Barbie Takes Up Cosplay

[crossposted at smallthingsmakemehappy.com]

The picture shows eight dolls of differing genders, ethnicities and ages dressed as the first eight doctors.

Eight dolls, dressed as eight doctors.

When Tansy Rayner Roberts mentioned a few months ago that the Doctor Who Pattern Book included guidelines for doll costumes, I decided to snap up a copy and start sewing suits for my own collection of 1/6thfigures.

The picture shows a Barbie doll dressed as the fifth Doctor, with a red-haired fashion doll dressed as a femme Turlough.

Turlough and the Fifth Doctor.

The book contains knitting instructions for a cardigan, trousers and top intended to fit Action Man. For non-UK readers, Action Man is a toy soldier (similar to GI Joe in the USA). The knitter can vary the colour of wool used to create different Doctor outfits. My mother followed the pattern to knit the cardigan worn by the second Doctor, above; it was simple and quick to make. As I’m stronger at sewing than knitting, I raided the remnants box and improvised all the other items of clothing.

The way fashion dolls are gendered and racialised presents problems from a feminist perspective, as do the consumerist values doll manufacturers promote. But dolls are also eminently hackable and easy to queer. Rather than stick rigidly to Action Men—whose military masculinity is already a curious choice for modelling the Doctor—I dressed dolls of differing ages, genders and ethnicities.

So far I’ve only had time to make Classic Who costumes (I balked at doing all the assistants as well, but couldn’t resist trying a femme Turlough, pictured right). Doctors nine to eleven are on the list…

4 comments

  1. This is amazing! I am so proud for having enabled this. Love the race & gender-bending and particularly the choices of the dolls for each costume. The tiny weeny 6th Doctor is so cute. & I love the expressions on the faces of 1, 2 & 3 – all very appropriate.

    I think I love sour-faced Turlough best, though.

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