Mattel and Arco Toys & My First Barbie

Before anything else, I would like to give credit to Taswegian1957 for her post about Mattel and Arco Toys. I’ve reblogged it here (please see below). The toys were amazing! The colors were super striking and inviting! Any kid would really dream of having one!

This post reminded me of my childhood, I was 7 and I didn’t have a Barbie. I have dolls but the cheap plastic ones that you buy from small general merchandisers that were likely to break immediately. Incidentally, I have a rich cousin and her Barbie collection was awesome. She has lots of dolls with tons of accessories. She even got the one that brushes her hair mechanically… (that time, I thought it was magic!) — I was jealous.

One time, my mom and I went to the shopping arcade for her last minute Christmas shopping; it was a small shopping building, there weren’t any malls in our place back then. We lived in a small municipality in the Northern part of the Philippines. We were to buy a gift for her god-daughter as it’s customary to give your godchildren gifts on Christmas day for the rest of their lives (if possible). We looked at clothes, school supplies, toys and then we saw a Barbie Doll! It was the Barbie Wedding Fantasy 89. I was so mad because the god-daughter gets to have a Barbie and I don’t. My mom said, “I’ll buy you one when we have more money. We have to give her something nice because her mom has been so generous to you, gifting you with nice things; we have to select something on par, it’ll be a shame to give her a generic candy bag or a shirt“. Well that is part of the Philippine culture, I cannot argue with that. So my mom bought one for her. I was jealous. In fairness, she’s also selected a gift for me and had it wrapped in a flimsy paper in a totally weird shape. She said, this one is yours and you’d get to open it in Nochebuena.”

Nochebuena is a Spanish word referring to the night of Christmas Eve, celebrated on December 24 every year. Filipino families (along with other Christian nations) wait for the clock to strike 12 as they share a usually hefty dinner. Family members exchange gifts with one another and most of the time, it’s the moment they reveal who their secret Santa is… it’s normally fun!

Come Christmas eve, we were to open our gifts… my knowing that I am getting yet another shirt or a cheap ass toy didn’t excite me. I pretended not to wake up for the Nochebuena. I knew I’d get nothing that I liked. I acted like I was not hearing them. They had the meal. I was pretending to be asleep in the living room. Then my mom went to me and gave me my gift… I had to get up. When I saw the gift, it wasn’t the flimsy wrapping paper. It was a gift box. I opened it still halfhearted trying to avoid any possible hint of enthusiasm… and there it was, the Barbie Wedding Fantasy 89! It was for me all along! She planned it and surprised me with a Barbie! My very first one!

I realized, this is one of the mommy tricks I’ve inherited from her. I have been doing this to Brook ever since. My mom is the best! She continues to amaze me with her wonders!

Dolls, Dolls, Dolls

Naomi commented on our last vintage fashion post that she had bought a couple of Barbie Fashion Gift Sets to start us off when we first started buying Barbies. At that time we bought a lot of our dolls from markets and second hand shops and they often came nude or in clothes we didn’t like so we needed to dress them.

I decided to do a Google search for gift sets from the 1990s and when I did the name Arco Toys came up a lot. I learned that during most of the 1990s Mattel partnered with Arco Toys to release these low cost fashion gift sets, furniture, accessories and even a few dolls.

So who are Arco Toys?

Arco is an acronym for A. Rosenberg Company, a Hong Kong based production company started around 1967. Mattel acquired them in 1986 and they became a major subsidiary brand producing…

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