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Published:July 9th, 2008 13:38 EST
Ken, Revamped?  Mattel, Quit Tracking Dirt Through My Dream House

Ken, Revamped? Mattel, Quit Tracking Dirt Through My Dream House

By Alex Alex

So Ken got dumped and now he wants his baby back.

The breakup hit us like a mobile dream home in 2004 and left us all paralyzed, cognition a shatter, liver crushed, sputtering incoherently.  Or, since the house was plastic, maybe we were just a little disenchanted.

Was Mattel really unaware that sales for the historic dolls would plummet once Barbie bagged Ken for Blaine, an Australian boogie boarder, or were they just surprised of how deep 43 years of one icon can penetrate the human psyche? Ken and Barbie, the most enterprising, well preserved couple to date, was spun so well as the American archetype for long term monogamy that Kenarbie love went from a thing between plastic dolls to a thing that subconsciously inspired my post-pubescent day dreaming where I`m a flat-bellied overachiever and he`s my marine/astronaut licorice arm candy.

So when Mattel unleashed its PR, invaded network news, sullied our dream houses by proving all plastics aren`t made to last, America didn`t receive them well.  Earlier this month, Mattel announced a double digit dive in Barbie sales recorded for third quarter earnings while their rival, Hasbro Inc. saw an increase in sales for Darth Vader, the action figure.  This adds to the continuum of decreased sales for both Ken and Barbie over the past year and a half.

Enter the exit strategy. In spring 2006, Ken will get a makeover to lure Barbie`s affection and steal back their status as a cultural emblem.  Mattel hopes for a similar makeover, to lure buyers` affection and pocket the financial return.

But in what may be an attempt to time portal to 2003, it sounds like Mattel`s adopting a new American symbol: reality. People break up.  He gets tired of her obsession with cleanliness, she gets sick of seeing his dirty socks on the floor, he gets tired of her complaining about it.  "Put your nasty socks in the hamper," she might suggest, which might prompt him to storm out and take a smoke then return to find the chain lock on the door because she realizes she needs somebody who can handle her neurotic ways and won`t treat them like they`re Ebola.

A year and a half later, they`re together again.  He`ll make the attempt to pick up his socks, but sometimes he`ll forget.  And to her, her house will always be mildly disgusting.

Going with this new American symbol, what`s in store for the reformatted Ken?  Maybe he`ll be slightly overweight? Sixty-seven percent of all American men are according to the American Obesity Association.  Or maybe he`ll be incapable of cleaning his breadcrumbs off the kitchen counter?  Then they`ll have to make Barbie open-minded and capable of lapses into mild depression for 2006.  I don`t know if I`m ready for this; dream houses are more fun when they`re clean.