October 2002

Keeping Ken  Keeping Ken Value Guide  Keeping Ken Value Guide Secondary Market Report Archive  Value Graph Archives


Special Secondary Market Report 10-10-2002

While the Keeping Ken Value Guide March 2002 came at a time where the economy was tougher than in previous value reports, this report (October 2002) proves that it's a bear market for collectibles.  The retail industry continues to post declines, and it has finally affected the secondary doll market.  The end of Summer months are usually not strong for collectible values, and please consider the fact that the October update usually reflects this.  More importantly, the declines in October usually rebound.  There are more factors in play that affect the unusual sharp decline we will see in this update.  This update isn't for the squeamish...the fact of the matter is this:  most Ken® dolls decreased in value.  So what factors caused these decreases? I believe two factors are affecting secondary market values.

The INVESTMENT Factor:  

While some collectors put personal entertainment value before investment potential, a vast number of collectors prioritize investment potential into their collection.  Harry Rinker, a collectibles expert who writes columns and books on the topic, said trying to make money buying and selling antiques and collectibles is "10 times more precarious then the stock market." Rinker said collectibles fads come and go quickly today, and many items that for years held their value are now stagnant or dropping.

"There are no blue chips in antiques and collectibles anymore," he said.

The collectibles market really started about 30 years ago.  Back then, you had to hunt for what you wanted, and when you found it, you bought it.   In today's market, with the supply up, value goes down.  And with values going down, many Value Guides come under attack.  Many collectors don't agree with some guides with inflated values, because they are not getting even near what value is stated when they sell.  This Keeping Ken Value Guide has been applauded, but it has also been scrutinized and criticized.  For the Ken® doll collector, I will continue it.  I feel it is fair to explain to you how I come to a value for each Ken® doll every six months.  First and foremost, I collect for enjoyment, not value, which in most investment collectors eyes is admiral.  It usually seems that making that statement immediately puts the investment collector at ease.  Most value guide providers are investment collectors, which is okay in my opinion, but doesn't really settle well with other investment collectors.  I get my final values from over 30 sources, from most United States time zones, and from several foreign countries.  Not every doll will get it's value from each source.  I get my final value sources from ended eBay auctions, doll shows, sales lists, personal purchases, doll dealers, retail stores and manufacturer's listing price.  All of these prices are entered in a data base for each particular Ken® doll I have found a value for.  Value for Ken® dolls that are not found remain the same.  Original values listed for each Ken® doll comes from when I started the Keeping Ken Value Guide.  Original values comes from the years 1999-2002 in US $.  In effect, this is the original value for the database because that is the first reported value.  I  also take into account dealer profit, and the program automatically subtracts the profit percentage for each dealer I get values from.  With the collectible market like it is, Value Guides need to reflect accurate values from several sources.  While on a much smaller scale, I feel confidant that I am accurately publishing secondary market values for Ken® dolls.

If you are an investment collector, this is a trying time.  But remain optimistic, with things as tough as they appear to be today, take this advice:  If you don't have to sell your collection right now, don't.  Hold onto them.  If you collect for enjoyment, buy the things you love.


The investment collector is now facing the reality that most recent collectibles were mass-produced, and almost no one got rid of them.  Once people did start selling, they found that everyone who wanted them already had them.  The market took another hit from eBay. Now, those who decide they can't live without a missing doll in their collection can find numerous listings of the item every day at the Internet auction site.

Many Barbie® and Ken® collectors started to question their investments in the Barbie® Collectibles™ line in general as early as 1996.  In response to the general displeasure with collectors with over production of the Star Trek Gift Set, Mattel will adjust and define what Edition categories mean and how many versions will be produced for each edition.  It is a promise they will make and keep with collectors in the year 2000, bringing the Barbie Collectibles division back into grace with the collector.  The Star Trek Gift Set became the catalyst until the announcement in 2000 from Mattel that production numbers for Collector Edition and Limited Edition Barbie Collectibles dolls would change for 2000.  Mattel will announce that currently Collector Edition dolls are produced in quantities of more than 100,000, and Limited Edition dolls are produced in quantities of 100,000 or less worldwide.  Beginning in 2000, Collector Edition dolls will be produced in quantities greater than 35,000, and Limited Edition dolls will be produced in quantities limited to 35,000 or less worldwide.  Mattel will also clearly define both Collector Edition (including the Children's Collection category) and Limited Edition dolls as ones designed for collecting and displaying, and come in showcase packaging that includes a doll stand and Certificate of Authenticity.

But with this promise comes controversy.  Many Barbie® Collectibles™ dolls appear at Mattel owned "Toy Club" stores for a fraction of the original price.  While some dolls have made it to Toy Club for damaged boxes, many are here for a quick sale.  These quick sales end up being resold on sales lists and eBay, generally for the discounted price paid.  In turn, this process will continue to drive prices down on particular Barbie® Collectibles™ dolls.  While many companies get rid of excess product in this format, I feel that Mattel may want to reconsider this process with their collectible dolls.

October 2002 Value Overview

As said before, most Ken® dolls decreased in value, but were leveled by minor decreases in the Vintage and Mod era versions, which command higher prices.


In the Vintage category, most Vintage Ken® dolls showed positive activity in the last update.  This was a major change from previous value updates where prices remained unchanged and at a lull.  This update shows slight decreases across the board.  The most negative activity came from the Dressed Box Ken dolls, a few showing up on eBay auctions at the wrong time to sell.  Other prices were derived from lower dealer asking prices.  More values were derived from sales lists with discounted prices.  Cumulatively, the Dressed Box Ken dolls ended with a -11.9 decrease in value.  Hardest hit was the relatively easier to find versions like Dressed Box Ken (Sailor) -19.9, Dressed Box Ken Touchdown #799 -18.4 and Dressed Box Ken Time for Tennis #790 -16.6.  The harder to find versions still decreased in value, but not as much.

On a positive note, the brunette or blonde Flock Hair Ken increased again with this update +3.8 and is +23.5 overall.  This version did the best in the Vintage category.  The rarer brownette version up +8/-8.1 overall in the last update decreased -6.5/-14.1 overall in this update. The Painted Hair Ken also posted a decrease of -5.6, but is still +6.8 overall.  This followed a positive increase +4.3/+13.1.  The Painted Hair Shortie Ken stayed the same for the second time because no value was found.  It is a +6 overall.  Still commanding the second highest price in the Vintage category at $368, Bendable Leg Ken decreased -3.7.  Bendable Leg Ken® has an overall increase of +18.8.

MOD Era Ken®  

Mod Era Ken® dolls as a group retained most of their value with this update.  This group proved to be the steadiest with only slight decreases and increases.  This category is the best when comparing to Barbie® Mod Era categories for true values and investment potential.  I predicted that relatively easier versions to obtain would start to increase in value, and Free Moving Ken posted another increase with this update to $95, which was +10.5 and +49.2 overall.  On the flip side, another plentiful Mod Era doll, Mod Hair Ken decreased in value again.  +23.2 overall a year ago, the last update showed this version slipping to +12.1.  Now the overall increase is +1.0  The VHTF Mod Hair Ken (Montgomery Ward's) version was unchanged and kept it's overall increase of +55.4.  This version is the most expensive version to own in the Mod Era category at $230. The leader in this category, New Good Lookin' Ken +143.3 overall, remained the same with this update because no new value was found.  The second highest increase overall in this category, the  HTF foreign edition Party Time Ken also remained the same +61.4.  Another foreign edition, Funtime Ken® increased +7, +46.2 overall.  This version is the most sought after version I want for my personal collection, and is proving to be most difficult to find in mint NRFB condition.

Talking Ken dolls remained unchanged or decreased slightly.  I predicted that values would level by this update because the percent of increase was low.  I still think they will remain level in the next six months.  I have received a few emails concerning Talking Ken Spanish (New Good Lookin')  Red Outfit after my recent Barbie Bazaar magazine article where I wrote, "It is literally impossible to find the Spanish-speaking version of this doll in NRFB condition, and there is much debate as to whether one was produced at all.  In my quest for a complete collection, I have only seen one pictured in a book.  It lists Talking Ken Spanish #8372, in the same olive color 1969 box, but with Spanish text.  He is dressed the same as the 1969 English speaking version, in the red swim fashion.  My research leads me to believe that a Spanish version was not available until 1970." The last value I found in the last update was from a respectable dealer who reported that they had the doll for sale for $210, which is what I based my value from.  When I planned on purchasing it, the dealer confessed that it may be MIB, not NRFB, which adds to the dilemma whether this Ken® doll was ever produced.  Therefore, I am not calculating the value for this version till I have solid proof that it exists.  Results for the dolls that clearly exist were as follows:  Talking Ken  at $121, -16.6/+21.0 after the being up +11.5 and +30 in previous updates.  After being up +15.4 a year ago, Talking Ken Spanish (New Good Lookin') Orange/Aqua Outfit remained unchanged at $150 with this update to an overall +10.3.   New Good Lookin' Talking Ken showed negative activity ending at $154, which is -9.9 and -3.8 overall. Talking Busy Ken at $190 remained unchanged with an overall -5.4 decrease.   

"My hot pick" The Now Look Ken increased in value again to $118, which was +6.3/+45.7.  This follows a +15.6, and +37 over all increase from the last update.  "Now" is the operative word here...get this version while it is still affordable!  Live Action Ken (-1.5/+7.8) and Live Action Ken on Stage (-1.7/+3.7) both showed slight decreases while Live Action Ken Baggie impressed me +5.4 and +22.8 overall.  Both Walk Lively Ken and The Sports Set Sun Valley Ken didn't fare well with this update after posting slight gains in the last update.  They ended -12.7/-6.7 and -6.6/-2.2 respectively.

Malibu Ken® dolls remained pretty much the same value, except for two versions which posted increases this update.  1974's  Malibu Ken Pink Box posted a +2.7 increase and +49 overall as well as The Sun Set Malibu Ken (Bubble on Orange Card) at $81, +2.6 and +17.2 overall.  Other Malibu Ken® dolls from this era that remained the same were The Sun Set Malibu Ken (Bubble on Goldenrod Card) also at $81 and The Sun Set Malibu Ken (Box with flap) at $80 with and overall increase of +5.3.  The only doll to decrease was Sun Set Malibu Ken White Box at $81, -3.8 and +3.4 overall.  

Barbie® Collectibles™ Ken® dolls provided a unsteady market, mirroring Barbie® dolls.  Recent Barbie® Collectibles™ dolls have not retained value as Mattel continues to supply outlet stores with surplus; which in turn is being sold at a discounted price.  While solo versions of Ken® dolls were not involved, this practice seemed to damage Barbie® Collectibles™ Ken®/Barbie® doll gift set values.  I am predicting that this category will gain strength from the announced versions of Ken® dolls coming in the 2003 line.  Because they are truly unique dolls, the Modern Circle™ Ken® and Silkstone™ Ken® will give this category the boost it needs!  One bright spot already is Coca-Cola Ken, which was released as a CE and never available in stores (only online from Mattel and/or Canadian doll dealers).  It is now pretty clear that this doll was probably a LE, not a CE with much lower production units (sources say 7,000 units).  Secondary prices soared again for this sold-out version.  Secondary prices were well above $100 for this doll in the months of January and February 2002 (remember the database reflects prices for the last six months).  This update showed Coca-Cola Ken® ending at $112.50, +35.5 and +58.5 overall.  This was a big increase from the last update at +14.8 and +16.9 overall.  Brand new contenders in the last update 40th Anniversary Ken ended at $32, -17.4/-20 and 40th Anniversary Ken AA ended at $28, -28.2/-30.  I mistakenly predicted that they both would rebound from their small loss in value from the last update.  The 40th Anniversary dolls were down -3.1 and -2.5 respectively last time.  Cumulatively, 30th Anniversary Ken took the biggest dive in this category for the fourth straight update and was down again ending at -32.8 and -57.4 overall, winning (or should we say losing) another showing in the top decrease column against all other Ken® doll versions.  Don't lose hope for this version.  With the new 2003 Silkstone™ Ken® doll coming, interest should pick up since sources say that the body mold used is the same.  Pretty hard to swallow was the really hard hit Harley Davidson line.  Harley Davidson Ken was down again for the second time at -31.6/-38 while Harley Davidson Ken (Second Edition) also decreased ending at -24.5/-25.9. 

That's it for this update! Happy Ken® collecting!

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