I Love Mad Men And So Does Barbie

March 11, 2010

Mad men is currently one of my favourite shows. It has featured in magazines and has been showered with awards. Now Mattel has created Barbie and Ken dolls based on four of the main characters on the show: Don Draper, his wife Betty, work colleague Roger Sterling and office manager Joan Holloway who was having an affair with Sterling in the first series. According to the report on the New York Times website, these dolls will have everything except cigarettes and (admittedly glamorous) alcohol. Why not? If they are premium dolls for the adult market, what’s the problem? Can’t we trust the adults to not be influenced by these items? That would’ve happened just by watching the show! Leaving that quibble aside, they do look good, though I would’ve liked the Joan Barbie to be more curvy. She’s a bit too thin. Have a look at the pic below and tell me what you think.

Barbie and Ken dolls as Mad Men TV characters

Barbie and Ken dolls as Mad Men TV characters © Splash News

Between 7-10,000 copies of each doll will be on sale at speciality stores and online shops at a cost of around $75, or if you want the English translation, £50 sterling. Now as much as I love the show, I’m not sure I love it enough to type in my card details with shaking hands to send £200 in cyberspace. Still, I’m sure whoever does buy these dolls will enjoy them for many years to come.

This is the premium market of course, but there have been spin off merchandise from TV shows and films for donkey’s years. Have you ever bought into this? What did you get and did you think it was worth it?



  1. Hi Pie, you won’t be seeing me offering to get out my plastic for these bits of plastic either. Luckily (or not) I haven’t caught the Mad Men Mania, so I’m rather safe from temptation. The only time I ever bought into TV or film merchandise is when I ordered some copies of some brilliant foreign films that I saw in art-house movie theaters, ‘cos I knew that seeing them again in a mainstream theater was not going to be happening. I think my immunity to the merchandising bug is pretty high LOL.

    • I can always count on you to set the ball rolling, Kiwi. Which foreign films did you buy? I may not know any of them, but I’m interested.

  2. The films I have are “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “les fugitifs” both in French language and “Cinema Paradiso” in the Italian language.
    All are priceless gems of movies, and you will laugh out loud and be passing the tissues in equal measure.
    I have seen “La vita è bella” (A Beautiful Life) and “Il postino” (the Postman) several times over the years,(both in Italian) and don’t have them, but if I ever ran across copies, I’d jump on them like lightening with a grin on my fact that ran into next week LOL.
    For HEAVENS SAKE *don’t* however touch the American remakes of the Cyrano film (called Roxanne)or Les Fugitifs (Three Fugitives)with a bargepole as they are pale weak shadows of the originals and in my opinion don’t measure up on acting skills, cimematography, humour or indeed on *any* level whatsoever to the originals in French.
    Please tell me you’ve heard of a few of these? if you haven’t run and FIND them and you will surely be impressed.

    • I’ve seen both versions of Cyrano de Bergerac and to be honest, I don’t think it’s fair to compare them. To me, they’re very different treatments of the same story. I enjoyed the American one (Roxanne), but I loved the French one, which starred Gerard Depardieu, didn’t it? I’ve heard of, but not yet seen Les Fugitifs, Cinema Paradiso and Il Postino. I’ve not heard of La Vita e Bella.

      A lot of American remakes of European films are a bit ropey (Open Your Eyes, made into Vanilla Sky anybody?), but it would be simplistic to say they’re all terrible. I just wish I could think of one right now that was good. If anyone wants to help me out on this one, they’re more than welcome. Oh, and don’t forget to tell me about your TV/Movie tie-in purchase.

  3. Actually though Cyrano has a French literary origin, the ORIGINAL (sound) film version is of the American play translation, starring Jose Ferrer (both Broadway and movie) and filmed in 1950. Best Actor Oscar for Ferrer.

    The Depardieu version is a REMAKE from the Ferrer version, and Roxanne is what you would call a variant, like doing Julius Caesar as a Third World Dictator or Nazi.

    I love, love, love Mad Men, perhaps because I was here and alive then. I understand the depth of its wisdom about Americans’ inability to be authentic at that time. Every character on the show lies to themselves in order to make their trapped, conventional lives bearable. To take such a dark premise and still make it funny and sexy and not depressing takes real brilliance, and I credit the writers. It’s raw truth with a pretty, cellophane wrapper.

    Too bad Joan’s doll isn’t as, uh, “abundant” as the actress is. Usually it’s the other way around with Barbies.

    • I’ve been having a quick look at my blog when I really should be in bed now, but then I found you, Mikey, so I’m going to respond.

      I know of Jose Ferrer. He has an actor son called Miguel, yes? I’ve not seen the version of the film you’re talking about, so maybe I should try and find it.

      Yes, Mad Men’s beautiful wrapper certainly takes the edge off those bitter, mixed up people. The Joan doll is nowhere near as abundant, as you would say, as the actress who plays her. But we shouldn’t be surprised. If they won’t give the characters cigs and scotch, as featured in the show, it would be too much to expect the doll to be ‘woman sized.’ Christina Hendricks has the right kind of figure for that time in history. She’s probably the same size as Marilyn Monroe, who also left many men drooling in her wake. In today’s world she’d be tabloid fodder for fat jibes. That could be the subject of a whole new discussion (or post).

      • Sorry for not replying sooner! I went to bed too. (Our days/nights are opposite geographically.) Yes, Miguel is Jose Ferrer’s son. The 1950 Cyrano film does preserve his exceptional lead performance, but it’s not much of a film, having very little budget. It’s more the filmed record of the Broadway play. It’s been in public domain for a long time. I expect you can view it online.

  4. Okay, so as a Mad Men lover this is very weird and disturbing – maybe Don would be able to think of a way of advertising this?

    You’re right about Joan – she needs to be, er, wider. Surely too thin to be Joan… but the Betty doll is actually quite accurate. Scary.

    • The Betty doll is truly scary, Scarlet. It’s hard to tell the difference between that and the real thing. I think January Jones plays the physically perfect, but petulant little madam really well.

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