Jenny's History


According to Takara literature, Jenny is a 17-year-old high school student from Los Angeles (born on August 1st under the sign of the Leo). Her father is a film producer and her mother is a designer. She's a cheerleader at school, but she also has modelling experience and has made her debut as an actress in musicals. Jenny is good at all kinds of sports and especially likes horse-riding, scuba-diving, and aquabics. Whew! What a life!

Jenny began her career in 1981 under the name Barbie. It seems that at that time, for some reason, Mattel's Barbie was very popular in almost every country in the world, except Japan (maybe she looked too grown-up and glamorous?). That's why Mattel decided to collaborate with a Japanese company to develop a special Barbie, adapted to Japanese children's taste, exclusively for the Japanese market. The first result of their efforts was the doll known as Takara Barbie, and when Mattel withdrew their license in 1986, Takara changed her name to Jenny.

After that Mattel collaborated with Bandai to produce the Maba Barbie, from 1986 to 1989; there are also some dolls who look extremely similar to Maba Barbie but were made in Korea and are called "Mattel Young Barbie". Bandai also made some Barbies around 1990, which have a face quite different from the Maba Barbie and are known as "Bandai Barbie" (IMHO Bandai Barbies are less good quality than the others). Nowadays regular Mattel Barbies are sold in Japan, but Jenny is still there and going strong! When she was named Barbie, Jenny had two friends, Flora (released in 1983) and Ellie. They are referred to as "Old Ellie" and "Old Flora" because several years later, new friends bearing the same names made their appearance, but they have totally different head molds. The "Licca and Japanese fashion dolls" book has a picture of a leaflet which was made for the use of toy shops when Barbie changed her name to Jenny. Apparently the reason that was invented by Takara to explain the change, was that Barbie was "discovered" by a talent scout, made her debut in a musical called "Jenny", and was such a great success that she decided to adopt the name of the part she was playing. Mmmmh...

Did you know that Jenny was made after a real-life model? That model was Agnes Lam, a young "TV personality" who originally came from Hawaii and was very popular in Japan in the late seventies. People especially liked her features, at the same time exotic and a little Japanese in appearance. Jenny's big eyes and cute face are said to resemble Agnes Lam's. According to Ichikawa Kazuko, what makes Jenny so attractive is the fact that everyone can project into her any character and lifestyle they like. Romantic as well as boyish-looking clothes suit her. You can see in her an outgoing girl or a reserved girl. Unlike Licca's, her profile is not described in detail by Takara, so that every Jenny owner can make her into the person of her/his choice. (Ichikawa Kazuko, now a free-lance designer, contributed to the development of many dolls at Takara, including Candy Pop Barbie, Kansai Barbie, Hiromichi Nakano American Doll, Daitokuji Kisara etc.) Note : the info above comes from MFDB #6.