1971 - 2010: Mattel Big Jim, Ken and Max Steel Dolls

Big Jim, 9 " dolls by Mattel, 1971 -1986

Mattel dolls of Big Jim, Big Jack, and Big Josh

In 1971, the year before Mego started selling their line of 8 inch superhero dolls (when Mego only had Action Jackson available), Mattel began to produce their series of 9 inch Big Jim dolls. The series was based on sports and adventure themes, and became very popular outlasting even Mego's hold of the toy industry during the 1970's (Mego had stopped producing many of it's 8 inch dolls by 1980 and ultimately went out of business in 1982). Meanwhile, Big Jim was produced until 1986 with many new dolls, playsets, vehicles and accessories being offered, though these were released mainly in Europe. (In place of Big Jim, Mattel offered North Americans the Masters of the Universe / He-Man action figures in 1982 which reused many elements from the Big Jim line.) This collection is quite extensive with about 100 or so Big Jim dolls in the series, not including all of the accessories that were made! Shown above are three of the four main characters from the series, L to R, Big Jim, Big Jack, and Big Josh. Initially only Big Jim and Big Jack were available, however soon after these two boys were introduced Big Josh was added to the line along with a fourth character, Big Jeff. I have yet to add Big Jeff to my collection. He's a Caucasian male with blond hair that is sculpted in a distinctly 70's style, and is intended to be an Australian character. All of the dolls have a 1971 copyright date on their lower back.

Here is a closer view of Big Jim and Big Josh who have the same faces only Big Josh has a beard. They share the same head mold and the beard is simply painted on, it's not sculpted. Big Jim also has dark brown hair while Big Josh has light brown hair. Below is a better look at Big Jack's face. He's quite a handsome doll! I bought Big Jack at a doll show in April 2018. I'm very happy to finally add Big Jack to my collection!

The majority of Big Jim dolls have a button on their back which moves the figure's right arm, making a downward chopping action when the arm is positioned forwards (the same action also mimics bouncing a basketball). In addition, both arms have an outside layer of rubber as a mechanism inside the arm makes the bicep flex when the arm is bent at the elbow. How awesome is that!

Here is the original box for the Canadian version of Gold Metal Big Jack which seems to be less common than the American version. He originally came with a small dumbbell and a band to put around his bicep that would pop off when his bicep is flexed! According to the illustration it also looks like he's supposed to have a necklace of some kind. The necklace for the American version had a circular medallion piece rather than an oval, and the box had different graphics.

Above are both of my Gold Metal Big Jim dolls... Big Jim and Big Jack. These dolls have red and blue stripes with stars painted on the front of their white briefs. They were originally sold without any clothes. Unfortunately, the rubber arms on Big Jim have discoloured which is a common problem for Big Jim dolls. A Gold Metal Big Josh was also made, though it may not have been available in North America.
Here is a comparison of the 9 inch Big Jim with Mego's 8 inch Spider-Man.

The basic Big Jim doll came packaged without any clothes as the pelvis piece on the dolls were made with red, white, or blue plastic. Originally Big Jim dolls all had red plastic briefs. Some basic dolls were sold wearing only a pair of red fabric shorts with a white trim (they didn't have shoes) with the exception of Big Josh and Big Jeff who came with their specific shorts and accessories. The bearded Josh was the only one to have footwear, his big brown boots! He also came with a log and an axe to chop with, because he's the manly man doll! Many other complete outfits for the dolls were sold separately. Above are just a few of them. The dark green outfit above left is the Warm Up outfit, the doll in the middle is wearing the suit for the Skin Diving outfit (which is missing the black plastic goggles and flippers), and the last doll on the right is wearing the green version of the Basketball outfit. I've also seen a purple version of the Basketball outfit, as well as a white version, a black version, and a blue version. The bathing suit for the Skin Diving outfit is attached to the shirt section as a one piece outfit. There is a similar yellow shirt for the Baseball outfit which looks to be part of a jumpsuit or a separate shirt with sleeves. In either case it doesn't have the attached bathing suit.

By the mid 1970's Mattel released some additional characters including a new team of good guys called P.A.C.K. and some bad guys. Above left is Dr. Steel, he has a dragon tattoo on his chest but most of it has worn off. He was originally sold wearing pants with a belt instead of the red shorts (no shoes or boots), and he's supposed to have a silver/reflective "steel" right hand (I'm not sure why this one doesn't). Below is a closer view of Dr. Steel's face.The Big Jim in the middle above has a wolf logo patch on his jumpsuit and a matching tattoo on the top of his left hand (the thumb on his right hand broke off). This is the Miner outfit from the P.A.C.K. series. He's missing a chequered jacket and his accessories. This Big Jim could use a belt as his outfit is a tad revealing! The last guy on the right above is Zorak, the villain!

A closer look at Dr. Steel's face and his manly cartoon dragon chest tattoo!

Here is a closer look at Zorak's two faces, above and below.
Zorak can spin his face around changing it from human to a green evil dude. He's supposed to be wearing black pants, a cape with a chain across the front edge of his hood across his neck, and black boots, instead of the denim shorts. The button on Zorak's back is smaller than standard Big Jim dolls. This doll is broken though, so whatever function the button did no longer works. It may have spun the head or controlled the arm, as the right arm clicks when it's moved, while the left arm doesn't. Below is a look at the small button compared to a regular Big Jim doll.

With the exception of Zorak I for one don't remember ever seeing any Big Jim dolls or toys around when I was growing up in the 70s. Mego dolls, G.I.Joe, and the 12 inch Kenner Star Wars dolls were the only "dolls for boys" that I was aware of until at least the mid 1980s. Therefore, all of the Big Jim dolls I now have were found second hand at flea markets. Mattel did an excellent job on these Big Jim dolls. 

Mattel also used the Big Jim body for many different licensed doll series such as Tarzan, Grizzly Adams, How the West was Won, and Karl May. I used to think that the above doll was Old Shatterhand based on the Karl May TV series but I've since discovered that it is actually Dakota Joe from the non-licenced western/aboriginal themed Big Jim series. (The Karl May dolls are similar in that they are bearded characters with rooted hair). Unfortunately I'm missing the proper outfit for this character. The grip hands on this doll are different from standard Big Jim dolls, which have open hands. They're the same grip hands that Mattel used for their 12 inch "Sport and Shave" Ken doll (shown below on this page) along with the same Big Jim arms.

On the topic of the arms, one of the unfortunate conservation issues with Big Jim dolls aside from the discolouring of the arms, is that the rubber from the arms has a nasty tendency to melt other plastic that it comes into contact with including other areas of the Big Jim doll. This is mainly a problem under the arms where the rubber most commonly is in contact with the doll's body. Above you can see the rubber in contact with the body and the resulting melted mess. Below is a look at what you find when the arm is lifted out of the way. Not pretty!!!

The effect of the melted plastic is rather random. It doesn't seem like all Big Jims do this, just a few lucky ones, but there's no way to be certain when it will happen and to what doll. Sometimes the rubber can even become stuck to the doll which prevents the arm from being moved. If there is fabric clothing in the way, such as the edge for the Basketball muscle shirt, it too can become stuck to the doll.

Here is what happens when the rubber arms from one Big Jim comes into contact with the legs on another. See the melted gashes in the side of the leg and the calf. Yikes!!! I had put my Big Jims away in a box piled on top of each other, and later took them out to discover this fiasco!!! Unfortunately this type of damage is irreversible! This Big Jim shall forever wear pants!

This is the position that I now store all of my Big Jim dolls in, with the arms raised up so that there is no contact with the body. Of course, it's important not to let the arms touch his head, so I put half of a toilet paper tube over top of is head to prevent that from happening. The tube even fits nicely over top of Zorak's hood! I place the dolls in my bin side by side in layers, with a piece of white paper in between each layer to avoid contact. No other dolls go in the bin other than Big Jims! When I display the dolls on my shelf I pose the arms out to the side a little to avoid contact with the body. Man, it really sucks to see this melted mess happen to a cool collection like Big Jim!
On another note, in the 1970s it was very common for toy companies to use comic book advertisements to promote their "dolls for boys" collections as well as smaller sized action figures. Below are some ads I found for Mattel's Big Jim series. Click on the picture to see a larger image.

Page 1 of 2 page ad

Page 2 of 2 page ad
Marvel Comics, Kazar #5, Sept 1974, p.4 and 5
DC Comics, Kamandi #22, Oct 1974, p.16 and 17

Marvel Comics, Skull the Slayer #3, Jan 1976, p.9
This ad tells us that "P.A.C.K." stands for "Professional Agents / Crime Killers"
Lastly, here's a photo of the Big Jim page from the 1975 Eaton's catalogue.
Here is an awesome website that I found which shows much more of the Big Jim collection:

Sunshine Family, by Mattel, 1974 -1982

During the 1970s Mattel made a 9" doll series "for girls" called the Sunshine Family. This was a very successful toy line that was expanded to include an African American family, called The Happy Family, and a set of grandparents for each family. Shown above is Stephie and Steve with their baby Sweets from the Sunshine Family next to Hal from the Happy Family. Unfortunately Hal's shirt has been sun damaged. Here is a blog that I found about the Sunshine Family doll collection: http://ilovethesunshinefamily.blogspot.ca/

In 1976, two years after the Sunshine Family made their debut, Mattel used the male doll body for their Welcome Back Kotter dolls based on the popular TV series, with slightly different arms / hands. Mr. Kotter is shown above with the moustache and green tie next to his student Vinnie Barbarino, played on the TV show by John Travolta. In 1980 both the male and female Sunshine Family doll bodies were used for the Mork and Mindy dolls that were also based on a TV series. See my TV Character Dolls page for more info about these two TV doll collections. Mattel also produced three dolls based on TV's Space 1999 using these same doll bodies, however I don't yet have any of those dolls in my collection.

Sport and Shave Ken, by Mattel, 1979

While the Big Jim doll series was still in production, Mattel produced this "Sport and Shave Ken" 12 inch doll. This was a new doll body for Ken that incorporated the arms from the 9 inch Big Jim doll. The left arm has one standard Big Jim open hand and the right arm has a grip hand to hold objects. The grip hand is the same one used for the Karl May TV series dolls, as seen above on the Old Shatterhand doll. Ken and Big Jim also share the same shoes.

I found this Sport and Shave Ken in the early 1990s at a second hand store and had to have it. I had never bought or owned a Ken doll before, but the 70s style rooted hair and the Big Jim arms made it impossible for me to leave him there. He also has a great face which, according to the article at the link below, is a unique head sculpt that was only used for this one version of Ken. He was originally sold wearing a white shirt with navy blue trim, yellow shorts and blue and white sneakers, and came with an extra pair of navy blue pants, all shown below. The shirt once had a logo sticker on it but it has fallen off. Of course, he also had some shaving supplies. I now have several other Ken dolls in my collection which are shown below according to the date they were made.

The article at this link talks about all of the "Shaving" Kens that have been made over the years, and speculates that Mattel had subtly marketed Sport and Shave Ken to boys as well as to girls.  http://www.manbehindthedoll.com/fa010429.htm

Here's another site that has awesome photos of this Ken doll as well as some other ken dolls from the same time period:

Another Ken doll to use the Big Jim arms was All Star Ken shown above on the left next to Sport and Shave Ken. Both of All Star Ken's hands are the "grip hands" rather than the open Big Jim hands, unlike Sport and Shave Ken who only had a grip hand on the right and a Big Jim hand on the left. Both of these Ken dolls retained the "bicep flexing" action that the Big Jim dolls have when the arm is bent at the elbow, however I find as the rubber is starting to dry out the bicep doesn't flex quite as much as it used to. I just learned about All Star Ken in 2017, which makes me wonder if there were any other Ken dolls made with Big Jim arms. Unfortunately my All Star Ken isn't wearing his original clothes, which are a light blue sleeveless shirt with a yellow trim at the top and bottom, navy blue shorts with a yellow stripe on the sides, light blue socks and blue shoes. The doll also originally came with a barbell for pumping some iron! What a macho Ken doll! :) I've shown my All Star Ken below in the clothes I got him in, which are actual vintage Ken clothes from another Ken doll.

Real Men, by Mattel, 1986

Another Mattel toy to make use of Big Jim parts was the Real Men finger puppet series form 1986. Big Jim style heads were reused for the Soccer and Football players (see close up of heads below). The arms and upper body are made like a bendy figure and are quite similar to the Doug doll from Mattel's Rock Flowers doll series, which was marketed as a collection of girl's dolls and produced from 1970 to at least 1974. As you can see by the box cover of this soccer set the Real Men toys were clearly marketed to boys. I received this Soccer set for Christmas in the mid 80s which I was thrilled about as it was one of the toys I had wanted that year! I've cherished it ever since, making sure not to loose any of the pieces. Shown here is the complete set with the box. The instruction booklet includes the rules for both the football and soccer sets, and shows the football set on the cover. Each figure has a fabric glove attached allowing your fingers to become the characters legs. According to Tomart's Price Guide a Boxer, Skateboarder, and curiously, a female Cheerleader complete with rooted dolls hair and pom-poms, were made for this series as well. These additional characters were sold individually.

The handsome heads of the Real Men finger puppets.

Ken outfit from "Barbie and the Rockers", by Mattel, 1986

In 1986 Mattel released their "Barbie and the Rockers" series to compete against Hasbro's popular Jem and Misfits dolls. Ken was given a new head sculpt that had rooted doll hair in the longer style of the mid 1980s. Above is his outfit, but I'm missing his socks, shoes, glove, neck sash, and his guitar....and the doll!

Tom Comet, 12 inch doll by Mattel, 1987

In 1987 Mattel produced a fashion doll series called Spectra based on a sci-fi outer space theme. The tag line for the series is "Lacy... Spacy...Out of this World!" There were five dolls in the set with Tom Comet as the only male character from the collection. He's the "Galactic sports fan and fix-it man!". Spectra, Tom and friends are Shimmerons from the Planet Shimmeron. The doll body is made with a different type of hard plastic than other Ken type dolls, and has a reflective mirror-like surface. Tom's doll body mold is the same one that was later used for the Harley Davidson Ken doll, shown below. The pants for this doll are made out of a crinkly, paper-like material.

Earring Magic Ken, the "Gay Ken" doll, by Mattel, 1992
In the late 1980's and early 1990's it became very trendy and popular for guys to wear earrings. Although this was a fashion statement borrowed directly from the gay community it was still quite taboo and unpopular to be gay, clearly demonstrating how hypocritical society was in those days. None the less, in order to keep with the trends in fashion Mattel issued Earring Magic Barbie and Ken dolls. Once the Ken doll hit toy stores however, Mattel quickly realized they had a problem. The design of the doll, including the hair highlights, purple leather-look vest and extra short see through netting shirt made this Ken doll appear to be quite gay, and the public responded in kind. Add to this that Mattel gave this Ken doll a big ring to wear around his neck, which folks from the gay community interpreted as being a "cock-ring" rather than an earring, well you can see how badly this all went very quickly.  The doll I have in my collection has a plastic Ken logo added to the ring in question, which is missing from other copies of this doll that I've seen online. I wonder if this wasn't added later by Mattel as some kind of attempt to make it look more like an earring? A similar ring with a plastic Barbie logo is attached to the side of the vest. I've shown a larger side view below, to show Ken's earring and his mighty abs! :)

Regardless of how or why this gay Ken doll came about, I think it's awesome just that it exists! It's undeniably campy, none the less I think this is a very cool doll and am glad to have finally added this one to my collection!

Ken Fashions, by Mattel, 1998 - 2000

Although Ken has appeared as popular characters from TV shows and films such as Star Trek, X-Files, Wizard of Oz, and many, many others, he is best known as a fashion doll and boyfriend to Barbie. With several decades of doll clothes to chose from, and new styles being produced endlessly, Ken now has a wardrobe that would fill a warehouse or two, or three. Here are a few of the Ken doll clothes that I thought were interesting to keep in my collection, though this is really just a very small sample of what is available to collectors.   

I bought these Ken clothes in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Each of these fashions were sold separately without a doll. Above is my 1970s Ken wearing a 70s style shirt and "leather" pants. He's one of the few Kens that can actually hold onto stuff such as this Ken sized ghetto-blaster. These clothes came with an awesome pair of cowboy boots, shown below. The blond hippy dude above is actually the Prince from Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I thought his long hair made him a suitable match to this Ken scuba suit. The outfit came with blue plastic flippers, shown below, rather than the blue sandals he's wearing. These outfits were originally sold in thin boxes for about $10 each. Boxes are dated 2000.

Here is the 1980s and 1990s version of Ken wearing a purple housecoat. It came with slippers, reading glasses and a newspaper, which I've shown below, and was sold in a box. The yellow striped pyjamas are original vintage Ken clothes from the 1970s that I picked up at a flea market. The shirt has a metal snap at the front to keep it closed. The last outfit is a jacket with shorts and white Big Jim/Welcome Back Kotter style sneakers. A pair of binoculars were also included. I believe this outfit was also sold in a box.

Here are some basic outfits that include a shirt, shorts and a pair of shoes. The blue shirt and yellow shorts came with the blue sandals that the surfer dude is wearing (shown above). I forget what shoes the striped shirt outfit came with, and it seems that I've lost them. The black shorts have a red stripe down each side, which doesn't show in the picture. All of these outfits were originally sold on cards dated 1999, for about $8 each.

Here are two more outfits that were sold in boxes. I can't recall if the vest came with that outfit or not. The picture is quite dark, but the vest is brown and the pants are blue corduroy. The second picture shows a "leather" jacket with an actual working zipper. The outfit came with a big pair of boots.

This package of extra Ken shoes is dated 1998. A white pair of Big Jim/Welcome Back Kotter shoes is included along with sandals, boots, dress shoes, and sneakers.

Harley Davidson Ken, by Mattel, 1999
During the 1990s Ken went through a major transformation. Rather than simply being an accessory to Barbie, Mattel had begun to market Ken separately to collectors who are not the least bit interested in owning a Barbie. An example of this is the Harley Davidson Ken dolls. Below is the second Harley Davidson Ken to be offered. He's all decked out in his motorcycle riding gear. Mattel did an awesome job on this doll and added lots of detail, including a Harley Davidson belt buckle and a printed Harley logo bandana.

Grand Ole Opry Ken, by Mattel, 1999
The same year that the second Harley Davidson Ken was available Mattel offered this Grand Ole Opry Ken doll. Unfortunately he was sold in a two pack set with Barbie. I thought this Ken was interesting enough to get anyways, and I gave the Barbie to my sister. I didn't bother to keep the box either, I just wanted the Ken. Mattel did an awesome job with the detail such as a headset microphone and a flocked cowboy hat. Ken's guitar even has separately attached strings.

Hawaii Ken, by Mattel, 1999

A basic Ken doll is sold wearing only shorts in order to encourage kids (and adults) to collect the doll clothes that are sold separately. Additionally, these Ken dolls retail for considerably less than fully outfitted dolls. As beach themes are often used for these dolls, Ken has traveled all over the world in order to go for a swim. This Hawaii Ken has the same hair style and face as the Ken shown above in the purple housecoat, but the hair is sculpted shorter behind his neck and painted yellow instead of brown.

Surf City Ken, by Mattel, 2000

This is another basic Ken doll with the same doll body as the Hawaii Ken, as shown below. This doll body was first introduced in the late 1960s, and has been in use ever since. This is why every new Ken doll that was made with this specific body over the last four decades is marked 1968 on the lower back. Surf City Ken comes with a cardboard surfboard and small blue shorts with yellow stripes on the sides. he has a different hair style on the top of his head than Hawaii Ken, but the same face.

Here are some of the variations of Ken heads used in the 1980s and 1990s. All three Ken's have the same face and body, but slightly different hair sculpting.

Max Steel, by Mattel, 2000
From the mid 1980s to the early 1990s toys that were essentially "dolls for boys", such as G.I.Joe, Mego superheroes or Big Jim, fell out of vogue in favour of standard action figures (such as Star Wars, He-Man, DC Comics "Super Powers", or Ninja Turtles figures). But in the mid 1990s 12 inch dolls such as G.I Joe were starting to make a comeback. By 2000 they were back in demand and renewed battle between toy companies to create the best 12" action figure doll series was in full swing. Hasbro produced G.I Joe and Action Man assortments while Mattel introduced their new 12 inch hero...Max Steel!

Here are the four Max Steel figures from my collection. I found the scuba diver second hand and bought the others new at the store. I worked in the toy department of The Bay department store at the time that these were introduced and had the pleasure of unpacking shipping boxes of Max Steel toys. I had fun arranging them for sale on pegs and shelving and got paid for it too! I even saved an empty Max Steel shipping box for my collection!

Here is the Mountain Attack Max Steel which was the deluxe version of the doll for the first series. It was sold at a higher price point than the carded figures and came with mountain climbing gear and accessories. He's wearing two separate pairs of shorts. The gray shorts are on top of a navy blue pair of cycling style shorts. This Max Steel also has a unique arm that shows his robotic bicep rotate when the arm is bent. Mattel seems to have a thing for movable biceps on these types of toys!

Here is the back of the box for Mountain Attack Max Steel. Below is a closer look at the picture showing the first series assortment. Click on the image to see a larger version.

This is the Super Agent Max Steel. He's a buff little guy with mighty abs! The carded Max Steel assortment was the lower priced "standard" figures for this series. This figure is seen driving the car in the assortment photo shown above. He came with a gun, holster and sunglasses. I find it amusing that his chest harness has no practical function; he's just wearing it for looks! Apparently he doesn't own any shirts that match. Below is the back of the card.

Here is Panther Combat Max Steel from the second batch of figures. Mattel gave this Max a different head than the others, which I think was an improvement. This is my favourite Max Steel figure from the four that I have. Unfortunately his panther claw accessory is now broken. Below is the back of the card.

Here is the second assortment as shown on the back of the card. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Here's a closer look at the different head sculpt for the Panther Combat Max Steel as compared with the original head sculpt, below.

In 2003, while the Max Steel series was still being produced, Mattel used Max Steel's muscular body to produce a limited edition set of Barbie and Ken dolls based on a romance novel by Jude Deveraux titled "The Raider". Above is Mattel's promotional photo for the dolls which shows the prototypes. Max Steel's head/face was used for this prototype but the actual doll that was produced had a different head. It looks to me like they may have used the head from Barbie's new boyfriend at the time, Blaine, adding the long rooted hair. (see California Boy Blaine below on this page).

I think this Ken/Max Steel mash up is hilarious and a shrewd bit of marketing. I like that this doll set is based on such a silly concept, and this Ken/Raider doll also looks really cool IMO. As such I certainly wouldn't mind owning one of these Ken dolls someday, though I have no interest in owning a Barbie so unfortunately her romance novel story would end badly. I would sell the Barbie and replace it with another Ken, or some other male doll. Now there's a juicy romance story... The Raider and Prince Ken! :) I'd read that book!

My Scene, 12 inch doll by Mattel, 2003

My Scene is a fashion doll series that Mattel produced to compete with the popular Bratz dolls made by MGA. Shown above is Bryant. Unlike Mattel's past fashion dolls, these dolls had larger heads, hands and feet, similar to Bratz dolls, but used the Ken doll body with articulated joints (the same body used for special collector's edition Ken dolls such as the Harley Davidson Ken and Grand Ole Opry Ken shown above). Although there are four male dolls in this collection I only bought this one as an example.

The Bryant doll has a curly hairstyle that was made popular in 2002 by Justin Guarini, who was the first runner up next to Kelly Clarkson on season one of American Idol. (Clarkson was named the winner.) Mattel was very clever in their marketing to use the same light brown hairstyle as Justin on a generic fashion doll, rather than paying the required licensing fees to make an official American Idol doll of him. The photo of Justin shown above is from this site: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20312226_448186,00.html
The back of the box shows illustrations of the four male dolls in the series, which in addition to Bryant includes Sutton, Hudson and River.

California Boy Blaine, by Mattel, 2004

Poor Ken was dumped by Barbie in 2004 for the new male fashion doll in town, Blaine. It's no wonder the girl went mad, Blaine is a lot cuter than Ken ever was! The above doll is either the first or second version of Blaine, I forget which. California Boy Blaine is scented to smell like sun tan lotion, and the side of the box near his left shoulder has three holes in it so that you can smell him. The doll is made with a very deep tan coloured plastic, and also comes with a small pretend bottle of lotion, shown below. A cardboard surfboard is included as well. Blaine has rooted doll hair that has been glued and sculpted into position, and then hardened so that it can't get messy. Maybe it's like that because of all the lotion he uses? :) 

The right side of the box shows a large picture of Blaine and the back shows the assortment of dolls that were available in the set. The doll body used for Blaine is the same 1968 body that was used for the Hawaii Ken and Surf City Ken dolls, shown above, but his legs have been altered slightly so that he stands with his feet wider apart. California Boy Blaine also comes with a doll stand that is sculpted to look like a sandy beach (shown below). I like that he's wearing a wet-suit style shirt with his cool palm tree printed shorts! The quality and design of Mattel's doll clothes has become quite remarkable!

Big Bad Wolf, 7 inch doll by Mattel, 2008

I found this 7 inch Big Bad Wolf doll at a thrift store. Unfortunately he's missing his boots. I've shown him next to an 8 inch Mego Spider-Man for size comparison. It turns out this wolf is from a special edition Little Red Riding Hood Barbie gift set made by Mattel in 2008. The wolf clothes are sewn onto the doll, but I had to see how the doll body was made (as it's very Mego-like) so I unstitched the seam at the back. The body is actually a young female doll body so Mr. Wolf is actually Ms. Wolf. The doll's midsection is made the same way that Mego made their 8 inch female dolls. The hands are typical extra small "female doll" hands that are not articulated at the wrists, but otherwise the doll is jointed just like a Mego. The copyright date on the doll's back says 1995, so Mattel likely used this doll body previously to make other dolls and simply recycled it for this wolf character. I really like the head sculpt on this doll. A side view is shown below.

Ken Riviera!, by Mattel, 2008

Luckily for Ken, Barbie's fling with Blaine didn't last and was just a publicity gimmick to sell more dolls. I don't know exactly when Ken made his return, but when he did he had a completely new look. I'm not just talking about his fashions. The guy was given a new face! No more cheesy plastic smiles, Ken was now a boyish yet handsome cutie-pa-tootie. This Ken Riviera doll has sculpted hair and uses the same wide-leg stance body as California Boy Blaine, though without the deep tan.

Ken Fashionistas: Hottie, by Mattel, 2009

The following year, in 2009, Ken moved up from cutie-pa-tootie status to become an official hottie. The doll body used for the Fashionistas "Hottie" Ken above uses doll body parts from the Harley Davidson Ken doll shown above. The upper arm was modified to have thicker biceps, and the legs are a bit longer than the previous Kens. The face for this doll is the same as the Riviera! Ken, but instead of sculpted hair it has rooted doll hair that has been styled and glued into position. Several Ken dolls were made for this Ken Fashionistas series. In addition to "Hottie" Ken there were two different "Sporty" Kens and a "Cutie" Ken. These have since been followed by at least six more Fashionistas Ken dolls.

Ken: A Fashion Fairytale, by Mattel, 2009

Also in 2009 "A Fashion Fairytale" Ken was sold to promote a DVD of the same name. A small hang tag on the front of the box explains that the DVD would be released in the Fall of 2010. I've decided to leave this Ken in the box unopened, so I'm not sure what type of doll body was used. His hands are shaped differently from any of the above Ken dolls, and he is a bit shorter than the Fashionista "Hottie" Ken. Once again the same face as the Riviera Ken was used, but with the rooted doll hair that is glued into position. I think this Ken really looks sharp! Mattel did an awesome job on this Ken doll.

Ken, by Mattel, 2010

Here is a very basic Ken doll with a newly sculpted doll body marked 2009 on the lower back, but the package is marked 2010. This doll is sold at a very low price point and although it's a nice looking doll I find it to be very cheaply made compared to all the other Ken dolls. The doll body itself seems to be hollow (arms, torso and legs) and the knees are not bendable which is odd for a modern Ken doll. This Ken doll also does not stand up very well because of how close the feet are, but the legs can't be adjusted as the doll is sculpted in this position. I find it interesting that the giant Barbie head on the front of the package covers up Ken's legs. The legs are also obstructed from view in the picture on the back of the package, shown below.

This Ken has a slightly modified face from the Riviera Ken face. The sides of the mouth smile more and the chin is fuller. The rooted, glued hair is back again too. This doll has a ball joint at the neck which I find is very odd because of the cheapness of the doll's body. Usually a ball joint neck is only found on special, more elaborate Ken type dolls.

Another interesting note about this Ken is that the packaging does not say Ken on it anywhere, so a more appropriate name for this doll would be "Generic Guy at the Beach", but I like to call him "Cheatin' Beach Barbie's Boy on the Side". There's also no series title (such as Hawaii or Riviera) for this doll set. This new male doll body does, however, have Ken's name molded onto the doll, shown on a label on the front of the sculpted underwear. As such, I suspect this doll is intended to be Ken as it would be really weird if Barbie's summertime fling went around wearing Ken's briefs.... however, if this doll is actually Ken's summer time fling, then perhaps he might end up wearing Ken's briefs after all. And there you have it.

Monster High, 12 inch doll by Mattel, 2013

Here is a 12 inch tall Deuce Gorgon doll from the very successful and popular Monster High series made by Mattel in 2013. This creative monster themed series was introduced around 2005. It's marketed as a toy line for girls yet incudes several very cool looking male characters that are just as cool as any "boy's doll" or action figure that I've ever seen. It's very strange why in this day and age Mattel would place limitations on a toy line like this by marketing it for girls only.

To my knowledge, a Deuce Gorgon doll was included in the very first series from this collection. The doll shown above is about the fifth doll variation of the character that I've seen, and has a special action feature that the original doll didn't have....

When the lever on the doll's back is pressed down it makes the doll's right arm move up to lift the sunglasses....

Lights inside the eyes flash as a sound effect recording plays to signify the "magic power" of the Gorgon's eyes. The Mohawk snake hair also moves into a row. The sound effect sounds like something from a 1970's Filmation cartoon.

This is an impressive, well made doll with an awesome action feature. The other doll in this particular sub-set within the series is a female cat character. An illustration of the two characters is shown on the side of the box but a picture of the dolls themselves and the female doll's name is not provided. 

There is a small opening on the back of the box, where the lever sticks out of the doll's back, so that shoppers can try out the action feature before they buy the doll. The box also has illustrations of the two characters on the side of the box, and the same image of Deuce Gorgon on each side. I find that the illustration style mimics the art on the packaging for Bratz dolls, which is likely a deliberate move by Mattel. I've posted my Bratz Boyz dolls on the "Male Fashion Dolls" page of the blog at this link: http://mikeysdolls.blogspot.ca/p/other-dolls-in-my-ollection.html

Here's a look at the doll out of the box, but still attached to the insert. Like most Mattel fashion dolls this Deuce Gorgon doll comes with a doll stand. Both the male and female Monster High dolls have entirely redesigned doll bodies that are quite different from Mattel's usual fashion doll. These dolls are jointed like Mego dolls and have very slim torsos and legs. The type of plastic and jointing style used is the same as what Mattel used for their 8 inch DC Heroes Retro Action dolls... only these Monster High dolls have a better, solid joint at the hip rather than the floppy elastic used for the Retro Action dolls.

Another view of the doll. You can see his snake hair better in this photo.

That's all for now!

Text and Photographs © Mike Artelle, 2013, 2015


  1. Great article! I didn't know there were so many Ken lines specially the All Star Ken. Here in Latinamerica the most popular boy doll is Max Steel. The first time I saw kid playing with a Max Steel doll I was like 'wait a moment, this kid is playing with a doll that resembles a lot the handsomeness of a Ken doll. Wao if I were a little girl again I would make my Barbie doll marry him as soon as possible, 😂'

    1. Hi ilikepanama
      Thanks for the feedback! I agree, Mattel certainly made Max Steel a handsome, buff little guy! Your comment about having Barbie marry Max Steel reminded me that back in 2003 Mattel had used Max Steel's body for a romance novel themed Ken and Barbie set. I added info about those dolls and a photo to the Max Steel section above if you are curious to see what they look like. All the best!

  2. Wow, great article! I Have two of these Max Steel toys, i had one Biocobra too when i was a child. But my mother took him on the garbage (Fanatic Religiosity) From biocobra i just have the Pants :(

    1. Hi Diego
      Thanks for the comment, I'm glad you liked the article. Sounds like your Mom helped Max Steel defeat his arch nemesis! He's quite a creepy looking villain! Hold on to the pants, maybe you'll find a naked Biocobra at a flea market or thrift store someday. All the best!

  3. Hi, just found your site while I was trying to identify a Mattel doll I picked up this morning. Can't seem to find it anywhere but from your site it seems to be a Dakota Joe and has those grip hands. It also has the rooted hair but the complexion doesn't seem to be quite as dark as your photo. It is marked Mattell 1976 on the neck.