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Cape Town’s ‘King of Barbie’ owns a doll collection worth nearly R2m

10 March 2021 - 13:25 By suthentira govender
Cape Town Barbie collector Justuis Pieterse with his dolls valued at close to R1.8m.
Cape Town Barbie collector Justuis Pieterse with his dolls valued at close to R1.8m.
Image: Supplied

He is known as the “King of Barbie” for his collection of more than 2,000 dolls worth approximately R1.8m.

Avid Cape Town collector Justuis Pieterse is joining Barbie enthusiasts around SA to celebrate the doll’s 62nd birthday, along with her partner Ken’s milestone 60th this month.

Pieterse, who has been collecting Barbie dolls for 12 years, has dedicated a room in his Table View home to his vast collection, which is kitted with floor-to-ceiling shelving.

“I started the collection 12 years ago, a year before my daughter Gemma was born. It includes Barbie imports and special editions and it continues to grow as I try to source them locally and internationally. I am hooked,” said Peterse.

He managed to get his hands on the Kebaya Barbie from Dolls of the World, where only 500 dolls of this kind were manufactured in the 1990s.

He said his all-time favourite is from the Bob Mackie range, Madame Du Barbie.

“This historic and iconic doll inspired by French queen Marie Antoinette oozes exceptional and intricate detail by designer Mackie.”

He said he was particularly impressed with how inclusive, diverse and representative the dolls have become.

According to Forbes, Mattel, the maker of the popular doll, released new additions to its diverse Fashionista line last year, including a doll with a prosthetic limb, one that is bald and one with the skin condition vitiligo.

This particular collection was launched six years ago and has 176 dolls with nine body types, 35 skin tones and 94 hairstyles.

The Barbie range has previously come under fire for being predominantly white and skinny.

Pieterse belongs to a social group of Barbie enthusiasts who want to celebrate the occasion in style.

Bloemfontein’s Elzette Barnard has collected 4,300 dolls over 19 years.
Bloemfontein’s Elzette Barnard has collected 4,300 dolls over 19 years.
Image: Supplied

Bloemfontein Barbie collector Elzette Barnard will mark the birthdays by adding the new Signature Silkstone Barbie to her collection of a whopping 4,300 dolls.

“Barbie’s birthday is special to me as it is a celebration of a lifetime of memories and love for the brand. Ken obviously also plays a huge role in my collection, and I’m just as excited about his 60th birthday.

“I've already added all three of the 60th anniversary throwback dolls. I know Barbie will be with us for many years to come, and that she’ll be celebrated as both an icon and pioneer to collectors from all ages,” she said.

Toys R Us SA said there is much excitement in-store and online as they “celebrate yet another year of Barbie magic”.

“Toys help in shaping the minds of children. The creators of Barbie believed this was the best way to send a message to all young children that they can be anything they want to be,” said Catherine Jacoby, marketing manager of Toys R Us and Babies R Us SA.

“We are so excited to be part of this amazing journey.”