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Man from Singapore Has 6000+ Barbie Dolls

By: RTV/CBS
By: RTV/CBS

The white exterior and spartan gray staircase of Jian Yang's tidy rowhouse give no hint of the shock that lies within - a pink living room floor and his collection of more than 6,000 Barbie dolls.

The 33-year-old Singaporean favors minimalist decor but the Barbies and 3,000 dolls of other kinds dominate three sides of the main room and spill over to fill nine mirrored cabinets in his dressing room and the shelves of his study.

The hue of the living room floor is not just any pink. It is Barbie's signature color, Pantone 219 C.

Yang has a professional interest in toys and consumer trends as director of strategy at Omicom Media Group. But his love of Barbie began at age 13 when he bought the "Great Shape" model wearing a turquoise Spandex gym outfit and striped legwarmers.

"So you guys have come in to the right room, this is where the most precious ones are, that's number one, my first, 1984, Great Shape Barbie, she was also featured in 'Toy Story' I mean," he said.

"The wardrobe is conceptual in the sense that there is a series of dolls called the fashion model dolls, you get to dress them up, I mean, that's what dolls are about right, all the dress up dolls are in the wardrobe, it makes sense," he added.

Launched in 1959 wearing a zebra-patterned swimsuit, Barbie has sold more than 1 billion units. But for Mattel, the toy giant who makes her, sales of the dolls and related products fell 12 percent in the April to June period of this year - the fourth straight quarter of decline - as tastes shift.

Yang said Barbie is an icon that still has a future but "the relevance is waning" as princesses and ballerinas give way to the ghoulish imagery and stories popularized in vampire movies such as "Twilight" and "New Moon".

"The reason Barbie has this kind of longevity that we've talked about is the fact that they've moved all the way from this kind of look, the pretty Barbies, to the new fancier Barbies, I mean, that's what she looks like now right," he says showing a new style Barbie from his collection.

"The new ugly is beautiful kind of situation, so these are Monster High dolls and Monster Highs are daughters of famous monsters. This one's the daughter of Dracula if I'm not wrong, and this one's the daughter of the Abominable Snowman, her name is Abybominable," he added, saying Mattel's competitors, one of them being Hasbro, are doing the same.

"Hasbro for example has taken Jem and the Holograms, which is from the 80s, and done a whole redux of what they are, so Jem and the Holograms, this is as 80s as it gets you know what I mean, but it's still cool, it's still relevant today," he says.

Yang's interest came from watching cartoons as a child and as soon as he could purchase his own toys, he started buying the dolls.

His boyhood interest turned into a "crazy obsession" that his friends support and his family has come to accept, he said.

"Crazy obsession mainly, but I think as a person, I'm very into collections, I'm very into amassing unfortunately, so that's how it is, I buy one, I try to complete the series. I like fashion, I must admit, I like pop culture, I like celebrities, I like that kind of stuff," he says.

"I've also have the ex-girlfriends who get insecure about this kind of stuff because you still do get the SMSs with the unresolved relationships that go like 'I will never be one of these' you know 'what's my waistline'," he added.

The self-described "toy nerd" reckons he has spent at least $306,633 over the last 20 years on his collection, which includes hundreds of dolls from the Bratz Girls, Monster High and Jem and the Holograms lines.

Yang's oldest Barbies date from the early 1960s, including one in a nurse's outfit with cat's eye glasses, but his passion runs the gamut of eras and styles.

Special editions in the likenesses of Grace Kelly, Barbra Streisand, Carol Burnett and Elizabeth Taylor.

He also has his most expensive doll.

"I'm sure at this point this is her, despite market values fluctuating so, I've got vintage, which are more expensive than this, but this is the most I've ever paid for a doll, about 3600 Singapore dollars, she was an auction piece," he said.

"Asked about the rarest doll, this would be her, she's a "Comme des Garcons" Barbie, so "Comme des garcons" is one of my favorite designers, and she's the rarest because even the collectors don't know about her, she's designed directly by Rei Kawakubo," he says.

On his last trip to New York, he bought 65 dolls. He is going there again this month for work and is sure to hit the shops. Yang also buys dolls at auction and online too plus gifts from friends.

When asked what he will do when he runs out of space, he jokingly said he will buy his neighbor’s house.


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