After three seasons, “Mad Men,” the television series about advertising in the 1960s, has attained a level of popular-culture cachet. There have been magazine cover articles, calendars and an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” all devoted to it, spoofs on “The Simpsons” and “Saturday Night Live,” and even a “Mad Men” category on “Jeopardy.”
Soon, the show will enter a realm of the pop-culture pantheon that its creator, Matthew Weiner, says has surprised even him: Mattel plans to bring out versions of Barbie and Ken styled after four “Mad Men” characters.
The dolls are part of a premium-price collectors’ series for adults that Mattel calls the Barbie Fashion Model Collection. Although there have been Barbies and Kens based on other TV series, among them “I Love Lucy” and “The X-Files,” the dolls will be the first licensed line for that collection, Mattel says, with a suggested retail price of $74.95 each.
Mattel is licensing rights to the characters from Lionsgate, the studio that produces “Mad Men” for the AMC cable channel. There will be 7,000 to 10,000 copies of each doll, to be sold in specialty stores and on two Web sites, amctv.com and barbiecollector.com.
The characters to become dolls are Don Draper, the show’s leading man; his wife, Betty; his colleague at the Sterling Cooper agency, Roger Sterling; and Joan Holloway, the agency’s office manager who was Roger’s mistress.
That two dolls represent a relationship outside wedlock, and Don Draper’s propensity for adultery, may be firsts for the Barbie world since the brand’s introduction five decades ago. But for the sake of the Barbie image, her immersion in the “Mad Men” era will go only so far: The dolls come with period accessories like hats, overcoats, pearls and padded undergarments, but no cigarettes, ashtrays, martini glasses or cocktail shakers.