Britain's biggest Barbie fan has spent £20,000+ collecting 800 of the iconic dolls

  • 10 months ago
Britain’s biggest Barbie fan has spent more than £20,000 collecting 800 dolls – which have rocketed in value since the movie release.

Dawn Austin, 44, first became obsessed with the iconic doll when she spotted one in an airport shop when she was a small child.

She steadily added to her collection but lost interest as a teenager until she fell back in love with them in her 20s when she became an artist.

Over the last 23 years, Dawn has scoured flea markets and online auction sites like eBay for dolls from her childhood.

She now has a staggering 800 Barbies as well as several Kens. She also has dozens of Sindy and Tammy dolls which are crammed into her three-bed terrace in Derby.

Dawn says the dolls fill almost every surface but husband Steve, 45, draws a line with having any in their bedroom.

She said: “One of my first memories is sitting in a pram and seeing this amazing toy doll in a shop window at an airport.

"I saw all these golden-haired dolls and I asked if they were fairies or angels.

“My mum took me over and bought me a Malibu Barbie and I never let it go. From then on I just wanted to collect them all.

"When I was a child, it was the scope for imagination and play. She could be what I wanted.

"I remember that Barbie was a nun, but she was also a farmer - she went anywhere that you could take her.”

While she was an art student in 2000, Dawn decided to collect Barbies she enjoyed from her 1980s childhood.

She added: “My fascination just snowballed. I would go on eBay sites and scour flea markets and thrift stores.

“Every time we go on holiday, I always scout out a market or car boot sale nearby.

“My husband Steve is very good. He knows how important they are to me.

"I have kept all the receipts for the dolls and I would estimate that overall I have spent more than £20,000 on them but for me it's worth it because I just love collecting them."

Since the Hollywood movie Barbie was released last month, the value in Barbie-related memorabilia has soared.

Dawn has now upped security of her most precious dolls, with some being extremely rare first editions.

The most valuable doll she owns is a 1960 model featuring Barbie wearing a black and white swimsuit and sporting a ponytail.

Dawn said: “I never really thought to much about the doll’s value but since the movie, Barbie memorabilia has gone up 25 per cent.

“I have become quite expert in what to look for and I always go for as mint condition as you can find.

“First I look at the condition of the face and hair and if the doll has any limbs bent or chewed or missing.

“If you can find any which are boxed then that’s really going to up their value.

“The clothes don’t really matter because they can be replaced.

“A face can even be repainted or repaired but they lose their value.

“Through my work as an artist I have become expert at doll restoration.

“I’ve helped other collectors restore their dolls which were not in the best condition.”