by Rana Schenke | 24 Nov 2021
Product and Book Reviews
If you’ve got a kid to buy for who loves Barbie, you might be overwhelmed right now with the variety of options available. How do you know which doll your kid would like? How can you find an affordable doll or playset that will keep your child entertained for hours?
I’ve compiled a list below of the 10 best Barbie dolls (in my opinion) to gift to kids this season. Each of these dolls were picked based on their play and entertainment value. Almost all of the dolls/sets listed are $30 or less, and none are over $50. Because every kid is different, the dolls are not listed in a particular order as to which doll is “best;” I would suggest reading the description and looking at the pictures to decide on what doll is best for the kid you’re buying for.
Note: Links are for search/purchasing convenience only. I am in no way affiliated with any of the companies whose links are included.
1. Barbie Color Reveal dolls
The incredibly popular Color Reveal dolls come in a shrink-wrapped tube that hides the doll’s appearance. Once the tube is opened, the doll and packs of accessories can be removed and the tube can be filled with water. Most Color Reveal dolls are coated in a paint that dissolves in water to reveal which doll was received, although some have a coating that peels off instead. The “surprise” factor allows for an extended gift-opening experience for kids.
Great for: Kids who enjoy the unboxing experience
My favorite part: The plastic tube package can be reused to store the doll and accessories, or other larger Barbie accessories your kid may own!
2. Barbie Extra
Barbie Extra is the fashion-forward line for kids who want more styling options than the Fashionistas line. These dolls come with more accessories, more clothing pieces, and more articulation than the standard Fashionista doll. There is also a variety of different dolls available with different hair colors and clothing styles, so there are options for every kid.
Great for: Kids who love styling their dolls and swapping clothing and accessories
My favorite part: The amount of pieces included with each doll allows for a lot of play options.
3. Barbie Big City, Big Dreams dolls
The Big City, Big Dreams dolls are based on the Barbie movie of the same name that was released on Netflix this fall. If your kid has seen the movie, they’ll love these dolls! The deluxe singing dolls also have a light-up dress effect and come with guitars, headsets and microphones with stands.
Great for: Kids who loved the movie, kids who love singing and musician dolls
My favorite part: The musical equipment! I absolutely adore doll-sized music accessories. I feel like they provide so much play value. The fact that these dolls come with four music accessories each allows for a lot of versatility.
4. Music Producer Barbie
Each year, Mattel releases a Career of the Year Barbie doll showcasing a different type of career. Previous careers have included political candidate, judge, robotics engineer, and film director. Barbie’s Career of the Year for 2021 is Music Producer, and she comes wearing a cute music-themed outfit and has a laptop, headphones and mixing board to produce her songs. As is typical with the recent Career of the Year dolls, Mattel makes them available in four ethnicities. This year, each doll has dyed hair in a different color: blue, pink, purple, or orange.
Great for: Aspiring musicians, kids who love realistic play
My favorite part: Um, everything? These dolls are incredibly cool. They have great casual outfits with pieces that can be mixed and matched with other Barbie outfits. Their different hair colors are amazing. The best part hands down, though, is the miniature mixing board. I would have LOVED to have owned the mini mixing board as a kid; I loved realism and put on a lot of concerts with my dolls, so it would have been amazing to have this to play with.
5. Barbie Leopard Rainbow Hair doll
You will not find a doll with cooler hair than this girl. Her hair is not only long and rainbow-colored, but the side is shaved and has a leopard print that appears and disappears with water. She also comes with a variety of hair accessories so her hair can be styled in different ways. If that wasn’t cool enough, she comes with two tops and a vest in addition to her rainbow leopard skirt, two pairs of shoes, two bags, a necklace and a cat-ear headband.
Great for: Kids who love hair play and styling their dolls
My favorite part: First, the hair on this doll is amazing. Second, I love that she comes with so many extra accessories to change her look. This doll isn’t part of the Extra line, but she and her accessories would fit right in!
6. Barbie Space Station playset
It’s a Barbie-sized space station! How cool is that? This set not only comes with Barbie and the space station, but it also has a bunch of cool space-related accessories. High-tech computers, test tubes, microscopes -- everything Barbie needs to complete experiments and make discoveries.
Great for: Kids who are interested in science or space, kids who enjoy elaborate play setups
My favorite part: I love how the space station opens and closes! It probably would have been much easier to just make it entirely open or have fold-out sides, but Mattel allowed it to be opened and closed via the panels sliding back into the wall. It looks really cool and also allows better access into the playset.
7. Barbie Dreamtopia Chelsea Dress-up set
This cute little set comes with a Chelsea doll and a variety of clothing pieces and accessories for dress-up play. The set includes pieces to dress Chelsea up as a princess, mermaid, unicorn or dragon, or any combination of the four. The amount of pieces allows for multiple dolls to wear the outfits.
Great for: Kids who are into fantasy and dress-up
My favorite part: I LOVE the dragon pieces. Princess, mermaid, and unicorn are somewhat standard dress-up costumes, but the dragon is pretty unique. When Chelsea is wearing the wings, you can’t see the attached tail from the front, so they could also pass as bat wings for a vampire character!
8. Barbie Fast Cast Clinic playset
If your kid likes playing out doctor scenarios, they will love this set! It comes with a doll in a lab coat, an exam table, a medical station, an x-ray machine, a gift shop and an abundance of smaller accessories. The coolest part is the cast-making aspect; kids can use the included modeling compound to create casts and bandages for their dolls to wear.
Great for: Kids who love playing doctor, kids who like realistic play
My favorite part: I love how this set not only comes with pieces to represent the exam room, but also a gift shop! There are so many things that can be done with this set, which opens up a wide variety of play opportunities for kids.
9. Barbie Skipper Babysitters, Inc. Climb n’ Explore Playground
If your kid has a lot of smaller dolls, this playground set will be a big hit. Not only does it come with the playground structure itself, but also a Skipper doll, a smaller child doll, and a sandbox with play sand and sand toys. The playground structure is realistic and has plenty of fun components, like a slide, swing, spinning tic-tac-toe tiles, and rope climbing ladder.
Great for: Kids who enjoy Barbie kid dolls, kids who like nurturing play
My favorite part: It’s a tie between the sandbox and the tic-tac-toe tiles. I love that the tiles actually spin and can be played with just like real ones, and I also love how the sandbox comes with moldable fake sand and miniature sand toys. Those details really add value to this set.
10. Barbie Club Chelsea Camper
If the full-size Barbie camper is out-of-budget, this set is a great miniature alternative. This camper is sized to fit Chelsea dolls, with a miniature kitchen, car, and two beds. Unlike the larger camper, this set doesn’t have a lot of transforming components. To access the inside of the camper, all you have to do is unhook it from the car, remove the spare tire from the back, and unhook the latch. This set includes a Chelsea doll and an assortment of additional camping accessories.
Great for: Kids who like adventurous play, kids who love Chelsea dolls
My favorite part: I really like the campfire and the little stools; they are super cute and allow for more play scenarios than just having the camper by itself. There are even two sticks with marshmallows!
Toy Review: Magnetic Wonder Tiles - Vehicle Builder Set
Film Review: Tin Toy
Andy Keimach: What I’m Hearing! – Toy Association Events
Learning Resources and hand2mind - Holiday Movie Set with their Employees Extras
Film Review: Toy Story Toons
How A Young Woman Brought Mecha To Market
Your Kids Are Safer Inside Their Mecha
Real Mecha Are Taking Off & Landing Near You!
The Top 23 POP Profiles of 2023
Free Video Game - Queen Mirtnesh & the 70 Thieves
Randy Klimpert Shares his Ukulele Collection
Steve Casino Peanut Art
Everyone's Talking about POP!
Princess Etch - a Multi-Talented Etch A Sketch Artist
Joseph Herscher of Joseph' s Machines.
Tom Dusenberry... Bought Atari, Wizards of the Coast, and Avalon Hill!
Matt Leacock created Pandemic... the game!
Scott Brown and Tim Swindle... are Launching a New Sport!
Daryl Andrews says... "GO TO CONVENTIONS!"
Ed Gartin is... the Evel Knievel of Inventor Relations!
POPDuo: Richard Dickson, Mattel’s President & COO, and Kedar Narayan, Young Inventor Challenge AMB
POPDuo: Will Shortz and Josh Wardle
POP Duo: Elan Lee, Co-Founder, Exploding Kittens.and Jeff Probst, Host and Exec Producer, Survivor
POP Duo: David Fuhrer, MNG Director, Blue Sq Innovations & Shawn Green, past Dodgers & Mets MLB Star
POP Duo: Bob Fuhrer, Founder, Nextoy and Tom Fazio, Golf Course Designer
Toy Inventors--The Heart and Soul of the Industry
Brian Turtle: 'Endless' Stories, Advice, Kevin Bacon and More! tBR Person of the Week
Jonathan Levy on Jon2.0 - from Co-Founding Mastermind Toys to Spin Master
Andrew Perlmutter's Journey from Glencoe to Funko with Crazy Ideas that turned out Golden
Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!