Condition and Pricing

Some of the common terms you will see sellers use to describe the condition of Barbie related items include:

NRFB - Never Removed From Box

MOC - Mint on Card

Mint - New, factory condition

MIB - Mint in Box

Be very careful when seeing these terms to confirm with the seller that you have the same understanding.

Many times, items will be listed as being in good condition. Good condition can vary greatly. Ask specific questions.

You want to confirm details like the following:

For vintage items:

Does the doll have green ear? This is the term for the condition where the metal earrings reacted to the vinyl head and caused a chemical reaction. Green ear can be treated in some cases but drastically reduces the value of an item. Please see the how to repair dolls section for more details on treating green ear.

Are there bite marks, holes, or other marks and discolorations?  Many sellers do not totally inspect the dolls. It is best to ask them if they know of any issues. In person, you want to ask permission to remove the shoes and clothing which may hide the flaws. It is common to find chew marks on the hands and feet. It is also common for there to be stains from clothing and shoes. Often the color of the legs, arms, head, and torso do not match. This could be due to the aging process or to parts being swapped. Mod dolls (late 60's - early 70's) often have white or green spots on their bodies. Check to make sure the knees bend and click three times. Count fingers and toes. Watch for greasy faces on early 60's ponytails and bubble cuts. Check the eyes and lips for missing paint or obvious repaints.

How do I know if it is vintage - What do the markings mean? If we only had a dollar for every time someone sees a Barbie with 1966 on the backside and thinks they have a vintage collectible. The markings (dates) only indicate when a part was copyrighted by Mattel. There are many guides to determining the age of a doll but the easiest thing is to look at the country of origin. Barbie was never made in the USA. The first dolls were produced in Japan. Later dolls were made in Korea, Some of the 1960's Talking Barbies were made in Mexico. In the 70's and 80's, look for Taiwan. Dolls made in the Philippines are primarily from the 1980's, Malaysia was used in the 1990's as well as China and Indonesia. Dolls are still being made in China and Indonesia.

This website has some great information on trademarks:

Has there been any repainting done? Often if something looks to good to be true, it is. Some sellers will repaint their dolls so that they look better. A reputable seller will disclose any repaints but some sellers are not aware of the history of an item. If you see a term like color-washed used, it means the doll has been repainted. Any repaints reduce the value of a doll. Check the eyebrows, lips, nails, and toenails carefully to see if they are original. The true test is the alcohol test. If you apply alcohol to a repaint, the color will come off. Factory original paint is not affected.

Has the hair been cut or restyled? Many little girls like to restyle Barbie's hair. Vintage dolls may be missing plugs or had their bangs trimmed or the ponytail shortened. Modern dolls also need to be checked for modifications to their hair length. Many pre-90's dolls had rubberbands used by the factory. These tend to disintegrate over time and can be removed carefully and replaced. It is a good idea to ask if the original ribbons and bands are in use or if replacements have been added.


Pictures of common issues:  

White Spots - There is no treatment

Severe Green Ear - Can lighten to some degree with treatment but some will remain

For Modern Items:

Recalled items - Some 2007 silkstone dolls were recalled due to issues where the vinyl heads turned a shade of yellow. If you are buying any of the following dolls, verify with the seller that they are the replacement dolls:

The Ingenue

The Siren 

Red Hot Reviews

Hollywood Bound

The replacement dolls came in a box that had a label specifying they are a replacement.

Green Ear on Silkstones - Some buyers have had issues where the earrings on the silkstone dolls cause discoloration to the ears. The difference between this green ear and the green ear on vintage dolls is that it does not tend to spread across the face and remains localized to the ear hole. Some silkstones are packed with the earrings separately due to collector concerns.

Clothing Discoloration - Some of the green and purple velvet like fabrics turn color. This is true of the Bob Mackie Neptune Fantasy doll. Instead of a deep green, many have turned a chocolate brown in color. If you are buying any dolls that wear a velvet like fabric, confirm that there has not been a color change.

Spots/ Stickness on Legs - Mattel had major issues in the mid to late 1980's where legs developed white or green spots. These marks do not come off. Jewel Secrets Whitney often develops the spots. In later years, many collector dolls have developed sticky legs. This stickiness can ruin clothing. It can be treated periodically with baby powder but will return. For this reason, some collectors have swapped the original body for a safe body.

Price Guides - If you have older price guides, don't rely on them for accurate pricing. The best place to confirm current pricing is eBay. Look at completed auctions to get an idea as to what items are selling for currently. Doll prices have gone down drastically since the price guides of the the 1990's and early 2000's. Remember:  An item is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.

Inspect carefully - Not all dolls are alike. Even thought the dolls are factory produced, collectors learn quickly that not all dolls are identical in quality. It is important to inspect the facial paint for issues like eyes that are done incorrectly (wonky eyes), lips that are missing paint,  hair that looks more hacked then cut, clothing with unfinished seams, and marks and discoloration on the limbs. Most of us look at all items on the shelf before making our selection. For this reason, buying in person is of benefit.


Do you have any tips you would like to share? Send them in using the Contact us form.