Allan, Midge, Sugar Daddy Ken, and all the discontinued dolls featured in 'Barbie'

Michael Cera as Allan in "Barbie."
Michael Cera as Allan in "Barbie."Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
  • "Barbie" features several dolls that Mattel discontinued for various reasons.

  • For example, Michael Cera's Allan and Emerald Fennell's Midge were once married in the Barbie doll canon.

  • Here's what to know about the forgotten dolls and the controversy surrounding them.

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for "Barbie," available to stream on Max

"Barbie" reintroduces several forgotten dolls from the famous doll brand's history.

While a large portion of the "Barbie" cast plays different versions of Barbie or Ken, there are two key cast members who don't: Michael Cera, who plays a doll named Allan, and Emerald Fennell, who plays a doll named Midge.

Both characters are based on real dolls from Barbie's parent company, Mattel. Originally conceived of as friends that were part of Barbie's posse, the Allan and Midge dolls were discontinued and largely forgotten by most of the public — until now.

Toward the end of the "Barbie" movie, many more discontinued dolls — including Sugar Daddy Ken, Growing Up Skipper, and Earring Magic Ken —  help Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) on her journey.

The New Yorker reported in July 2023 that Mattel was initially nervous about the discontinued dolls' appearance in Greta Gerwig's movie.

"There was just an email that went around where they said, 'Do you have to remind people that this was on the box?'" Gerwig told the publication about the reaction to Allan.

Gerwig eventually persuaded the company to include him by explaining that "dealing with all the strangeness of it is a way of honoring" Barbie.

"Barbie seems so monolithic, and there's a quality where it just seems as if she was inevitable, and she's always existed. I think all the dead ends are a reminder that they were just trying stuff out," Gerwig told the New Yorker.

Here's what to know about the discontinued dolls.


Emerald Fennell plays Midge in Barbie
A side by side of Emerald Fennell next to a pregnant Midge doll.Gareth Cattermole / Staff / Getty Images / Lawrence Lucier / Getty Images

Midge Hadley was first introduced in 1963 as Barbie's best friend. According to Barbie experts, she was given freckles and less makeup to deflect concerns that Barbie was too adult and too sexy.

The original Midge dolls were discontinued after 1965, according to Polygon — but Midge returned in 1988 and lasted long enough to marry a groom edition of her own boyfriend Allan in the '90s. Barbie and Ken were there to celebrate the day.

Midge's downfall began in 2002 when Mattel released a pregnant version of the doll whose belly could be removed from her body and opened up to reveal a baby inside.

That caused an uproar among parents who believed the doll promoted teen pregnancy.

The controversy prompted Walmart to pull the pregnant doll from its shelves. Mattel eventually produced another version of Midge postpartum.

There is a distinct reference to this in "Barbie" when Helen Mirren's narrator says, "Let's not show Midge, actually. She was discontinued by Mattel because a pregnant doll is just too weird." Midge makes a few appearances in the film anyway, but is often put in the background.


Michael Cera plays Allan in Barbie
A side by side of Michael Cera next to an Allan doll.Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images / Lawrence Lucier / Getty Images

Allan was created as Midge's boyfriend and Ken's best friend in 1964 so the two couples could go on double dates. The original Allan doll wore a bright striped shirt like Cera does in the movie.

Allan was named after Allen Segal, Barbara Handler's husband. Handler's mother, Ruth Handler, created Barbie and named the titular doll after her daughter, according to The New York Times.

Both Midge and Allan could fit into the clothing of Barbie and Ken. But Allan's marketing tagline, "All of Ken's clothes fit him," backfired when it led to rumors that Ken and Allan were in a homosexual relationship, according to Attitude.

Allan was discontinued around the same time as Midge, but has occasionally reappeared in Barbie lore.

In "Barbie," Allan is the biggest cheerleader of the Kens and is mostly ignored by the Barbies.

Growing Up Skipper

side-by-side of Hannah Khalique-Brown and a Growing Up Skipper Doll
Hannah Khalique-Brown plays Growing Up SkipperKarwai Tang / WireImage / Mattel Inc

The movie makes multiple references to Skipper, Barbie's younger sister. However, in the scene where Barbie and the humans meet several discontinued dolls, a special version of Skipper is present: Growing Up Skipper.

According to Glamour, Growing Up Skipper was created in 1975 as a way to teach kids about growing up and puberty. The doll would get taller and grow bigger breasts when you moved one of its arms backward.

Mattel also gave her a friend, Growing Up Ginger, before ultimately discontinuing both.

Video Girl Barbie

side-by-side of Mette Towley and a Video Girl Barbie doll
Mette Towley plays Video Girl BarbieWiktor Szymanowicz / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / TIMM SCHAMBERGER / DDP / AFP via Getty Images

In the scene, the humans also meet Video Girl Barbie, a Barbie doll fitted with a video camera inside her. Released by Mattel in 2010, Video Girl Barbie could record 30 minutes of video and stream it to a computer.

Months after the doll's release, the FBI released a "cyber crime alert" stating that it could be used for child pornography, CBS reported.

Mattel released their own statement saying: "The FBI is not reporting that anything has happened. Steve Dupre from the FBI Sacramento field office has confirmed there have been no incidents of this doll being used as anything other than as intended. Mattel products are designed with children and their best interests in mind. Many of Mattel's employees are parents themselves and we understand the importance of child safety — it is our number one priority."

The doll was ultimately discontinued in 2012.

Teen Talk Barbie

Side by side of Marisa Abela and Teen Talk Barbie.
Marisa Abela plays Teen Talk Barbie in "Barbie."John Phillips / Getty Images / Mattel Inc

Next to Growing up Skipper in the scene is Teen Talk Barbie, a blonde-haired doll who doesn't have lines. Each real-life doll, released in 1992, was programmed with four of 270 available phrases that it spoke when a button was pushed.

In 1992, the American Association of University Women and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics criticized one of the doll's phrases, "Math class is tough." They said the phrase reinforced sexist stereotypes of women and discouraged young girls from pursuing the subject, and Mattel apologized.

The company removed the phrase from future dolls and offered a swap for customers who already owned it.

A year later, a Manhattan-based performance art group called the Barbie Liberation Organization (BLO), bought Teen Talk Barbie dolls and replaced their voiceboxes with one from GI Joe dolls before putting them back on shelves.

Unlike other Barbie dolls on this list, Mattel never discontinued the doll.

Sugar Daddy Ken

Rob Brydon plays Sugar Daddy Ken in Barbie
Rob Brydon plays Sugar Daddy Ken.Karwai Tang / WireImage / Mattel Inc

There are also two discontinued Kens that take part in the scene with all the forgotten dolls. The first is Sugar Daddy Ken, a modern doll portrayed by British actor Rob Brydon.

Sugar Daddy Ken was created in 2009 for Barbie's 50th anniversary as part of the adult doll collection line for Mattel. Despite the suggestive name — Sugar Daddy refers to an older man who pays a younger woman for companionship — Sugar supposedly refers to this Ken doll's dog, a white West Highland terrier.

Despite the controversy surrounding his name, Mattel spokesperson Michelle Chidoni told ABC at the time: "At the end of the day, this collection is targeted toward adults. While the name of the doll does refer back to the dog, I think people are going to interpret it as they want to interpret it."

Earring Magic Ken

side-by-side of Tom Stourton and a Earring Magic Ken
Tom Stourton plays Earring Magic Ken.Wiktor Szymanowicz / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Yvonne Hemsey / Getty Images

Earring Magic Ken also appears in his signature purple vest.

In the 1990s, Mattel attempted to give Ken an updated look. This led to the creation of Earring Magic Ken in 1993, a Ken doll that wore a purple mesh shirt, a pleather vest, a necklace, and an earring in one ear.

According to Dazed, the doll was a big hit with the gay community. But the doll also received widespread backlash for its perceived association with the LGBTQ+ community and thus was eventually discontinued and recalled.

According to Dazed, critics pointed out that the necklace looked like a cock ring, a sex toy.

"We're not in the business of putting cock rings into the hands of little girls... It's a necklace," Lisa McKendall, Mattel's head of marketing and communications, told the Chicago Reader at the time. "It holds charms he can share with Barbie. C'mon, this is a doll designed for little girls, something like that would be entirely inappropriate."

Tanner the dog

Tanner the dog in the "Barbie" movie and in real life.
Tanner the dog in the "Barbie" movie and in real life.

Tanner the dog in the "Barbie" movie and the doll in real life.Warner Bros. / Mark Ralston / AFP via Getty Images

The final member of the discontinued gang is Tanner the dog, a yellow retriever who eats small brown food pellets, poops them out, and then eats them again. It was released in 2006 as a companion for Barbie.

Besides the slightly inappropriate toy design, Mattel had to recall roughly 683,000 Tanner toys because a small magnet inside the "scooper" accessory could come loose and cause harm if swallowed or aspirated by small children.

According to Mattel's website, the dog toy was officially discontinued in 2010.

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