I remember playing with Ken and Babie dolls as a kid, but merely out of boredom because my mom wouldn't allow me to bring my video games, or GAC to daycare. Did you share my same apathy for the plastic fashion dolls? As Mattel's market share continues to shrink and Ken's age nearing 50 years old, the company finally decided it's time for a revamp. My first suggestion, get Ken and Barbie a Facebook page!

Ken and Barbie have some stiff competition (no pun intended) in the doll market. Kids love variety and I think they always will. I support the decision to evolve the stoic figurine but what could possible make a splash big enough to get the kids saying "I want one! I want one!" ?

Andrea Chang and Meg James - Los Angeles Times

"What we realized a few years ago was, 'Wait a second, there are people having more fun with the brand than we were,'" Stephanie Cota, Mattel's senior vice president of global marketing for girls brands, said in an interview. "Part of the journey that we've been on is figuring out how to have fun with the Barbie brand without making fun [of it]."

It's a delicate balance. Too much self-mockery could be interpreted as a signal that Mattel isn't serious about the brand. Walt Disney Co.'s Pixar Animation Studios took a poke at Ken in its Oscar-nominated "Toy Story 3," where the doll shows up wearing short shorts, an open shirt and a blue ascot while tooling around in a pink convertible, seemingly oblivious to his main purpose to serve as arm candy for Barbie.

Some saw Ken's love of fashion and his gold-and-purple "dream house" in "Toy Story 3" as a sly wink at longtime rumors of a conflicted sexuality, and an example of how the brand can appeal to multiple markets.

Barbie has long been the alpha female. Sean McGowan, a toy analyst with Needham & Co., estimated that Ken makes up less than 10% of the Barbie line's sales. He said Ken's appearance in "Toy Story 3" could have backfired.

"Ken stole the show 'cause he's a clothes magnet," McGowan said. "That's risky, but it worked. He winds up looking cool. [But] that's a fine line between parody and pushing the envelope."

Full story at latimes.com