Twist 'n Turn Barbie (#1160), also known as TNT Barbie, debuted in 1967. The 1965 American Girl Barbie doll was the first with bendable legs, but TNT Barbie was the first who could turn at the waist! She was a dynamite addition to the prior static dolls who didn’t twist. A pivoting waist added playtime fun and more pose options. She wore a salmon-colored bikini featuring a groovy net cover-up, and she kept the red fingernail and toenail polish that were a hallmark of earlier Barbie dolls. Check out her 1967 commercial!
In response to rapidly changing styles and ideals of beauty, the Barbie face of 1959 wasn't relevant for the mod fashions dominating the fashion runways. Mattel's designers re-launched Barbie with a brand new look. Now featuring long, rooted eyelashes and a more youthful face, TNT Barbie was given a trendy hairstyle of straight chest-length hair with bangs. TNT Barbie’s new rooted lashes made her eyes as dramatic as those of Twiggy, the famous 60s British model. Mattel also made a Twiggy Barbie doll in 1967, its first doll based on a real person.
The TNT doll's flowing straight locks got a boost in color and, for the first time, her super-shiny hair was given a description. Hair wasn't just blonde, brunette or titian (red). That wasn’t fashion-forward enough for a model! Now her hair came in Sun Kissed (light blonde), Summer Sand (grayish blonde - which I have in my collection, see side photo), Red/Titian (rare), Platinum (rare), Go Go Co Co (brownette), and Chocolate Bon Bon (dark brown).
In an interesting marketing move, Mattel initiated a trade-in promotion for the popular TNT Barbie. Mattel promised children they could exchange any old doll and pay $1.50 to acquire the all-new Twist 'n Turn Barbie. The trade-in dolls (#1162) were identical to regular TNTs, but they sealed in a plastic bag and packaged in a slim pink box.
There's no doubt this was a turning point doll for Mattel. It was a departure from the doll's earlier more staunch, proper look. Pop culture strongly influenced Barbie doll fashions and attitude, which continued throughout Barbie history. The movin' groovin' world of the late '60s, with its mod haircuts, micro-minis, and moon boots, inspired Mattel designers to create a new line of clothes for Barbie and her teenage friends.
Sources: The Best of Barbie, Sharon Korbeck 2001; Barbie Doll Photo Album 1959 to 2009, J. Michael Augustyniak 2010
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