Barbie is a line of fashion dolls produced by the toy company Mattel, Inc. The Barbie doll was created by businesswoman Ruth Handler and released in March 1959. The Barbie name is the figurehead of a larger line of accessories, playsets and collectable dolls of Barbie’s friends and family members. Since their initial launch, there have been over 1 billion Barbie dolls sold, making them the most profitable brand to be produced by Mattel.
Starting in 1987, Barbie has expanded to a media franchise including animated films, television shows, music videos and video games. She has had a significant impact on social values by conveying characteristics of female independence, and with her multitude of accessories, an idealized upscale life-style that can be shared with affluent friends.
History with The Macy's Parade
Barbie made her Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in the 1986 Parade, appearing on a float based on the line of Barbie dolls titled Barbie and the Rockers, and also appeared to promote the direct-to-VHS film of the same name. The multi-level float depicted the world of rock music with stairways of stars extending over mirrors and lights, all decorated with a splash of hot pink and neon. Actors portraying members of the Barbie and The Rockers band performed live music for Parade spectators, all while flashing bright bouquets of silver star balloons.
The Barbie and the Rockers float made four consecutive appearances in the Parade, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the launch of the dolls in 1989. The float was retired after the former year.
Barbie would return to the 1990 Macy’s Parade, now appearing on a float titled “Barbie Summit”. The float was created in order to celebrate the first-ever annual Barbie Summit event in New York City whose proceeds went towards organisations that promoted literacy and education for children worldwide. Designed by Parade legend Manfred Bass, the hot pink-clad float celebrated the spirit of unity, with a bridge connecting the continents of the world. Decorating the float is a larger-than-life globe sitting at the float’s highest point, surrounded by translators and flags representing over 40 countries from around the world.
The Barbie Summit float was retired after the 1990 Parade and was later recycled into Continental Airlines’ Flights of Fancy float in 1994.
After almost 15 years of absence, Barbie would make a grand return to the 2004 Parade. The float was created to promote the then-recently-released film, Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper. Depicting the film’s regal kingdom, the float represents the polar opposite lives of two extremely similar girls. The Pauper Erika is seen toiling as an indentured servant at Madame Carp’s Dress Emporium, as Princess Anneliese enjoys a royal pink castle, adorned with regal staircase leading to a ballroom floor which is accented by fine-cut shrubbery.
Following the former Parade, the float was refurbished at Macy’s Parade Studio to become a float which featured the first-ever original Barbie princess tale, Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus. Making its debut in the 2005 Parade, the namesake float features Brietta the Pegasus flying high above the Cloud Kingdom, as Princess Annika and Prince Aidan dance together in the regal ballroom of the Cloud Kingdom Palace. Upon arriving at Herald Square, the float launched and showered confetti as Brie Larson gave a rendition of the film’s song, “Hope Has Wings”.
The Barbie float would once again undergo a retooling after the 2005 Parade, debuting in the 2006 Parade as a float promoting the film Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses. The regal float featured Barbie as Princess Genevieve joined by Prince Derek as they danced happily ever after in the ballroom of the widowed King Randolph. Shrubbery-laced arches and pillars line the sides of the float, rounding out the majestic kingdom on wheels.
For the 2007 Parade, the Barbie float was given yet another makeover to mirror the theme and setting of the newest film, Barbie as the Island Princess. The float features the elegant and tropical palace seen in the movie, depicting Princess Rosella and Prince Antonia dancing in the Kingdom of Apollonia amid lanterns, birds, canbanas, coconuts, a rushing water fountain and towering palm trees. Converging with the other island wildlife on the float are Rosella’s animal friends Sagi the red panda and Tika the elephant.
Following the 2007 Parade, the Barbie float was retired from the procession. The palm trees and figures of Sagi and Tika were saved and stored in the Macy’s Float Warehouse, where they continue to reside. Since then, the Barbie brand has yet to be represented in the Parade again.