Artist Tonya Ruiz recreate real-life scenes using custom Barbie dolls and miniature accessories. And because her artworks are mainly reflections of what’s happening in her personal life and in the world as a whole, most of her recent creations are inspired by the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two of her latest projects are called Quarantine Barbies and Pandemic Heroes. Quarantine Barbies are doll sets showing how Barbie and Ken have adjusted to life in quarantine, while Pandemic Heroes are figures honoring different kinds of essential workers during the global health crisis. Take a look at these impressive and highly relatable toy sets in the slideshow below, which also includes photo updates from the artist herself featuring a custom Barbie doll in her likeness.
#1 Pre-COVID-19 Pandemic Barbie & Ken
This photo shows a pair of custom Barbie and Ken dolls depicting the artist and her husband one and a half months before the COVID-19 quarantine began. Seemingly unaware of the then-imminent coronavirus crisis, the couple were all smiles in the kitchen as they made organic brownies hours before the highly anticipated Super Bowl LIV.
#2 Quarantine Quarreling Couple – Barbie & Ken
According to recent studies, couples living together are fighting more during the pandemic. While the most common sources of conflict among pairs during quarantine are finances and sex, this doll set reveals that Barbie and Ken mostly fight over household chores. In addition to the various cleaning products and tools that come with the Barbie and Ken dolls, this toy set also includes the bestselling book, How to Split Household Chores, which hopefully helps the pair have a better and healthier relationship during the lockdown and beyond.
#3 Pandemic Hero – Grocery Worker Barbie
A gesture of appreciation to all essential workers during the pandemic, this playset features a grocery worker Barbie wearing a face mask and a pair of black gloves. The set also includes a working cash register and a bunch of different grocery items like cake mixes, spreads, biscuit, cereal, and canned goods as well as shampoo, body wash, tissue paper, and more.
#4 Post-Pandemic Baby Boom Barbies
Since a lot of couples are spending more time together than ever during the lockdown, many people think that there’s going to be a baby boom by the end of the year. Regardless of whether or not this turns out to be true, congratulations are in order for this doll set’s Barbie and Ken who are expecting a child together. Featuring a Barbie figure with a baby bump and a Ken figure proudly showing off an ultrasound image, this playset also includes twin Barbie babies, onesies, diapers, feeding bottles, rubber duckies, crochet baby beanies, and cute animal plushies.
#5 Summer In Quarantine
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on, the artist and her husband choose to spend the summer at home. And to beat the hot weather in Southern California, the couple ― as portrayed by these custom Barbie and Ken dolls ― prepare ice cold pink lemonade in their cozy kitchen, where they use a desk electric fan to keep the air in the room circulating.
#6 Pandemic Hero – Health Care Worker Barbie
Part of the artist’s Pandemic Hero series, this doll set features a health care worker Barbie dressed in blue-green scrubs, complete with a medical-grade face mask. The playset also includes a lab coat, an extra scrub top, chest x-ray, medical chart, medicines, thermometer, stethoscope, sphygmomanometer, and a hot-water bottle, giving kids and kids at heart the opportunity to recreate various hospital scenarios.
#7 Quarantine Barbie – Starter Pack
If you feel like you’re eating more than ever during the lockdown, then you can totally relate to this curvy, stay-at-home Barbie who seemingly spends most of the quarantine season munching on sweets while keeping herself entertained with books and crossword puzzles. In addition to the Barbie figure, the set also includes different kind of snacks like twinkies, oatmeal crème pies, brownies, Lay’s potato chips, and donuts. Interestingly, her beverage of choice is whiskey ― a preference that is apparently inspired by Reese Witherspoon’s book, Whiskey in a Teacup, which is also included in the playset.
#8 Quarantine Barbie – What Day Is It? Edition
Life under lockdown has warped many people’s sense of time. In fact, some folks have stayed at home for a very long time that they can’t even tell what day it is anymore. Apparently, those people include Barbie, who ― in this doll set ― relies on a calendar and her set of Days of the Week undies to keep track of the day of the week. The set also includes a box of See’s Famous Old Time Candies and a MacBook Air playing the 1993 film Groundhog Day, which finds Bill Murray’s Phil Connors trapped in a time loop.
#9 Quarantine Barbie – What Time Is It? Edition]
If you feel like the quarantine has sent your body clock in a spin, this doll set lets you know that you’re not alone. Featuring a doll with visible dark circles under her eyes, this toy set reveals that Barbie is also having a hard time going to sleep as the pandemic makes the future more uncertain each day. Dressed in her nighttime pajamas, Barbie drinks a glass of warm milk to help herself go to sleep. But no matter how late she falls asleep, Barbie needs to get up on time, so an alarm clock is included in the set, along with everything she needs for breakfast like a cappuccino maker and bread toaster.
#10 Quarantine Barbie – New Hobby Edition
Having more free time than ever during the quarantine, Barbie is committed to learning a new skill or two. Featuring a guitar, an apple pie, and knitting materials, this doll set reveals that Barbie is interested in learning to play a new musical instrument, bake tasty pies, and knit some comfy scarves. The toy set also includes a box of CHEEZ-Its that Barbie can eat the moment she gets hungry from all the activities.
#11 Pandemic Hero – Sanitation Worker Barbie
Like most frontline workers outside the medical field, sanitation workers aren’t getting enough appreciation for their hard work and sacrifices during this pandemic. So to give them the recognition they deserve, the artist creates this doll set featuring a sanitation worker Ken with accessories like waste and recycle cans, litters, and a garbage bag. Though dressed in his usual work wear, Ken isn’t wearing a face mask or gloves to protect himself from the coronavirus ― a sad but true reflection of many sanitation workers in real life.
#12 Quarantine Bread-Baking Barbie
A lot of people love baking but not the part when they need to clean up all the mess they made in the kitchen afterwards. Apparently, this also applies to Barbie. But with a lot of free time on her hands during the quarantine, she dares to make some banana and sourdough breads to check if her baking skills are still intact. This fun doll set includes a stand mixer, flour, eggs, butter, milk, bananas, and a sourdough starter.
#13 Quarantine Binge-Watching Barbie
With nothing important to do during the lockdown, many people spend most of their days re-watching or catching up on their favorite movies and TV series. In this toy set, a Barbie figure is re-watching the Harry Potter film series while in her Gryffindor school uniform. With a total of eight movies to finish, the Barbie doll prepares a lot of snacks and drinks beforehand so she won’t need to hit the pause button every time she gets hungry.
#14 Quarantine Barbie – Home Salon Edition
With most hair and beauty salons closed during the quarantine period, several women are left with no choice but to cut their hair and do their nails all by themselves at home. Women’s commitment to keeping themselves beautiful amid the pandemic is perfectly captured in this toy set that includes a Barbie doll and everything she needs for a DIY haircut, manicure, and pedicure. Sadly, having the complete tools and products for a makeover doesn’t guarantee a decent outcome.
#15 Quarantine Barbie – Zoom Ken
This Ken doll is pretty much like every hands-on dad who works from home during the quarantine period. With a Zoom meeting to attend and two babies to look after, Ken makes sure to keep his calm by ordering his favorite Starbucks coffee. He also matches his business attire top with a pair of comfy boxer shorts to help him keep his cool throughout the day.
#16 Quarantine Barbie – Homeschool Mom Edition
Stay-at-home moms have gotten a lot busier since quarantine measures were put in place. With schools and tutorial centers closed, these moms are given the extra responsibility to make sure that their children continue to learn something new even at home. Homeschooling, however, can be a bit chaotic, especially if you have three kids and one toddler to look after all at the same time. That’s exactly the case for this homeschool mom Barbie who prepares educational activities for each of her children every day, on top of all the household chores she does day in and day out.
#17 Quarantine Barbie – Photographer Edition
Inspired by the artist’s life as a Barbie photographer, this toy set features a custom doll in her likeness with her trusty iPhone and go-to Canon camera. It also includes a bunch of Barbie and Ken dolls that serve as subjects of the artist’s photos as well as a Barbie dreamhouse that doubles as a backdrop for the pictures.
#18 Anxious Barbie
Have you been anxious about your health since the quarantine began? Well, you’re definitely not alone. Even the artist herself admitted that she couldn’t help but think whether her sneezing was caused by her allergies or she’d already caught the virus at the grocery store. As depicted by this Barbie photo, the artist tries to fight her anxiety by taking her medicine regularly. The artist also said that watching the CBS sitcom Family Affair helps her mind take a break from all the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.
#19 Going-For-A-Walk Barbie
Featuring the artist’s Barbie doll counterpart, this photo reveals that the artist tries to go for a walk once in a while during the quarantine. While people are encouraged to stay at home as the pandemic continues to rage on, the artist said that walking around her neighborhood helps her handle her anxiety and depression better.
#20 FaceTime session with Barbie & Ken
The quarantine period has been difficult for families living apart. Though they can’t be together physically, technology keeps them connected to each other during this trying time. And as portrayed by the Barbie and Ken versions of the artist and her husband in this photo, the couple keeps in touch with their grown-up kids via FaceTime.
#21 Reading-In-Bed Barbie
This photo of the artist’s Barbie counterpart was shared online the day the California government advised its residents to stay home due to the threat of COVID-19. While we couldn’t tell the exact book she’s reading, it probably kept her anxiety at bay at the time when there were so many questions about the novel coronavirus.
#22 Quarantine Barbie – Gardening Edition
This Barbie doll represents all the ladies who spend their free time in their yards during the quarantine. In addition to the doll figure that comes with gardening tools, gloves, and a lovely sunhat, this toy set also includes pansies, a garden gnome, a pink flamingo yard décor, and a bag of Kellogg’s Gnomulch.
#23 Quarantine Barbie – Crafter Edition
If you’re one of those people who make face masks for yourself, families, and friends during the quarantine, then you can totally relate to this doll set featuring a handcrafter Barbie. Accessories in the playset include a traditional sewing machine, sewing kit, green cutting mat, desk lamp, and a cute Siamese cat in the yard basket.
#24 Board Game Enthusiast Barbie
Though a lot of people now prefer video games over traditional board games, the latter remain relevant up until today. And as people try different ways to pass time during the quarantine, many are rediscovering the fun of playing board games with families and friends. The photo above features the artist’s Barbie counterpart showing off her extensive board game collection, including Monopoly, Candy Land, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, and more.
#25 Health Care Worker Barbie Accessories
A close-up look at some of the accessories included in the Health Care Worker Barbie set, this photo of miniature replicas of a scrub top, medicine, medical chart, and chest x-ray comes with the artist’s revelation that her husband had actually undergone his 17th surgery a month before the quarantine began.