30 of the Most Popular Barbie Dolls of All Time

March 5, 2019 by Steven M. Peters

No other doll in American history is more famous than Barbie, whose full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She is what every girl wanted to have as a child. With her critics and admirers abound, Barbie now celebrates 60 years since her first release.

Like all people, Barbie’s looks, hobbies, and careers have changed over the years. Sometimes she follows trends; sometimes she sets them. And other times she breaks boundaries.

Barbie was first introduced by toy company Mattel in March 1959. Her creator, Ruth Handler, got the idea from watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls and giving them adult roles. Handler realized there was a gap in the toys’ market that could be filled with an adult-looking doll as most dolls then looked like infants.

The original Barbie’s look was designed after a German comic strip character called Lilli. Lilli was intended as a gag gift to adult men in tobacco shops, but somehow became very popular with kids in Germany. Mattel bought the rights to Lilli and created a new version, more suitable for children — Barbie. After the first TV commercial about Barbie came out in 1959 in the United States, the doll became a hit. Naturally, after popular demand, Mattel released a boyfriend for Barbie, named Ken, after Barbara’s brother.

More than a billion Barbies, and her friends, have been sold all over the world, resulting in over $3 billion in sales since her release and as of 2009. This makes Barbie one of the best selling toys ever.

Over the years, Mattel has designed different Barbies, perhaps due to market pressures, or after being criticized for lack of diversity. Now Barbie looks more like realistic women – and comes in various shapes, colors, styles, and careers. She also comes in different versions inspired by influential women all over the world.

As the 60th birthday of Barbie nears, 24/7 Wall St. has created a list of 30 of the most popular Barbie dolls of all time. Mattel provided the information for the most popular Barbies of every decade, and the rest were selected from the company’s site.

Click here to see some of the most popular Barbie dolls of all time.

Source: Courtesy of Barbie / Mattel, Inc.

The Original Barbie in Bathing Suit
> Released in: 1959

The first Barbie doll ever appeared on March 9, 1959, at a toy fair in New York City. She was 11 inches tall, had blonde hair tied in a ponytail, and wore a bathing suit in black and white stripes. (A brunette version was released later that year.) The original Barbie was also the most popular of the decade, according to Mattel.


Source: Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Barbie Dreamhouse
> Released in: 1962

The first Barbie Dreamhouse was such a big deal that it may have inspired many girls to pursue a career in architecture. It first came out in 1962 and was made of a simple cardboard rectangle — a studio for a Barbie living alone. It came with cardboard furniture that can be moved around and with plastic hangers in the closet. You can still buy a reproduction of the original Barbie Dreamhouse.

Source: Barbie / Amazon

Astronaut Barbie
> Released in: 1965

Both Barbie and Ken were released as astronauts in 1965, reflecting the enthusiasm in the U.S. around the space program. Mattel was on the right track. Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon four years later. A woman had already been in space though — Russian astronaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. Mattel reproduced the original doll astronauts in 2010.

Source: Autograph Warehouse / Amazon

Barbie Color Magic
> Released in: 1966

One of the most distinct features of the Color Magic Barbie is her golden hair that changes to blonde and scarlet flame or red. She wears colorful and rich makeup, the typical style at the time. This doll is not easy to find today, making it one of the most expensive vintage Barbies.


Source: Barbie / Amazon

Twist N Turn Barbie
> Released in: 1967

Collectors call the Turn N Twist Barbie TNT. She was the first of what later became known as the Mod Barbie Era from 1967 to 1973. The doll looks a little different because she has rooted eyelashes, long straight hair, bendable legs, and her waist can be turned, hence the name. The Twist N Turn Barbie was the most popular in the 1960s, according to Mattel.

Source: Autograph Warehouse / Amazon

Talking Barbie
> Released in: 1968

The first talking Barbie had a string at the back of her neck that had to be pulled. She had rooted eyelashes, Barbie’s iconic ponytail but twisted and turned to the side, and new hands — the fingers were divided. This was the first model with separated fingers.


Source: Barbie / Amazon

Malibu Barbie
> Released in: 1971

The Malibu doll permanently sealed Barbie’s reputation as the quintessential California girl who loves the sun and the beach. She appears in an aqua blue bathing suit, carrying a yellow towel and sunglasses. The original commercial about her at the time describes her as a girl having a cool, fun-loving West Coast attitude. The Malibu Barbie was the most popular of the 1970s, according to Mattel.

Source: RomitaGirl67 / Flickr

Quick Curl Barbie
> Released in: 1973

The Quick Curl Barbie had a new feature — her hair could be quickly curled. The doll has miniscule wires running through its hair, allowing it to be curled easily. And the hair could go in any direction. Imagine the hairdos some children must have come up with.

Source: Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Barbie Surgeon
> Released in: 1973

This was not Barbie’s first career. She was a nurse, an business executive, and an astronaut before becoming a surgeon. Her scrubs are rather chic, too. And she was a doctor way before “ER” and other medical TV dramas made it fashionable.


Source: karmatradingcompany / eBay

Barbie Townhouse
> Released in: 1974

Barbie’s signature Townhouse was an update of the doll’s Dreamhouse from the 1960s. The Townhouse’s furniture and features were actually printed on the wall. The house has three floors, six rooms, and even an elevator. More modern versions have actual furniture like a bed, table, chairs, and even a bathtub.

Source: tiffany_mom / eBay

Disco Fever Barbie
> Released in: 1970’s

The ’70s Disco Barbie looks like the female version of John Travolta, but with blonde hair. She is wearing the same white suit he did in the 1977 smash hit “Saturday Night Fever.” This dancing Barbie was the most popular of the 1980s, according to Mattel.


Source: Freddycat1 / Flickr

Gold Medal Barbie
> Released in: 1975

The Gold Medal Barbie doll was inspired by another iconic Barbie, the Malibu doll. This doll, however, is wearing a red, white, and blue swimsuit — quite patriotic! — and has a gold medal in swimming. Other versions of Barbie released in 1975, just in time for the Winter Olympics the following year, have gold medals in skiing and ice skating.

Source: Barbie / Amazon

Superstar Barbie
> Released in: 1977

Barbie Superstar is all about pink. She wears a pink satin evening dress with a lacy hot pink and silvery stole, and pink high heels. When it was released, the doll came with a gift for the child — a star necklace.

Source: Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

African-American Barbie
> Released in: 1980

There were other African-American dolls in the doll’s family, but this was the first black Barbie. She was part of the “My Favorite Barbie Doll” collection. The doll has a short Afro hairdo. A 2009 reproduction of the Barbie later featured a pantsuit ensemble.


Source: Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Day-to-Night Barbie
> Released in: 1985

This Barbie can do it all. She is hard-working during the day and having a lot of fun at night. All she needs to do is change her outfit and that’s easy. Her pink business suit quickly turns into a pink evening skirt. The Day-to-Night Barbie honors career women and celebrates women’s workplace revolution.

Source: Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Pilot Barbie
> Released in: 1989

The Flight Time Barbie in 1989 came with a pink suit that transformed into a glamorous party outfit. And children playing with her could change her hair in any style they wanted. Today, the Pilot Barbie comes in a blue pantsuit, wearing a tie and a blue pilot hat.


Source: Barbie / Amazon

Barbie Runs For President
> Released in: 1992

Barbie has been a presidential candidate a total of six times, with her first attempt to win the White House beginning in 1992. No woman in real life had run for president by then. In 2016, she ran on the first all-female ticket. Maybe soon we’ll have a Barbie president.

Source: Barbie / Amazon

Totally Hair Barbie
> Released in: 1992

The Totally Hair Barbie was not only the most popular doll in the 1990s, but also the most popular Barbie ever, according to Mattel. She beat a few other records as well. Her hair, which reached her toes, was the longest ever. She was massively popular from 1992 until 1995, and she still holds the record for the world’s longest successful toy sale — over 10 million.

Source: Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Police Officer Barbie
> Released in: 1993

Police officer by day, party girl at night. Barbie Police Officer comes with two outfits: a full uniform, which includes navy blue shirt, long pants, hat, a tie, and even a buckle, and the other an elegant white polka dot skirt and a golden top. This doll is part of the career girl collection.


Source: Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Firefighter Barbie
> Released in: 1994

Barbie is coming to the rescue. Firefighter Barbie, wearing yellow firefighter coat and pants, is also part of the career collection and even comes with a first aid kit. An updated version has Barbie wearing a red firefighter coat, black pants, boots, and a red firefighter hat with a “B” emblem. A new version was released for Barbie’s 60th anniversary.

Source: Courtesy of Amazon

Extreme 360° Barbie
> Released in: 2000

Barbie is inspiring girls to do it all. She comes in a sweat suit, wearing skates, and has her own skateboard — a sport and a hobby that has mostly been associated with boys. But she can do some great tricks, too!


Source: Mattel / Getty Images

Sign Language Barbie
> Released in: 2001

This Barbie is a sign language teacher who wants to inspire children to learn new languages. Unlike other dolls, this version has Barbie’s fingers molded into the sign that means “I love you.” The package also includes other common words and their signs in American Sign Language.

Source: Barbie / Amazon

Jam n’ Glam Barbie
> Released in: 2001

The Jam ‘n Glam Barbie is a rock superstar. Her hair twists and changes from blonde to purple. You can even add extensions in different colors to complete her funky look. She wears silver pants and a purple and pink top and comes with a headset, CDs and a CD player, and hair brush.

Source: Barbie / Amazon

Aviator Barbie
> Released in: 2002

This special edition Barbie comes in a flight suit and jacket. There is a mini map and a poster in the package. Her body can be bent and moved in all directions to simulate real life actions. Today’s Pilot Barbie is part of the Inspiring Women Series, which honors brave women who changed the way the world sees women. The latest pilot doll is inspired by Amelia Earhart, first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart disappeared during her attempt to become the first woman to fly around the world.


Source: Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Zoologist Barbie
> Released in: 2006

Barbie loves animals and loves taking care of them. Throughout her life, she has had several careers focusing on animals, and in 2006, she added one more to her resume – a zoologist. Zoologist Barbie helps protect wildlife.

Source: Courtesy of Mattel, Inc.

Barbie Fashionistas
> Released in: 2009

The Barbie Fashionista line is among the most diverse in the doll’s history. It includes 40 dolls, seven body types, 11 skin tones, and 28 hairstyles. There are even 15 Ken dolls, one of which has a man bun, and another has freckles. The Fashionistas line was the most popular in the 2010s, according to Mattel.


Source: Barbie / Amazon

Computer Engineer Barbie
> Released in: 2010

The Computer Engineer Barbie was a popular doll, but it went down in history as one of the most controversial ones, too. She was the first doll of the Career of the Year program, and computer engineer was selected by the public. The packaging originally included a book called “Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer.” But it also stated that Barbie will not be able to finish the product she’s working on as an engineer and get rid of a virus unless she asks for the boys’ help. The book was eventually discontinued.

Source: Barbie / Amazon

Architect Barbie
> Released in: 2011

After computer engineer, Barbie’s next career move was another in which women are underrepresented — architecture. The doll’s intention is to inspire girls to use their imaginations to build new worlds, but it also ignited a debate on gender balance in the architecture industry.

Source: Courtesy of Mattel, inc,

Film Director Barbie
> Released in: 2015

Film directors in the movie industry are still mostly men. Film Director Barbie’s goal is to inspire girls to make movies and dream big. She is part of the Career of the Year series and came out five years after Kathryn Bigelow became first woman to win Best Director Oscar for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010.


Source: Courtesy of Mattel, inc.

Barbie 60th Anniversary
> Released in: 2019

Barbie’s marking her diamond anniversary in 2019 with a glamorous red carpet look of hew gown that twinkles with silvery sparkles. As for hair style — she goes back to her origins. Her iconic ponytail has an elegant twist. The red lipstick is also a nostalgic detail, paying homage to the original doll, whose signature feature were the red lips is high ponytail.