Barbie's invasion of Russia faces stand from a doll with `soul'
Friday 03 May 1996
Russian traditionalists may have grown used to seeing their compatriots queuing by the hundreds to eat a Big Mac, or driving around Moscow's streets in BMWs, or avidly reading Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and Penthouse. But the esteem in which the nation's small girls hold Barbie is just too much to bear.
At least, it is for Slava Zaitsev, 58, one of the country's leading fashion designers. He has accused the doll of being "absolutely cold, scrawny, cynical and pragmatic". He also thinks that she is unduly sexual (though not sexy). And he plans to supplant her - with a warm-hearted Russian doll who has that most elusive of Slavic properties: "soul".
That Barbie is hugely popular in Russia is not at issue. You only have to poke your head in the Moscow's huge children's store "Detski Mir" to find Barbie in scuba gear, Barbie at the Oscars, Barbie as a pilot. She is on sale everywhere. You may not be able to find an edible sandwich or a working lavatory at many Russian airports. But Barbie, in all her cosmetic glory, is certain to be there. So, for that matter, are Ken and Sindy.
To find a prototype for his rival doll, Mr Zaitsev - designer of the forbidding black robes worn by Russia's senior judges - staged a competition among 15,000 girls called "Goodbye Barbie. Hello Marusia!". A panel of designers, toy-makers and artists selected three angelic-looking children, aged between eight and six: Katya, Vika and Anna.
Exactly what the finished product will look like remains to be seen, but if Mr Zaitsev's prescription for a good doll is any guide, it will be more "babushka" than babe, more mother than moron. "It is high time to think of the creation of our Russia dolls with a Russian soul," he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. "... it must be chubby and cuddly."
The fashion designer has dreamt up some headline-catching stunts to sell his new toy, such as using two giant balloons to spirit Barbie away from Russian soil. Patriots will, no doubt, applaud.
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
- 3 Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by police in Ohio park
Heroin to be prescribed to Canadian addicts by doctors
Audacious North Korean kidnap plot foiled at Paris airport as 'Asian men' attempted to bundle student onto plane
Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby – through the stories of his accusers
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'
£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...
Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...
£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...