When the Barbie doll debuted in 1959, she flew off the shelves at $3 a pop. Today, though the price of some new Barbies can start as low as $10, the value of certain older models has skyrocketed over the years. Obviously, an original Barbie Millicent Roberts doll (yes, she has a full name!) in her black and white striped swimsuit will cost a pretty penny; this blonde version is currently on Etsy for $5800, while another is on sale at Ruby Lane for $4495. But even some that you may have played with as a child—like this $148 Talking Teacher Barbie from 1995 who is dressed like a glamorous Ms. Frizzle—will set you back quite a bit if you want to recreate your original collection. Check out these seven other surprisingly expensive Barbies that you can buy right now.
1. TOTALLY HAIR BARBIE
First released in 1992, Totally Hair Barbie had a mane of completely unreasonable Rapunzel-esque hair that went all the way to her toes. With more than 10 million sold, Totally Hair is the best-selling Barbie ever. But even with so many originals out there and a 25th anniversary doll that also sold well, there are plenty of boxed '90s dolls on eBay—both blonde and brunette—going for more than $50. Who knows if that Dep hair gel is still any good, though.
2. VINTAGE BENDABLE BARBIES
Barbie's stick-straight posture got a little more human when "bendable" versions began coming out in the '60s. Sure, it was just her knees that bent, but that little movement made her look much more convincing while "walking," like this Skipper doll who is ready to romp on the beach with her new-found mobility. (Now, of course, some Barbies are bendable enough to do yoga). Buying an early model of this new design can knock you off your feet though. This used, 1965 bobbed-hair American Girl Barbie with only one leg that still bends properly has set the opening bid at $400 (which seems like a lot, until you see the same doll in new condition asking for more than $3000).
3. CHRISTIE DOLLS
The first Christie doll was a 1968 talking version, and since then, the African-American doll has been a consistent member of the Barbie family. Nice, boxed Christies can command several hundred dollars, like a 1976 SuperStar Christie asking $875 or this 1981 Golden Dream Christie priced at $300, but even a $100 Kissing Christie is a steep price compared to what she would have retailed for in 1980.
Pro tip: The black hair on the older vintage and mod Christies has a tendency to oxidize red, which is normal (like on this $295 Talking Christie from 1970). But, if you can find a doll that has retained its original black or brown hair color, those tend to be worth more.
4. MISS BARBIE
In 1964, Mattel tried out a number of new techniques on one particular doll. "Miss Barbie" came in a box set with three wigs to alternately play with, so rather than having the "rooted" hair that is most familiar, she was the first to have "molded" hair—that is, hair painted directly onto the head mold. She was also the first and only Barbie to have "sleep eyes," or eyelids that could close while she was laying out in one of her three pink swimsuits. She wasn't a big seller then, but now a Miss Barbie without all of her accessories can go for $195 (this one, which is in a different vintage dress with none of the original swimwear, is asking $200). However, original sets—those including her three wigs and swimming cap, poolside swing, palm tree, mini magazines, etc.—can command around $1000.
5. VINTAGE "PONYTAIL" BARBIES
The earliest Barbie models didn't have long hair to brush or braid—they had the short curly bangs and elaborate ponytails of teens of the '50s and '60s. The first seven models, released between 1959-1964, were all variations on this look, and any original, Japan-made ponytail Barbie will put you back a few hundred dollars. This #3 in a colorful, custom evening gown is currently going for $725, while this blond "busy gal" #3 that has been partially restored is up for $650. A small subset of this ponytail group? The "swirl ponytail" Barbies, which featured slick bangs that were swept to the side and back into her ponytail. A mint original swirl doll could go for $799, while others are available on Etsy or eBay for under $300.
6. MY SIZE BARBIE
The My Size Barbie craze of the mid-'90s had 3-foot-tall versions that kids could stand up to play with, rather than kneel or sit on the floor. And to pre-program a generation of girls who would later watch marathon hours of Say Yes to the Dress, there was even a My Size Bride Barbie, complete with a bridal gown for 7-year-olds to play dress-up in. Today, many are available for around $150, though some, like this unopened Dancing My Size Barbie, can go for $200 or more.
7. VINTAGE COLOR MAGIC BARBIE
In 1966 and 1967, Mattel issued the extremely groovy Color Magic Barbie doll. She came with either blonde or black hair, and if you used a changer solution packet, her hair would transform to two shades of red. She also sported much more vivid makeup, which highlighted her bright yellow, pink, and blue swimsuit. A blonde one is currently available for $475, and a "Scarlet Flame" (the color the blonde becomes) is also listed for $200. But if you want the whole color-changing solution kit and caboodle, it could cost closer to $700 (though there's no guarantee that the hair will work the same magic as it did 50 years ago).
Aspirin was launched by the German company Bayer in 1899, two years after it was first synthesised in the company's laboratories by the chemist Felix Hoffmann. But according to an expert on the history of the drug's discovery, the credit should have gone to Hoffmann's supervisor, a German Jew named Arthur Eichengrun.
"Hoffmann didn't understand why he was doing the work," said Dr Walter Sneader of Strathclyde University, who has researched the events. "He was just a technician. It's the same today. If I was working with the world's greatest chemist and he told me what to synthesise, he would get the credit for what was produced, not me."
Now Dr Sneader, of the department of pharmaceutical science, hopes to rewrite the flawed history of a drug that has been taken by 100 billion people so that "the man who was truly responsible for the discovery of aspirin receives the full credit he deserves".
He will tell the Royal Society of Chemistry's conference in Edinburgh next week that Eichengrun's part was overlooked because the rise to power of the Nazis meant that anti-Semitism held sway at the time when Hoffmann claimed to have invented aspirin.
In a footnote to a book published in 1934, Hoffmann claimed that he made aspirin because his father had complained about the bitter taste of sodium salicylate, the only drug then available to treat rheumatism. Aspirin (salicylic acid) is closely related chemically.
But Dr Sneader became suspicious about the story when he began researching the origins of aspirin. "The date of 1934 was intriguing. The Nazis had just come to power. They had already taken steps to get Jews out of professions. Anti-Semitism was sweeping Germany; that's when Hoffmann's story first appeared."
Indeed, Eichengrun's role in the development of aspirin suggests that he was closely involved. He challenged Bayer's head of drug development, who initially rejected aspirin from testing that could have led to its commercial use, and he was rapidly promoted to a leading management role in the company.
But when Hoffmann made his claim, Eichengrun was in terror of his life, having left Bayer to start his own chemical company - which the Nazis were now threatening to acquire forcibly. He was thus in no position to defend himself, and Bayer had not published any scientific papers on the discovery, fearing that rivals would learn its secrets.
Eichengrun was later interned in a concentration camp, and only in 1949 did he manage to publish his own claim on aspirin, saying that Hoffmann had made aspirin under his direction. But he died within the month.
Now, by examining laboratory notebooks from the time, Dr Sneader has established that Eichengrun was telling the truth. Hoffmann was methodically following instructions by Eichengrun to make the drug palatable. "There's a clear pattern that substantiates Eichengrun's story," he said.Reuse content