Best Barbie Dolls of 2021 Recap

by Rana Schenke | 31 Dec 2021

Product and Book Reviews

As we close out 2021, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the best Barbie releases of the year and make some predictions for what we can expect or hope for from the 2022 releases!


1. Extra dolls


Description: The cute and colorful Extra dolls first dropped in late 2020, and since then, we’ve seen four additional waves, including dolls, playsets, a vehicle and mini dolls. These dolls have been popular not just with collectors, but with kids, too. The dolls were also nominated for the 2022 Toy of the Year Awards.


Prediction: We’ve already started seeing dolls from the early 2022 wave, and due to the popularity of the line, it doesn’t seem like it will be discontinued anytime soon. An exciting upcoming addition to the line is a set of fashion packs with clothes and accessories!


2. Looks dolls



Description: The Looks dolls have been possibly the most anticipated and revered Barbie Signature series released in 2021. With the first wave consisting of six dolls of varying body shapes and ethnicities, all with the full posability of Made-to-Move bodies, this line sold out repeatedly after its release.


Prediction: A second wave consisting of three dolls has already been released. Due to the high collector interest, it’s a strong possibility we’ll see more dolls in this line in the future!


3. Fashionistas



Description: The most diverse line in the Barbie portfolio, this year’s releases saw two additional Barbie dolls with wheelchairs produced, along with a Ken doll in a wheelchair. Other notable additions include a Barbie doll with vitiligo on a lighter skin tone, an African American Ken doll with rooted hair and a Barbie doll with a micro twist hairstyle.


Prediction: The Fashionistas line isn’t going anywhere! Dolls in the early 2022 wave are already hitting shelves, and we can expect to start seeing the next wave around June 2022. Because of the continued enthusiasm for the line’s diverse offerings, it’s safe to expect new waves will yield new combinations of head molds, skin tones, and hair colors and textures. 


4. Music Producer



Description: The 2021 Career of the Year doll, Music Producer Barbie is available in four variations, each with a colorful hairstyle, cute casual outfit and music production accessories. If you’ve seen my post on the 10 Best Barbie Dolls to Gift to Kids in 2021, you know I am OBSESSED with the mini mixing board. Even if you’re not into the music theme, these dolls are super unique and would be a great addition to a collection.


Prediction: We should see a brand-new Career of the Year doll released about mid-year in 2022. In the meantime, I’m hoping for some additional awesome music dolls and accessories! Can we get some horns, string instruments, or a full-size piano? I’d also love to see another drummer doll (the last one was released in 2017!) or a guitarist doll with a full amp/speaker setup.


5. Big City, Big Dreams dolls



Description: These dolls were released in conjunction with the Barbie film of the same name and depict the two protagonists, Barbie from Brooklyn and Barbie from Malibu. These dolls sing songs from the movie, and each has a microphone and stand, guitar, headset, and sparkly dress. 


Prediction: Based on promotional images of upcoming dolls, it seems we will be getting another Barbie and Barbie adventure in 2022, along with accompanying dolls! It looks like this will be a series as opposed to a film, and it appears to have a camping theme. Malibu Barbie’s sisters and friends are also included in the line. Hopefully, we’ll see some additional media and dolls focused on Brooklyn Barbie next year too!


6. Barbie Rewind



Description: One of the most anticipated releases of 2021 by collectors, the Rewind series is a group of retro-themed dolls with ‘80s inspired outfits and accessories. The reappearance of older face sculpts and bend-and-snap legs excited many collectors. 


Prediction: We don’t currently have any information on whether this series will be continued. Based on the enthusiastic response from collectors, it would make sense for Mattel to have additional releases or similar lines inspired by other eras planned. Personally, I’d love to see some ‘50s or ‘60s inspired dolls. Mattel has released ‘50s style Silkstone dolls previously, but I’d love to see more affordable and colorful/creative options. And the late ‘60s has been woefully underrepresented in collector releases! I would love to see some modern dolls inspired by vintage ‘60s Barbie fashions like “Dancing Stripes,” “Intrigue” or “Lamb n’ Leather.”


7. Inspiring Women 



Description: Inspiring Women releases in 2021 included dolls depicting Maya Angelou, Eleanor Roosevelt and Helen Keller. The Inspiring Women dolls have been popular staples of the Barbie Signature line since the series’ inception in 2018.


Prediction: Two dolls have already been confirmed to be releasing as part of the 2022 wave: Jane Goodall and Ida B. Wells. It’s fair to expect we’ll see at least one additional doll added to the lineup as well. Mattel is also branching out with other female role model dolls planned, including a doll of Queen Elizabeth II and dolls depicting Laverne Cox and Tina Turner. The Barbie Role Models series, a series of (mostly) one-of-a-kind dolls depicting modern female role models, is also planned to continue.


8. Dia De Muertos dolls



Description: 2021 saw two dolls released for Dia De Muertos: a Barbie doll and a Ken doll. Both dolls were well-received by collectors.


Prediction: It’s currently believed that a fifth doll will be released in the Dia De Muertos series, although no information has been released yet on what the doll will look like or when it will be available for sale. 


9. STEM Space dolls



Description: 2021 also saw the release of the Space Discovery line, which included Barbie and her sisters with a variety of accessories and playsets focused on learning about and exploring space. This line gave us telescopes, a space station, astronauts and a space-themed bedroom set. 


Prediction: It’s unclear if the space line will be continued in 2022, but we’re already seeing pictures of a few STEM-related releases, including a gorgeous blue-haired scientist doll and a Make-Your-Own Dreamhouse kit where kids can assemble and decorate their own Dreamhouse.


10. Essential worker career dolls



Description: In 2021, we saw Barbie career dolls depicting essential workers and first responders, including doctors, nurses, a paramedic and a firefighter. Multiple medical playsets were released as well, including a clinic and an ambulance.


Prediction: So far, there isn’t information showing any upcoming essential worker releases in the career line, other than a fire truck set for Chelsea. We can expect, however, that some of the 2021 releases will likely continue to be available throughout 2022. Many of the upcoming dolls are athletes, likely due to the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics. 

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