Nine Things About Sunsational Malibu Ken, 1981-1982

“He’s got the California look!” This version was made in Hong Kong.

1. Sunsational Malibu Ken was released in 1981 and 1982 as model number 1088. This model number is shared with other Caucasian “Beach” Kens, including Malibu Ken, Sun Lovin’ Malibu Ken, and Sunset Malibu Ken.

2. The “Sunsational Malibu” playline included Barbie, Christie, PJ, and Skipper.

3. According to Mattel, Ken’s full name is Kenneth Sean Carson. The Ken doll first appeared in 1961.

4. This doll included purple swim trunks, aqua blue mirrored sunglasses, and a purple, green, and yellow beach towel.

(L) The sunglasses (Image: eBay), (R) The towel and trunks (Image: Amos Media)

5. Sunsational Malibu Ken was marketed as “Golden Ken” in Sweden, “Aurinko Ken” in Finland, and both “Malibu Ken” or “Formidable Ken Malibu” in Canada.

6. He was one of the first Ken dolls to be made in other skin types, including the use of different face molds. The Hispanic model came with aqua trunks (much like the U.S. Sun Lovin’ Malibu Ken). The African American model (#3849) wore yellow swimwear, had rooted hair, and a face model that was (sadly) only used once.

Hey, girl. (L) The 1088 model (Image: Amos Media) and (R) Model 3849 (Image: Tourniquet/Flickr)

7. In some of the sale postings for this doll online, there are original price tags on the boxes. This doll seemed to retail for about $4.44 to $5.70 in the early ‘80s. Five dollars in 1981 is equal to $14.92 in 2020 U.S. dollars.

8. Although it’s in rough condition, you can still find the TV commercial for Sunsational Malibu Barbie (with Ken) on YouTube:

9. As of August, 2020, prices for this doll range from $12 (nude, no clothes or accessories, moderate condition) to around $100 (new, never removed from box). The prices for this Ken doll, even with original box, are very inconsistent. The African American model is more valuable.

Sources include,, The Man Behind the Doll, and Something About the Boy.


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