I love my Thresher Barbie. It’s because of her, in a sense, that I began collecting dolls. It’s because of my cousins that I now have the actual doll that started this whole thing.
Let me give you a little backstory. Long ago, when I was a little girl, my Dad was offered a new job in California. This move across country was a glorious thing because it meant I could be physically close to my three cousins. Beverly, Susan and Lynne were close to my age and were – oh, happiness! – female. I’d always wanted a sister but, through some cosmic accident, was given an older brother instead. Bill was (and is) exactly the kind of brother you’d want, if you wanted a brother, but I also wanted a sister. A sister would play with dolls.
Bill did have a G.I. Joe, but he told me G.I. Joe wasn’t a doll. Joe had the appearance of a doll, he lacked genitalia, much like a doll, and he had his own dress-up clothing to wear…just like a doll, if you ask me. Except for his rather boring fashion sense, Joe felt like a doll to me. However, Bill was adamant that G.I. Joe was an action figure.
Anyway, my family shuffles off to California and I have a chance to spend time with my cousins. I soon learn that the three girls have their very own Barbies. As in, more than one Barbie each. These particular Barbies were living a very upscale life. Each had several outfits to wear, many of which weren’t even homemade, there was a mix of blondes and brunettes, and one of the Barbies even had her very own WIGS.
Fashion Queen Barbie, as she was known at the time, had “hair” painted on her head, and came with three different wigs. This was amazing to me. I’d never seen such a thing; a doll with exchangeable hair? By the time I saw my cousins’ collection, the Fashion Queen Barbie had long disappeared from store shelves. It was love at first sight, the first time I took one wig off and replaced it with another. I adored my cousins, couldn’t wait to see them and play dolls with them, and my favorite doll of all was Fashion Queen Barbie.
My least favorite toy was my cousins’ Midge doll. I wasn’t alone in this feeling. My cousins and I didn’t care for poor Midge. Created to be Barbie’s non-sexy best friend, which sounds like nonsense but isn’t, Midge wasn’t an attractive doll. She was given a last name (Hadley) and a boyfriend (Alan), and not much else to excite a fan base. At one point, there was a Wigs Wardrobe Midge, introduced at the same time as Fashion Queen Barbie. Fashion Queen Barbie was super cute and infinitely desirable. To mimic her companion, Wigs Wardrobe Midge also had “hair” painted on her head and three different wigs to wear – but the manufacturer sent WWM out into the world without a body of her own. If a child wanted to play with this version of Midge, they had to steal a body from another doll.
The doll might have sold better if it had been released as Body-Snatching Midge. Since my cousins didn’t own Body-Snatching Midge, only plain and boring Midge, I had little use for her. I imagine my brother Bill might have had similar feelings if he’d owned both a handsome, manly G.I. Joe with Battle Armor and a homely, sad sack-ish G.I. Lonnie with Field Binoculars. Poor Lonnie would have seen very little play time at all.
So I didn’t play with Midge and, all too soon, I couldn’t play with Fashion Queen Barbie, either. My life took a sad turn when my father accepted a new position at the other end of the country. My cousins waved goodbye as our car drove away. I never forgot the good times we had together. I also remembered Fashion Queen Barbie and, one day, told Glynn about her.
Okay, so maybe I told him a few times about my feelings for Fashion Queen Barbie. Not asking for the doll, just commenting on a piece of my past, but one day he went internet shopping and found a real, 1963 FQB. It was such a sweet gift, but every Barbie needs a friend (a true friend, not dependable, designated-driver Midge). One Barbie led to another; then I stumbled across Monster High, and remembered my love for the Frankenstein and Werewolf movies of my past; then I returned to Barbie again. Before I knew it, I was a full-fledged doll collector.
Through all of this, despite the distance between us, my cousins and I remained close. (Fun fact: Glynn and I used them as characters in one of our non-Anne Glynn novels. Of course, those characters all get murdered in the story, but they didn’t hold it against us. Perhaps because we brought them back as ghosts.) One day, Susan called me to say they’d come across their old Barbies with their old outfits. The years had not been kind to those Barbies or their ensembles, but would I like them? Since I was a doll collector and all?
When the dolls arrived, I was so excited. These were the exact same dolls I’d played with as a child! When I saw Fashion Queen Barbie, I felt like a child again.
Then Glynn said something that sent a chill down my spine. He asked me, “Hey, what’s this ugly doll?”
Midge had come along for the ride.