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Zombie Barbie -- Customizing Barbie for the Zombie Apocalypse
Are you a fan of zombies?
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…
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
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"
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
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.
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.
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
- 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.