So, what do you get when you mix a rockhound with a Barbie collector? Why, Rockhound Barbie, what else?
Today I had the pleasure of meeting Barbara (Bee) Amato and her creation, Rockhound Barbie, at a prearranged meeting the Executive Inn. I first heard about Bee and Rockhound Barbie from some fellow rockhounds during Tucson's Old Pueblo Lapidary Club's annual show last November. Rockhound Barbie sounded pretty cool and I was able to contact Bee, who lives in Mesa, Arizona, and made arrangements to meet with her at the EI during the Show. I thought Rockhound Barbie and the story behind her might make an interesting feature for the '99 report and I wasn't disappointed.
In addition to being a rockhound, Bee is a Barbie collector and while the 100 or so Barbies in that collection is dwarfed by the number of rocks in her other collection, that's still quite a few Barbies. Of all her Barbies, Bee is fondest of her 'Belle', made by Matel. Bee wasn't sure when the idea for Rockhound Barbie first germinated, but by the 1997 Arizona State Fair, Bee had created her and entered Rockhound Barbie as an exhibit in the Fair. Rockhound Barbie was a big hit at the Fair, and Bee was subsequently encouraged and invited to enter a Rockhound Barbie as a competitive display in the Mineralogical Society of Arizona's 1997 show. Bee related that Rockhound Barbie received the Visitor's Choice award, in spite of going up against some pretty stiff competition from more conventional displays.
Bee's original plan included ongoing production of Rockhound Barbies, but after completing her pilot run of a dozen dolls, she decided to curtail further production due to the large amount of time creating them entailed. After checking out one I understood why they take so long to make - the detail Bee has incorporated in her Rockhound Barbies is pretty amazing.
Bee is a typesetter by vocation and has the skills and access to equipment which enabled her to do a really slick job on the package as well as the collecting equipment and paraphernalia, which includes a miniature 'Watch for Rocks' sign, pick, bag of Fritos, shovel, a pack of Marlboros (empty, of course), an Arizona State map, a gold pan brimming with fools gold, a bucket full of rocks, and a snake. Hey, you should do so well collecting as Rockhound Barbie - check out her rock bucket! The tools are modeled from an epoxy putty and employ dowels for handles. The Arizona map even incorporates a miniature picture of Fife Symington, a former AZ govenor who got himself into serious legal trouble over shady financial matters and fraud. The
images on the package were derived and scanned from photos of an Arizona mine entrance.
Needless to say, I thought Rockhound Barbie was way cool and my virtual hat is off to Bee for her humorous and creative project. I just couldn't resist, and Bob's Rock Shop is now a proud owner of one of only a dozen Rockhound Barbies in the world. Bee reported that many of the Rockhound Barbie sales were to dealers. Bee related that at $50, her Rockhound Barbies were not usually purchased on impulse. The buyers typically wanted to 'think about it', and after they did, they did. Sorry, they're all gone...