June 3, 2011

Barbie® Rules the Universe!

by Chris Varaste

Pop divas landing on red carpets in alien “egg-ships” or hurtling through space in fiery comets?! It must be back-to-the-future on planet Earth because even Barbie® is turning to sci-fi for fashion inspiration! As Goddess of the Galaxy Barbie® Doll, she’s a space-travelling astral-femme in silver bustier and sparkling net!

When it comes to space-age couture, Barbie® had her sights on Venus long before 2009’s Star Trek dolls, when the supermodel donned 1965’s Miss Astronaut.

Space travel was a perfect excuse for fashion exploration, and Barbie® doll’s design team continued to create futuristic fare well into the 1980s, a period that saw a peak in sci-fi blockbusters like ET, Blade Runner and The Empire Strikes Back.

In 1986, under the Astro-fashions banner, eight ingenious costumes debuted with catchy names like Space Racer, Galaxy A-Go-Go and Welcome to Venus. The Astro line was an instant sensation, filling a void in the doll market for innovative futuristic design. The appetite for space-oriented fare was whetted a year later when Barbie® fans met Spectra, Tom Comet and their pals — dolls that virtually landed on store shelves direct from outta space! The Spectra line of dolls featured extraterrestrial features that surprised Barbie® collectors, begging the questions, “who, what and where?!”

The alien teens hailed from Shimmeron and sported clear, tinted plastic bodies and ultra-stylized makeup — perhaps too radical for the period. Revolutionary in their own way, the dolls and fashions are still highly collectible over 20 years after their introduction. Spectra was a retro-fabulous, space fantasy similar in concept to today’s sophisticated Goddess of the Galaxy. Both are idealized visions of a fashion-conscious diva ready to rule the universe!


Chris Varaste started out at ABC-TV, producing segments for the Emmys, Tonys & Grammys. A fascination with fashion and pop culture led to his first published book, Barbie: Face of the American Dream – and an appreciation for all things Barbie! His insights on collectibles/brand success have been published in the New York Times, The Economist, and Spotlight Cinema Networks.

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