This past Wednesday, I read an article titled the "Dearth of Black and Hispanic Dolls" from March 2009 The New York Times. Hmmm ... I thought. Granted there are many more White dolls on shelves, could I describe the Black and other ethnic dolls scene as sparse as "dearth" implies? I have not seen a single Black doll in the Hannah Montana series; Lola and Oliver might be Hispanic so I can't rule out Hispanics from that series. Barbie's friends still include Teresa (Hispanic) and/or Nikki (Black), but Kayla/Lea or the multi-ethnic and the Asian friends seem to have been replaced by "White" Raquelle and "White" Summer. (No objection to either - I am just commenting on the current racial/ethnic Barbie friends line-up.) The High School Musical cast includes Black and Hispanic dolls.
Possibly, the New York Times' authors are referring to dollar stores? But even there, I recall seeing Black and White dolls if none overtly Hispanic. By "overtly Hispanic" I mean black or brunette haired dolls with tan or tawny complexions or dolls with Spanish names.
[Aside, for smaller doll lines like Playmates' everGirl dolls or Chic Boutique's Flower Power line, the Black dolls are distinguished from the Hispanic dolls thus: the Black dolls are medium-dark brown, the Hispanics are caramel brown.]
Below I report what I have seen in two local stores.
Walmart Wyncote -
1. These Mattel Black dolls were available: Beach Party Steven, Clean Up Pup Barbie, Cut & Style Rapunzel Barbie, Happy Birthday for You Barbie, Holiday Barbie 2009, Reissued Julia, Sea World Trainer Barbie, Ultra Tattoo Barbie.
2. I just noticed that the Think Pink Barbie line does NOT seem to have any corresponding ethnic dolls. None were seen here.
3. The larger MGA Entertainment Best Friends Club, Ink. dolls available were Addison and Kaitlin. No large Calista. No smaller dolls.
3. Three Black baby dolls were on the shelves.
Toys R Us Wyncote -
1. These Mattel Black dolls were available: Doggie Park Barbie, Sea World Trainer Barbie, Space Camp Barbie (on clearance), Sponge Bob Barbie, and Twin Musician Prince. Two Grace-Courtney sets from the So in Style available, but NO Trichelle-Janessa or Kara-Kianna sets were out.
2. These Mattel Hispanic dolls were available: Gabriella from High School Musical, Cha Cha from the 30 Years Grease series, and Alex Russo of the Wizards of Waverly Place series as a single doll and as a single doll plus extra outfit package.
3. The MGA Entertainment Best Friends Club, Ink. series had the smaller Addison and Kaitlin dolls. (Oh, they are sooo cute. I must have them ALL.) But NO Calista.
4. New 10" doll series by Playmates, H2O Just Add Water based on the television show with the same name offered three "White" dolls; no recognizably ethnic dolls appear in the series.
5. Hasbro G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra Ripcord action figure was laid flat behind other figures in this series. My guess is that someone was hiding him, but I can't state that as a fact. I returned him to his hidden spot because I didn't want him at this time. The Best Friends Club, Ink. dolls are higher priority for me now.
As a frequent shopper at these two stores, I would say that they usually have good coverage of Black dolls with a sprinkling of Hispanic dolls, depending on what is available. If I do not see a specific doll or dolls, I assume that the existing stock was bought (for example, the small Calista from the Best Friends Club, Ink. doll.) I take this assumption because I have bought the last Black doll on their shelves before. Shrug. Someone else beat me to that doll today. I'll call or stop by without calling another day.
The stock in these two stores did not support the dearth of Black and Hispanic dolls statement, but I'll check other stores in the area to see how the ethnic doll showing appears.