Used to be that a prince’s kiss could bring a beauty to life. But getting Barbie to move, dance, and kick on video after 33 years of plastic lifelessness has taken corporate decision making at the highest levels.
”When I first saw Barbie moving on the screen, I thought the senior management of Mattel would freak out,” says Meryl Friedman, a vice president of Mattel Toys, marketer of the dolls. ”But when they saw it, they realized we were breaking new ground.”
Well, not quite: The video Barbie moves like King Kong, which is a comment not on her lack of grace but on the technique of stop-motion animation, in which filmmakers shoot a frame, move the doll, shoot a frame, move the doll. Animators at Will Vinton Productions in Portland, Ore. — home of TV’s dancing California Raisins — fitted a custom-made skeleton with ball-and-socket joints at Barbie’s hips, knees, waist, and ankles. The net effect endowed the blond bombshellette with at least as much natural movement as Kim Basinger.
Now that Barbie has gone mobile for video, what’s in her future? ”We’ll be seeing more of her on the small screen,” says Friedman, ”as opposed to a feature film.” Oh yeah? Just wait till she gets an agent.