Pros: Mattel is trying - I'll give them that
Cons: just about everything
It's time to break out the support hose, sensible shoes and knitting needles - because Mattel is taking you somewhere no Barbie has ever gone before (and perhaps should never go again).
Over the years Barbie has been many things - astronaut, teacher, Driver's Ed instructor, etc but because of her looks and limited acting range she has only ever been able to play teen to early twenties (and believe you me it was a hard sell for some of those roles) - she has never stretched her acting chops and gone for that one special role which would bring her fame and worldwide recognition -that is until now.
Inspired by Charlize Theron's ability to dig deep and bring out the inner Monster in herself, Barbie has also decided to dig deep, find her inner monster and play the most terrifying role of her life - a 50-year-old woman. That's right, you heard me Barbie is finally playing her true age and after seeing Mattel's newest release Happy Family Grandma I know why Barbie has done everything she can to retard the aging process - it's not a pretty sight.
Ever since my youth I have pondered what an aging Barbie would look like - this doll doesn't even come close (I'll save my prototype until later). During the holiday season Grandma was sold with Grandpa and a 50 dollar play set which included a kitchen and accessories - while tempted to get that set, 50 bucks was a bit too rich for my blood (considering I'll make a whopping 3 cents on this review if I'm lucky).
My girls begged me to buy the set and get them Grandma - I walked away many a time thinking I have to have her - she just sat on that shelf taunting me and screaming, "hate me/review me." I decided to wait until she went on clearance, but come mid January, I realized I wouldn't have to wait - Mattel remarketed Grandma and Grandpa as individual sets which were easily affordable and within my monthly epinions budget - retailing at a mere $16 a set.
Happy Family Grandma and Grandpa are sold as part of the Happy Family Neighborhood - and what a Happy Neighborhood that would be - having your in-laws live right next door to you! I'm still unclear which doll these are the parent's of - Midge or Alan - but if it's Midge, I feel sorry for Alan - he's got a lot of bad road to look forward to - forget the kid's college education - he'd better start saving for Midge's many plastic surgeries right now.
Let me say right now, I give props to Mattel - there is no age discrimination when it comes to Barbie - as unrealistic and insane as the "young" ones are - they don't even hold a candle to Grandma. The only thing I've ever seen that has been more well preserved than Happy Family Grandma is a 40 year old bottle of Scotch - and at least that didn't leave me with a bad taste in my mouth - like this doll.
HF Grandma comes ready to celebrate her Granddaughter Nikki's 1st birthday - that is as long as the celebration ends by 8 so she can get home in time for Matlock and be in bed by 9. I do feel sorry for the older child in this "happy" family - Grandma and Grandpa don't seem to acknowledge his existence - the first set of them was developed to welcome baby Nikki home from the hospital and the next set to celebrate her birthday - what's wrong with the boy - why don't Grandma and Grandpa love him - I'm beginning to think the name of the set should be Out with the old in with the new Barbie or maybe I'm just reading the box the wrong way and the real name is the Happy somewhat dysfunctional Family. What kind of message does this send to little girls - Grandma and Grandpa only love the new baby - it might have been nice if one of them was thoughtful enough to bring the boy a gift and make him feel included in the celebration.
I speculate that Grandma is Midge's mother and if so, Midge must have been a change of life baby - the age span between the two is insane - it's like teen bride meets Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies (only that Granny was supposed to be funny - I don't think that was Mattel's intent with this doll). The only plausible explanation here is that Grandma is Midge's real grandma - that in fact she adopted her and took on the role of mother after Barbie went away to visit relatives for 8 months in the mid 80s.
In the world that is Mattel, there seems to be no middle ground, they only deal in extremes - that is you can only be young, hip, trendy and sexy or old and in serious need of a What Not to Wear makeover - like life ends at 40 so dress the part. Unfortunately for Grandma - she falls into the later category - in my younger days they would have referred to her as a handsome gal. Her face and body parts are so tight you could bounce a quarter off them but her clothes and makeup scream Grandma with a capital G.
Grandma comes dressed in her Canasta finery - lookin like she's about sit down for a game or two with her best friends Hot Flash Hannah, Early Bird Esther, Night Sweats Nellie, Depends Donna, Os-Cal Olga, Senior Moment Sara and Ditropan Delores (whose always breaking up the game because she's gotta go right now). One can only begin to imagine all the product tie-ins Mattel can do now that they have "senior" dolls.
Grandma's outfit leaves a lot to be desired and I have already held her up as a model to my children - if I ever begin to dress and look like that, just put me out of my misery. She's got these hideous lilac pants that don't seem to fit her midlife spread very well - they bunch and gap in the front. I theorize she wears pants because skirt and hose wouldn't cover up her varicose veins. Her paisley top is hideous and the purple cardigan is bleah! My youngest daughter immediately undressed her and put her in a min skirt, high heels and tube top - making her look like a candidate for an upcoming episode of Maury - makeover my sexy dressing mother.
She comes accessorized with lilac flats - yes you heard me correctly a Barbie is actually wearing flats/sensible shoes, a boring necklace and reading glasses - because we all know that eyesight is the only thing to go when you get old. Her hairstyle is early helmet with streaks of grey - I looked and looked and through all the stuff that came with her, but I still cannot find the cans of Aqua net she use to get her hair to stay in that hideous bob. Granny doesn't need one of those horrible old lady plastic hair covers to keep her style in place - that thing has a life of it's own and could deflect bullets better than Wonder Woman's wrist bands.
Her face has that one too many face lifts look about it - like she's going to a surprise party 24/7 - you know the look - overly arched eyebrows that look like Bozo, complimented by that if I do anything but smile I might pop a stitch look. Mattel did capture that Grandma look with her makeup - she's not quite at circus clown with the rings of blush and gobs of blue eye shadow - she's about 3 steps behind that, but not too far off. The first thing you can't help but notice are the lips drenched in way too much dark lipstick - if I were a little kid and saw those lips coming at me I'd run the other way. In my opinion she also has on way too much eyeliner for an older woman - but on the upside at least she isn't using sparkle makeup.
Grandma comes with many extras (except that all important one - Grandpa). He can be seen peeking out from behind her in the box - and frankly when it comes to male Barbie dolls that's about all you need - just make a cardboard standee out of Grandpa and your good to go (plus you've saved yourself 17 bucks).
Grandma has many gifts for her favorite grandchild and none for the older often ignored child. She comes with a few empty gift bags and boxes to make it look like she spent more than she did (I guess she figures the baby is only 1, and will never know the difference). Her gifts to the baby are a pink plush bear chair that the baby can sit in, a little bear for the baby to play with and a rocking horse. She also has a purse because goodness knows every Grandma needs a purse that she will carry all over the house with her - as if family members can't be trusted - it doesn't open, but I'm sure if it did it would be filled with hard candy and Kleenex.
Grandma also has photos of her favorite moments with baby and there is talk of an impending visit from the stork - perhaps Grandma should have brought Alan and Midge a jumbo box of jimmy hats, because those crazy teens seem to like to breed like jackrabbits.
I understand this is Mattel's first attempt at an older doll, but I think they could have been a bit more realistic - Grandma's figure is flawless - kind of like Midge right after she baby number two - I didn't expect to see the body of the old cartoon lady from Playboy when I undressed her, but a little sag up top and paunch in the belly might have sent out a better message than you need to do Pilates every day and run 20 miles to keep up your figure as an older gal - or your Grandpa may wander. It also might have been nice to see a wrinkle or two on her face and a few age spots on the hands.
I am hopeful as I look towards Mattel's updated release of Grandma - you know the one with the slight facial hair and moustache that tickles when she kisses you, the one with saggy boobs, granny panties and varicose veins, the one with the weird Grandma smell (you know moth balls, cheap perfume and that mystery ingredient you only find out about after hitting 60), the one with voice chip and realistic grip who utters phrases like, "is it hot in here?" "you want a hard candy" "give Grandma some sugar" "I want my senior discount" "When I was your age" and "slow down you're driving too fast" (as she grips the armrest in Happy Family Volvo). Now that's doll I'd buy! For now I'll have to settle for Happy Family Grandma - and well not be so happy with the way she is.