Recently I discovered a new mini doll in the "big eyes" genre: the Barbie Extra Minis doll. These came out in 2021, but I never saw them. I deal mostly in doll restoration so I encounter many more older and vintage dolls, and my daughter has outgrown dolls so I don't see the new ones while shopping anymore. "Big Eyes" dolls became very popular in the Mod era, the late 1960s to early 1970s. Almost every woman of a certain age owned a Bradley cloth big eyes doll or knew someone who owned one. These were solely display dolls. One of the most enduringly popular BEDs, as I will abbreviate Big Eyes Dolls, is Blythe. Blythe was originally made by Kenner in the 1970s and was notable for her color change eyes. The old Kenner Blythe dolls are worth a fortune today. Blythe was re-released in the millennial era by Takara and Hasbro, the former converting the older fashion-sized doll to a mini doll and packaging her with their Littlest Pet Shop line. Those LPS Blythes are now retired and becoming valuable. Takara is still making Blythe dolls in three sizes, Mini (4 inch), Midi (8 inch), and the traditional 10-12 inch depending on whether she has a Licca style straight arm and leg body or a ball-jointed articulated body.
The articulated doll bodies are increasingly popular with consumers. Disney produces them in their mini Animators' line and in some of their deluxe exclusives sold only at the Disney parks and stores. Certain Barbie dolls come with articulated bodies as well, but the Extra Minis are the first mini dolls I've come across by Mattel.
Both BED and articulated dolls have become increasingly desirable to doll artists, as customizing their eye chips, repainting their faces or "re-bodying" vintage heads has become a widespread pastime all over the world. Well-known doll artists command thousands of dollars for just one of their OOAK (one-of-a-kind) art dolls. Today I am comparing the new Extra Minis to a couple of the most-customized mini dolls, the Disney Animators' mini dolls and the LPS Blythe.
The Barbie Extra Minis dolls feature fully-articulated bodies, special shimmery eyes, pierced ears, and elaborate hairstyles. They really do come across as "extra"! The blue-haired doll is #3 in the series. Check out her partly-flocked head to appear as though one side is shaved! This is the kind of detail you don't see from Mattel after around 1970 or so. #3 reminds me of Alice, the Cara Delevingne character in Only Murders in the Building (which you MUST watch if you haven't!). The Extra Minis seems to be more representative of the diverse American population than traditional Barbie dolls as well, with black and POC dolls who might be Asian, Hispanic or mixed-race. The punk hairstyles could be appropriated by any race, so it's easier to re-do them as you want.
From left to right, the Barbie Extra Minis #1 doll, the Frozen Elsa Disney Animators' mini dolls (not to be confused with the 6 inch mini Disney dolls sold at places like Target; the Animators' series is smaller and exclusive to Disney stores), and the LPS Blythe doll. As you can see the Disney dolls are smaller and do not have as many points of articulation as the Barbies. Some of them have painted tights or stockings and others are all flesh colored, whereas the Barbies have molded underpants the same color as their skin. Disney dolls also have a toddler figure with larger feet. LPS Blythe has the fewest articulation points, "real" instead of painted eyes (which doll artists just love to switch out with custom made eye chips), and painted underwear. Her figure is the most mature in terms of bustiness and she is the most top-heavy of all the dolls. She also has tiny high-heeled feet, extremely hard to find shoes for.
LPS Blythe, and probably also Takara Mini Blythe but I don't have one of those, can wear some of the Extra Minis clothing. I don't believe the Extra Minis could wear hers. A-line dresses like this one from the #1 Barbie Extra Minis doll will just be roomier and longer on Blythe. The shoes are not interchangeable.
Disney Animators' mini dolls can wear most of the Extra Minis clothing but the fit is different because of the Disney doll's toddler body. As you can see, the sweatsuit from Barbie #3 shown in the first photo is midriff-bearing on the Disney doll but not on the Barbie. Despite being shorter the Disney doll's feet are bigger so the dolls cannot exchange shoes. The Disney doll's hands are too large to go through some of the Barbie arms. The Barbie Extra Minis, in contrast, can wear pretty much any of the Disney clothes, as most of the height difference is in their heads. I am not including the Barbie Kelly or Chelsea dolls in this comparison because they are not BED, but I believe the Extra Minis clothing and shoes will fit them about the same as the Disney Animators' mini dolls. The 6 inch Disney non-Animators' dolls sold everywhere are much too large for any of the Barbie clothes despite being only a half inch taller. Their toddler bodies are just larger all over and their feet are huge, most likely to enable easier standing during play. Disney, in my opinion, is well aware of the prevalence of the Animators' series among doll artists' recreations and produced them with a more mature audience in mind.
I hope this comparison is helpful when you are buying dolls and doll clothing or considering dolls for your own OOAK creations. You can purchase many different kinds of dolls, including those shown here, from my shops on the Home page.
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.