Releasing a line of Barbie dolls — a mass-produced plastic toy with traditionally European features not known for detailed craft — fashioned in the image of BTS, a beloved, stylish Korean boy-band known for a militant fan 'Army' that keeps hawk-eyed tabs on any disrespect or misinterpretation of their K-pop kings: what could possibly go wrong?
Mattel first announced an Official BTS Barbie collection back in March to wild applause. All we knew was that the honor of being Barbied is appropriately reflective of BTS's global icon status (celebs who have their own dolls include Beyoncé, Marilyn Monroe, Cher, Nicki Minaj, Barbra Streisand, James Dean, Diana Ross and Ava DuVernay) and that RM's doll would include his iconic dimple. (This detail showed promise: that's the kind of work ethic and attention to detail the Army embodies and demands).
The company unveiled the dolls online today. V, Jungkook, Jimin, Jin, RM, Suga and J-Hope have been immortalized in plastic wearing handsome, colorful, funky-print suits and classic white kicks (inspired by their looks in the "Idol" music video) replete with angelic pink lips, and shiny plastic coifs.
MIC Drop, ARMY! 🎤For the first time ever, we're thrilled to show you the line of #BTSxMattel fashion dolls! Take a… https://t.co/oRqEgMhAV8— MATTEL (@MATTEL) 1553574363.0
V: "I'm facing a new me again today..." 🎵💜 #BTSDollsOfficial #BTSxMattel https://t.co/y5JdRAkB5s— MATTEL (@MATTEL) 1553574424.0
Jin: "Keep on chit-chatting... 🎵💜 " #BTSDollsOfficial #BTSxMattel https://t.co/WTq42XBOs6— MATTEL (@MATTEL) 1553574483.0
RM: "Cuz' I was always just me..." 🎵💜 #BTSDollsOfficial #BTSxMattel https://t.co/EZ2TcrPwfm— MATTEL (@MATTEL) 1553574484.0
SUGA: "I do what I do, so you do you..." 🎵💜 #BTSDollsOfficial #BTSxMattel https://t.co/RPArrEA76z— MATTEL (@MATTEL) 1553574484.0
Jung Kook: "I love my fans..." 🎵💜 #BTSDollsOfficial #BTSxMattel https://t.co/A5z3OvqetY— MATTEL (@MATTEL) 1553574484.0
j-hope: "I love myself..." 🎵💜#BTSDollsOfficial #BTSxMattel https://t.co/oIjvFebA2E— MATTEL (@MATTEL) 1553574543.0
Predictably, fans are divided over whether or not they like the dolls — though, all liabilities considered, there seems to be a lot of collective excitement at the prospect of a pack of Korean boyband barbies sitting on Target shelves in parts of less diverse parts of America, where K-pop isn't typically appreciated.
Most fans, if they have concerns, are upset about the appearance of BTS' hair and facial features. The criticisms range from claims the dolls look "creepy," to that all the dolls look too similar, to disappointment with Mattel's refusal to diverge from their standard face mold, resulting in the erasure of the singers' Asian features.
@Mattel @BigHitEnt The saddest thing is that you understand that they also worked on this dolls and maybe even work… https://t.co/QaOJlUibGr— 𝓢𝓸𝓷𝔂 🍓🦂 (@𝓢𝓸𝓷𝔂 🍓🦂) 1553578671.0
They actually look alike. Mattel did a very good job on the faces in my opinion. The facer are very detailed im imp… https://t.co/Bkwo5pKaZS— moonchild Yani🌖🍂 (@moonchild Yani🌖🍂) 1553575208.0
i’m sorry but the mattel dolls of bts is cool but at the same time freaky. they all got the same face as barbie and… https://t.co/ZuN4TcqmVG— Xx_Gamer69_xX (@Xx_Gamer69_xX) 1553603665.0
I'm seeing people point out the dolls' faces look like that because it's mattel's classic style... problem is that… https://t.co/WlHFLIwlVf— kyle 카일 ♂️ vodka for doyoung (@kyle 카일 ♂️ vodka for doyoung) 1553609108.0
therapist: bts barbie is not real he can’t hurt you Bts barbie: https://t.co/oH6kNNHWNO— wowzers yukako (@wowzers yukako) 1553592531.0
Plenty of others, however, are defending dolls, citing their affordable prices and the standards consumers can reasonably expect from Mattel. Others are just happy to see BTS tapped to participate in the icons-only tradition, and for the exposure having BTS Barbie dolls stocked on American shelves will bring the band.
You either like them or you don't. You'll buy them or you won't. At the end of the day, I still give @Mattel major… https://t.co/pliJMg5nHP— the psych perspective 💡 (@the psych perspective 💡) 1553575459.0
Mattel makes dolls, not shrunken down to scale doll-sized humans. If this is what you were expecting...you've neve… https://t.co/IabmlmeY8T— 💜🌳𝚂𝚊𝚛𝚊 𝚑𝚊𝚜 𝙽𝚊𝚖𝚓𝚘𝚘𝚗🌳💜 (@💜🌳𝚂𝚊𝚛𝚊 𝚑𝚊𝚜 𝙽𝚊𝚖𝚓𝚘𝚘𝚗🌳💜) 1553609498.0
yes mattels bts doll, tae version, is questionable, but I can't imagine anyone being able to recreate THAT™ https://t.co/1e3cy5Xd1y— joonie²⁵ 🐨🌱 (@joonie²⁵ 🐨🌱) 1553572261.0
Others noted that things could always be much, much worse.
To all the ARMY who are unhappy with the @Mattel dolls. IMO they are pretty well done. These are gonna be mass pro… https://t.co/5hbFQ42Tzz— Ellie Grey (@Ellie Grey) 1553588724.0
Photo via Getty