Can Ken's Makeover Win Back Barbie?

Barbie's old flame, Ken is back, sporting a more sophisticated look.

The question is whether the new appearance will be enough to send Barbie's heart aflutter all over again, after she dumped Ken two years ago in favor of a surfer dude named Blaine.

But that's in the make-believe world of dolls.

In the real world, suggests Magee Hickey of CBS station WCBS-TV in New York, there's much more at stake: Mattel's attempt to fight off Barbie's chief competitor of another sort, Bratz dolls.

She notes that Ken has been called arm candy, a boy toy, the first man, and Barbie's No. 1. accessory.

But, Hickey asserts, Ken's had a lot of loser looks over the years, which may be the reason Barbie got rid of him to begin with.

Now, Ken is back, after a makeover from a stylist to the stars, Phillip Bloch.

"It's really about getting in touch with the new him," Bloch explains, "little pieces of jewelry, great necklaces, jeans worn-in, because he's been traveling so much. He just doesn't look like a doll now, he looks like a real person. … Sort of."

Bloch describes the new Ken as Matthew McConaughey meets Orlando Bloom, but will it be enough to woo back the urban fashionista " 'tween" market? Those girls have been buying more Bratz dolls than Barbies in recent months, Hickey says. And Bratz dolls are now Barbie's main competitor.

The maker of Bratz dolls calls the possible Barbie-Ken reunion "stupid publicity," saying Ken won't be able to save Barbie.

But Chuck Scothon, general manager of Mattel's girls division, begs to differ, saying, "Barbie really connects with girls of all ethnicities, and all races, and all colors and creeds. Really, Barbie does have all those friends. Barbie is the leader. Barbie really does connect with all little girls. And that's what we're really excited about."

So, who can say if Barbie and Ken will live happily ever after?

That, says Hickey, may be too much to ask, but they're officially expected to get back together in time for Valentine's Day.

And next year, Mattel plans a makeover of Barbie herself, Hickey says.