It may be her 50th birthday this year, but Barbie certainly doesn't look her age. Perhaps it is appropriate then that the Angela Merkel Barbie Doll, debuted at the 60th annual International Toy Fair in Nuremberg on Thursday, hardly looks anything like the German chancellor. Mattel, it would seem, wanted to honor Germany's first female chancellor as a role model for girls. The problem, though, is that some people might have trouble recognizing her.
The Merkel Barbie's hair color and cut are spot on, as is her respectable black wool crepe trouser suit, complete with pink lining and a broach. But that's pretty much where the similarities end. The standard, flat Barbie smile -- which one might think fits the politican stereotype -- helps hardly at all.
Indeed, the Merkel Barbie has curves more likely to be seen in Heidi Klum's show "Germany's Next Top Model" than on the floor of the Bundestag.
The Merkel doll is just the most recent in a veritable flood of dolls depicting politicians from around the globe. President Barack Obama and his family have been favorite subjects, Pope Benedict XVI is also popular and French President Nicolas Sarkozy was even made into a voodoo doll.
Merkel herself has proven something of a favorite as well. Recently, the German chancellor had the somewhat dubious honor of being transformed into a "caganer" -- one of those defecating figurines used in Catalonian Christmas lore. And back in 2005, just one day after Merkel was tapped for her leadership position, German toy designer Schildkröt resolved to make a Merkel doll -- one that turned out looking like a baby with a Merkel hairdo.
Schildkröt, which is presenting a very dark-skinned Obama doll at this year's toy fair, has also produced dolls in honor of the Dalai Lama and Mozart. And some of them have proven to be very popular. The 999 Pope Benedict XVI dolls, for instance, sold quickly -- much faster than the Merkel doll. Which, one might think, raises the question as to why anyone would buy dolls modeled after public figures -- especially ones that don't bear any resemblance?
"If you are very religious, you might want to have a little icon," hypothesized one Schildkröt employee in a telephone conversation with SPIEGEL ONLINE. "But as for politicians, I have no idea who would want them."
"I'd never buy one," she added.