from the New York Times:
It was the breakup that shocked legions of fans. She was the image of perfection dressed in Pepto-Bismol pink, with a dozen movie credits under her Size 2 belt, several best-selling advice books and a line of accessories that bore her name.
He was her dashing playmate in short shorts, with a washboard stomach, a killer smile and a pampered life of tennis, surfing and roller skating.
Now, after a heart-wrenching, two-year separation--for the record, it was her idea--Ken and Barbie are headed for a romantic reunion, according to their handlers. Ken's new attraction? A makeover, set to be unveiled today at a news conference in Manhattan, that finds him sporting a more rugged jaw line, wearing cargo pants and listening to Norah Jones. . . .
Thus the Ken and Barbie drama, which Mattel hopes will reignite interest in the brand. In February 2004, as every 5-year-old knows, Ken and Barbie called it quits. According to Mattel, which says it relies on customer feedback on its Web site to shape the Barbie-Ken narrative, Barbie was wooed away by an Australian surfer named Blaine.
Ken, heartbroken, traveled the world in search of himself, making stops in Europe and the Middle East, dabbling in Buddhism and Catholicism, teaching himself to cook and slowly weaning himself off a beach bum life. . . .
Gone are Ken's outdated swimming trunks and dull T-shirts. Ken's new wardrobe will include cargo pants, a fitted suit with peak lapels and a motorcycle jacket. A facial resculpting, as Mattel calls it--Ken's first in more than a decade--will give him a more defined nose and a softer mouth.
"It's Matthew McConaughey meets Orlando Bloom," Mr. Bloch said in an interview.
Isaac Larian, the chief executive of Bratz's parent company, MGA Entertainment, called the reunion of Barbie and Ken "stupid publicity."
"Ken is not going to save Barbie," he added. . . .
Mattel concedes that a new and improved Ken, however dashing and fashionable, and his pending reconciliation with Barbie, however dramatic, is not the solution. But it will give the legions of girls who play with Barbie the kind of new plotline they crave.
In the end, explained a Mattel spokeswoman, male dolls like Ken "have always been accessories to Barbie."