Your New Best Friend for $75


(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Alexandra Truszkowska, Editor in Chief

As technology becomes more integrated into so many parts of everyone’s day, time for and the need for imagination seems less important. Even children, who are said to have vivid and creative imaginations, are not as likely to explore and create on their own without the use of technology. They are focused instead on the devices in their palms that are meant to act as a toy.

With this said, it will be hard to question the excitement that will radiate off of the child that receives Mattel Inc.’s, Barbie. Since 1959, new talking Barbie. Barbie has been a household toy, prized and loved by millions of children around the world. Countless hours could be spent enjoying Barbie’s company. Immersed in a fantasy world where anything was possible, the original Barbie allowed its owners to plot out their own unique adventures.  All of this created and played out in the mind of a child.

As times change and society asks or more from toy companies, the classic, smiling Barbie is about to take on a new trait that could quite possibly change the toy industry as a whole. Recently, Barbie has been able to sing a verse or project a sentence with the click of a button. She has never, however, been able to carry out a conversation. Mattel’s newest creation can engage in conversation with its owner. She is being marketed as the best friend that every little child wants. All this, for the price of $75.

With the help of cloud technology and a computer chip imbedded in the toy, ‘Hello Barbie’ has been programmed to ask questions, listen to responses and then select an answer that would best fit the situation. Her script is already quite large, and Mattel will be continuously adding on to her vocabulary of 8000 words.

This technological advance is exciting, but some people have doubts about ‘Hello Barbie.’ They wonder if she will strip away the creativity that the original Barbie provoked.

Barbie is already one of the most controversial toys ever made. Because of her unrealistic looks, she has earned a sore spot in the hearts of many parents. The creation of this interactive ‘Hello Barbie’ will keep the Barbie brand in the spotlight. Allison Tate, who is a mother of four children including a young daughter, says, “I would rather her use her imagination without input from the doll.”

Many people can see reason in this idea. The wonderful memories of playing with a doll as a little girl are ones that cannot be matched by another toy. As time passes and toys evolve, imagination must not be reproduced with pre-packaged ideas.

The toy industry is one that runs on creativity. The children of today will be the next inventors of toys that will be played with by the next generation of children. What might happen if children are not given the opportunity to play and experience the creativity instilled in playing with toys? Being great, young creators makes for great, adult creators.

A toy is still a toy, however. How children will react to ‘Hello Barbie’ remains uncertain until her release. ‘Hello Barbie’ will share the toy store with the classic Barbie, who will still be sold like they always have. Children will still be able to play with them like they always have.

The true success of ‘Hello Barbie’ will be revealed when she is released. Until then, one can only guess how she will effect the world of toys and how it will change the way children play and think. I for one cannot wait to see how this innovation changes one of my favorite childhood toys.