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Think pink

Barbie is the world's best-selling toy. Around one billion Barbies (plus family and friends) have been sold since the Plastic One was born, fully formed, in 1959. Over the years she's had 500 makeovers, a million outfits, a billion pairs of shoes, hundreds of family and friends and 38 pets, including a zebra.

So, you see, the picnic invitations are a bit complicated. Her family is too big to fit into even a fantasy picnic and, to be honest, she doesn't want her boyfriend there either. She's fed up with Ken. Why can't she have a John or a James? But no, every year she has to have a new Ken.

This year it's Totally Cool Ken. The designers may think black jeans, blue checked shirt and white T-shirt are cool, but Barbie doesn't. So she has decided to invite only versions of herself to the picnic, at which all food will be pink and taste of plastic - taramasalata, salmon paste sandwiches, strawberry milk shakes and pink-iced fairy cakes have been ordered by pink telephone to arrive by pink catering van.

But even limiting the guest list to herself is a problem. After all, she has a new face this year and the other three Barbie faces may want to have a look at her new closed mouth, resculpted cheekbones and narrower nose. So she has decided to invite three other faces (Ballerina Barbie from 1961, Pan Am Stewardess Barbie from 1966 and Astronaut Barbie from 1986) as well as this year's versions of herself (five new faces, five old faces and four new nationalities - Native American, Chilean, Polish and Thai). Purely in mouth terms, then, that makes for five Barbies with closed mouths and 12 with open mouths. Food has been ordered accordingly.

Dress is pink and strictly lounge. Bead Blast Barbie will be in a funky minidress, Cool Colours Barbie will be in overalls and DM-style boots while Rapunzel Barbie is sticking to regal tafetta.

And then there's the dental uniform. Dentistry is Barbie's Profession of the Year, which is handy because there is always the chance that some of the closed mouths may try to eat something. Life isn't always a picnic, even if your name is Barbie.

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