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Headlines from the past: Long before Barbie got her movie, she had avid collectors in Coquitlam

Local collectors started Barbie and Friends of Vancouver in 1992 to share their passion for collecting the plastic dolls
Long before the Barbie movie smashed box office records, Gail Dunn and David Berry were carefully cataloguing and tending to their collections of the 10-inch plastic dolls that numbered more than 1,500 between them.

Stories from Tri-City News headlines of decades past is a recurring feature as the publication approaches its 40th anniversary in 2024.

Last summer's Barbie live action movie has earned more than $1.44 billion worldwide.

But in 1992 — when the actress who played the titular character, Margot Robbie, was only two years old — local collectors David Berry and Gail Dunn just wanted to find like-minded people who shared their love for the 29 cm tall plastic doll, her best friend, Midge, and her erstwhile romantic interest, Ken.

So, they started Barbie and Friends of Vancouver.

Between them, Berry and Dunn boasted more than 1,500 of the Mattel dolls in their collections, plus outfits, accessories like cars and other vehicles as well as carrying cases too numerous to count.

Berry told the Tri-City News he discovered Barbies when he was nine years old, secreting them in the more masculine environs of a GI Joe case so his friends wouldn’t make fun.

Dunn said she'd played with Barbies as a young girl, but her interest reignited when she had three children of her own. She said her passion may have been sparked by an unfulfilled childhood dream.

"When I walk into my Barbie room, I feel like I’ve accomplished something."

Berry said he scours most of his treasures from vendors at flea markets, who quickly coined him “the Barbie doll guy.”

He said he isn't shy about this love for all things Barbie, “because you never know who has a Barbie in their closet.”

Berry, whose collection leans more to vintage dolls, said he feared someday losing them all in a fire.

Dunn, who displays her Barbies on stark, white shelves in her home, said she’s more afraid of just running out of room to show off her hobby.

The Tri-City News has covered civic affairs, local crime, festivals, events, personalities, sports and arts in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody since 1983. Bound back issues of the paper are available at the Coquitlam Archives, while digital versions of several past years can be found at