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Barbie's boy toy Ken to celebrate 50th birthday

Models dressed similar to different Ken dolls pose during the press preview day of the International Toy Fair Nuremberg on Feb. 2, 2011 in Germany. Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

(CBS) Blond and tan, Ken looks great for his age, which will be  50  this Friday, March 11. In fact, he hasn't changed much since he was born in 1961, two years and two days after the birth of his on-and-off (currently on) girlfriend, Barbie, born on March 9, 1959.

Ken,  a fashion doll whose whole name is Ken Carson, was named after the son of Mattel Inc. founders, Ruth and Elliot Handler in Willows, Wis.

PICTURES: Ken Carson

To celebrate Ken's big milestone, the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History in Boyton Beach, Fla., added a special display to its permanent exhibit, "Barbie: History Fashions, and More" this past January.

The exhibition presents Ken's evolution throughout the past five decades. For example, Ken originally cost $3.50, whereas now an original Ken doll costs around $5.50 while a dressed-up Ken could set a parent back up to $20.

According to New York Magazine, Christie's auction house also celebrated Ken's birthday during February's New York Fashion Week, having live Ken models wearing popular menswear designers.

Hoping Ken will stand out over more contemporary dolls, including Edward, Bella and Jacob dolls from the "Twilight" series, Mattel Inc. is ramping up a marketing campaign as the birthday approaches. It has Ken tweeting on Twitter and updating his Facebook page in an attempt to attract more sales and make Ken look "cool" in this digital age.

According to the L.A. Times, other attempts to popularize the doll include his appearance on "Toy Story 3," in addition to a new reality TV Show, "Genuine Ken: The Search for the Great American Boyfriend," a game in which eight men compete to be the best real-life Ken doll.

Do you think this publicity is working for Ken's image? Check out our photo essay on Barbie's boy toy and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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