Inside the Collection

Barbie and Ken Fly Qantas

John Willmott Potts standing with his collection of Barbie and Ken dolls
Image courtesy of John Willmott Potts

John Willmott Potts joined the catering section Qantas in 1964 and served in a number of postings in Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and the Cocos Islands. In 1974 he was posted in Darwin when cyclone Tracy hit and after this he returned to Sydney and completed his Flight Steward training. He retired from Qantas in 1988 and moved to Young where he settled down to life on an alpaca farm.

Around this time be began collecting Qantas memorabilia and making a series of historic Qantas costumes for Barbie dolls. John’s desire to make authentic replicas meant many hours of research as the uniforms were crafted from original patterns which a friend miniaturised to enable John scale them to fit the Barbie and Ken dolls. He even called on his connections with the company to source original cloth for the dolls and keep up with new designs.

By 2009 John had hand stitched 42 uniforms with each doll representing a different Qantas uniform design from 1948-2009. They were originally used as part of a travelling display entitled ‘Stiches in Time’; a talk on the history of Qantas which John delivered to schools, museums and libraries in rural New South Wales.

Unfortunately John passed away while the museum was negotiating the acquisition of his collection but his collection remains a memorial to his passion for this iconic Australian company and its history.

8 responses to “Barbie and Ken Fly Qantas

  • Thanks Judith we haven’t had all the uniformed dolls properly photographed yet but when we do they will be available online through the Powerhouse Museum website.

  • In addition to my message on the 3rd December. I have purchased uniform items from what I knew was a deceased estate of a Qantas Steward. I have now realized that I have the very same John Willmott’s old uniform items including his name badge. Really exciting to cross reference the dolls with the man whom owned my uniforms..

    cheers
    Darren

  • Was in Sydney early May 2011, visited the Powerhouse Museum Darling Harbour, and was disappointed that the dolls are not displayed. Shame they need to be seen.

  • Was in Sydney early May 2011, visited the Powerhouse Museum Darling Harbour, and was disappointed that the dolls are not displayed. Shame they need to be seen.

  • Was in Sydney early May 2011, visited the Powerhouse Museum Darling Harbour, and was disappointed that the dolls are not displayed. Shame they need to be seen.

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