Mattel is diversifying its doll lineup once again, this time with a gender-inclusive product that puts kids in the driver’s seat when it comes to appearance. Creatable World sells customizable dolls in kits with combinations of clothing, wigs and accessories.
“We felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels,” said Kim Culmone, senior VP of Mattel Fashion Doll Design, in a statement, noting that Mattel’s research showed that “kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms.”
According to a spokeswoman, El Segundo, California-based Mattel was working on the collection for two years. Each kit costs $30 and are available for sale online and at big-box stores such as Target and Walmart, as well as at Amazon. Dolls come in a variety of skin tones with different hair options.
Mattel started airing a YouTube video to introduce the line this week. In the 30-second clip, a child says, “Create characters that are awesomely you. Add long or short hair, pants, hats shirts and skirts—it’s up to you.”
This isn’t the first time Mattel has ventured into more inclusive territory. After years of sales declines in its Barbie brand, the toy giant incorporated a range of body types and ethnicities into the dolls in 2016 along with marketing messages of female empowerment. Dolls in the line, called Barbie Fashionista, came in a variety of shapes and sizes.
“Mattel launched the Barbie Fashionista line to be inclusive of all types of girls. This feels right in line with that same idea—just broadening the scope,” says Juli Lennett, toys industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group.
Mattel is putting “significant” social and digital support behind Creatable World, a spokeswoman says. The brand already has nearly 2,000 followers on Instagram. Some posts modernize old sayings, like “Toys will be toys” and “Dolls are for kids” by omitting gender messaging.
All marketing was done in-house.