Barbie is such a monolith that it's hard to imagine she didn't just pop out of the Dreamhouse fully realized like Venus from the sea. But, she has a whole slew of younger siblings that many people forget about. Skipper is Barbie's first sibling. Released just five years after Barbie, Skipper is the pesky younger sister you can't help but love. So, what's Skipper's story and how much is she worth?
Skipper's Story: How Barbie Got a Little Sister
Barbie was a huge phenomenon for kids in the 1960s because of what a novelty she was. Yet, Mattel saw an opportunity for children too young to connect with Barbie's fashion sense and adventures. Younger children did connect with sending Barbie off to her glamorous jobs and parties, but she wasn't specifically made for young kids.
Mattel capitalized on this opportunity and added Barbie's first family member to the crew. Skipper Roberts was released in 1964 as a smaller, younger version of Barbie, blonde hair and all. For the first few years, her fashions and style were directly modeled after Barbie's. But, by the 1970s, Skipper had gotten her own youthful point-of-view, and her clothes started to more closely resemble what pre-teens were actually wearing.
It wasn't until 2010 that Skipper underwent a massive change. Instead of being the carefree, aw shucks kind of Brady Bunch character, she became a reflection of real teenage experiences. She went from blonde to brunette, and even experimented with dying streaks of purple in her hair. Today, you can catch her babysitting her younger siblings, Chelsea and Stacie, making her own music, and practicing her photography.
Skipper Wasn't Without Her Controversies
If you're caught up on Barbie lore, then you definitely remember the infamous pregnant Midge doll that news outlets were obsessed with in the early 2000s. And while Skipper didn't have to worry about getting the Midge treatment, she wasn't without her own controversies.
The one that made the most headlines was in 1975. After a decade on the scene, Mattel thought it was time to let Skipper grow up a little bit. Instead of releasing a slightly larger, mature doll to fit her pre-teen to teenager transition, they put that physical transformation into kids' hands everywhere.
Growing Up Skipper was a doll that would experience puberty at a lightning-fast speed. Just rotate Skipper's let arm, and you could make her grow taller and grow breasts. Even people back then found it a little icky, but it wasn't pulled from the shelves.
Notable Skipper Dolls
Just because Skipper's line isn't as popular as Barbie's doesn't mean there aren't a few vintage Skippers to look out for:
|Skipper Twist N' Turn
|Pizza Party Skipper
- Sample Skipper - Sample Skippler dolls were given to Mattel employees as a test batch in 1963. She looks similar to the first release but has minute differences and is marked Skipper/1963/Mattel Inc. on the right hip.
- The Original Skipper - Released in 1964, the first market-ready Skipper came with multiple hair colors, but all dolls wore the iconic red swimsuit with stripe pattern.
- Skipper Twist N' Turn - Released in 1968, this Skipper was special for having bendable leg joints and multiple positions.
- Malibu Skipper - Released alongside the super popular Malibu Barbie, Malibu Skipper was bleach blonde and decked out in a simple orange swimsuit. Several variations of the Malibu Skipper followed, with one even featuring printed tan lines.
- Pizza Party Skipper - Released in 1995, Pizza Party Skipper is better known for the doll's well-loved head mold. Collector's will pay big for Skippers with the 'Pizza Party' mold.
How Much Are Skipper Dolls Worth?
Skipper definitely doesn't have the name recognition that helps Barbie and Ken dolls be such valuable collectibles in the vintage dolls market, nor does she have the controversy to draw interest in like old Midge dolls.
Unlike coveted Barbie no. 1s, which will sell for thousands in poor condition, first year Skippers won't sell for more than $1,000 on average. For example, this unboxed ash brunette Skipper from 1964 only sold for $92.99 on eBay.
Boxed Skippers are more valuable than unboxed ones because doll collectors prefer completely untouched dolls, and it shows in their prices. For example, this 1968 Twist 'n Turn Skipper in the original box sold for $1,000 on eBay.
On top of the dolls themselves are her accessories. Rare accessories are one thing, but unopened clothing and accessory packs are worth a steep amount on their own. Take this unopened card of Skipper fashions from 1979 that sold for $795 online, for instance.
However, it's important to keep in mind that doll collectors are passionate about completing their sets. So, prices are harder to set in stone because there's always going to be that one collector who's been waiting to add this final piece to their collection and will pay big money for it.
Skipper Roberts Today
Today, Skipper Roberts is a true teenager, running a babysitting business, learning all she can about technology, and working as a less bubbly, less feminine, more sarcastic foil to her big sister Barbie. In 2023, Barbie: Skipper and the Big Babysitting Adventure was released, putting a new highlight on the somewhat forgotten character.
Although she's not the household name that Barbie is, you can still find her dolls wherever Barbies are sold.
The Little Sister That Could
It's fascinating that the Skipper doll is only five years younger than Barbie, and yet she's not that well remembered outside of the doll collecting community. But Skipper plays such an important role in the Barbie cast of characters, a true teenager just past her preteen prime, and through her, kids can explore their growing independence. For now, Barbie has to share the spotlight with her younger sisters, and we hope it stays that way.