For several years, Mattel has been providing dolls that allow children to safely explore role-playing. And while Barbie may be the brand's most popular doll creation, the Ken dolls have also gained quite a following over time.
Ken made his debut in the Barbie world back in 1961. From the beginning, it was understood that Ken would not be the star of the show. Instead, he would be the supporting character that helps depict Barbie's character(s) better. In other words, Ken mainly exists as Barbie's arm candy.
However, that doesn’t mean that Ken's looks have stayed generic over the years. In fact, Mattel has played around with Ken's styles a lot.
Some of their ideas are pretty cool. On the other hand, there are also designs that can make you cringe. Just check out these Ken dolls to see what we mean:
20 Chest Hair Ken
As you may know, certain men tend to have prominent hair on their chest. It’s biology at work and little boys would discover if they’ll grow chest hair soon enough. As far as we can tell, Mattel has not been so forthcoming about chest hairs when it comes to its Ken dolls. And so, it was certainly a shock to see the appearance of chest hair on this Harley Davidson Ken doll.
19 Small Arms Ken
As you probably know, getting the body dimensions right is super important in producing the perfect Ken doll. However, it seems there are times when dimensions are forgotten or even neglected. Just take this particular Ken doll for example. It would have looked decent, except its arms look visibly small relative to the rest of the body.
18 Arabic Ken
Sure, right about now, we are all under the “Aladdin” spell, thanks to the recent release of the live-action movie by Disney. However, even way back in 2001, Mattel decided to release a “Tales of the Arabian Nights” gift set. It featured a sultan Ken doll, which looks a little bloated in the stomach area. Also, it appears that he has ridiculously tiny feet.
17 Russian Ken
In today’s time, the sight of a Ken doll being portrayed as a Russian soldier is certainly going to make you cringe. And as Mattel has explained, “Never say "Nyet" to the romance of Imperial St. Petersburg! Baroque palaces, majestic moonlit nights, balalaika music. Just add a dashing man in uniform for a divine Russian reverie!”
16 Totally Hair Ken
Sure, young boys can relate to the thrill of styling their hair with gel for the first time. It makes them look sleek. It gets them more noticed by the ladies. However, we’re not really sure if young boys were ever Mattel’s target market for its Barbie brand. In fact, even the Shaving Fun Ken toy is being promoted with a little girl.
15 Glitter Beach Ken
It seems Mattel was under the impression that straight men like to impress the ladies by showing up to the beach in a lavender crop top and floral shorts. Oh, did we mention that the whole wardrobe is also quite glittery? After all, this doll is known as the Glitter Beach Barbie Ken.
14 Sun Sensation Ken
Perhaps, back in the 90s, men enjoyed sunbathing while wearing a shiny crop top and some booty shorts. To be honest, we aren’t quite sure. Nonetheless, we believe Mattel had to get inspiration from something real for this Ken doll edition, right?
13 Butterfly Ken
For every man in the world, nothing says self-expression quite like a tattoo of a butterfly close to their chest. Indeed, we heard it’s the hottest form of tattoo art. You see them in rockers, action stars, bikers and anyone with a macho image. And in case you don’t get it, this is us being sarcastic.
12 Batman Ken
You may not be able to recall it, but there was a time when a Ken doll was made in the form of Batman. Specifically, the version portrayed by actor and director Ben Affleck. The debut coincided with the release of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Moreover, the doll has some similarities with Affleck himself although certain features are visibly inaccurate.
11 Mad Hatter Ken
As you may have realized by now, Mattel is usually willing to venture into the world of fantasy. And so, when the opportunity came, it also decided to create a Mad Hatter Ken doll as part of the Barbie Alice in Wonderland Collection. The result is a doll creation that is both whimsical and creepy. In fact, it can even haunt your dreams.
10 The Beast Ken
The story behind the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast” is pretty simple. A kind woman meets a beast that learns to be kind and transforms into a handsome prince in the end. However, when you look at this Ken doll produced by Mattel, you can’t help but wonder if this is the best version of the prince that they can do.
9 Japan Ken
Japan is a country that is rich in both history and culture. It’s the home of origami, ninjas, samurai swords, sushi and more. And so, it wasn’t that surprising when Mattel decided to produce a Ken doll to honor the country. However, when it finally released a Japan Ken doll, the creation looked more like a villain from some action movie.
8 Fairytale Groom Doll
Yes, we acknowledge that a lot of people still enjoy a good fairytale. And perhaps, this Barbie Fairytale Groom doll is supposed to inspire someone’s imagination. However, it’s hard to look dreamy when you can see a clear detachment line between the doll’s head and neck. That looks awkward, to say the least.
7 Nerd Ken
Perhaps, thanks in part, to “The Big Bang Theory,” being a nerd has become pretty cool today. And when Mattel decided to put out a new look for their Ken doll, it seems that they also took inspiration from the nerd style. However, this doll simply falls flat. In fact, it looks too generic and rather stereotypical.
6 Shaving Fun Ken
There is something quite bothersome about having a beard appear and disappear in a doll. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the Shaving Ken doll is all about. In fact, as stated by Mattel, “Use the cloth and cold water to see his beard appear, then use the sponge-tipped "razor" and warm water to "shave" it off -- rinse and repeat, over and over!”
5 Merman Ken
For the record, Ariel in “Little Mermaid” has always been an amazingly beautiful character. However, we don’t think everyone is ready to embrace the idea of a merman fully yet. This is especially true if the one Mattel came out with featuring a fin with lots of stars. Not to mention, he’s wearing a pink shell necklace. Perhaps, DC Entertainment’s Aquaman would have been a better inspiration?
4 Romancing Ken
Do you know those romance novels that come with incredibly suggestive illustrations on the cover? Well, it seems that is exactly what this particular Ken doll was modeled after. In Mattel’s Jude Deveraux The Raider—Barbie® and Ken® Doll Giftset, you get a Ken doll that is bulkier and hunkier than usual. Moreover, he also sports a long hippie hair and an open chest. It would have looked flawless, except it looks like the doll is looking so far away. Also, where are the buttons on that shirt?
3 Prince William Ken
For everyone in the U.K. and around the world, the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton back in 2011 was a historic moment. And so, it only made sense for Mattel to honor the occasion by creating some dolls in the couple’s image to mark their first wedding anniversary, according to CBS News. This resulted in a Prince William Ken doll which was quite a glaring fail.
2 Twilight Jacob Black Ken
Remember the ‘Twilight’ franchise? It was the trilogy that featured vampires, wolf and a normal girl who eventually transformed into a creature too. Well, that franchise was such a global hit that Mattel jumped at the chance of producing their very own ‘Twilight’ dolls. Among the dolls in the collection is a Jacob doll, which doesn’t do actor Taylor Lautner any justice.
1 Twilight Edward Cullen Ken
Of course, if there is a Jacob Ken doll, there would naturally be an Edward Cullen doll for Barbie’s ‘Twilight’ edition. And we dare say that this one has more cringe factor than the Jacob doll. For starters, it doesn’t look anything like the character onscreen that was portrayed by actor Robert Pattinson. At the same time, it’s slightly reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s character in “Edward Scissorhands.”
Reference: CBS News, Mattel