2004 National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention

Hosted by the National Collectors Convention Steering Committee

August 4-7, 2004 Rosemont, IL


 Keeping Ken Keeping Ken Ken News!  



National Barbie Convention 2001  National Barbie Convention 2002  National Barbie Convention 2003
This year's National Barbie® Doll Collectors Convention 2004 pays tribute to Barbie doll's friend's and family members; which, of course, includes all her collectors as well.  It also highlights Barbie® doll's 45th Anniversary.  This years collectors convention was hosted by the National Collectors Convention Steering Committee from August 3-7, 2003 at  the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont, IL.

The convention is appropriately called "We Are Family", with the website located at http://www.barbieconvention.com.  The beneficiary charity is Children Affected by AIDS Foundation (CAAF), whose mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of children infected with HIV and affected with AIDS.

  • In the next couple weeks I hope to complete both the National Barbie® Convention 2004 and National Barbie® Convention 2005 pages.  This in itself is an Olympic endurance event.

National Barbie® Convention 2004 Viewable Covered Events


Room Shopping

Early Registration

By Invitation Only Dinner

Storage Room

Ice Cream Social

Silent Auction

Raffle Room

Family Reunion Luncheon

Fashion Show Competition Ken® Rally Day Races

Last Two Events to Cover

Speakeasy Dinner Event

Mattel Program & Closing Dinner

Tuesday, August 3, 2004


I arrived in Chicago late Monday, and had a fabulous dinner with my friend Sandi Holder.  By the time were finished, it was time to go to bed.  Dwane and Jack (my roomies) checked into the hotel earlier (and were out much later).  The hotel was really nice and open...which made it REALLY easy to see where the shopping rooms were located from any floor you were on.  I took some pictures of the inside of the hotel so you can see what I'm talking about.  The only drawback was that the four elevators were really slow, and as the convention progressed, some of them needed maintenance.  But by Friday, they were all operational again.  I discovered the stairs, and was lucky to be on the third floor, which made it easier to avoid the elevators.

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Arrival

During the day there were some Day Tours.  I got into "convention mode" the next morning after meeting with Co-Chairs Julie and Norita along with Dwane as to how we were progressing with our planning for the Fashion Show.  We spent some time in the storage room looking over our stage props and and making a list of what we still needed to do.  During this time, Workshops were being conducted from 10am-12pm, and again at 2:30pm-4:30pm.  They would continue into the next day.  I didn't attend any Workshops, but here are the ones that were available:


Diorama Tips & Techniques

by David Howard

Jewelry Making

by Julie Antonucci

Pattern Making Basics

by Dorinda Balanecki


Creating Miniature Florals For Barbie®

by Ric Markin

Mattel Barbie® Collector Website Workshop

by Valerie Case

Scrapbooking Your Memories

by Karrie Diaz

Early Registration

After compiling our "to buy" list, Jack, Dwane and I ventured out into Chicago and hit some stores looking for supplies (and somewhere to eat lunch).  We spent most of the afternoon shopping, but got back in time for the Committee Chair Meeting at 3pm, which was cancelled.  It didn't matter, as we were meeting in the room for Early Registration which started at 4pm-7pm.  There was this little bird flying around inside the Registration Room, and he (or she) must have flown in from outside, or else arrived early for registration.  Anyway, I took his (or her) picture in case you're wondering why I have a picture of the bird in my photo link below.  That poor little birdie didn't realize that there were hundreds of people outside waiting to register...I hope he registered and flew back to his room.  I was the first "official" person to register for the convention, because Registration Chair Tina Henry asked me to go through the process as a test, to make sure the process went smoothly.  That was awesome!

At registration, each conventioneer received a name badge, name badge holder with lanyard, and tote bag.  The tote bags were in several different colors; I chose a blue one, but other colors included black, yellow, orange, green and red.  The bag was stuffed with goodies, the 2004 Convention Scrapbook and a convention pin (pictured below).  Further down the registration table you picked up a t-shirt that is to be worn at the luncheon event the next day.  The final table was to sign up for a event table if you hadn't already.

BELOW:  These convention pins were inside the tote bag at Registration.


Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Early Registration

Room Shopping

All registered and ready to go, it was time to room shop! Being a Co-Chair, I knew if I wanted to do any shopping, I had to fit it in any block of free time...and this day afforded that.  Although I Room Shopped several other times during convention, I'll block it into this area.  All I can say is this was one of the BEST Room Shopping conventions ever for two reasons.  One, the rooms were easy to see because of the openness of the hotel, and two, the items to choose from were incredible this year! I was flabbergasted in Marl Davidson's room to see the collection she had acquired from a private collector that included the "Big Three" Vintage Ken® doll fashions we'd all love to own NRFB (I'll let you follow the picture link below to see which "Big Three" I'm talking about).  I've seen these three separately, but never together in one place.  Marl was nice enough to let me take pictures of them together and separately to add on the Keeping Ken web. 

In Suzanne Bowns room, she showed off the one Vintage Ken® doll fashion she has been looking for for years to complete her NRFB collection.  It was the 1964 Japanese version of #0789 The Yachtsman.  Way to go Suzanne! We had the most fun in fellow Fan of the Man club member David's "Style Pop 70" room, where he was showcasing his fabulous OOAK dolls...and a screen print t-shirt that was to die for! I put a OOAK doll on order which will look just like the one Dwane bought (with the Tom Comet head mold).  David had sold all his male dolls in the first few days.

ABOVE:  Room Shopping artist magnets by Andrea Rossi from Portland, OR.

Later shopping trips revealed even more fabulous items like these magnets (pictured above).  These magnets also came as greeting cards with the same graphics.  There were also many Barbie® and friends to choose from.  I was so amazed by this artwork that I had to have a complete set of both magnets and cards (of the male dolls).  The artists name is Andrea Rossi from Portland, OR, and I hope to feature her here in the Keeping Ken Artists section of the site in the future.  If you want to contact her to get some of these cards or magnets, you can contact Andrea at mailto:anidea@aol.com.  I also located some NRFB Ken® dolls like The Sports Set Sun Valley Ken, Safari Ken, Barbie & Friends Gift Set and the Canadian version of Gold Medal Skier Ken.  They will make great additions to complete my personal collection.  I have to thank Jack for finding the Safari Ken first, so thanks Jack! The lady I bought Safari Ken from was a little taken back that I wasn't interested in the Safari Barbie or Skipper :)  I got some REALLY great deals in Bob Hrivnak's room.  He was selling complete loose Vintage Ken® doll fashions at 50% off! Wish I had bought more Vintage Ken® dolls...because now I have more fashions than Ken® dolls to dress them in.

I really regretted not finding Matt Trujillo's room!! Matt was so sweet to present me with a doll later in the week...he's so awesome...and I love the doll! I also regretted not buying a blonde Flock Hair Ken that was mint NRFB.  He even had the cello and rubber band over his head.  I searched in vain, but couldn't remember which room (or floor) I saw him in :(  That was a bummer...but I had an absolutely incredible time Room Shopping this year!

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Room Shopping

By Invitation Only Dinner

After the power Room Shopping, it was time to get ready for the By Invitation Only Dinner.  This dinner was planned by the Convention Co-Chairs to thank dealers, sponsors, convention chairs, Mattel personnel and helpers.  We met downstairs in the lobby where two shuttle buses were to take us to the restaurant.  I ended up going in Dwane's car because we had to bring the awards with us.  If I remember correctly, it was me, Jack Dwane, Norita and Nancy Parsons in the car.  We had a GREAT time chatting as we followed the shuttle bus.  The dinner was "family style" with a bunch of different courses.  After dinner, Julie and Norita (Convention Co-Chairs) passed out awards to convention chairs, sponsors, steering committee etc.  The award was just awesome...not a typical plaque...it was a female "bust" lamp with a plaque on the back.  This was totally different, and well received from everyone! Then Norita surprised Julie by presenting her with the actual hand sewn prototype of the BFM "Blush Becomes Her" fashion.  Julie was pretty overwhelmed, but then again, who wouldn't be getting a piece of Mattel history.  The doll came with a letter stating the authenticity of the prototype.

After the awards ceremony, it was back to the hotel, but this time we had a few more in the car with us because the shuttle left without them.  We were all packed inside and drove back...but unfortunately, we weren't following a shuttle bus, so we got a little lost trying to find our way back to the hotel.  To top that off, it started to rain REALLY hard, and it was almost impossible to see anything.  This car trip back proved to be the one single moment I'll forever remember about this convention.  Probably because we were all jammed in there together like sardines, but mostly because we pulled into a McDonald's drive-thru to ask for directions.  That was a classic moment...one that I'll remember forever.  To my fellow passengers, all I can say is that I love each and everyone of you!

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-By Invitation Only Dinner



Wednesday, August 4, 2004

My morning started with a Steering Committee Meeting at 9a-12a.  During this time, regular Registration was also taking place, and commenced later from 5p-7p.  Workshops continued from 10a-12p, and again from 2:30p-4:30p.  A First Timers Meeting took place from 11a-12p, and an informal "Getting To Know You" event took place in Knuckles Sports Bar from 7p-8p.  Since Lunch and Dinner was on a "on your own" basis, really, all I needed to do today was go to the Steering Committee Meeting in the morning and the Ice Cream Social at 8p.  Which left PLENTY of time to help with decorations etc. in the convention storage area.  I spent most of my day today helping very little with the Ice Cream Social decorations and working with Dwane on our Fashion Show stage props in the storage room.  I thought I would highlight the storage room here, as most conventioneers don't even know one exists, but really, this room is the heart and soul of convention chairs.  It's messy, chaotic, and a great place to vent.  I really didn't help much with the decorations, but that fabulous glitter you saw on the huge ice cream cones that were on the stage was "sprinkled" and glued on by me.  After de-gluing and de-glittering myself in the lobby restroom, Dwane and I finished putting together the furniture and assembling the lighting columns for the Fashion Show set.  The lighting columns took awhile, as we had to cut out by hand hundreds of tiny windows from a cityscape building graphic so the lights from the columns would come through.  We promised ourselves that we would finish everything today so we could just move and place the pieces of the set the next day.  We were in there all afternoon...and Norita brought us some lunch :)  She's the best!


Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Storage Room

Ice Cream Social

We finished in time to get ready for the Ice Cream Social.  The first "official" event of the convention was open seating, so you basically went to one of four different ice cream stations and made a sundae, then sat at whatever table you wanted to.  There were many different ice cream toppings to choose from...that was awesome! I found some of my convention friends and had some time to talk (after being held hostage in the storage room all day).  I was on the look out for Beth and Paula.  As traditions go, I make it a point of searching for these two ladies every year.  Our history together started in the "Flocking For Ken" class at the '01 convention, as we were attempting to reflock a vintage Ken doll.  I had such a great time with them I took their picture here:  National Barbie Convention 2001-"Hair Club for Ken".  The next year in '02 I found them here:  National Barbie Convention 2002-Gettin Groovy Dinner Page 11.  They didn't attend '03...bummer.  But I did find them at the Ice cream Social...and snapped this picture of them (below).  If you don't know Beth and Paula, you should! See you next year ladies!

ABOVE:  At the Ice Cream Social, I found my friends Beth (left) and Paula (right).

After finishing our sundaes, Norita and Julie welcomed everyone and announced that there would be some entertainment.  In the spirit of Friends & Family (and multi-cultural backgrounds), ethnic dancers were brought out to entertain us! The first set of dancers were Polish, next were Italian, and the last dancers represented the Philippines.  I had quite an amazing time watching the dancers.  One thing I realized (later) was that the entertainment at this convention was just going to get better and better! After the dancers were finished, Norita announced that the 50 centerpieces were going to be given away by drawing conventioneer numbers.  Norita and Steve Balanecki emceed, and as numbers were called, there weren't many people there with the numbers.  This turned into a long process, but Steve and Norita made it quite humorous.  Finally, the 50 centerpieces were claimed and the event ended.  The purpose of this event was to bring us all together in a spirit of family, and it certainly succeeded in doing just that.  It was the perfect beginning for a great convention!

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Ice Cream Social



Thursday, August 5, 2004

The convention went into full swing starting today, with Dealer/Sales Room Set Up from 8:00am – 11:00am, Registration from 8:00am – 12:00pm and Competition Entry from 8:00am – 10:30am.  (With Competition Judging from 10:30am - 11:45am).  Not only that, three other rooms opened; the Silent Auction Items Viewing Room, the Souvenir Room and the Raffle Room were open from 8:00am - 11:30am.  Our Fashion Show Rehearsal time was moved to the afternoon (thank goodness) so I had time to take some pictures of the Raffle Room and Silent Auction Items Room before the Luncheon event.

The Silent Auction Item Room was separated from the Raffle Room which I thought did justice to the doll artists, and was different than most conventions that usually put these items in the same room.  I but some bids in on Matt Trujillo's male doll early, but was outbid in the end because I didn't have the time to check back on it.  The artists dolls were extraordinary, and many of them fit the theme of the convention!

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Silent Auction Items

Then I busted a move over to the Raffle Room, which was busting full of way awesome items.  I bought a lot of tickets and started stuffing the boxes of the items I wanted to win.  I really wanted the painting and the reproduction boxes.  There was also this bar set that was really neat.  Follow the link to see pictures.  One really unique item this year was a quilt!  Unfortunately, again this year I didn't win any of the items...but there is always next year :)

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Raffle Room

Dwane was nice enough to make the trip to the Souvenir Room to buy some of the things I wanted.  Unfortunately, I never made it to this room, so I don't have any pictures :(

Next on the agenda was the Family Reunion Picnic Luncheon from 12:00pm – 2:00pm.  This was the first event where all of us were in the same place at the same time.  Here was our list of tablemates this year at Table #6:

  HOST: Jack Wootten (Ken® collector, Ken® table Souvenir Ken® & Barbie dolls Gift Set, Ken® table Souvenir Tommy doll (Artist/Creator) and Fan of the Man Steering Committee First Alternate/Club Member)

Dwane Adle (Ken® collector, Co-Chair, National Barbie® Convention 2001, Ken® table Souvenirs and Fan of the Man Club Member)

Jef Beck (Ken® collector, Ken® table Souvenir Ken doll (Concept/Design), Fan of the Man Treasurer/Steering Committee and webmaster of Keeping Ken)

Jeff Goodwin (Mattel Inc.)

Valerie Case (Mattel, Inc. Producer, Websites & Media)

Lou Esposito  (Mattel Inc. Websites & Media)

Sandi Holder (National Barbie® Convention 2004 Sponsor, Sales Room Dealer)

Madison Plendl (Competition Diorama Artist)

Beth White (Competition Diorama Artist)

Michelle Blankenship (Competition Diorama Artist)


The theme of the Family Reunion Picnic Luncheon...was just as it was titled.  It was, of course, a great time to meet and greet people who are part of our extended family.  The theme was very casual, and most of the conventioneers were wearing their luncheon event t-shirts we received at Registration.  The centerpiece was a cute picnic basket decorated with a Barbie Ken and a Kelly doll in a little picnic diorama that had a miniature picnic basket, food...and ants! It was truly like a family reunion! We had a blast!

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Family Reunion Picnic Luncheon

The Raffle Room, Silent Auction Room and Souvenir Shop were open during the afternoon hours 2:30pm – 6:00pm, as well as open Registration from 2:30pm - 3:30pm. What was on everyone's mind was hitting the Sales Room when it opened at 3:00pm – 6:00pm.  Believe it or not...I never had time to make it to the Sales Room, so I don't have any pictures :(  I popped into the Competition Room for a quick 30 minutes to take some pictures of the Competition entries (see link on Friday below).  Conventioneers could view and take photos from 2:30pm – 6:00pm. 

It was a quick dash then to meet for the Fashion Show Rehearsal from 3:00pm – 5:00pm.  As the Fashion Show Co-Chair, this was the first time Dwane and I met with all of our models.  Dwane explained that the Fashion Show concept was a "This Is Your Life Barbie" theme, and each model would be representing a friend or family member of Barbie.  We explained that I would be the emcee and would be portraying the character of River from the My Scene™Night On The Town™Gift Set (River™ and Barbie®), and Dorinda Balanecki would be portraying Barbie.  The guise was to lure Barbie to the "My Scene Lounge" so we could put on a special Fashion Show in her honor.  The Fashion Show stage and the room would become the My Scene Lounge, and as the conventioneers entered they would feel like they just entered a night club, with club music playing.  Then I would come out and "stop" the partying for awhile to have an "impromptu" fashion show for our VIP guest Barbie.  Dwane and I fashioned the show to bring the friends and family members (models) out in the time-line Barbie would have made contact with them.  After we explained our concept, we gave the models their order of appearance...and which selection of music they were going to be walking on the runway to.  Since the room for the Fashion Show was the same room that just had the luncheon, we asked the models to return early to the room to see the stage set up and practice if they needed to in costume at 7:00pm.  After the meeting, Dwane and I went to survey how the stage set up was progressing.  We were surprised to see that the room was almost already set up.  Dwane had designed the stage and runway, and this convention would boast the longest runway of any convention ever! It was in a "T" shape, allowing our models to REALLY strut their stuff to both sides of the room.  We then went back to the storage room and started to cart over our stage props which consisted of a couch, tables lamps and night club style chairs.  The most interesting props were our columns of light that had "shades" with a skyscraper print with little window holes cut out in them to let the light through.  Dwane actually built the bases and attached the rotating lights into them.  I have to say that the whole theme came together, and when we got all the props set and tested the light levels, we really had created a little night club set.  Most of the rest of the afternoon we tested the sound levels and went over the music cues with the fabulous sound guys.  Dorinda met with me and we finally rehearsed our lines.  Before you knew it, we had to race back to our room to get into costume, and get back down to meet the other models for rehearsal.  Dorinda and I got "miked", we tested the light levels again and Dwane took pictures of each one of the models backstage (which I have in the link). Then it was time to begin! After all this planning it was almost a relief  when the conventioneers starting coming into the room at 7:30pm.  The club music was really pumping and we could see from backstage that the conventioneers were really getting into it! Right on my music "cue" at 8:00pm, I went out and "interrupted" the festivities to announce that we had a special event tonight at the My Scene Lounge, and a special VIP Guest...Barbie.  Her friends and family were putting on a special fashion show in her honor.  Barbie (Dorinda) came out, and I introduced each friend and family member (model) with a brief history as they walked the runway.  It was such a great event...thanks to all our fabulous models!

BELOW:  The Byron Lars collection at the Fashion Show.

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Fashion Show




Friday, August 6, 2004

Friday's main events included Competition, The Rally Day Races and the Chicago Speakeasy Dinner with Live Auction.

Competition (viewing again today at 10:00am – 1:00pm, 2:00pm – 5:00pm) saw many wonderful entries, both in terms of creativity, uniqueness and rarity. Our tablemate Michelle Blankenship won first place in her category for her rendition of the first Playboy Club, which was founded in Chicago. However, she also won the coveted Peoples Choice Award. Categories that were well represented included famous families, notorious families, family vacation, family holidays, and Chicago, the movie or musical. Single doll categories included bridal dolls, as well as flappers and gangsters. Paper dolls and photography rounded out the creative competition.

On the vintage side of things, conventioneers were treated to rarities such as #1, #2 and #3 Barbie dolls as well as rare fashions and Barbie friends. The artist dolls to be auctioned later in the evening were on display in the Competition room.

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Competition

The Ken® Rally Day Race event (11:00am – 1:00pm) was divided into two parts: the race itself and a custom car show. Conventioneers either by themselves or in teams entered the custom car show. Rocky Schmidt won the best in show award for his crystal car creation. Following the custom car show, was the Rally Race Event. A carefully constructed course was set in one of the hotel ballrooms and in heats of two cars each, conventioneers used remote control devices to steer their cars through obstacles to the finish line. At times, the perimeter of the course was itself an obstacle to overcome, which made for some of the funniest moments! Some of the entrants to the custom car show also participated in the race event. Winners of each heat advanced to the final event.

BELOW:  Dwane Adle's "Ken's Rally Day" Mini Cooper

Event pictures National Barbie Convention 2004-Ken® Rally Day Race

The sales room, raffle room and souvenir shop were open during the afternoon hours (2:00pm – 5:00pm). Conventioneers had the choice to split their time between shopping, sightseeing and workshops (2:00pm – 4:00pm).  I didn't take any workshops this year.  Some sessions of the Workshops started as early as Tuesday.


Diorama Tips & Techniques

David Howard

Pattern Making Basics

Dorinda Balanecki

Jewelry Making

Julie Antonucci

Creating Miniature Florals for Barbie

Ric Martin

Scrapbooking Your Memories

Karrie Diaz

The pinnacle event on Friday was the Chicago Speakeasy Dinner and Live Artist Doll Auction. Prior to the banquet, conventioneers were able to congregate outside the main ballroom for the cocktail hour (6:00pm – 7:30pm). It was such a treat to see so many conventioneers take the banquet theme to heart and dress for the event in period clothing. Many flashbulbs went off as conventioneers took pictures of the incredible outfits, some which were handmade and some which were found at antique stores or consignment stores.

Once the banquet room opened for admittance (7:00pm – 7:30pm ), the conventioneers could see that in all four corners of the banquet room were cardboard or hardboard display pieces which added to the credibility of the era. There were street benches and light posts as well as faux antique car displays. Conventioneers could take turns photographing each other in the display areas.

The tables were decorated with one of two centerpieces. You either sat at a table with Ken in a fur coat or Barbie in a crimson suit ala 1920's. The backdrops were very striking and perfect to the scale of the dolls.

The evening was capped off by the Live Artist Doll Auction. The dolls were previewed earlier in the day in the competition room. Each artist was encouraged to take the stage and describe the intricate details of their creations. When the last gavel was thrown, the auction netted $55,000 for the designated charity: Children Affected By AIDS Foundation (CAAF). CAAF's celebrity spokesperson, Doris Roberts, from "Everyone Loves Raymond" fame, made an appearance and helped to showcase each of the artist dolls presented and encouraged the audience participation. What a treat! At the conclusion of the dinner and auction, Ms. Roberts posed with conventioneers for an endless line of photos and signed a few autographs.

BELOW:  Mattel designer Bill Greening's live auction doll set.

Then it was time to party and dance till 1am!

Event pictures coming soon!




Saturday, August 7, 2004

DAY TOURS (optional)  
8:00am - 9:30am Steering Committee Meeting
9:00am – 3:00pm Souvenir Room Open
9:00am – 11:00am Workshops
9:00am - 9:30am Dealer Admittance To Sales Room
9:30am – 10:00am Sales Room Open To Conventioneers Only
10:00am – 3:00pm Sales Room Open To Public
1:00pm – 3:00pm Raffle Room Giveaways
Distribution Of Silent Auction Items
3:00pm – 5:00pm Dealer Teardown
5:00pm - 6:30pm Refresh
5:45pm Host/Hostess Admittance
6:00pm - 7:00pm Cocktails – Cash Bar
6:00pm - 6:30pm Special Needs Admittance (those with wheelchairs, walkers, motor scooters)
6:30pm – 7:00pm Dinner Admittance
7:00pm - ? Mattel Program & Closing Dinner
2005 Welcome, Etc. (Black Tie Optional)




I was excited to unveil an exclusive "Keeping Ken" Ken® doll I designed for my table guests at the final dinner event Saturday evening.  It is the first in a series of Ken® dolls, leading up to Ken® doll's 50th Anniversary.  The thought process behind the designs are nostalgic modern updates.  Below is the picture of the Ken doll.  The first edition, "Campus Hero" features a real recording megaphone and "spirit" stick.  Hope you enjoy the picture!





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    Room Rates: $159 single/double/trip/quad
    Registration dates TBA
    Registration Fee $275/person

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