Friends Of Barbie’s Boyfriend Have Their Day At Kenvention

Friends Of Barbie’s Boyfriend Have Their Day At Kenvention

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Dolls, in boxes, line the walls of Lamanda Scott’s 8th-floor hotel room. There are hundreds — mostly Barbies, but also Ken. Especially Ken.

Lamanda Scott, a professional Barbie dealer, holds her daughter Lana and admires some of the hundreds of dolls she offers for sale from her hotel room. (Paula Friedrich/WBEZ)

This is the Kenvention — a Mattel-blessed conference dedicated to Barbie’s boyfriend — and Scott’s hotel room is a kind of pop-up shop. The dolls have prices ranging from five dollars to more than $400.

Barbies without clothes from Lamanda Scott’s pop-up shop carry price tags of up to $95. (Paula Friedrich/WBEZ)

The set-up at the Sheraton is perfect for display. Each room has a big picture window facing the atrium.

Hotel-room pop-up shops face the Sheraton’s atrium from the 7th and 8th floors. Lamanda Scott’s “She’s My Doll” shop is on the upper left. (Paula Friedrich/WBEZ)

One Ken Doll among Scott’s collection stands out because his hair is a mess. Also, his jacket doesn’t fit very well.

“He’s actually a really interesting doll,” Scott said. “He’s the very first Kenvention doll.”

He look kind of like Homeless-Guy Ken.

“Well, I do think he didn’t travel well,” Scott said. “I think at one point his hair was very nice. Right? And then I think over the last four years he’s gotten in bins, out of bins. He’s been in a lot of hotel rooms, and his hair probably needs a brushing.”

Scott’s wares include the first Kenvention doll, a “fan-made” doll with hand-sewn clothes, top row, second from the left.  (Paula Friedrich/WBEZ)

The Kenvention is part of a Barbie-show circuit that also stops in California, Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.

Jim Taylor, president of the “He’s a Doll” club that sponsors the conference, traveled to shows in Livonia, Mich. and Milan, Italy, this year. He said his spending in Milan was especially high.

“As I was getting on the plane, I thought, ‘I have ten thousand dollars worth of dolls in my bag. I hope I don’t lose it.’”

Jim Taylor, president of the “He’s a Doll” club that sponsors the Kenvention, poses in front of dolls from Lamanda Scott’s collection. (Paula Friedrich/WBEZ

Of the three shoppers in Scott’s room, Janet Benoit reports the lowest annual Barbie spend — maybe $8,000 or $9,000 a year.

Chicago collector Janet Benoit poses in front of dolls from Lamanda Scott’s pop-up shop at the Sheraton. (Paula Friedrich/WBEZ

“Before I started collecting, I would sort of wander through the aisle at Target and think, that’s so cute! But I could never!” she says. “I just didn’t see myself as the kind of person who had dolls, as an adult. Finally, my husband—I was looking at one in a Target—he said ‘Just put it in the cart. We have to go!’ And that was all I needed. And it went in the cart, and suddenly I was just off and running.”

See more photos of Kenvention, including crafting workshops and doll dioramas, in the slideshow at the top of the page.