanimate baby doll created to lie motionless in a crib. Rather she
was articulated with jointed shoulders, hips, and head. This afforded
many different toddler action poses. The New Baby Sister of Barbie
came packaged with everything Kelly would need to become an instant
fixture in Barbie's world: sleeper, diaper, hair ribbon, dress, tights,
shoes, bed with movable rail and mobile, blanket, bottle, plate, spoon,
jar, pacifier, rattle, toy bunny, comb, and brush.
marketed as the baby sister of Barbie. In the earlier years of Barbie's
history, the tiny twins Tutti and Todd were the reigning small children
in Barbie doll's family. Tutti and Todd were only produced for a few
short years before fading from the production lines. Todd reappeared in
1991 a few inches bigger than the Todd doll of years past. Tutti,
unfortunately, was never produced again. (It is interesting that Todd
and Kelly were paired together in the 1991 Wedding Day
sets, thus fueling the speculation that perhaps Kelly was supposed to
be a matured Tutti and was to continue on as Todd's twin sister.) With
the introduction of Kelly in 1995, she became the smallest sibling yet
measuring just a hair smaller than the first Tutti and Todd. What Kelly
lacks in height she makes up for in character and charm. In some
years, according to Mattel sales reports, Kelly doll was second only to
Barbie doll as one of their best selling brands.
release of Kelly marked the beginning of many, many years of fun and
fantasy with Barbie's most popular li'l sister. What started out
timidly with one doll soon exploded into a world as vast and varied as
Barbie's with numerous friends, pets, vehicles, clothes, and on and on.
Kelly has been portrayed as a sweet toddler and as a sophisticated
young girl. Through her costumes and fantasy themes she has been
portrayed as a girl in age far beyond her stature. That is the magic of
the Kelly doll - that she can at one moment appear child-like and at
the next mature.