Mattel's Barbie pays homage to Star Wars film in new tie-up

Mattel's Barbie has collaborated with The Walt Disney's Star Wars franchise to roll out the film's iconic characters as Barbie dolls. Paying homage to the 1977 Star Wars: A New Hope film, the dolls are clad as Darth Vader, Princess Leia and droid R2-D2. The film's storyline was based on saving Princess Leia who was held hostage by Darth Vader. Droid duo R2-D2 and C-3PO join in the efforts of rescuing her.

In an interview with Mattel's designer Robert Best on Barbie's blog, he said Barbie and Star Wars are cultural phenomena and is an "unexpected collaboration". According to Best, the dolls' hair and make-up have subtle nods to the signature shapes and colours of the characters in Star Wars. In the film, R2-D2 and Darth Vader are played by male characters which Barbie took a spin on creating female dolls.

Another one of Barbie's unique collaborations include jumping on the k-pop hype. Mattel partnered with South Korean boy band BTS early this year to create dolls, collectible figures and games, among others. Under a multi-category license with BTS under its label, Big Hit Entertainment, Mattel launched the BTS-inspired toy line in March.

The toy line were created around the likenesses of the band’s seven members and fashioned in the looks from the BTS’ iconic “IDOL” music video. Mattel also created hashtags such as #BTSxMattel and #BTSDollsOfficial to drive buzz and allow fans to track the launch of the dolls. On its Facebook page, Mattel also told interested consumers and fans that the dolls will be sold at retailers globally.

Barbie has by far contributed to Mattel's highest full year gross sales. Its fourth quarter financial results revealed that Barbie and Hot Wheels both helped to offset the declines in its other brands such as Fisher-Price, Thomas and American Girl. The company reported a full year net sales of US$4.51 billion and fourth quarter net sales of US$1.52 billion. Out of which, Barbie’s gross sales in the quarter increased by 12% and 15% in constant currency, compared to the previous year. The financials attributed this to positive point-of-sale (POS) brand momentum.