In 2003, Mattel released Jude Deveraux, The Raider – Barbie® and Ken® Doll Giftset. I don't know why the earth didn't move and alert me to this amazing opportunity, but it is only ten years later that I have been able to see this amazing majesty for myself.
You guys, I seriously think this doll set answers SO MANY QUESTIONS that I've had about classic romance novel poses. Let's examine each element close up, shall we? Vision impaired readers, I've done my best to describe each image, and I swear I am not making any of this up.
First, behold the majesty of the official Mattel portrait of these two:
They don't look a thing like that in the box. It even says on the page, “Doll cannot stand alone as shown.” I'm not sure which one they mean, but I assume KenAlexander, because he's not letting go of BarbieJessica.
Lest you doubt this is currently in my possession, the box! On my counter!
I was never into Barbies as a kid, but this made both my inner awkward adolescent and my external adult self absolutely giddy. IT IS CRAZY YOU GUYS.
And it has a lot to live up to, because the original cover for The Raider, it is absolute grade A crazysauce:
I can just picture that cover art meeting:
Dude: “No, her hair needs to be bigger. NO, BIGGER. No, MORE BIGGER.”
Artist, grumbling: “I'll show you bigger…”
I love the horse, too. He's appalled at their lack of knowledge on basic horsemanship: “I am not carrying you weirdos on my neck. Go away.”
Seriously, what's with her hair? Is she underwater? How do you get your hair to even do that? I need to try it. It's like an Elizabethan neck ruff for hair.
So does the Barbie collector set live up? OH HELL YES.
First: have you ever wondered how the cover model posing as the heroine can maintain these half-fainted, half-boneless positions of swoony submission?
Get a look at her face:
The answer is, apparently, quaaludes.
She's heavy lidded, but I don't think it's passion. I think she's high as a kite. A kite on some seriously good drugs, yo. Her pupils are like dinner plates.
“Hey, KenAlexander. I wanna tell you….tell you…somethzzzzzzzzzzzz.” So romantic!
The other details are just as amazing.
I don't even know how one does that with eye makeup. Though, I don't know if he'd remember either, given that he looks like he's on the same stuff as Barbie.
Then there's the other other makeup:
I scratched at it with my fingernail. I tried wiping it with a towel. That is not schmutz or dirt. That is… I don't actually know what that is. I think it's meant to suggest stubble, only romance stubble, which is apparently as smooth as chinchilla bum fur.
In romance, stubble doesn't scratch, it soothes.
I'm telling you, the mysteries of the romance universe are hidden in this box.
For example, you know that curling tendril of hair that so often tempts the romance hero as he looks at the heroine? How many historical romances have you read that in? Me, probably hundreds. She puts her hair up, except for one curl that rests on her neck, beckoning the hero to gaze upon her décolletage.
How does one maintain that tempting curl with its tempting, curly perfection?
By stitching it into her armpit, of course! That sucker ain't moving, either, let me assure you.
And how do you know this is a legit romance novel Barbie set? The certificate of authenticity? Heck no.
SHIRT UNDONE BUT STILL TUCKED IN!
Hell to the Yes!
Pay no attention to Barbie's opportunistic hand, there.
So let's get a look at what's under the shirt that's undone but still tucked in because accuracy:
HOLD UP. Is that…. is – YES it IS!
DOUBLE STICK TAPE!
So THAT is the secret of the shirt-undone-but-still-tucked-in look! Wardrobe tape! Amazing.
And speaking of amazing, GET A LOAD OF THOSE ABS. Somewhere there are professional body builders with .02% bodyfat who don't have that level of definition. KenAlexander, he is negative body fat.
I can't get this particular close up of my own KenAlexander without removing him from the box, so don't miss this picture of his nipples!
Also: I love that I just told you not to miss a picture of someone's nipples. Oh romance novel Barbie, don't ever leave me.
Let's keep exploring the magic, shall we?
What? Those flowers are not the LEAST bit suggestive. Nuh uh.
We don't need any euphemisms that KenAlexander is well-equipped in every way. As the box description assures us,
He is wearing a sheer white cotton shirt and tight black pants accented with a black belt. Black knee high cuffed and buckled boots complete his ruggedly handsome look.
But KenAlexander, being a Ken doll and all, has no actual equipment, per se. But no worries. We have manly hand assurance, too. The size difference between KenAlexander and BarbieJessica's hands is… illuminating.
Everything about this guy is big. And windswept.
Did I mention it comes with bling, this gift set? IT DOES. BLING IS INCLUDED.
HOT DAMN. What could it be? My own personal Raider minifigure? With windswept hair and abs like cobblestones?
A charm bracelet! With… charms that I'm not sure of. Like this one:
Is that a candelholder or the business end of a waistband snap? No matter, really. It's Raider Bling!
I was nearly ready to put the box aside and go out and raid the grocery store with my bling when I noticed how amazing the back of the box is. I might have bought this JUST for the back of the box. Because it's so incredible.
First, Mattel has a very strange idea of what age “adulthood” happens:
Adult! Now 14 and over!
Dear LORD, is that from the book?!
YES IT IS.
Perhaps that is the secret of KenAlexander's beard fuzz: he wears stubble like a man with superior knowledge.
But wait, there's MORE.
In case you're too lazy to turn the box over and, you know, look, or you like to have all your surprises spoiled, there's a description of what's inside: “Ken is swashbuckling in a sheer white cotton shirt paired with black pants.”
KEN IS SWASHBUCKLING. It's a VERB.
Ken is swashbuckling like a man with superior knowledge.
But the best part is the illustration of the dolls inside the box. I wish I could frame it.
WHAT THE WHAT? Her face is most likely meant to look like a Barbie doll, except it's the creepy version thereof. Egads.
And KenAlexander… oh, dear.
According to the official description, KenAlexander has “long brown windswept hair.”
That's not windswept. That's “A windy hedgehog exploded on his head.”
And I'm not sure what that facial expression is meant to convey, but I'm going with “too many beans at the Raider Barbie launch party last night.”
The greatest disappointment, though, is my discovery on the front of the box:
That says, “Limited Edition, Romance NOVELS Collection.”
That means PLURAL. MORE THAN ONE.
Were there more Barbie and Ken romance novel editions planned? Did they not ever make it to market? Are the obscure collectibles in Japan somewhere? WHERE ARE THE OTHER NOVELS?!
Seriously, I would buy the hell out of them. I bought this one on eBay and it was the best ridiculous eBay purchase I've ever made. I bid on this box so hard, my eBay-addicted father in law probably flinched without knowing why.
SO WHERE ARE THE OTHERS?! Where are the other novels?!
How can Mattel break my heart this way? Seriously, shouldn't there be more? I think so!
What novels do you think should receive the Barbie collector's edition treatment? Anita Blake? That'd be a ten-doll collection right there. oh – Derek Craven from Dreaming of You! That would be an amazing Ken doll. He'd have to substitue badassery for the swashbuckling.
So, which book should be done as a doll set next? Let's pester Mattel until they either run screaming or give us our way.