Since the introduction of Barbie in 1959, America’s most loved (and hated) doll has gone through a variety of careers and hobbies in keeping with changes in the interests of and ideas about girls and women. She has been a princess, a waitress, and a ballerina–and also an ambassador, an astronaut, and a five-time presidential candidate. In 2010, she donned capri pants and glasses and grabbed a cute pink laptop to present herself as ‘Computer Engineer Barbie.’
Now, in 2015 Charlene Flick, an intellectual property lawyer and self-described 3D printing entrepreneur, is proposing it is time for Barbie to get involved in the world of 3D printing. She has submitted her idea to Quirky in the hopes that it will become the subject of the next beer-fueled round table and be one step closer to becoming a reality.
Maker Barbie, and her canine companion the robotic dog Benny, would not only update Barbie’s interests but also align with the push to find ways to introduce girls to making. Flick describes the kind of Maker this doll would be:
“She’s hip, cool, and absolutely brilliant. She has her own 3D printing ecosystem, studio, and robotic dog (that she created and programmed herself, of course.) She is a maker; she creates; she invents; she is a technologist and an artisan; a designer and an implementer. She is truly her…and she represents tomorrow’s workforce – a workforce that empowers the individual.”
No details are overlooked as Maker Barbie has 3D printed shoes, swing top, and hair clasp–and the box in which she would arrive could be unfolded to create her at-home studio environment. Among her included accessories would be a 3D printer and a laptop, giving her all the tools of her trade to get started. In addition, Flick proposes that the child who has the Maker Barbie toy won’t just be accepting a superficial connection to a trendy career, but instead will be encouraged to interact with the world of 3D printing by designing and printing objects and clothing for their Barbie to use. In fact, she sees that the idea could even expand into a co-branded Maker Barbie 3D printer (sold separately!) so that children could print at home.
This is, of course, not the first attempt to create a more feminine approach to 3D printing that might help to interest more girls – or simply help them to become aware of making as a possibility. There is a decided gender tilt in the composition of the creative tech workforce and one way in which people are working to address this is through efforts to reach out to girls at a young age.
At this point, Maker Barbie is just an idea but given the recent deal struck by Mattel with Autodesk for the creation of a toy printing hub that would encourage children to design and print their own toys, the match-up seems a winner. Now, Flick needs votes for her idea to help move it to the top. Giving a thumbs up or thumbs down through Quirky.com is the way to register your opinion and voting is open until May 6th.
What do you think about this iconic doll joining the maker movement? Is this a toy idea heading in the right direction? Join the discussion in the Maker Barbie forum thread over at 3DPB.com.