Mattel Sells Overpriced Barbie Printer, Forgets To Make Overpriced Refill Cartridges

Mattel’s new “beautronics” device aimed at tween girls, the Barbie Nail Printer, is a glorified inkjet printer that customizes and prints designs on your fingernails. Neat idea in theory, though a bit pricey at $180. However, Mattel has apparently overlooked an essential part of the inkjet printer business model: selling new and overpriced cartridges. The problem, reader Richard writes, is that the company refuses to take orders for new cartridges, saying that they won’t be available until next year. But I want pink leopard print fingernails now!

He writes:

My daughter got a Barbie “Doll’d Up Nails” printer for Christmas. Its a cute device, exclusively sold through Toys R Us. It lets them print on their finger nails all sorts of designs. Only one problem, you cant buy the ink till next year! Mattel will only sell it to you if you call their 888-892-6123 and when you call to order it the customer service person said: “We are running low on supply so they wont let us take any orders or ship any until after the new year.”

The Ink is $29.95 + shipping but they couldn’t even quote the shipping price. So fair warning if you bought a Barbie nail printer ration your kids’ fingers or they may wind up with a huge paperweight in the short term.

Consider yourselves warned, parents. Also, if you want to see the Nail Printer in action, printing pretty pictures on a man’s fingernail, here you go:


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  1. tkates says:

    Maybe I’m missing something here, but does the printer not come with initial cartridges that you can use? For that price, it had better.

  2. dg says:

    At $180, I’d spend another $20 and buy a color laser printer for the office… Hasn’t Matel figured out that ink jets only cost $50 or $0 with rebate and instant savings?! Then you make all your $$$ on the 50% filled, 100% dried out ink jet cartridges…

    What a joke… I wonder how long it’ll be until someone figures out that the ‘ink’ is coming from China, and is filled with all kinds of toxic chemicals that cause fingernails to fall out, fingers to fall off, pain in the joints, inability to hold a pencil or pen, difficulty turning a key, pain when switching on a lightbulb, or death… [/facetiousness off]

    • Laura Northrup says:

      Do those print on your fingernails? I THINK NOT.

    • kateblack says:

      Most color laser printers start at $450, and refills are generally $130-200 each. When the initial supply runs low, you’re looking at $500-$800 more.

      But if you can find them for $200, please let me know where you’re shopping.

      • shepd says:

        Well, the low end ones are often as low as $99, but spending a bit more gets you a faster printer with fewer problems.

        I personally bought two cp1518nis for $150 CDN each when HP made a price error (They were supposed to be on sale for $250) and sold one on eBay for $300 US (including) because, for some weird reason, this printer was $399 US over the border.

        No, I didn’t actually come out in the positive from the transaction, I was hoping to sell the printer locally for $250 CDN (the price error lasted for only a couple of hours), but nobody would bite for over $220.

        I can refill my printer myself for about $100 total (all colours) if I buy a toner refill kit on eBay (that includes shipping).

        Here’s a colour laser selling for $105 CDN. Don’t know how much cartridges cost for it, sorry.

        Staples has about a half dozen under $400.

      • dg says:

        Staples and CDW – I’ve bought HP2620’s for under $400, and with the rebates, and instant in-store discounts, you end up getting them for $200. Sometimes Staples has a “trade in a junk – working or not – and we’ll give you an extra $50 off” printer special…

        The HP2620 uses 4 toner cartridges. Each is about $70 – but only has to be replaced when it runs out. So if you’re out of black, you replace the black. You get between 1500 – 3000 pages per cartridge (depends on coverage on the page of course). You’re at a penny or less per page, and you don’t need special ‘inkjet’ paper to make things look decent. Plus, if you don’t use the printer for 2 weeks, nothing dries out and has to be replaced…

        Compare with inkjets – Generally there’s a color cartridge and a black cartridge. If ONE of the colors runs out, you toss the whole cart and buy a new one for $60-70… I’ve never gotten many pages out of an inkjet – certainly nothing around 1500 pages, and found my average cost to be about $0.10/page. Ink, when you figure the cost per gallon, is about $8,000 per gallon.

        Refills are still a ripoff, and you’re never really sure what you’re getting (quality wise). The print heads jam, clog, and dry out and require replacement that’s often more expensive than the printer was in the first place.

        I’ve gone with a Laser and never looked back at ink jets since…

        As for the whole inkjet v. dot matrix on the finger’s – oh yeah, dot matrix all the way :-) I love the PAIN! *grin*… Even better would be an old Commodore CBM hammer printer – anyone remember those? Super noisy, slow, had a print ball (vis a vis Selectric) and used a ribbon!

    • H3ion says:

      I wouldn’t use anything but a dot matrix printer on my nails.

      Does anyone else view this as a sign that we are running out of things to buy?

  3. cameronl says:

    Oh noes!!11!! They have to wait a whole week before they can order more ink??? Christmas is ruined!

  4. supergaijin says:

    I give it a month until Staples/OfficeMax figure out how to refill them.

  5. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    This device just blows my mind…what will they think of next? Also, if this ‘printer’ is like most of them on the market right now, the included ink cartridges are only 30% filled…so the lack of a refill is kinda a big deal. On the flip side, if they will be available after January 1st, then this is only a minor inconvenience. ‘After the new year’ can be literal or figurative.

  6. HoJu says:

    I suppose the creative option is to just buy another printer, swap out your old cartridges, and return the printer.

    • fantomesq says:

      Please don’t advocate fraud… it’s morally defunct ideas like this that lead to stores’ draconian return policy restrictions. Bad consumer.

      • HoJu says:

        What’s fraud is selling a product billed as refillable and not offering refills. Get off your pedestal.

        • LastError says:

          You’re trying to justify theft by saying the company should have planned better?

          Next time you’re robbed, just remember it’s really OK because you should have just planned better.

  7. twophrasebark says:

    Counting down till foreign websites start offering knock off cartridges for $3 a pop.

    3… 2… 1…

  8. Razor512 says:

    The reason why the delay is a big deal is because if any kids actually have it, that must mean there some of the most annoying children on the planet and they were able to torment their parents until they got the printer, so now there being insanely annoying because they ran out of ink.

  9. Colonel Jack O'neill says:

    Can people stop saying tween, it’s annoying.

  10. mythago says:

    For $180, you could buy your kid a lot of “and I want sparkly pink nail polish with unicorn pictures” manicures.

    • magic8ball says:

      Or a whole huge bunch of tiny little stickers to put on their fingernails.

      • Bohemian says:

        Those tiny nail sticker decals are 99 cents at Target. Yes they have leopard spots and all sorts of obnoxious girly themes. I could buy every one they have at Target and Sally Beauty and not hit $180.

    • El-Brucio says:

      A french manicure here in Ottawa, Canada seems to run anywhere from $20-$30 Canadian. So that’s about ten manicures after the exchange rate.

      But owning that printer could mean the difference between social isolation and social awesomness for your tween after she throws a nail-printing party for the more popular kids.

      Well, until it runs out of ink at the party, and they all turn into cannibals and destroy her.

      This is why it is so vastly important to have instant access to refill cartridges.

      • mythago says:

        I seriously doubt that any kid is going to suffer social isolation if they don’t have a fully-stocked crappy nail decal printer. For $180 you could likely take your kid AND all her friends to the Pink n’ Squee Nail Salon for a party.

        Of course it’s ludicrous that they don’t have replacement ink (did the people who designed this ever spend five minutes with an actual kid?), but it seems a silly purchase overall.

  11. bigd738778 says:

    Don’t complain about the OP. If you have kids, and young kids at that, then you would know that having refills for whatever you buy them is a must and in the kids life this is the most important thing right now. Kids have the rest of their life to learn that life sucks and will kick you most when your down but right now let the kids enjoy a problem like not having enough ink. Also most companies, cleaning product companies are really bad for it, only give you sample amounts of product to start you off with and expect you to purchase the full amount separate from the original product.

    • jano says:

      Seriously? We’re talking about a kid who now has a printer that prints fancy designs on her finger nails. She needs to start learning now about patience, else we’re likely to have yet another spoiled brat running around. It seems like this is a delay of at most 2-3 weeks.

    • rpm773 says:

      Kids have the rest of their life to learn that life sucks and will kick you most when your down

      If not now, when? If not this, what?

  12. ABBailey1981 says:

    For some reason I see this printer as the precursor to the paint pen from Total recall you see the ReKall secretary using on camera.

    But just my thought. Unable to find video or screen capture of it.

    On topic thought someone in the supply chain should have seen this coming, right?

  13. lemortede says:

    Over priced, Yes.
    Cool, Yes.
    They need to get the refill thing resolved.

  14. NotYou007 says:

    Whoever came up with or made tween a popular word needs to be hit in the head with a shovel multiple times.

    • econobiker says:

      Those fun marketing segment cluster demographic types did the tween definition when they realized how much money could be harvested from the spawn of doting parents, precipitants of grandparent gift moneys, or also considered proto-buyers…

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      J.R.R.Tolkien coined it. It’s on the second page of Chapter 1 of The Fellowship of the Ring: “At that time Frodo was still in his tweens, as the hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and coming of age at thirty-three.”

      Yes, I’m a geek, and no, Professor Tolkien does not need to be hit with a shovel.

      This parent does, though.

  15. seth_lerman says:

    “Next year” is in 5 days. Complain if they say that same line again in 6…

  16. Razor512 says:

    For $180, those kids can easily get them self a nvidia GTX 260, and increase the GPU voltage using rivatuner, and then overclock the core speed to 900MHz and run the latest games smoother. it has a much higher fun factor and is a better value and doesn’t require you to constantly spend money on the card to keep it working.

    for $180, you can get a 24 inch monitor with a 2ms response time and 1000:1 static contrast ratio and a native resolution of 1920 x1080 then they can use their old monitor as a secondary monitor, this is much more useful as the extra screen space will allow better multitasking and more enjoyable gaming and best of all, you have a game being displayed on the 1 monitor and have the second monitor showing a movie or some anime

    for $180, you can get a new, relatively high end CPU

    for $ 180 you can buy a SSD and boot into windows in about 4 seconds and also be able to launch games and load game maps much faster

    Why waste $180 on a printer that the kids will get tired of in 2-3 weeks?

  17. larkknot says:

    I don’t even do my nails normally, and I kind of want one – if you can put custom graphics into it.

  18. econobiker says:

    For the family which has everything including stable wealth…

    More overpriced crap to end up at thrift stores next year…unless it gets hijacked by beauty salons or nail salons…

  19. lesbiansayswhat says:

    My guess is that the ink wears off the nails fairly easily if the ink is standard inkjet ink, I’m also assuming they want to maximize the refill profits. Gotta hand it to them, tons of kids have easy access to their parents’ wealth and make the worst consumer decisions without much fight put up by their parents..this thing takes massive advantage of it.

  20. lehrdude says:

    There is ALWAYS a way to get more ink…all you need to do is go buy another printer and use the free ink that comes with that one. The printer only prints one nail at a time, so you can get finished twice as fast with two printers!

  21. trbofun says:

    According to the video from Toys R Us the child has to:

    1) Apply one coat of white base and let dry.
    2) Apply one coat of clear base and let dry.
    3) Select artwork, insert finger into the printer to commence printing, then let dry.
    4) Apply final layer of clear and let dry.

    Really? If I was visiting Hades for bad deeds, my punishment would involve WAITING WHILE SOMETHING DRIES!

  22. LastError says:

    Obviously Mattel didn’t think anyone would actually want the ink. Most kid items are expected to be sold, used for a few weeks tops and then discarded.

    Very very few of them hold on for months and fewer still for any length of time after that.

    So a kids printer with long-term needs for ink is just something they probably never thought about and even if they did, they probably don’t WANT to support this thing for years. They’re a toy company, not HP.

  23. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Mattel has clearly dropped the ball on this one. Clearly, they were trying so hard to crank this thing out the door in time for Christmas that they didn’t have time to manufacture replacement cartridges yet.

    Marketing/manufacturing fail.

  24. brandmuffin says:

    Does it do toenails too? I noticed it looked like you had to do lots of resizing and mouse clicking to print your design making me wonder if kids are so multi talented to keep their hand still while they choose and send the command to print the design.

    Now maybe the OP daughter already has fake nails and will use up the ink in a week but from looking at my own nails Im betting one cartridge of ink would a girl 6 months . Maybe you could get your kid a business license to and have her start doing nails out of your home, maybe Ill buy me one of these barbie dream nail salons and start my own nail shop.

  25. BytheSea says:

    Next year or in a year? If it’s 2012, that’s major suckage b/c most kids don’t like their toys for an entire year.