Meet Midge, Sugar Daddy Ken and Earring Magic Ken: Barbie's Rejected Friends

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.08 - 2024 2:07 PM CET

Photo: Indre Pau /
Photo: Indre Pau /
The "Barbie" movie brings back several dolls that many have forgotten over the years.

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The blockbuster features many different versions of Barbie and Ken.

But two new faces stand out among the crowd: Allan, played by Michael Cera, and Midge, played by Emerald Fennell.

Both Allan and Midge characters in the "Barbie" film are inspired by real dolls produced by Mattel, Barbie's parent company. Initially created as part of Barbie's friend group, Allan and Midge were eventually phased out and forgotten by many.

In the latter part of the "Barbie" movie, several other dolls that were no longer produced — like Sugar Daddy Ken, Growing Up Skipper, and Earring Magic Ken — come to aid Stereotypical Barbie, played by Margot Robbie, in her quest.

Let's dive into the stories of these once-forgotten dolls.


Midge Hadley burst onto the scene in 1963 as Barbie's closest companion. Barbie aficionados note that Midge was designed with freckles and minimal makeup to address concerns that Barbie appeared overly mature and glamorous.

Polygon reports that the production of original Midge dolls ceased in 1965. However, Midge made a comeback in 1988, eventually tying the knot with her boyfriend Allan in a '90s wedding.

Controversy struck in 2002 when Mattel introduced a pregnant Midge doll, equipped with a detachable belly revealing a baby inside. This version sparked debate among parents over concerns it might encourage teen pregnancy, leading Walmart to remove the doll from sale. Mattel later released a postpartum version of Midge.

In the "Barbie" movie, Helen Mirren's narrator hints at Midge's complex history with Mattel, saying, "Let's not show Midge, actually. She was discontinued by Mattel because a pregnant doll is just too weird." Midge does make occasional appearances in the film, albeit in a more subdued role.


Introduced in 1964, Allan emerged as Midge's significant other and Ken's confidante, setting the stage for double-date adventures with the iconic Barbie and Ken duo. In his debut, Allan donned a vibrant striped shirt, a style nod that finds its way into the "Barbie" movie through the character Cera.

Allan's name pays homage to Allen Segal, the spouse of Barbara Handler, whose mother, Ruth Handler, is the visionary behind Barbie.

Both Midge and Allan were designed to share Barbie and Ken's wardrobes, promoting versatility. However, Allan's promotional slogan, "All of Ken's clothes fit him," unintentionally sparked speculation about a romantic connection between Ken and Allan, as noted by Attitude magazine.

Similar to Midge, Allan's presence in the Barbie collection was phased out, although he has made occasional returns to the Barbie universe.

In the "Barbie" film, Allan champions the Kens and tends to be overlooked by the Barbies.

Growing Up Skipper

The film features various nods to Skipper, known as Barbie's younger sister.

Growing Up Skipper was introduced in 1975, intended as an educational tool for children about puberty and adolescence. By rotating one of her arms, the doll could simulate growing taller and developing breasts, mirroring changes during puberty.

Mattel expanded this concept by introducing Growing Up Ginger, a friend for Skipper, though both dolls were eventually phased out of production.

Sugar Daddy Ken

Among the forgotten dolls featured in the film are two unique versions of Ken, including Sugar Daddy Ken, brought to life by British actor Rob Brydon.

Launched in 2009 to commemorate Barbie's 50th anniversary, Sugar Daddy Ken was introduced as a part of Mattel's collection aimed at adult collectors.

The name "Sugar Daddy" typically implies an older man who financially supports a younger woman for her companionship. However, in this context, "Sugar" actually refers to Ken's pet dog, a white West Highland terrier, offering a playful twist to the doll's moniker.

Despite debates sparked by the doll's name, Mattel's spokesperson Michelle Chidoni addressed the issue, stating to ABC, "At the end of the day, this collection is targeted toward adults. While the name of the doll does refer back to the dog, I think people are going to interpret it as they want to interpret i."

Earring Magic Ken

In an effort to modernize Ken's image in the 1990s, Mattel unveiled Earring Magic Ken in 1993. This version of Ken sported a purple mesh shirt, a faux-leather vest, a necklace, and a single earring, marking a significant departure from his traditional look.

The doll unexpectedly resonated with the gay community. However, it also faced significant controversy over its appearance, which some interpreted as aligning with LGBTQ+ symbols, leading to its eventual discontinuation and recall.

Critics specifically took issue with the necklace, suggesting it resembled something profane.

Mattel's marketing and communications head, Lisa McKendall, clarified to the Chicago Reader, "We're not in the business of putting c*ck rings into the hands of little girls... It's a necklace."