There's nothing better than browsing through a huge display full of stylishly dressed Barbie dolls and getting to pick out the one that calls to you, except getting full creative control over your Barbie's look. While you can't personally design a Mattel Barbie doll, you can get creative and make custom Barbies using these ingenious methods.
Official Custom Barbie Dolls to Play With
Currently, there's no way to have your own custom, tangible Barbie doll made by Mattel. Mattel used to offer a service called Styled By Me Barbie that was customizable, but they haven't yet replaced it with something similar. However, through licensing and creative artists, there are a few ways to get your own Barbie or Barbie-inspired doll made.
Get a "Styled By You Barbie" at FAO Schwarz
Kids can get a more personalized doll at FAO Shchwarz. For a $75 fee, children can choose from eight different Barbies and get three outfits along with a shoe and travel accessory pack with their "Style by You Barbie."
Try Artistic Coloring With Barbie Doll Coloring Pages
So long as you have access to the internet, you can download several official Barbie coloring pages. Print them on cardstock to support their longevity, and then color them in to create your own drawn version of her.
Create New Designs With Barbie Fashion Plates
In addition to coloring pre-designed official Barbie coloring pages, you can go further with your creative expression using Mattels' Barbie Fashion Plate toy. Included in this approximately $25 toy are several ridged plastic plates with clothing designs on them. Mix and match the pieces and use a crayon to transfer the designs onto your own coloring page.
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Give Input on New Dolls with Barbie Signature Membership
Mattel offers a 1-year Barbie Signature Membership that includes many perks for fans to enjoy. Pay $9.99 for the whole year, and you can get access to exclusive new items and collector communities, as well as priority access to any upcoming releases. One of the bigger appeals is that you get to vote on new doll and product designs. So, while there's currently no way for you to create a custom Barbie, this is the closest you can get to having your input heard.
Thrift Vintage Barbie Paper Dolls
For decades after Barbie's mid-century release, Mattel released several Barbie Paper Doll packs. From workout wear to concert ready fashion, these paper dolls represented every situation that Barbie might find herself in. Browse through thrift stores or online marketplaces to see if you can hunt down the genuine packs, or settle for printing your own PDF copies from various Etsy sellers online.
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Create a Doll That Looks Like You
Using modern technology, some companies and independent artists offer services that let you choose all the features you want on a doll or even to pick out features based on your actual looks and measurements.
Commission Custom Barbies From Independent Artists
If you're looking for a display doll instead of a play doll, you can get a custom Barbie, sometimes called a "zombie doll," from an artist on Etsy. For example, Soulcraftdoll on Etsy has a variety of custom Barbie options for sale. A fully designed and articulated custom Barbie head and body costs between $170-$230.
If you've got your own Barbie doll and simply want a custom face on her, Bee Real Dolls out of the United Kingdom will use your portrait to repaint the doll's face to match yours for about $200.
Order a My Face on a Figure Figurine
Girls and boys can create their own custom Barbie-sized doll or action figure at MyFaceOnAFigure.com for about $120. Unfortunately, the company does limit customers to only two skin color options: white or black. After choosing the skin color, you select the size and gender of the body you want. For a Barbie-sized doll, choose the 12-inch female figure.
Next you pick from over a dozen outfit options, and follow the detailed instructions on how to submit photos of your face. Unlike custom doll painters, this company uses a 3D printer to make your doll's head. You also get to pick the custom packaging and the doll is made in just 5 to 7 business days.
Create Your Own American Girl Doll
With the Create Your Own option from American Girl, you can create a unique 18-inch doll that looks just like you or features your own design for about $220. Each doll comes with a 6 month subscription to American Girl magazine and a custom t-shirt designed by the doll character you create.
Start by choosing an American Girl doll that resembles the look you want, then customize hair color and style, facial features, outfits, and personality. You can pick every detail down to face shape and eye color and even add details like braces or a hearing aid.
Make Your Own DIY Custom Barbie Doll
If you're the creative type and on a budget, consider customizing your own Barbie doll for your child or yourself.
- Head to the store and choose a Barbie-type doll that most closely matches the body type and skin tone you want. Barbie's diversity line offers more choices than ever before.
- If you're using a Barbie you already own, wash her with soap and water and let her air dry completely first.
- Cut Barbie's hair into the style you like best.
- Die her hair using Kool-Aid or washable markers for temporary color. Use a permanent marker to make permanent streaks or food coloring to die her whole head permanently.
- Use acetone and a cotton swab to remove Barbie's current makeup or her entire face.
- Use a tiny paintbrush and acrylic paints to add facial features or makeup and allow time to dry. Don't use ink because it'll bleed to other areas of the face.
- Use free Barbie sewing patterns or free crochet patterns for dolls to create completely unique outfits.
Create Your Own Virtual Barbie
If you can't afford to buy a custom doll or you're only interested in mixing and matching the features together, online dress-up dolls and Barbie games and activities are totally for you. They can give you the freedom to create multiple Barbies in a fraction of the time of the real thing.
Barbie Fashionistas Style Your Crew
Kids of any age can create their own virtual version of Barbie on the official Barbie website in Barbie Fashionistas Style Your Crew. You choose your hair color, outfit and accessories, then create as many friends as you want. Add each member of your style crew to the picture (that you can print and save).
The game's free and easy to use with a simple click-and-drag process. The modern music gives it a fashion show feel and you can add any of your favorite male or female characters from the Barbie Fashionistas line.
Currently, Mattel no longer hosts the game on their website. But, like with the iconic Adobe flash games from Disney and Yahooligans' heyday, there are a ton of online game websites that you can still play it on, such as NuMuki.
Barbie Fashion Closet App
Scratch your design itch on any phone or tablet with Barbie Fashion Closet. The app is free to install through the Google Play store or the App store. Choose a character, then dress her in hundreds of outfits, change her hair color or style, and even do her makeup.
Take your Barbie character for a photo shoot and add her to your album. There are in-app purchases which might limit your design options if you're on a budget, but the free options are still varied enough to have fun with.
Make Your Own Barbie Meme
Older kids, teens, and adults might want to try this fun tool. Just use the Barbie Selfie Generator and upload a photo of anyone (or anything) you want, then customize text and background color to make it your own Barbie or Ken meme.
Bring Your Doll Dreams to Life
Whether you choose a custom Barbie in paper or virtual form, commission one from a talented artist, or create your own doll, making your own doll is a super fun way to connect with your inner child. And at the end of the day, if you can't totally create your own Barbie, there's got to be at least one Barbie toy on the market that looks similar to what you're looking for.