Dolls, in boxes, line the walls of Lamanda Scott’s 8th-floor hotel room. There are hundreds — mostly Barbies, but also Ken. Especially Ken.
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.
The set-up at the Sheraton is perfect for display. Each room has a big picture window facing the atrium.
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.”
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.’”
Of the three shoppers in Scott’s room, Janet Benoit reports the lowest annual Barbie spend — maybe $8,000 or $9,000 a year.
“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.