Whether a collector once owned and played with Barbies, or they are simply doll enthusiasts, collecting vintage Mattel Barbies is popular for a reason. The iconic toys have provided countless little girls with hours of entertainment, and they offer insight into the styles and trends of the mid-1900's. Only Mattel Barbies made from 1959 through 1972 fall into the vintage category, and there are many kinds to choose from.
Check for Original Paint
It is important that you carefully check the paint on a vintage Barbie doll. Toys that were consistently played with or left in the sun often have faded or chipped paint, and some people had their dolls re-painted. Look at the lips, eyes, blush, eyeliner, eyebrows, nose dots, and the fingernails, if applicable. To check the paint, brush a bit of rubbing alcohol over it. If the paint comes off, it is not the original Mattel paint.
Check Poseable Joints
Some of the vintage Barbie dolls had poseable knee joints that clicked into three angled positions. Unfortunately, those joints were prone to wearing out if the doll was heavily played with. Click the knees into all three positions to see if they hold and move properly. Also keep in mind that some dolls, such as the Living Barbie, have more clickable joints to check.
Vintage Ponytail Barbie
The vintage Ponytail Barbie dolls were the first to be made and as such, they are highly collectable. Mattel produced them between 1959 and 1966 and they features a fringe and hair that was pulled back into a ponytail. The first version had a black and white striped swimsuit. Six additional versions with different Barbie outfits were created after her. The first version is the most valuable, but since the seventh edition featured a vinyl that did not fade to an ivory colour, it is the easiest to find in good condition. It is important that you find Barbies with the original hair style. Some girls pulled the hair ties out and then tried to put them back in.
Vintage Bubblecut Barbies
The vintage Bubblecut Barbies were inspired by Jackie Kennedy, the wife of President Jack Kennedy. They had a short hairstyle which came in numerous colours and with different facial features. Most had blue eyes as well as blue makeup and it can be difficult to find vintage dolls with hair that still looks original. The short length was easy to get messed up and matted.
Vintage Colour Magic Barbie
One of the more collectible Barbie dolls is the Colour Magic Barbie. She is rare and came with black or blonde hair which children could change to red by applying a solution. She wore a multi-coloured swimsuit and had a few makeup combinations, but the dolls with the brightest makeup were the most valuable.