Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mattel Ladies of the 80s Info at Denise V. Patten's Blog

Denise Van Patten lists the three dolls of this upcoming Mattel doll series and an approximate date at her Doll Collecting blog.

Ken/Allan and G.I. Joe and the Dominant Male

Poor Ken. While he is the Mattel-designated romantic partner of Barbie, Ken just don't get much respect outside a group of Kenophiles. If you spend any time on the Internet, you have probably seen this famous Nissan commercial. Cute. Funny. But is it fair? Nope.

Someday, I’ll look to see what public opinion said about Ken BEFORE G.I. Joe emerged in 1964. Because although Ken could be said to be the “father” of Joe – hmm … therein lies a problem. G.I. Joe, as central figure to the Joe-verse, parallels Barbie as the central figure in Barbie-ville. Pink Barbie for little girls and green [uniformed] Joe for little boys. Gentleman Ken has always been the secondary character, first among the supporting team for Barbie. Barbie is to G.I. Joe as Ken is to Nurse Jane. As a secondary figure, Ken lacks the authority status of primary G.I. Joe. Thus all the impotent Ken jokes. So it is the social rather than the physical differences that give Joe ranking higher than Ken.

Let us view and compare the bodies of Ken and Joe for proof. In the photo and the table below, a Straight leg Allan replaces Ken – temporarily AWOL - and a Land Adventurer G.I. Joe bare all to show their physical differences and similarities.

Okay, you cannot miss it: Ken (Allan) lacks a penis. Please note though: so does G.I. Joe. There is no way that an anatomically-correct adult male figure for children would sell now or then back in the early 1960s. There have been precious and few anatomically-correct dolls manufactured for children today. Only one such doll comes to mind and that one was/is an infant: Archie Bunker's grandson, Joey Stivic. And I doubt the day will ever come when anatomically-correct adult male action figures are marketed for boys in the United States. The outrage resulting from the suggestion alone would leave the poor, would-be manufacturer reeling and fetal-curled in a padded cell corner.

Here is a chart comparing Ken (Allan) with G.I. Joe.

KenG.I. Joe
Height12 inches11 3/4 inches
ArticulatedScant, rigidMulti-jointed, flexible
RelationshipsBarbie's boyfriend, supportiveAdventure Team, dominant

I present this information in this manner because, in recent years, I realized that Ken has been socially short-changed. And as a former Ken-basher – I bought a G.I. Joe BEFORE I bought a Ken; I used to think that Ken was Barbie’s best accessory; and even now, I “tease” my action figures with Kenwear (Ken fashions), this post is my penance for past sins of commission and sins of omission. The aspect of Ken that causes him to be ridiculed is NOT the absence of a visible penis. It’s his supportive role that draws fire.

Pity that Ken should suffer for being a gentleman and good sport. Here’s to Kens across the world and the Kenophiles who honor this great, if secondary, character as he should be.