I bought these each of these Cali Girls still boxed. Cali Girl Barbie was very cheap, Cali Girl Theresa a little more expensive. I think you can see why.
When I got this Cali Girl Barbie, I was sorely disappointed. I love Cali Girl Barbie in the red shorts, and part of the reason I like her so much is the way she puts a new twist on the Beach Barbie cliche (see my May post “What’s so Good About Cali Girls” for details). On casual inspection, this doll also looked promising – a surfer, darker hair – but in the plastic, she’s one of the most poorly painted Barbies I have ever seen. Her eyes are blue (rather than grey, disappointing), they’re too big for her face, they’re just coloured in one solid block rather than shaded or radiated, and they’re WONKY. FFS. I immediately decided to sell her on again and I still might, but there’s hardly any point as she’s cheap as chips.
This made me a little bit wary of purchasing Cali Girl Theresa, who is a surfer girl from the same range as well (she has the same box exactly and, like Surfer CG Girl Barbie, she has large, flat feet with painted toenails and she smells of coconut sun lotion). However, when Theresa turned up, I found I actually liked her. Her eyes are much better executed than Surfer CG Barbie’s, as I think you can see in this photo:
In fact, I had to go back and check that she is from the same range as they look so different, but there it is – same box, same smell, same accessories (suntan lotion and surfboard), same flat feet, same theme. I can think of a couple of things that may explain the difference in quality between these two dolls but I don’t know if I’m right about either of them. If you know, please feel free to tell me!
Firstly, Surfer CG Theresa is relatively rare. I’ve only seen her for sale two or three times, whereas Surfer CG Barbie is absolutely everywhere – every little girl in the land who was a child in the noughties must have had one. Maybe the appalling painting is a side effect of mass production.
The other reason concerns Mattel’s constant struggle to wrestle even more of the doll market away from its competitors. Cali Girl Barbie was apparently designed to rival dolls designed for older girls, such as Bratz. Perhaps this particular Barbie was the victim of an ill-conceived attempt to make a more “cartoony” doll.
At least Theresa didn’t let me down. I’ve not generally been a big fan of this face sculpt but she’s made me warm to it now. Before she arrived I wasn’t sure what I thought about the combination of a kind of peachy beige with hot pink, but seeing her in the plastic I think it works very well. And this cheered me up too:
She has one foot with silver nail polish and one with gold. Who knows why? Hooray for a bit of good old fashioned Cali Girl oddness