Similar Dolls

When a new toy line becomes successful, there are usually a bunch of cheaper copies created to look like the originals, and to sell like originals. This was no exception for the Jem dolls. Jem was Hasbro's flagship, and there were all kinds of knock-offs and cheap imitations. Some are obvious bootlegs and are mostly done by smaller companies, while the bigger ones try to hide their attempts by making their own and a little different version of the original idea without stepping on any copyrights and trademarks. Then of course there are those dolls that just happen to be lookalikes, and sometimes it's hard to tell which ones are what.

Too much competition is believed to be one of the reasons that eventually caused the Jem doll line to be discontinued, since it prevented the sales of the Jem dolls. But Jem obviously made it's mark and a lasting impression in the history of doll lines, and even today you can find new dolls that are clearly inspired by Jem dolls.

Here are some dolls that have something in common with the Jem dolls in one way or another, either they are direct bootlegs, just rockstars, have punk hair colors, were made by the same company, were made in the 80's, or have some characteristics that reminds of Jem.

Barbie dolls by Mattel

The queen of all fashion dolls ever since she first arrived in 1959, invented by businesswoman Ruth Handler, based directly on the German doll Bild Lilli. Barbie is a modern woman who has all kinds of interests and jobs, she has a boyfriend named Ken and lots of friends. Although there's been a number of attempts to put her off the throne by other toy companies, several of which have practically succeeded, she has always worked her way back by creating new competition and following trends. Having a worked in name and being backed by such a huge company, has of course been an advantage.

Barbie and the Rockers, 1985

In 1985, Mattel learned that Hasbro was releasing the Jem dolls. Barbie was Mattel's biggest brand, and Mattel apparently felt that the Jem dolls, even with the differences in size and theme, and even before they were released, posed a big threat. This was going to be the biggest competition that Mattel had faced for their worldknown doll line Barbie. Mattel was terrified of the competition and decided to give Barbie a rockband too, "Barbie and the Rockers", or "Barbie and the Rockstars" as in Europe. This was a completely new direction of the Barbie doll which had been pretty harmless in her previous releases, usually as a princess or a ballerina or such.

The first set of Barbie and the Rockers dolls to arrive were Barbie, Diva, Dana, Dee Dee and Derek. The dolls came with a fashion, a microphone, socks, shoes, a sheet of cardboard prints, iron-on decal, and the females also had a hairpiece, ring, bracelet, extra t-shirt and a hairbrush. Barbie came with a cassette which all included the songs "The Rockers Theme", "Dressin' Up", "Born With A Mike", and "Stretchin' It", only two of which were included in the cartoon.

The second edition of the doll band was called "Real Dancing Action" for the females, and "Hot Rockin' Fun" for the males. Now there was one more male added to the group: Ken of course. This edition of dolls would kinda move their arms when you turned their body, they had new fashions but included no cassette.

The third set of dolls included the four female dolls: Barbie, Diva, Dana, and Dee Dee, as "Barbie and the Sensations" and had a 50's look to them. They resembled what Barbie and the Rockers looked like when they went back in time in the cartoon.

There were two sets of fashions released: Barbie and the Rockers fashions included 12 different fashions, two of which were for the male dolls. The second set of fashions included 6 fashions, one of which was for the male dolls, and was called "Concert Tour Fashions" or "Tour Fashions" in Europe.

There was a playset of a stage called "Hot Rockin' Stage", a pool called "Rockin' Pool Party", furnitures set called Rockin' House Party, extra instruments set called "Live Concert Instruments" and "Rock Concert", and other playsets like "Vanity Set", "Dance Cafe", "Recording Studio", "Hot Rockin' Van" and a remote controlled "Rockin' Cycle".

As mentioned, there was even a Barbie and the Rockers cartoon made, in two parts, called "Out of this World" and "Rockin' Back to Earth", which featured all the characters, and several of the outfits and playsets. In the cartoon, Barbie and the Rockers were the only band around and loved by everyone in the whole world. There was certainly no competition from a band like the Misfits. Alot of the cartoon was about being friends and having a good time. At their worst, the Barbie and the Rockers characters were tired or disappointed for second, then it was time to sing and dance again. They even went into space to perform.

Similarities to Jem, other than colorful rockstar dolls, were that the Barbie and the Rockers dolls had an edition of the leadsinger with star earrings, there was a male doll with combable hair, the group had one black and one asian member, the dolls came with a cassette with songs, and there was a Stage playset and a car. While the Jem dolls had more realistic and more bendable bodies, Barbie and the Rockers had their "Real Dancing Action" edition of dolls. Both of the cartoons had music videos that were blended with the action. The cartoon included some similar storylines as in the Jem cartoon, like time traveling and a fifties theme.

With all the similarities, Barbie and the Rockers were still apparantly of lower quality, as could be expected since they were made in a hurry and rushed out to compete with the Jem dolls. Half of the about 10 songs sang by Barbie and the Rockers in the cartoon were covers of old songs, some by the Beatles. While the Jem cartoon contained over a hundred songs, with no covers.

Mattel didn't seem to care at all about Barbie and the Rockers once they managed to silence Jem. Today however there is no question about which of these 80's rockstar cartoons and dolls are more remembered and popular. Try to search for a better site about Barbie and the Rockers than this one for example. And take a look at the auction site eBay, Barbie and the Rockers dolls are barely selling. While Jem dolls are selling better than ever. This is probably also how the sales would look today if Jem made a comeback into the toystores, even if Barbie and the Rockers made a copy-comeback (infact Mattel re-released an anniversary issue of Barbie from Barbie and the Rockers in 2008). Especially since the only thing that speaks in Barbie's advantage is that it's a wellknown brand and that Barbie has set the standard of doll fashion sizes, so that they won't fit dolls in bigger sizes like the Jem dolls. But those are easy fixes for Hasbro.

Offsite link: More info about Barbie and the Rockers on this page.

Barbie and the Beat, 1990

To make sure Jem was really dead, Mattel put out another band for Barbie, consisting of Barbie, Midge and Christie. This time they had glow in the dark fashions, and again came with a cassette tape, with songs written by Jerry and Cheryl Caglese and co-produced by Carlos Rios. There was also a fashion line with glow in the dark fashions.

Off-site link: Barbie & the Beat cassette music.

Fountain Mermaid Barbie, 1993

When the rights to Disney's "Little Mermaid" went to Tyco, Mattel did the same thing as always, their own version, but with pink hair? This might have been the very first time Barbie actually appeared in completely pink hair. It only goes to confirm how much Mattel really feared Jem back in the 80's and wish they had made her. And about 8 years later it was time to release another pink-haird mermaid called "Mermaid Fantasy".

Foam 'n Color Barbie, 1995

Here is a Barbie with pink or blue hair streaks. Came with some kind of color to wash Barbie's hair with so it would go pink or blue.

Beyond Pink Barbie, 1998

In the late 90's as a response to the Spice Girls which had their big breakthrough a year earlier, and with Jem and the Holograms in memory, Mattel did it again, they responded with a rockband for Barbie, named "Beyond Pink". Beyond Pink consisted of Barbie and her friends Teresa and Christie. Barbie got a dress that reminded more of Jem's than ever, the dolls now had wild hair color strands, glow-in-the-dark accents in their hair, Jem style instruments, and came with a cassette again, this time with a song called "Think Pink".

Happenin' Hair Barbie, 1998

If you dip this Barbie's styling tools in cold water, you can stamp or stencil pink and purple hair tattoos. As usual there's a Teresa and Christie version also with punk hair colors.

Hula Hair Teresa, 1998

Barbie got pink hair once more. There's also Barbie and Christie, both with the haircolors pink, orange and yellow. But Teresa was the most interesting of them. Teresa has light brown hair, plus the "hula hair" with the three punk colors, red, blue and purple. The same three colors as the Holograms dolls, Kimber (red), Aja (blue), Shana (purple).

Barbie Jam'n Glam, 2001

It was a new century, and Mattel still hadn't gotten over Jem. This was perhaps one of their closest attempts to make dolls that looked like Jem. To begin with, the name "Jam", and to use it the same way the Jem line did "Jam'n Glam" (like "Glitter 'n Gold Jem" or "Rock 'n Curl Jem"...). Then there's the haircolors, you could switch between normal hair colors into wild hair colors. There were playsets like instruments and a tourbus that turned into a stage.

Off-site link: Jam 'N Glam Barbie Commercial.

Other Mattel dolls

Mattel covered all kinds of themes, whether it was female action figures, princesses, aliens, or now recently monsters.

Princess of Power, 1985

She-Ra the heroine of the planet Etheria, is the alter ego of Princess Adora, who is He-Man's lost twin sister. She-Ra is the leader of the Great Rebellion who are fighting against the evil Hordak to protect the planet. There was a 93 episodes long cartoon created by Filmation.

This line arrived at almost the same time as Jem and although it had figures with punk hair colors, it wasn't a direct competition for Jem. She-Ra was Mattel's way of making a female version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, as well as cashing in on the Golden Girl line by Galoob. The line wasn't a big success outside the US, and that might not be such a big surprise considering the quality of the dolls, and character names like "Buttina", "Perfuma" and "Peekablue".

Off-site link: She-Ra Toy Guide

Lady lovely Locks, 1986

Lady Lovely Locks is a princess, who togheter with her friends Maiden FairHair, Maiden CurlyCrown and the flying animals called Pixietails, defends the kingdom of Lovelylocks against Duchess Ravenwaves. There was a 20 episodes long cartoon series by Dic. This was another line of 80's dolls with colorful hair, although not much direct competiton for Jem.

Off-site link: LadyLovelyLocks.org

Spectra, 1987

These alien dolls from the planet "Shimmeron" had chrome bodies and sparkling strands in their hair. A line that was created by Mattel and while Barbie and the Rockers covered the rockstar part about Jem, this line covered the wild hair colors. But the reason they had chrome bodies was to compete with another doll, by Tonka, called Aurora. The main character of course had bright pink hair, and of course the male character had combable purple hair, and the black female member of course had bright purple hair. There was also a line of fashions available and playsets. This line wasn't a big success across the world.

Off-site link: ModColors of Barbie: Spectra Dolls

Monster High, 2010

Fashionable monster creatures who are said to be relatives of the famous old monsters like Dracula, Medusa, Frankenstein's monster, Zombies, Werewolves and so on. This is definitely Mattel's best attempt at competing against the Bratz and Moxie Girlz. Perhaps the highest-quality, most detailed, most inventive and most daring dolls Mattel has ever put out. This is a great example of what could be done with Jem and the Holograms if they returned as a new line.

Off-site link: MonsterHigh.com

Hasbro

Hasbro has put out a number of fashion dolls, most noticably Sindy, which has been their longest lasting attempt, although the doll was more popular in Europe than in the US. Then there's been several short-lived doll lines, often based on real life singers, or even disney characters. After the Jem doll line was discontinued, Hasbro continued to use accessories from the Jem dolls, like bracelets and necklaces, on their other and new doll lines. It's possible there are even more similarities of Jem and other Hasbro dolls. These dolls are the closest that other dolls can truly come to the Jem dolls, since they're made by the same company.

Space Fantasy Sindy, 1985 by Pedigree

An older version of Sindy, with the bigger head. From before Hasbro bought the rights to Sindy from Pedigree. It's supposed to be a space doll, with the pink hair, silver top, a silver/pink cummerband, pink skirt and sandals. There were also a couple of Sindy dolls called "Starlight".

Off-site link: Sindy Collectables.

Superstar Sindy, 1988 by Hasbro

Now Hasbro had taken over the line and changed the head mold, made it a little smaller, but not as small as it was going to be. This doll, although it was made by the same company as Jem, seems to have been inspired by Jem, and the earring color and mold are the same as the Jem doll Raya came with. Also included a microphone.

Sindy Paint-a-Picture, 1989 by Hasbro

This is an example of the newest version of Sindy's head, which was more in size of Barbie's head. These dolls provided Barbie with a lot of competition in Europe. This particular doll is interesting because it came with three bracelets, a pink, a yellow, and a black which have the exact same shape as the bracelets that came with the Jem dolls Glitter 'n Gold, Rock 'n Curl and Clash.

Maxie, 1988 by Hasbro

It seemed that Hasbro thought a rockstar doll like Jem was too hard for girls to identify with. And instead of changing Jem, Hasbro threw Jem away and started over. Still, Maxie inherited several things from the Jem dolls, as Hasbro re-used some molds for dolls and accessories, and used some of the ideas that were supposed to be used on the Jem dolls before the line was discontinued.

Maxie also had her own 32 episodes long cartoon called Maxie's World, in which she was a blonde high school girl with her own tv show. Like Jem, it also included some songs. The dolls were more similar to Barbie in size. The line only lasted three years though, and before it ended Maxie was even planned to get her own rockband, much like Jem.

Off-site link: The Sunny Surfin' World of Maxie.

My Little Pony, 1983

The ponies in all kinds of colors, that each had a special marking on the side of their flanks. Hundreds or thousands of different ponies have been made since the 80's. There are regular horses, seahorses, pegasus, unicorns, and other animals even. And they keep returning in new shapes. Their first comeback was in 1997, the second was in 2003, and they're still around. There were lots of fashions and playsets aswell. There were cartoon episodes and a movie made in the 80's, and in later years new shows have appeared aswell.

These ponies were made by Hasbro and shared the same molds for certain items, like the "Get Into The Groove" fashion in 1987 which included a green boom box in the same shape as the Jem doll Danse has in orange.

Off-site link: Dream Valley - A Collectors Guide to My Little Pony.

Other dolls

Darci, 1979 by Kenner

Made by Kenner, a company that Hasbro bought in 1991. The body shape is similar to Jem. There were no punk hair colors, and the fashions were more elegant and 70's like than rockstar-like. There was also a fashion line, and a disco playset.

Golden Girls, 1984 by Galoob

Golden Girl and the Guardians of the Gemstone is a line of female actionfigures (as well as two males) who battle against the evil forces of Dragon Queen. Female action figures are not the most common toys, and these pre-dated Mattel's She-ra, and were of superior quality. They were very detailed, had combable hair in punk hair colors, came with a cape, shield (in metal!), weapons and a comb. There was a line of fashions and playsets which included a couple of horses and a castle. There's no connection to Jem, but this was a cool line worth mentioning.

Off-site link: The Lair on Storm Isle.

Rose-Petal Place, Kenner 1984

About Rose Petal and her friends Lily Fair, Daffodil, Orchid, Sunny Sunflower, and Iris, which was available as a movie. Came out before the Jem line, and other than the colorful fashions, the only connection to Jem is that they share some of the fabrics of the Jem doll line. The fashion "Painting Posies" had a fabric that was going to be used on the Music Is Magic Jem fashion Splashes of Sounds, and was featured on the fashion box, although they for some reason went with another fabric.

Aurora, 1987 by Tonka

The boxes said "The ultimate poseable fashion doll!" and "The future looks beautiful". This was apparently a futuristic line of dolls. Aurora, Mirra and Lustra came with chrome bodies and wild hair colors, like pink, blue and purple.

Lace, by Creata

This doll is from the late 80's, perhaps around 1987, after the Jem dolls were released, and is an obvious copycat of Jem. The box says "The Celebrity Rock Star with Fashion & Fame", which is partly the same as in the Jem theme song. Other versions are a black doll with black hair and blonde bangs, and a blonde doll. It even had a line of fashions. Creata also copied other doll lines of the time, like Lady Lovely Locks.

Off-site link: Creata's Lace Celebrity RockStar.

Popstyle Riviera, 1987 by Gig Vanity

This is one of atleast four dolls called "Popstar/Popstyle styling heads". This is the most interesting of the dolls, it very much resembles Stormer. The flower in the blue curly hair, and that makeup. The other three have white hair and are called "Princess" or "Rock Star".

New Kids On The Block, 1990 by Hasbro

One of the first boybands. They consisted of five members: Jordan, Jonathan, Joe, Danny, Donnie, and was formed in 1984. They became world famous in the 80's and early 90's, with hits like "Step by Step", "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" and "Hangin' Tough". There was even a cartoon about them that featured their music, in around 18 episodes.

The main similarities to Jem is that they're a music group, with dolls made by Hasbro. The bodymold may be similar to Rio's. They also came with a mike (looks like the same shape as the Jem mikes), and there was a stage playset. Two issues were available "Hangin' Loose" and "In Concert" which came with a cassette.

Spice Girls, 1997 by Galoob

The Spice Girls was a girlgroup of five members from the United Kingdom, who formed in 1994 and had their breakthrough in 1996 with the song "Wannabe". For a few years they gained success by marketing themselves almost as specific characters with nicknames, using the key phrase "Girl Power" and cashing in on all kinds of merchandise with their name and pictures on it. A doll line was one of the things that was released, and it consisted of 11 editions and lasted for about three years.

The girlgroup had several similarities to Jem and the Misfits, by the way they chose to market themselves, their looks and music videos. And the doll line only added to it all. Some of the dolls had punk haircolor strands, and their fashions had alot in common fabrics-wise. The first edition Emma doll resembled the first edition Jem doll alot, with it's metallic pink minidress. But the big deal was the Jem line's trademarked phrases which the Spice Girls dolls used without permission, like "Smashin' Fashions" and "Truly Outrageous". And there were rumors of a cartoon for a while, which never happended. Eventually Hasbro bought Galoob, and started making their own version of the Spice Girls dolls.

Off-site link: Spice Girls Vs. Jem.

Sailor Moon, 1999 by IGEL

These dolls, which first appeared in 1992 in Japan, are based on an anime show in which these characters are superheroes, dressed in sailor outfits, fighting against evil villains. It seems that many fans of Sailor Moon are also fans of Jem. But are the shows really that alike? The main character has a secret identity and then there are some punk haircolors on some of the characters, two with pink hair: Sailor Mini-Moon and Wicked Lady. And one of the main characters, Sailor Mars, has red star earrings. The blue-haired doll pictured is Sailor Mercury.

Off-site link: Sailormoontoys.com.

Bratz, 2001 by MGA Entertainment

Soon upon their arrival they provided Mattel's biggest threat since the Jem dolls, infact they practically erased Barbie from the doll shelves. Mattel even took them to court over the similarities with Barbie, and stopped their takeover of the doll market for a while.

Similarities to the Jem dolls, are large heads and some releases with punk hair colors or rockstar themes. There's a series of rocker dolls "Girlz Rock" which came with instruments and one of the dolls had pink hairstrands. The "On the Mic" series had a music theme and came with wild hair color strands and instruments. The recent "Masquerade" dolls have wild hair colors like all pink hair (three dolls) and other colors, but were likely made to compete with Mattel's new "Monster High" dolls.

Moxie Girlz Jammaz, by MGA Entertainment 2009

The Moxie Girlz was MGA's new line of dolls that were created during Mattel's lawsuit against the Bratz dolls. They are slightly larger than the Bratz dolls, but have a similar shape. The dolls in this set came with an instrument, a mike, and a wig of wild hair colors to change into.

Off-site link: MoxieGirlz.com

Unknown dolls

Some lower quality dolls, which weren't marketed in an organized way, but worth mentioning because of their similarities to Jem.

Steffie Love, by Simba

Part of the fabrics very much resembles Roxy's pants. I haven't been able to confirm whether this dress belongs to this doll, but it's likely. [Thanks to Diana for identifying the doll]

Donna, 1997 by Tai Kee Company

A 11" doll made in Hong Kong which is an obvious Jem copycat, with the artwork, the colorful hair, and even unusual set of instruments. Apparently came carded or boxed. Donna wasn't just the name of a rock and roll doll though, this company released all kinds of dolls under this name.

Diana, 1997 by Kee Fung Plastic World Ltd.

There were several of these released, and this particular one had a dress with a fabric from the Jem Glitter 'n Gold fashion "Fire & Ice", and they even used red fabrics under, and it was cut the same way, and came with white net tights and red shoes, and the top was of metallic fabric but not golden though.

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