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Zombie Barbie -- Customizing Barbie for the Zombie Apocalypse

Updated on October 26, 2012
theclevercat profile image

Did you know Mattel wanted to sell more Barbie clothing than dolls? That's why her proportions were so wild—the clothes make her look human!

A beautiful zombie Barbie
A beautiful zombie Barbie | Source

Are you a fan of zombies?

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As iconic as Barbie is, sometimes one just needs to turn the tables and make her ironic instead. A well-designed Zombie Barbie would make a wonderful addition to your collection, so why not create one this Halloween? Remember, this project is wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, so go all out!

Here’s how to create your Zombie Barbie…


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Whittling toolsCraft knife and scissorsA variety of marker colors
Whittling tools
Whittling tools | Source
Craft knife and scissors
Craft knife and scissors | Source
A variety of marker colors
A variety of marker colors | Source

Making a Barbie of the Undead

Choose a Barbie that you won’t miss from your collection. Consider an older, generic-looking doll (the more vapid the eyes, the better) or one that has already been pre-chewed by a curious pet. The more interesting marks, the better for this project. I’ve chosen an older Athletic Barbie, with large flat feet so she can stand by herself (and terrorize other dolls on her own time).

Gather the tools and equipment you need… any or all of following will make a terrifically authentic Zombie Barbie. Consider these:

  • Wounding her “skin” with sharp objects
  • Adding color with markers, paint, or ink
  • Giving Barbie a haircut
  • Adjusting her clothing or accessories
  • Applying high heat or flame to her skin


Items You Need to Make a Zombie Barbie

Item
How to Use It
Craft knife or small wood carving tools
For slicing realistic wounds into Barbie's skin
Markers in various colors
For adding color to Barbie's "wounds"
Scissors
To cut Barbie's hair
Nail polish in dark or murky colors
For adding "blood" and other bodily fluids to your Zombie Barbie
Various articles of Barbie clothing
Distress these and put the final touches on Barbie's outfit
Use your imagination and really go to town marking up Barbie and creating the perfect zombie.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Barbie's legs, pre-sandingBarbie's legs, post-sandingWhittling tools can make interesting marks on Barbie's legs
Barbie's legs, pre-sanding
Barbie's legs, pre-sanding | Source
Barbie's legs, post-sanding
Barbie's legs, post-sanding | Source
Whittling tools can make interesting marks on Barbie's legs
Whittling tools can make interesting marks on Barbie's legs | Source

Barbie Skin and How to Customize It

There are many ways of changing Barbie's impeccable skin to resemble that of a zombie:

  • Rub heavy-gauge sandpaper all over Barbie's body or in strategic locations to simulate a horrible accident, or use a lighter gauge or rub less enthusiastically to simply show slight decomposition.
  • Employ a craft knife or whittling tools to gouge bits from Barbie’s body or create specialized scrapes, grazes, or cuts.
  • Wire cutters are great for finger removal.


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Scoring marks on Barbie's back, made with a craft knifeThe score marks with rust color rubbed in. It looks almost like a human scrape!The colored score marks, from a distanceBarbie's arm, unmarkedBarbie's arm, with marker linesRub the wet marker color onto Barbie's arm to get different shades of zombie colors
Scoring marks on Barbie's back, made with a craft knife
Scoring marks on Barbie's back, made with a craft knife | Source
The score marks with rust color rubbed in. It looks almost like a human scrape!
The score marks with rust color rubbed in. It looks almost like a human scrape! | Source
The colored score marks, from a distance
The colored score marks, from a distance | Source
Barbie's arm, unmarked
Barbie's arm, unmarked | Source
Barbie's arm, with marker lines
Barbie's arm, with marker lines | Source
Rub the wet marker color onto Barbie's arm to get different shades of zombie colors
Rub the wet marker color onto Barbie's arm to get different shades of zombie colors | Source

Coloring Your Zombie Barbie

After rubbing with sandpaper, scoring the doll body with tools, or snipping off bits from it, apply some color. I used Sharpie markers in various colors to create a lovely greenish-bluish-grayish zombie tone. Work fast so the lines don’t leave strips of color. Here’s how:

  • Color directly on the doll with your marker (or use a wash of acrylic paint and water).
  • Quickly rub into the wound to highlight complicated scratches, contusions, or abrasions.
  • Use your fingers (I mainly used my thumb), rag, or paper towel to remove excess color before it leaves unsightly streaks.
  • Smudge all over Barbie’s body (or at least the parts that won’t be covered by her outfit).
  • Build up color for a wonderfully ripe, creepy zombie look!


Coloring for Zombie Makeup

  • Use maroon and brown for realistic-looking scrapes on a Barbie of any race.
  • The best colors for bruises on a light-skinned Barbie are yellow, light green, light brown, and light blue. Apply navy blue, dark brown, and black to Barbies with darker skin tones.
  • Give Barbie a shiner with dark blue
  • Apply contouring around the cheekbones, above the eyes, and under the chin for an especially spooky look.

Zombie Hairdos for Barbie

Once you are satisfied with Barbie’s “body makeup”, fix her hair:

  • Color sections using markers. Any color will do.
  • Snip off lengths of hair until you like her new style.
  • After cutting, fluff and tangle her hair. This is easy! (As everyone who has ever touched a Barbie knows, shaking the doll works very well to mess up a hairdo.)
  • Apply reddish nail polish in spots to simulate matted blood and hair.
  • Sprinkle dirt in Barbie’s hair for the definitive gravesite ‘do.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Darker lipstick with red in the corner of Barbie's mouth signifies a freshly eaten meal. Light blue smudges create bruises easily.  Green smudges catch the light.As a reminder, here's what Barbie's face looked like before her snazzy zombie makeup.Terribly unattractive pink and purple Barbie hair......gets a boost from navy blue and green, and blunt layers.Uh oh! Barbie's lip must have gotten caught while she was chewing on something. And her new zombie 'do is perfect.
Darker lipstick with red in the corner of Barbie's mouth signifies a freshly eaten meal. Light blue smudges create bruises easily.  Green smudges catch the light.
Darker lipstick with red in the corner of Barbie's mouth signifies a freshly eaten meal. Light blue smudges create bruises easily. Green smudges catch the light. | Source
As a reminder, here's what Barbie's face looked like before her snazzy zombie makeup.
As a reminder, here's what Barbie's face looked like before her snazzy zombie makeup. | Source
Terribly unattractive pink and purple Barbie hair...
Terribly unattractive pink and purple Barbie hair... | Source
...gets a boost from navy blue and green, and blunt layers.
...gets a boost from navy blue and green, and blunt layers. | Source
Uh oh! Barbie's lip must have gotten caught while she was chewing on something. And her new zombie 'do is perfect.
Uh oh! Barbie's lip must have gotten caught while she was chewing on something. And her new zombie 'do is perfect. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Barbie outfit, uncustomizedBarbie's zombie outfit. Rip up her clothes a little (cut them if need be), rub them in dirt or oil, and color them with markers to get the right feel.
Barbie outfit, uncustomized
Barbie outfit, uncustomized | Source
Barbie's zombie outfit. Rip up her clothes a little (cut them if need be), rub them in dirt or oil, and color them with markers to get the right feel.
Barbie's zombie outfit. Rip up her clothes a little (cut them if need be), rub them in dirt or oil, and color them with markers to get the right feel. | Source

Choosing the Right Zombie Outfit

The best thing about choosing an outfit is that you simply can’t go wrong! I’ve chosen a halter and miniskirt from City Style Barbie, but feel free to use whatever style you like.

But as a lifelong collector, I would caution all potential zombie designers against attempting to “customize” any collector’s items. Use inexpensive or generic clothing to practice your styling on, because you only have one chance.

Here’s how to make Barbie’s clothes zombie-chic:

  • Snip, rip, or slash her outfit where she may have been “attacked” by another zombie over a food source
  • Apply nail polish as fake blood
  • Tear off a sleeve or pocket
  • Rub it in mud
  • Bring it to the dinner table and encourage your family to eat messily!


Suggestions for Zombie Barbies

Why not create a special narrative about your zombie Barbie? The story behind this sweetie-pie is a terrible automobile accident. She was in her little Blue VW Bug when she met her ultimate end one wet and windy day. Adios, Ken! Sayonara, dream house! Try one of these ideas for a whole collection of zombie Barbies.

  • Create a zombie cheerleading squad or football team à la season two of Glee
  • Make a zombie pregnant Midge with a tiny zombie baby inside
  • Swathe a replica Barbie in a striped swimsuit for an original Barbie-style zombie


Take Caution

  • If you decide to customize Barbie with a burning tool, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area. Barbie is made of plastic and fumes will rise when she is singed.
  • Do not involve children in this project. Sharp objects, flames and kids (or pets) don’t mix! A big pitcher of water will come in handy next to your workspace in case too high a flame results.
  • Learn the right way to hold your craft knife or carving tools. Remember, you are trying to change Barbie’s skin, not yours.
  • Different Barbie dolls are made of different plastic types. Dolls from the 1980s and '90s have softer legs than Fashionista dolls and that plastic will react differently to flame and color.

Zombie Barbie, Before and After

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Barbie, before she went Zombie. The poor thing had no idea what she was getting into!Barbie, a lovely zombie. She stands on her own, but she did lose a shoe.  Probably from running after her next meal!
Barbie, before she went Zombie. The poor thing had no idea what she was getting into!
Barbie, before she went Zombie. The poor thing had no idea what she was getting into! | Source
Barbie, a lovely zombie. She stands on her own, but she did lose a shoe.  Probably from running after her next meal!
Barbie, a lovely zombie. She stands on her own, but she did lose a shoe. Probably from running after her next meal! | Source

Comments

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    • theclevercat profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Vega 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, flashmakeit! :^) It's great to see you.

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 

      6 years ago from usa

      You really made me laugh! A Zombie Barbie. Your are a clever cat.

    • theclevercat profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Vega 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks, Blue Sidewinder! For a long time I found zombies totally gross, but now I find them kind of charming. :^)

    • Blue Sidewinder profile image

      Evan Eulie 

      6 years ago

      I love this! Anything zombie is great and the irony of it being Barbie makes it awesome and fun.

    • theclevercat profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Vega 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Sharkye11, thanks! I'd love to see the final product if you end up zombifying Babs. :^)

    • theclevercat profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Vega 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hey, Ish and thank you! If it's Barbie and crafty, I'm all for it. :^) I plan to add a few more pics after I gussy her up even more.

      Thanks so much for the votes, I really appreciate them.

    • theclevercat profile imageAUTHOR

      Rachel Vega 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Brainy Bunny, thanks so much! I may embellish her hair more... leave much less blond and add some bling on her top. :^)

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      This is awesome! I have made zombie baby dolls before but never thought about zombifying Barbie! Great ideas, and I love the photos!

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      6 years ago from Chennai, India

      A creatively stimulating idea suitable for upcoming Halloween! Your instructions, tips and suggestions are very helpful. The photos are handy and the final result is amazing! Way to go!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Funny, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & shared

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 

      6 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Oh my gosh, this is so deliciously creepy and gross! I think my favorite part is that even in death, Barbie's hair matches her clothes. :-)

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