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Last Updated: Friday, 13 February, 2004, 11:09 GMT
Passion over for Barbie and Ken
Cali Girl Barbie
The latest - single - Barbie sports a bikini top and a deeper tan
Valentine's Day is approaching, but the romance is over for Barbie and Ken.

After 43 years as an item, the plastic pair's "business manager" at toymaker Mattel said they "feel it's time to spend some quality time - apart".

"Like other celebrity couples, their Hollywood romance has come to an end," said Russell Arons of Mattel toys.

But the split may also be related to sales figures in the last quarter - which fell by 5% globally and 25% on the domestic market in the US.

It coincides with the release of the latest Barbie model - Cali (as in Californian) Girl Barbie, who sports board shorts, a bikini top, metal hoop earrings and a deeper tan.

Career girl

Barbie and Ken met on the set of a television advert in 1961 - two years after Barbie was first launched.

Ken, left, and Blaine, right
Out goes Ken... in comes Blaine, the boogie boarding Australian
Wasp-waisted with unlikely proportions, Barbie was an incongruous accompaniment to the feminist wave of the 1960s and 70s, although her career has spanned everything from rock star to military medic.

More than one billion dolls have now been sold in 150 countries.

Cali Girl Barbie has already attracted a new admirer - Blaine the Australian boogie surf boarder.

But Mr Arons assured fans that she will remain "good friends" with Ken.

Yeah, right.

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