Man Bun Ken


Man Bun Ken (as Twitter calls him – fair enough!) AKA Distressed Denim Ken is one of Mattel’s 15 new boy dolls revealed this week. They are all called Ken.

There’s Camo Comeback Ken, Cali Cool Ken, Super Stripes Ken, In Black and White Ken and the snappy sounding Preppy Check Ken. Some of the names are a bit perplexing. Cactus Cooler Ken sounds like he either has a bum like a pin cushion on a hot day or perhaps he does all his gardening in the fridge? Get the full list at

I am impressed with the range. They do look cool. Interesting to compare with Lammily’s male doll currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Lammily did their own comparison with Ken, but that was a year ago – before Mattel launched this new, more diverse range.

I have to say, although I bought the first ever Lammily doll because I respected the idea of making a doll with ‘typical human proportions’, she is a bit dowdy and her male equivalent looks similar. He’s probably a really interesting guy once you get to know him, but from the outside he comes across so average that he’s bland. Real doesn’t necessarily mean average. For example, who has 2.4 children? That might be the average but it’s not real! Real people have quirks – that’s what gives them personality. Such as a man bun for example. Each of the 15 Kens has some feature which makes him interesting. There used to be one Ken trying to be a happy medium and now there are a group of dolls, like real people, with funny character traits.

Mattel’s dolls are more idealised, but then fantasy and ideals of beauty have always been around. In some ways it’s good to have an ideal body image to aim for when you’re deciding between going for a run or sitting on the sofa. So long as your sense of worth doesn’t depend on matching that ideal. Your own personal best is the ultimate ideal and Mattel’s dolls seem to reflect that. They have chiselled jaws, but somehow they seem to say more about personality.

For a fascinating insight into the Mattel team and the processes behind designing the range of Ken’s checkout this GQ article The Ken Doll Reboot by Caity Weaver with fantastic photography by Spencer Lowell.

What do you think of the 15 new Ken dolls? Bland? Idealised? Or do they have personality?

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