Mattel Markets ‘Fantasy’ Pregnancy Doll Set, Complete With Infant
HAWTHORNE, Calif. (AP) _ The toy company that gave birth to the Barbie doll is marketing a family set that can take a mother doll through a pregnancy and includes a newborn baby.
Mattel marketing director Kathy Harrison emphasized Tuesday that the mother ″is not Barbie in any way, shape or form.″
″Barbie, as we all know, has always been single, and always will be, and will never have a baby,″ Ms. Harrison said.
However, she said, Barbie did influence creation of the Heart Family New Arrival set, which includes three dolls, father, mother and baby, as well as accessories.
″For years little girls were writing in, wondering why Barbie couldn’t have a baby,″ she said. ″We do extensive research and child testing, and what we have found is that little girls pretend their dolls are pregnant and have babies. So this is a way for them to act out this fantasy.″
″This is strictly a fantasy,″ she said. ″She (Mrs. Heart) is not shaped as if she were pregnant. The fantasy is that she comes with a smock, and the smock is cut in such a way that when put over the doll’s dress, she appears to be pregnant. So it’s just pretense.
″Once the child takes off the doll’s smock, the fantasy is that she’s had her infant and they play with the baby,″ Ms. Harrison said.
The Heart Family New Arrival set, which hit toy stores last month, comes with flowers for father to give to mother in the hospital and a camera to take baby’s picture. Also included are a birth certificate, photo album, diapers, a tiny blanket, baby bottle and a couple of toys dad can take to the hospital.
The suggested retail price for the set is $25. Ms. Harrison declined to reveal how many have been made.
The Hearts have no first names, unlike the Ken and Barbie dolls, named for Mattel founder Elliot Handler’s two children.
″We just refer to them as mom and dad. We do that open-ended, so children can name the dolls if they would like,″ said Mattel spokeswoman Kathy Thorpe.
Baby Heart could be either a boy or girl, Ms. Harrison said.
The Heart Family, like Barbie and Ken, are fashion dolls, Mattel’s three- dimensional answer to the paper dolls of the 1950s which came with wardrobes of paper cut-outs, Ms. Thorpe said.
Barbie has been a teen-ager 27 years.
″The play pattern associated with Barbie is totally different″ from those of the Heart Family, Ms. Harrison said. ″This is a family play pattern .... Little girls have always had this nurturing (play pattern), playing mommy.″
She said their research has found that ″there is a trend back toward the family concept″ in doll play, ″more so than there was in the past few years.″