Mattel’s new Barbie Extra dolls are playful, colorful, and unique with the aim to encourage your child’s self-expression. Here’s why you may want to add one to your holiday shopping list this year.

By Anna Halkidis
November 16, 2020
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Credit: Mattel

Encouraging kids to embrace their differences and uniqueness is important and Mattel aims to do just that with its latest line of Barbie dolls bringing new meaning to the phrase "You're so extra."

The Barbie Extra line—on sale November 16 at Walmart, Amazon, and Target for $24.99 each—features five eye-catching dolls with their own distinct playful look and posable, articulated bodies. There's one doll rocking Afro puffs and braids with a rainbow fur coat; a curvy one with two-tone pink and purple hair; another curvy doll with bright blue hair in a top knot; one with trendy sunglasses and rainbow braided hair; and a blonde doll with pink streaks and a fluffy pink jacket.

And that’s not all—each doll comes with adorable pets to boot. Think a pet Rottweiler in a pink car, twin kittens wearing tiaras, and even a pet pig with a unicorn flower crown headband. How "extra" is that?

"The dolls are fun and playful, letting kids dial up their self-expression and fashion fantasy play by showing them you can be a trendsetter at every age," Kim Culmone, Mattel’s senior vice president and global head of Design Barbie & Fashion Dolls, tells Parents.com. 

What inspired these eccentric dolls and their "more is more attitude?" The company drew inspiration from street style, fashion runways, media, and culture. “Our design team is tuned-in and continuously looking at the latest fashion, beauty, and cultural trends for new Barbie looks," says Culmone. "And, as ‘extra’ has become a part of girls’ vernacular, our team was inspired to create a new line of playful and over-the-top dolls that encourage maximum self-expression."

Credit: Mattel

Barbie’s embrace of diversity and being more inclusive of people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities has been an ongoing campaign. In 2019, more than half of all the company’s dolls were diverse—and it's no secret customers are loving it. Seven of the top 10 best selling dolls from the Fashionistas line last year were diverse, including one that uses a wheelchair, while the top selling doll nearly every week was a curvy Black doll with an Afro hairstyle, according to Mattel. 

It only made sense to keep that strong message going with the new line.

"With Barbie Extra, as in all of our lines, it was important to us to include a wide range of diversity so every child can find a doll that resonates with them," says Culmone. "In addition to offering multiple skin tones, we made sure to include a range of body types, fashions, hair colors, and accessories in order to give kids choices."

These choices are important because playing with Barbies isn't just all fun and games. An October 2020 Barbie study found that playing with dolls benefits kids in more ways than just occupying their time. The research shows doll playing activates the regions of the brain that help kids develop social processing skills, including empathy, which is important to a child's future success because it allows them to understand other points of view, form successful relationships, and build resiliency. 

Anna Halkidis is the features editor at Parents.com. Keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.

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