TIME Business

13 Fascinating Careers You Never Knew Barbie Had

From rapping to campaigning, Barbie has done it all

Barbie has a resume that even the most accomplished high-achievers would envy.

Her first-ever job was as a “Teenage Fashion Model” in 1959, but she soon broke boundaries in male-dominated fields, playing Major League Baseball, programming computers and rising to the rank of sergeant in the Marine Corps. She has even made a foray into space travel, reaching the moon in 1965, years before Neil Armstrong’s famous first steps.

This week, as dedicated fans of Barbie gather in Washington, D.C. to kick off the 2015 National Barbie Doll Collectors Convention, TIME is revisiting some of Barbie’s 150-plus careers over the years. Here’s a sampling of her most memorable ones:

  • 1. Executive ‘Career Girl’ Barbie, 1963

    1963 Executive (Career Girl)
    Mattel 1963 Executive (Career Girl)

    Outfitted in a tweed skirt suit and gloves, Barbie had her first stint as a corporate exec in 1963 — a time when women were almost entirely absent from top-level roles in companies and were making 59 cents on the dollar compared to men. She must’ve liked the job, considering that she’s taken it up three more times since, with the latest Business Executive Barbie released in 1999.

  • 2. Astronaut Barbie, 1965

    1965 Astronaut
    Mattel 1965 Astronaut

    Barbie’s first space voyage in 1965 took her to the moon a full four years before Neil Armstrong, and over a decade ahead of Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. She has since made two more missions and has even taken her talents to Space Camp to educate the next generation in a partnership with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala..

  • 3. UNICEF Ambassador Barbie, 1989

    unicef barbie

    Taking a page from Audrey Hepburn, who served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF from 1989 until her death in 1993, Barbie became one herself in 1989. The undertaking rounded out a decade of diversity in her career, including stints as an aerobics instructor, a rock star, and an officer in the U.S. Army.

  • 4. Rap Musician Barbie, 1992

    Barbie first became a singer in 1961, but her musical talents have since expanded. In 1992, she made her rap debut as “Rappin’ Rockin’ Barbie” with her boom box in tow, and shared her street cred with the world in a memorable commercial. Unfortunately, this is one career she hasn’t since revisited.

  • 5. Marine Corps Sergeant Barbie, 1992

    1992 Marine Corps Sergeant
    Mattel 1992 Marine Corps Sergeant

    Barbie made history in 1989 when she first joined the military as an officer in the U.S. Army, but to date her 1992 position as a sergeant in the Marine Corps is the highest rank she’s held in the Armed Forces. As a sergeant, Barbie would’ve had a great deal of responsibility directing eight soldiers in combat operations as their squad leader.

  • 6. Presidential Candidate Barbie, 1992

    1992 Presidential Candidate
    Mattel 1992 Presidential Candidate

    Long before Hillary Clinton hit the campaign trail, Barbie made her first bid for President, joining the fictional ’92 race. No word on how she fared in her first election, but she has since made four more bids for the Oval Office—the latest of which was in 2012.

  • 7. Paleontologist Barbie, 1997

    So nice she did it twice! Barbie followed up her first foray into paleontology in 1997 with another in 2012. Both times she proved that she wasn’t afraid to get her hands (or her signature pink flair) dirty working with dinosaur fossils.

  • 8. Major League Baseball Player Barbie, 1998

    Mattel

    To date there has never been a woman in the MLB (though that could be changing soon), but Barbie is always a step ahead of the game. In 1998 she made her MLB debut, with different editions for the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers. That same year the Yankees won the World Series—surely thanks in part to the help of their newest teammate.

  • 9. WNBA Player Barbie, 1998

    1998 WNBA Player
    Mattel 1998 WNBA Player

    Barbie added “baller” to her resume in 1998 when she joined the WNBA as No. 1 at a fictional Dallas team, though this was far from her first stint in sports. She made her Olympic debut in 1975, and throughout her long career she’s sampled everything from Olympic gymnastics (1996) to World Cup soccer (1999).

  • 10. American Idol Winner Barbie, 2005

    2005 American Idol Winner
    Mattel 2005 American Idol Winner

    American Idol introduced the world to Carrie Underwood when she took home the title in 2005, but Barbie took it upon herself to rewrite history when a version of the doll was unveiled as an American Idol competitor the same year. With Britney Spears’ hit “Oops! … I Did It Again” as her audition song, she squared off against friends Tori and Simone for the top spot, with more than 700,000 fans voting for a winner on the company’s website. No word on what Randy, Paula and Simon thought of her performance, though.

  • 11. SeaWorld Trainer Barbie, 2009

    2009 Sea World Trainer
    Mattel 2009 Sea World Trainer

    Back when Barbie first joined the team at SeaWorld it was still a tourist favorite, but following the release of the explosive documentary Blackfish in 2013, the park is no longer beloved by the public, or Barbie herself for that matter. In April 2015 ,Mattel was lauded by animal rights groups for ending the production of its SeaWorld Trainer dolls.

  • 12. Computer Engineer Barbie, 2010

    2010 Computer Engineer
    Mattel 2010 Computer Engineer

    In 2010, Barbie wanted a hot tech job, but she found herself in hot water instead when a companion book entitled Barbie: I Can Be A Computer Engineer went viral a few years later, with critics saying that it was sexist. Thought Barbie was described in the book as a computer engineer creating a new game, it turns out that she needs the help of two male colleagues, Steven and Brian, to actually make the final product. Backlash was severe, and Mattel apologized, pulling the book from shelves soon after.

  • 13. Arctic Rescuer Barbie, 2012

    Barbie was a long way from Malibu in her 2012 role as an arctic rescuer, but she made herself at home with a pink snowmobile and matching igloo for her pets.

TIME Television

HBO Is Toying With Us Over Jon Snow’s Fate

Spoiler alert, as always

HBO just added fuel to the fire in the debate over Jon Snow’s fate on Game of Thrones.

As Pedestrian reports, HBO recently sent out a press release promoting a sale of their latest collection of toys. While that is not particularly newsworthy the collection is called the “Honor The Fallen: The Memoriam Collection” and features several beloved characters all killed before their time by the cruel hand of author George R. R. Martin and the writers of the HBO series, including Robb Stark, Khal Drogo, The Hound, Ned Stark, Oberyn Martell and the less beloved Joffrey Lannister.

However there is one character noticeably absent from the toys of the dead (a concept that is suitably dark for the HBO series) — Jon Snow. The character, played by Kit Harington, died at the hands of his Watcher brethren and has had the internet buzzing with conspiracy theories since the scene aired in June. Yet he is not featured in the Memoriam Collection. Could that mean that he’s not actually dead? Or is HBO just prolonging its torture of fans like it’s been reading from the Ramsay Snow playbook?

This is hardly the first instance of speculation that Jon Snow could be returning to the show. Rumors circulated when Harington showed up at the Wimbledon tennis championship sporting Snow’s trademark shoulder-length hair and again when he was spotted in Belfast where Game of Thrones is filming.

Plus, in the words of A Song of Ice and Fire creator Martin: “If there’s one thing we know in A Song of Ice and Fire is that death is not necessarily permanent.”

 

TIME Minions

‘Minions’ a Massive Hit at This Weekend’s Box Office

Premiere Of Universal Pictures And Illumination Entertainment's "Minions" - Red Carpet
Kevin Winter—Getty Images

Second-largest opening for an animated film.

Tiny yellow “Minions” topped this weekend’s box office, pulling in a reported $115.2 million in North America alone and earning the second-largest opening for an animated film in history.

The Universal Pictures film, which is a prequel spinoff to “Despicable Me,” fell a tad short of the domestic record set in 2007 by another animated film sequel – “Shrek the Third.” That film earned $121.6 million in its opening weekend, according to Variety.

The strong start for “Minions” comes despite some ho-hum reviews for the film, which is the third tied to the Despicable Me franchise. It only earned “mixed to average” reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic, and the user score of 6.4 out of 10 wasn’t much better. The film features the voices of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock and “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm.

One area where the Minions characters are expected to also be a huge hit – the toy aisle.

Observers have said that Minions are a property that plays well across both genders and multiple age groups, which is helping the figures win key shelf space on shelves this year. It is expected to be one of the better-performing licensed toy properties for 2015.

TIME Lego

Lego’s Bricks Are Getting Their First Makeover in Decades

Danish toy maker is looking for a bio-based alternative, report says.

The ease of Lego’s interconnected bricks are a main reason the Danish toy maker is one of the largest players in its field today.

But Lego is on a 15-year quest to tinker with that success.

As The Wall Street Journal points out, Lego has assembled a team to find a bio-based alternative to the petroleum-based plastic it has used for decades. That’s because the blocks are a big contributor to the company’s carbon footprint.

The Journal’s story didn’t break a lot of new ground: Lego last month committed roughly $150 million to the effort that it said could take until 2030 to complete. At the time of that announcement, Lego said it expected to recruit more than 100 specialists within the materials field to find alternative materials. Lego in 2012 first outlined plans to find sustainable alternatives to raw materials used to manufacture its products, though the company’s statement last month gave more concrete details about that effort. It’s the Lego brick’s first makeover since 1963, the Journal said.

“This is a major step for the LEGO Group on our way towards achieving our 2030 ambition on sustainable materials,” Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO and President of the LEGO Group, said at the time of the announcement.

Some question if the effort can be a success. Wired last week raised concerns that the toy maker could truly replicate its bricks without using the famed plastic formula that works today. Along with questioning what “sustainability” means in this context (even Lego admits there is no common definition), Wired argued it might make more sense to make packaging more environmentally friendly.

In any case, Lego and its pocket of the toy industry have been soaring of late. Sales of building sets in the U.S. jumped 13% to $1.85 billion in 2014 from the prior year, the best-performing category in the toy aisle.

MONEY Workplace

Science Games for Girls Can Open Doors to Lucrative Careers

Courtesy Roominate Roominate rPower, available this fall, lets girls control ferris wheels, RVs and other creations using a phone or tablet.

But are they learning the money management and fundraising skills that will allow them to run their own companies?

Pink Legos not being quite enough, a slew of start-ups, many of them founded by women, are attempting to motivate girls into lucrative and satisfying careers in the traditionally male-dominated areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

But while girls string together HTML instructions and tinker with circuits, are they learning the money management and fundraising skills that will allow them to run their own companies – or even just manage their bank accounts?

Women have traditionally lagged men in financial literacy and investing prowess, according to Annamaria Lusardi, a professor of economics at the George Washington School University of Business in Washington, DC.

“Knowing science is not enough for women,” says Lusardi, an expert in financial literacy. “You need a capacity to make good financial decisions.”

Confidence is the key to unlocking women’s potential in these areas, Lusardi says. She helps run annual studies testing financial literacy, science and math knowledge around the world. When “I don’t know” is included as an option, women pick that much more than men, Lusardi says. Yet in a test case removing that option for some respondents, women answered the questions and mostly got the answers right.

“We have to really show to women that they should take the plunge, because it is very important,” says Lusardi.

Try, Try Again

Debbie Sterling, who founded the building kit GoldieBlox, says her products teach confidence by allowing girls to fail. “It opens their minds to say it’s ok to tackle a problem even if you’re not going to get it perfect the first time,” she says.

Players can fit the toy’s interlocking plastic building pieces in many different ways, so they experience trial and error.

Storybooks accompany the set, featuring positive role models. The main characters, Ruby and Goldie, are purposefully not prodigies, but rather are B+ students who are really open-minded and willing to try, try, try again.

“There’s the boy-genius archetype in media that suggests that unless you have IQ off the charts, you’re not good enough. I think that archetype is really damaging,” says Sterling.

Supply and Demand

The goal of STEM play is to get children’s creativity flowing, and the founders of GoldieBlox and other programs such as Roominate have seen all sorts of inventions come to life.

The best of them identify some sort of need and figure out how to capitalize on it – the basic laws of supply and demand that drive all successful business.

The lesson to learn, says Lusardi: Think of how you can build something you can sell, and then creatively manage your resources.

With Roominate, a modular building system with circuits, players create rooms with functional lights, fans, furniture and other features. While the pastel-colored pieces are designed to fit together into rather domestic configurations, the company’s founders, Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, have seen customers take off from there. They develop play storefronts, lemonade stands and other businesses, which teach them mini-business lessons as well.

One GoldieBlox user took the kit and some paintbrushes and created a drawing machine, according to Sterling. She made original paintings with it that she sold, and then she donated all the profits to charity.

Another success story: Tampon Run, a free iPhone app designed by two New York city teenagers. It is an old-fashioned arcade game where the heroine uses tampons as weapons to defeat enemies. The app was created by students of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit aiming to teach computer programming to one million girls by 2020.

More wide-reaching is that many girls have graduated from Girls Who Code to paid internships in the community. “I think they are now comfortable making money,” says founder Reshma Saujani.

MONEY Toys

This Might Be LEGO’s Cutest Set Ever

wall-e-lego-set-cute
SMYTHS / smythstoys.com

At least until the Minions get their own collection.

Images of what appears to be the new official Wall-E LEGO set are online, reports Gizmodo.

Thanks to a pair of giant, anthropomorphic eyes, the Pixar character model might be the cutest LEGO set ever, or at least in recent memory. This conclusion is based on a perusal of the toy company’s current and discontinued themes. (Not even Dora the Explorer or Baby Mickey Mouse can compete.)

Irish retailer Smyths Toys will start selling the set for about €58 ($65) on December 1 of this year, though LEGO aficionados predict Wall-E will likely cost the standard $40 for a set of its size. Though the image could potentially be a placeholder, it seems more likely that the box shown on the Smyths site is legitimate, writes Gizmodo.

The inspiration for the Wall-E set came from a design submitted to the LEGO ideas site, where fans can share concepts for new themes. This time the fan was Angus MacLane, an animator who actually worked on Pixar’s team for the film.

If you want even more cute LEGOs, don’t despair that the design for a Minions-themed set didn’t make it off the ideas site: You can always just make your own.

Read Next: Here’s How to Get a Free Jurassic World Lego Toy

MONEY freebies

Here’s How to Get a Free Jurassic World Lego Toy

150612_EM_LEGO
vn-thanh.vo On Saturday, Toys R Us is giving away mini LEGO Jurassic World gates. For sets like the one seen here, you'll have to pay up.

This promotion is dino-mite!

To get your child hyped to see Jurassic World—not to mention eager to buy Legos and other toys—Toys R Us is hosting a big “Make & Take” Legos event this weekend.

From 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at all Toys R Us locations, kids ages 5 and up are welcomed to build a mini Lego Jurassic World gate and then take it home, free of charge.

Oh, and wouldn’t you know: Toys R Us currently stocks several other brand new Jurassic World Lego sets, and these are most certainly not free.

TIME Lego

Lego Just Apologized for this Offensive Toy Description

Reference to ‘window-licker’ led to a backlash

Global toy brand Lego has had some explaining to do over the description of one of its new toys.

The product, called Turg and part of the company’s Mixels line, is a character with a long tongue and a single eye. Lego described the toy on its website as an “experiment gone wrong.” It continued: “Part frog, part chicken, part back-of-the-bus window-licker, this Mixel has the longest tongue of them all.”

That description has received strong criticism from mental health advocates, according to a BBC report. The news organization said mental health charity leaders were appalled at the offensive phrase (a “window-licker” is a derogatory term for a person with mental disability).

“It is unacceptable that a toy company like Lego have used a term that offends people with a disability such as this, especially as the toy is aimed at children,” a representative from charity Mencap told the BBC. “I have a learning disability and I know that it makes me feel different.”

In a statement to the publication, Fiona Wright, Lego’s vice president for the U.K. and Ireland, said:

Lego Mixels’ aim is to inspire creativity using quirky fictional characters to help children express their imaginations. We have very high expectations of our products. This also includes the text we use to describe them towards consumers. We are sorry that wording which could be considered offensive has been used, as this has not been our intention at all. As an immediate result of the input we have received, the product description for the Mixels character Turg has been changed on our website Lego.com. We have looked at our processes to make sure this does not happen again.

Fortune has reached out to Lego for further comment.

TIME Innnovation

Watch This Robotic Teddy Bear Hug Sick Children in Hospitals

MIT researchers have launched a 90 patient study on the therapeutic value of a moving, blinking, talking toy bear

Huggable, a robotic teddy bear currently making the rounds at Boston Children’s Hospital, is part of a larger study on how interactive toys can alleviate stress and isolation. The New York Times captured footage of the bear at one such patient’s bedside, and her reaction, scientifically speaking, is adorable.

For more on the renaissance of chatty toys, see TIME’s recent coverage of a talking robot that’s vying for the title of smartest toy in the playpen.

TIME Toys

The Big Bang Theory LEGO Set Is Here

Sheldon looks even smarter somehow

If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory and have wanted to hang out in Leonard and Sheldon’s living room, swap physics jokes with Amy and Bernadette, eat Chinese food with Raj and Howard and re-enact all your Penny-Leonard (or Sheldon-Leonard?) slashfic, now is your chance. LEGO has just unveiled its new The Big Bang Theory LEGO set.

The set includes mini-figures of the show’s seven main characters—Leonard, Sheldon, Penny, Howard, Raj, Amy, and Bernadette—and enough authentic detail to satisfy even the most Type-A fan. The minifigures of the characters are all dressed in outfits that any fan will recognize, from Sheldon’s Flash t-shirt to Raj’s multi-hued ensemble.

This set comes from LEGO’s popular Ideas crowdsourcing community, the same group of people behind the forthcoming Doctor Who LEGO set and the possible Golden Girls kit. The Big Bang Theory set was created by two LEGO fan designers— Alatariel from Sweden and Glen Bricker from the USA—and selected by LEGO Ideas members.

The Big Bang Theory construction set will cost $59.99 and is expected to be available this summer.

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