In this article I’d like to tell you a little bit about Talking Barbie repair. I know many collectors search for information about Talking Barbie repair. I’ve done it several times. It’s not the hardest thing to do but you need dexterity, prestidigitation and patience. Of course you should also know what to do in the repair before you do your first one.
Before you do your first repair you need some useful equipment. You need governor belts in the right size, the right replacement for the pullstring, the right ferrules to reattach the flower. Some tools are useful for the repair too like tweezers, cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, disposable gloves, locking forceps and package tied. Some acrylic color in the right skin tone is also useful later after the repair.
You see before you can do anything you have to invest some money. Some collectors told me that they just tried to repair the doll without any knowledge and damaged the mechanism so badly that some of them threw the dolls away. I don’t recommend it. Before you do anything become familiar with the repair. I’ve done some videos while I repaired a Talking Barbie.
The range of my videos goes from the buy or not buy decision to the cleaning of the mechanism to the repair itself and then about how to reseal the body again and reattach the limbs again.
Don’t expect that the cleaning is a fast thing to do. It can last several hours depending on the leftovers of the governor belt itself. I’ve had some easy to clean dolls and some weren’t that easy to clean. Some Talking dolls are cooperative and others don’t.
One of my first Talking Barbie was not cooperative. I tested her for days and got not the right speed for the record. I almost became mad but I found a solution for the problem. The easiest Talking doll I repaired was a Talking PJ. She started almost immediately to talk after I did the test. The mechanism itself is kind of engineering art. It’s done in a very clever way.
If there are no injuries from the outside the mechanism can hardly be destroyed but by a father with a screw. The only weak point is the leg knob. The legs tend to fall of the body but only Talking Barbie I heard it from later produced 1970s Barbie dolls too. They all can be repaired with my method.
I’m not sure why this problem is there so often but maybe it’s because of the production process or maybe the attached legs exerted too much pressure to the knobs so that they just broke. I’m not an expert but I try to find the why.
The repair is not impossible
Due to problem that many collectors try to do the repair just so, I decided to do a video series that they realize where the problem is. It’s all about the right technique and the knowledge how to do it right. There’s no need just to destroy the doll just because you want to see what’s inside the upper body.
I’m not a fan of such actions. That’s one of my reasons to make this video.
My article this week is about useful cleaning material for Barbie dolls one should have. It’s important to have some easy to use things at home when you plan to buy old Barbie dolls. There are some things in every household that are very useful when we come to the topic of cleaning a Barbie doll.
To be honest I clean every Barbie doll I get if she comes without a box. That’s sometimes a lot of work especially when you buy a whole group of dolls. Believe as a longtime collector that will occur from time to time. Not every week, not every month but occasionally. What do you need for such an occasion?
Useful cleaning products
My little survival kit is a box of Q-Tips and rubbing alcohol ( at least 70%). You use the Q-Tips for a quick sip of rubbing alcohol. It is normally used for cleaning electronic devices, especially for cleaning dirty or old contacts. I highly recommend rubbing alc. I’ve never had any problems with it until now and I got the hint in 2011.
What else is useful for use at home? I can recommend you cleaning sponges from Aldi. There are several different products that are sold under the name but it seems that the chemicals attached to the sponges are different.
I heard of collectors that got problems with these sponges but I never had any problems with them. If the Q-Tip/rubbing alc combination is not working use the sponge. It brings sometimes benefits to have one at home.
What other collectors do
I’ve heard from other collectors that they use a mild soap and a sponge to clean their dolls. In almost 23 years of collecting I’ve never done it. Why? You can’t exclude the risk that the knee joints get wet especially when you clean Twist n Turn Barbie dolls from the first generation around 1967 since the have metal knee joints that tend to oxide when you work with water. It means in the worst situation they oxide and leave an ugly brown or greenish area around the knee. It’s the goal of most Barbie collectors to prevent these stains. The only I thing I can do is warn you about problem.
The ultimate clean Barbie doll?
Well, you might ask yourself if there is the ultimate clean Barbie doll. The answer is no. This comes due to the fact that the arms, legs and the head are made from a form of PVC and rubber and it’s hard to keep rubber clean itself. I already told you that there are problems with sticky legs and leaking softener. Here’s a short video how to do it.
Is the leaking softener a problem of the age
No, the leaking softener is no problem of the age. All I know about the problem is that it’s no age problem. The probability to find it in all decades from 1959 until today is high. I’m not so familiar with chemistry but read about the phenomenon and it is said that is has to do with the mixtures they use in the production machines. Obviously the recipe was changed a bit over the decades and sometimes you have problems that appear like 1987 the cow spots, that were caused by iron shavings in the mixture.
Other useful things to have a home for Barbie cleaning
I can recommend you guest towels. They are very useful when you want a doll to dry, no matter if you washed her hair or just cleaned her with Q-Tips and rubbing alc. I don’t dress the dolls immediately afterwards. I really give them time to dry ( often over night, often a whole day). Then you can be sure that you wont get any problems with water still somewhere on the doll body. Another advantage is that you can wash the little towels easily. They don’t need as much space in the washing machine as a normal towel needs. Even if there is a stain caused by a doll, it’s no problem because it’s just a guest towel. ( I never had this problem myself )
In my next article I’d like to continue where I stopped last week with the hair topic. Repair is not limited to hair. There are other problems every collector has to deal with like green ears.
The awful green ears
I think there’s almost nobody out there who doesn’t know the problem – green ears – just awfuuuuuuuuuuuuul. It’s not only a problem of Vintage Barbie limited to the years 1959 until 1967. Nope, that’s also a problem of modern collector Barbie dolls with earrings. By the way the problem exists in the human world too. When you buy earrings but not made out of silver or gold, you buy the problem. Costume jewelry earrings tend to have this problem because the metal reacts with our skin. We can’t exclude to sweat or transpire. As long as we do so the problem will occur. In the case of Barbie it’s similar. She can’t sweat but the rubber of the head is/was in permanent contact with the earrings. I don’t know exactly what the early earrings with the pearl ends were made of. I guess it was copper or a similar metal because copper tends to show green discolorations after a while. Think of church roofs. In Germany we have many clock towers roofs or bell towers roofs made out of copper.
Why green ears appear
I think the copper reaction works like this … when the roofs are exposed to nature for a while with sunshine, rain, snow, hail, frost and wind the copper reacts with all the wheather influences. It seems that it’s very a similar thing with the Barbie earrings. The reaction doesn’t come immediately but after a while. Let’s say the child stopped to play with her early Barbie and the Barbie was stored in a garage or on an attic, not really exposed to the elements but let’s say the roof is not well isolated and when there is frost the doll also is exposed to it. Frost has to do with water that changed its physical state then we should have no doubts that the reaction of the earrings comes from the water/humidity on the attic. These early earrings were not tested for any green effects on dolls. As I read again today it was all a matter of costs. It was easy to produce in Japan because the wages were low after WWII there. When we guess they used cheap earrings it’s very clear why the phenomenon appears. They used cheap metal. In the early years Barbie was just produced as a toy, not considered for collectors.
How we can solve the problem and treat the ears
Now that we know the reason why the green ears appear, we can solve the problem. Nevertheless the biggest problem is that Mattel used different chemical mixtures for the heads. It seems that the material changed a bit from doll to doll. Bubble Cut Barbie dolls are easy to cure. When you want to learn how to fix them just buy Clearasil cream and smear it onto the ears and put the doll in the sun. The more sun, the better.
With Ponytail Swirl Barbie dolls it’s another story. Although I’m no chemist I assume that the material is different. Why? I tested it and I got a great Ponytail Swirl with original hair do but she had green ears. I wanted to treat her. Result? The procedure lasted more than two summers. In the first one I hardly put her outside on my balcony because I was afraid of forgetting her. In 2017 my Bubble Cut head was stolen by a bird after forgetting it on the balcony over night. That was not what I wanted for my Ponytail Swirl. So sad if she had been stolen. My plan this year was to put her outside in the sun but only for the time I was at home. My first test last year contained Clearasil cream, Benzaknen ( a cream for acne treatment with 10% peroxid for bleaching available in Germany), Remove Zit. I stared with Clearsil and then came to the idea that Clearsil does not work here. So I changed to Benzaknen, had to stop my test during the winter and wait for spring since the winter here is always very foggy and sunless. This spring I put her in the sun with fresh Benzanknen, changed it every day but I had only little success. I wanted to use Remove Zit as well but the summer was over before I had the time to do so. From my experiences on Superstar Barbie I can say that Zit leaves ugly stains. You need another chemical counterpart to get rid of the stains. That’s why I’m careful with Remove Zit.
That was the first video I made about the Ponytail Swirl green ear problem but had no idea that it would last that long to cure her. In the meantime I removed the green ears. A hint from another collector helped. She used Poliboy Gold & Silberbad for her head and the green ears vanished within 14 days. I had similar success. One of my books recommend Haggerty Silver bath for the treatment. Two products available in different countries under different names? Other collectors from the USA have reported that they use CLR (Calcium Lime Rust remover) with the old formula and had success too. A video with my results is planned in the next weeks about my success. I still have to do some X-mas present preparations before I can come back and do full time video cutting.
Problems with the availability of products
I heard from some other collectors that not all products I refered to in this article are globally available. We can e.g. buy liquids like CLR only with a ton of difficulties. We have to pay for shipment, go to the donahue and pay VAT. The limit to import goods for free ends at 22 € including shipping. Poliboy is not available in the USA. That’s why I double checked my books and found Haggerty. Maybe the information is useful to some of you. Remove Zit is hard to get in Germany and the dealer want very much money for it. I got mine several years ago and paid around 30€ . The best before date is soon after you buy it. There’s no label with ingredients on the box.
How to get rid of the problem
Remove the earrings from the head. Treat the head like described above. Some collectors use transparent nail polish before they use the earrings again and paint them with nail polish so that the head and the earring have no contact with each other. You can just let them out and put them on the doll stand.
When a modern Collector Barbie has signs of green ears, remove the earrings and put them in a little bag. Try to avoid contact with the clothing of the doll. I put them in little zipper plastic bags in the box of the doll. Don’t treat the dolls, just let them rest in their boxes. The green often vanishes itself without any procedure. I’ve done a video on this topic too.
When you’re a collector of LEO India Barbie dolls, this information is helpful to you too. I recommend to remove the earrings of Indian Barbie dolls as well because the golden earrings are made of some real metal that can cause pale heads. Only a few collectors know about the problem. Whenever you get Barbie dolls from India take the earrings out.
Some Barbie collectors do repairs themselves and some don’t. The ones who repair the dolls maybe consider themselves as very talented. That’s often not the truth. Some of them only have better techniques and know what things to use for Barbie repair. Sometimes you only need the faith to believe in what you’re doing. Some of the things exist in every household.
I don’t want to go too much in depth in this article. I just want you give an overview what is possible to do diy.
Hair repair & restoration
It is not so hard to repair Barbie hair. The only exceptions are melted hair and Color Magic Barbie hair. Color Magic hair is very fragile or it at least has become very fragile over the decades. We shouldn’t forget that it’s fifty years old now. Frizzy Barbie hair can easily be treated with conditioner. You put the conditioner in and work your way through the hair with a comb. The hair should be lovely after treatment again. I made a video about frizzy hair some months ago. Just watch it and you’ll understand how easy it is to do. It’s a great method to remove tangles.
Another thing you can do with Barbie hair is to restore a gone hair style like the flips from the 1960s and 1970s. The curls can appear again when you know the little tricks how to do them. Another example I’d like to show you is my Francie flip video. In this video I show you what to use as little curlers for her hair.
That’s not all you can do yourself. No, I’m no professional hairdresser but I learned in the last decade a lot about Barbie hair. So, what can you do when the hair is cut? Then you have two options. You can make the best out of the cut or you can give her a reroot. A reroot is practically to give her new hair.
For a reroot you can use replacement hair. You can buy hair for Barbie dolls in several shops online. I can give you the name of some of them like restoredoll.com ( have ordered there myself), I bought a lot from mylittlecustoms.com ( but the shop is almost sold out every time I look around). There are several other online shops for Barbie hair but I have not bought from all of them. When I buy hair, I order a lot of hair and then I have a stock at home. I used the loop & lock technique for rerooting (giving Barbie new hair). It’s what the sewing machine in the factories did ( but much faster).
Problems with Superstar Barbie dolls
Of course please don’t forget to plan enough time and use the right needles for your restoration. The ones I use are called “doll needles”. It’s a pack that contains three needles. I use the shortest of all three. The other two are bigger and I don’t want to destroy or enlarge any precut holes in the head. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s a hard task. You often find the problem with the holes when you work with late Superstar Barbie dolls. They have so many holes and so many hair that it’s very difficult to keep everything in perfect condition.
Another problem can dissolving make up be. In some Barbie faces the make up comes off. Certain countries are known to have this problem like Spain. US versions usually don’t have the problem. So don’t say I haven’t warned you. Maybe I can figure out the origin of the problem in the next weeks. Anyway I’d like to give you this information before it’s too late. When the make up of Barbie starts to crumble within a reroot it’s hard to stop.
Incredible possibilities to be creative
Doing reroots can give you incredible possibilities to make OOAK Barbie dolls. You can use any color you find for your reroot but I recommend to use Saran or Nylon hair with good quality. Why? The hair looks more natural than cheap wig hair for carnival. You can buy the length you want and need. You can mix different hair colors. Creating unique Barbie dolls is no problem. The only thing you need for this is your fantasy.
In general it’s no problem to insert new lashes to old Barbie dolls. I recommend to use a normal needle for the replacement. I’ve used black Saran hair for my restorations yet. Insert long hair. It’s easier to work with long hair than short hair. Don’t forget that you can always cut the hair afterwards. My technique here is also the lock and loop technique.
That’s the easiest technique imitating a sewing machine with your hands. It’s clear that not everybody has a special sewing machine for hair at home. These machines need lots of space and are very expensive. The easiest way to solve the problem with your hands with the lock & loop technique.
In this week I’d like to blog about books, or better books you should have in your collection. I’m sitting in the middle in a heap of books while writing. I can tell you from my long term collecting experience that it’s a big advantage to have some books as reference. I have not only one book but almost a shelf of Barbie doll books. The topics are very different.
There are Barbie doll books for identification, books about Barbie history, books about Japanese Barbie and their clothes, Barbie books similar to catalogs, Barbie books about clothes, books about her accessoires and books in Japanese (no joke) about Barbie. Okay, I also have two German editions but do they count? They were some of the first books I found about Barbie doll as a collector. In times before amazon.com was known worldwide it was not so easy to get every book you wanted ( especially if they were written in English). Of course you could try to get them with the help of local book stores but hey, it was not as easy as you might think. I think I got my very first Barbie book in 1998 and it was a coincidence that I found it.
The possibility to talk to other collectors, who had books, was very helpful. That’s how I found out that there were books similar to catalogs. It was certainly helpful knowledge. I can recommend you lots of books but I think it’s useful to put them in categories.
Barbie books for id
In this paragraph I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite Barbie doll books. Books for identification (often similar to catalogs):
The Ultimate Barbie doll book by Marcie Melillo
The collectors encyclopedia of Barbie dolls and collectibles by Sibyl DeWein and Joan Ashabraner (first published in 1977, I have the 1992 updated version)
Skipper: Barbie doll’s little sister by Trina Cottingham and Scott Arend ( for Skipper, her early fashions, Tutti and Todd and their fashions)
Barbie doll photo album from 1959 until 2009: identifications and values by Michael Augustyniak
Barbie doll around the world 1964 – 2007: identifications and values by Michael Augustyniak ( incomplete but nice)
Collector’s Encyclopedia of Barbie doll by Michael Augustyniak ( about collector Barbie dolls)
Collector’s Encyclopedia of Barbie dolls exclusives 1972 -2004 by Michael Augustyniak
Collectibly yours Barbie doll by Margo Rana
Identifying Barbie dolls by Janine Fennick
The wonder of Barbie dolls and accessoires 1976 – 1986 by Paris and Susan Manos
The world of Barbie dolls – an illustrated value guide by Paris and Susan Manos
In the third paragraph I’d like to give you some names of my Japanese Barbie books. I can’t tell you if they are the only ones in Japan but they sounded interesting to me any my thirst to get to know new things.
(Babi to watashi ? kisegae doresu o tsukuri tsudzuketa hansei-ki) by Fumiko Miyatsuka
( Babi kara hajimatta) by Yukiko Kanno
Twist Barbie (yomiuri kara-mukkusiri-zu) by Mineo Takami
The Japanese books are not so easy to get. The book by Fumiko Miyatsuka is currently available through amazon.jp. You need a credit card to buy the book but the shipment is very fast. I think my copy arrived within a week or less. The other books were a bit harder to get. You need a Japanese address to buy the other books over the marketplace. There are special forwarders who are specialized in shipping goods abroad. I used tenso.com for my orders and the books arrived at my house within two months. I used the cheapest shipping method because I have to pay taxes for the shipping costs too. I know it makes no sense but it is this way in Germany.
Barbie and Her Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod, World of Fashion by Joe Blitman
Francie and Her Mod, Mod, Mod World of Fashion by Joe Blitman
Barbie Forever ( not available in Germany yet, but I preordered my copy)
Of course I can’t tell you if these books are useful or not since I don’t have them in my collection.
That’s my whole book collection at the moment. I hope that my lists are helpful to some of you. I put photos of all my books in my instagram account.
Why I recommend buying Barbie books
Now I’ve given you the list with all the Barbie books I have in my personal bookshelf. I think it’s important to own books about Barbie dolls. You can make yourself independent from other collectors. I love to read in books and especially in Barbie books. You can learn a lot from them. That’s also one of my focus points. I like to learn things from books. You can use them as encyclopedia. One can help other collectors with knowledge. I know there are lots of collectors who start to collect and then immediately stop again. Forget this group. If you’re really interested in the topic buy books. They are helpful. They are fun. Go, buy and learn.