top of page

It's Allan's 60th Anniversary!

Good Morning My Confidants!

I am happy to be able to say that I am getting another pretty special doll for my collection. The 60th anniversary edition of Allan Sherwood, Ken's "buddy," who was introduced on February 6, 1964, when I was a mere four years ago. Whoa.... That makes him only four years younger than me! Goodness!

This is one of the few that will probably stay in his box, although the box lid will be off, allowing him to breath. And this doll is Allan, the doll created originally in 1964.

What's more, he was marketed as being able to fit into Ken's clothes.

Now I know why they did this. They were letting you know that you didn't have to buy even more clothes to fit this new doll, that if you had Ken and any clothes for him, then you were good. But really! The way that they said that and concerning this was two male dolls! Wear Ken's clothes? Did I have a different kind of buddy than Ken did? I never remember having a "buddy" that we wore each other's clothes. Not even T-Shirts!

Despite the fact that he will be an in-the-box-doll, sitting on a shelf observing everything around him from on high and not being played with, I wanted this doll for two reasons.....

1)  Part of what makes him special is that he is made of Silkstone, a type of vinyl that has the look, weight, and feel of porcelain. Because of its connection with BFMC, Silkstone dolls are considered the gold standard among Barbie collectors. They even break! The are beautiful. But that's not enough. The other reason is that for Christmas, Noah got me the Silkstone 60th Anniversary Ken doll, and I think they should be together, keeping each other company on that high shelf.


2)  Because Allan started it all!

There were little things before him. Dolls that I bought where I convinced myself it was because of some other reason..... There was the Ken and Barbie Star Trek dolls, where they came together in a box wearing the 1960s classic uniforms. There was the Queen Amidala doll from the Star Wars prequels who wore an exquisitely detailed dress from the first movie--but of course this was before we knew how terrible the movies were going to be. There was a GI Joe doll that was a tribute to the 60s and 70s 12" "action figures" that I managed to convince my parents to get for me (how brilliant Kenner was in marketing these dolls for boys as action figures!). There was the Barbie doll, they called her Becky, in a wheelchair that caused a huge controversy, and me and my spouse at the time were convinced was going to be worth a ton of money one day (you can easily get her for $20 today, which may be less than we paid for her originally).

And most of all there were a couple of "gay" dolls. There was Cock Ring Ken...ah...I mean Earring Magic Ken that came with something around his neck that looked suspiciously like a tool that helps a man maintain a longer lasting and harder erection. Mattel claims that what happened was that in order to make their dolls more representative of what was cool at that time, they sent designers to popular dance clubs like Studio 54 and that they had no idea what that was around a lot of men's necks. That and it had a plastic ring hanging from it that allowed the doll's owner to have a match ringer to the one the doll was wearing. This doll wore a lavender mesh shirt with matching lavender faux vest. I want to know what straight man was so confidant in his masculinity that he would be seen alive outside of his home!

AND there were three dolls actually marketed as gay dolls: Billy, his boyfriend Carlos, and their African American best friend Tyson. They came with a huge variety of outfits ranging from street clothes to full leatherman leathers, and cowboy, sailor, wrestler, UPS man, and more outfits. They were a bast! Hilarious, and they were anatomically correct. Boy were they anatomically correct!

Yes, dolls that I could convince myself that I only wanted for the worth as collector's items.

But really, I knew better even then. I just didn't play with them and left most of them in their boxes so they could be "mint in box."

But it was only when about a year and a half ago that I saw a 1960s ad for the new "Allan" doll who was advertised as Ken's buddy that my eyes popped, and I wanted a doll because I wanted a doll! Not only was he Ken's "buddy" (which made me burst out in laughter) and not only did "all of Ken's finely tailored clothes fit Allan" (and as I said above, I know of no male friends who wear or wore each other's clothes unless they are lovers), but on top of that, he was wearing a rainbow beach jacket! OMG!

Had some gay designer snuck this design past Ruth and Elliot Handler, the presidents of Mattle?

Alas, that is not the case. Allan, as I said, was released in 1964, and was not until 1978 the artist Gilbert Baker, an openly gay man and a drag queen, designed the first rainbow flag, and it wasn't until 1994 before it became official.*

But I wanted him! I wanted him bad!

I began to look for him on eBay, and holy shit! That little guy wasn't coming cheap. Many of the prices were easily $150 to as much as $300 and more!

But then I saw a posting by my sweet friend Mark Hughes, who has a Barbie museum in Eureka Springs AR, was selling some of his backstock/overstock on dolls. There wasn't a mention of an Allan doll, but I contacted him and yes (!) he was going to be able to help me and at a much much much better price. He wanted dolls to go to good homes. He even had an outfit or three for him. He let me make payments! And then at the last minute, a day or so before he mailed him off, I realized it was sad if Allan didn't have his buddy!

Did Mark have a Ken and would he cost me a mortgage payment?

Mark had quite a few Kens in fact, and being the sweet, amazing man he is, it didn't raise the price I was paying already in any real substantial manner.

And then the box arrived.

I was ridiculously excited.

Ben, I asked myself. What is going on? It's a couple of dolls for goodness sake! Dolls! And I could hear my mother's voice in my head: Dolls are for girls! You won't believe how hard I had to work to get that GI Joe doll when I was 11 or 12 years old! It was only his army uniform and guns that convinced my parents. Except they insisted he be a Marine since my dad had been one for 35+ years!

But then I opened the box, and as a good collector Mark had made getting the box open all but impossible (LOL!), and the second I got them out of the paper wrapped around them I was a goner.

I all but cried. I think I did tear up.

And here is the weird part.

I could almost hear them whisper to me.....

They were so happy to be out of a box, out of a drawer, down from some attic, and in my hands.

There was something about them that made me see them as almost reverent. These dolls were old. One of them maybe a year younger than me. Who knew who their first owners were? The games that had been played with them? The secrets whispered? A kid's dolls never tell. Could maybe a young gay boy have played with one of them? Had he sneaked in his sister's room to secretly play with them? Was he lucky enough to have a sister let him play with her and her dolls? Had he really been lucky to have parents that would let him have his own?

Who knows?

My "new" Ken and Allan knew, but they weren't talking. Not about that.

Nope, they were spinning the tale of their long love of each other and their heartbreak at hurting Barbie and Midge, but in the early sixties, what were gay men able to do unless they ran off to a gay ghetto in a big city?

A little piece of trivia by the way. Allan was named after Ruth Handler's son-in-law.

It was only a week or so later that on our Saturday outing, I had Noah take me to a store where I could buy two more Ken dolls to be the gay friends of my Ken and Allan. And then to my surprise, I started getting more dolls anonymously in the mail!

Soon I was making little photo-version comic books (of a sort) on Facebook with a tiny bit of story about them and their lives and what was going on, which only inspired an avalanche of dolls, almost all of them anonymously.

They kept coming and coming and I bought some of course, especially after I found a wonderful doll store here in Kansas City call The Doll Cradle and I made a mistake, I bought a Barbie. One had been sent to me as a gal pal for all my gay boys (I hate the title "fag had" and have always), but this was my first purchase. I convinced myself I had to have Ken's ex and make them find a way to become friends and that started a whole new wonderful storyline that will one day become a novel!


When I found out that Mattle, in honor of Allan's 60th anniversary (and I am sure it has something to do with his huge popularity due to the Barbie movie and the fact that Mattel hasn't made an Allan doll in many, many years) I wanted him.

But did I need him?


But did I want him?


And Ken strapped in his box like sub in an BDSM session did need someone to keep him from being lonely! Why it was akin to me buying that first Allan just a tad over a year ago and deciding I needed a Ken as well. Excep this time in reverse!

A friend helped make him happen--he's not cheap--and I ordered him (he didn't sell out in 33 seconds like some of the other dolls) and he is being mailed on 3/8/24 and should arrive within a few days.

And once again I am so excited!

Funny that these dolls can bring so much joy and happiness and a renewal in my desire to tell stories again! I am a sixty-three year "old" man, going on sixty-four in just a month or so!

So, I need dolls?

Well, I do want them!

But do I need them?

Well, apparently, if through their innocence, they bring me such joy?

I think I do.

Or maybe they do? Because a doll deserves to be loved. And once that plastic is injected into molds and made into human form, who knows that happens then. Especially where imagination breathes life into them?

And as the Dame Helen Mirren tells us in the Barbie movie, "Since the beginning of time, since the first little girl ever existed, there have been dolls."

I suspect there were more than a few boys as well.

What brings you joy!

As long as it doesn't cause you or others harm, go for it!

Life is too short not to play with what makes you happy!


BG "Gentle Ben" Thomas

* How Did the Rainbow Flag Become a Symbol of LGBTQ Pride?:


27 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Happy Birthday Allen. Great article.


Feb 17

Happy Birthday Allan!! Its special to spark our imagination again! Happy playing!!

bottom of page