Some 57 years after the impossibly busty and narrow-waisted blue-eyed Barbie doll was first introduced, California-based toy maker Mattel on Thursday released the new models, which it says better reflect a changing world.
Parents and feminists have long criticized Barbie's original shape as setting an unrealistic body image for girls, despite modifications over the years.
'We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty.' - Evelyn Mazzocco, Barbie senior VP and global general manager
The new dolls have seven skin tones, 22 eye colours, 24 hairstyles and new clothes and accessories. They are available for order on website shop.mattel.com starting Thursday and in stores later.
"We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand," Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice president and global general manager of the Barbie brand, said in a statement.
"These new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them — the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.
"We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty," she said.
Revamp comes amid declining sales
The classic Barbie doll, which was launched in 1959 as a doe-eyed teen in a zebra-striped swimsuit, will remain as part of the Mattel line.
The launch of the new range follows two years of declining sales of Barbie dolls around the world as girls increasingly turn to other dolls, electronic toys and tablets. Barbie sales fell 14 percent in the most recently reported quarter, with worldwide sales falling every year since 2012.
Even before Thursday, however, Barbie has been changing. New skin tones and looks were added last year. And Barbie's foot was movable for the first time, allowing her to kick her heels off and wear flats.
On her way to becoming a global pop culture icon, Barbie has tried out more than 180 careers, ranging from teacher to astronaut and U.S. president. African-American Barbies and other ethnic versions were introduced starting in the late 1960s.
Dolls with the new bodies preordered from Mattel online will ship in February. They will start to show up on U.S. store shelves in March and roll out to the rest of the world after that, the company said.