Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Amaze Chase, best of the longer Dreamhouse cartoons

The new Life in the Dreamhouse episode is "The Amaze Chase," a mini-movie at 25 minutes in length.  It's by far the best of the longer videos and doesn't drag like the other lengthier ones did.
Obviously it's a parody of The Amazing Race, with five teams driving across Barbie's version of the United States.  One team gets abducted by aliens.  Skipper leaves the Roberts team to race with Raquelle, and when you see the two girls/dolls side by side you realize that they look very much alike.  This incarnation of Skipper looks far more like Barbie's enemy than she ever did with Barbie.
Details I noticed: the 1987 red Ferrari, the 1990 pink Western Fun Motor Home and the 2012 Skipper light blue golf cart.  There are several references to Independence Day and V.  Ken's last name of Carson is mentioned, as is the town of Willows.
The most interesting detail is at the end.  There's a cast list, which has never been included before.  Cast members are:
Barbie: Kate Higgins
Skipper: Paula Bodin
Stacie: Paula Bodin
Chelsea: Laura Gerow
Raquelle: Haviland Stillwell
Nikki: Nakia Burris-Gavino
Teresa: Katie Crown
Summer: Tara Sands
Midge: Ashlyn Seylich
Ken: Sean Hankinson
Ryan: Charlie Bouden
Haviland Stillwell also voiced Barbie's pets, Tawny, Blissa and Lacey.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

another competitor for the Barbie doll

There is yet another competitor fashion doll.  A doll which I think is again being marketed wrong.
This new doll is named Lammily, and is wider than Barbie.
How many times have we seen this happen?  A person who doesn't approve of the Barbie doll comes out with his or her own design and then proceeds to advertise the doll incorrectly.  Sales last for two to five years and then the doll fades quietly away.
What do I mean by incorrect advertising?  I mean that, rather than first mentioning the doll's merits, the producers come out by saying this doll is NOT Barbie, that its measurements are more realistic and that she offers a better role model than Barbie does.
Only after going through that spiel does the designer finally talk about what the doll can do or offer.
I have nothing against these competitors.  In fact, as a collector I've owned many of them over the years.  I never have a problem reselling them to other collectors.  So from an adult seller's viewpoint, these dolls are a GOOD thing.
Little girls may still play with Barbie more, both because of the fantasy she offers and because she is better-made (although a little girl may not consciously realize this).  If any of these competitors show up at a girl's Barbie house, the newbie is always welcomed warmly and moves in.  If the little girl is anything like I was, the last thing she is studying are breast and hip sizes.  Rather, she is planning the dolls' next adventure.
So who have Barbie's larger competitors been?
1960s: Ideal's Tammy and family (the most successful and longest-lived of the competitors), Remco's Littlechap family
1970s: Kenner's Dusty and friends, Mego's celebrity dolls and Kenner's Darci and friends
1980s: Hasbro's Jem and friends (although not as long-lasting as Tammy, Jem had more publicity)
1990s: High Self-Esteem Toys' Happy to be Me and friends
I know there have been others but these are the best known.
I wish Nikolay Lamm the best.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mary and Barbie make raspberry ice cream

Part of the instructions that come with the Barbie Ice Cream Make

This is a follow-up to my previous article at about the 1987 Barbie Ice Cream Maker.  Yes, I finally made ice cream!

The Ice Cream Maker tub
holds about two cups.
The storage tub that comes with the Ice Cream Maker holds about two cups.  I don't know what the tub is made of, but the plastic is hollow and thick and when it is room temperature you can hear liquid sloshing around inside.  The instructions say to put the empty tub in the freezer for about 12 hours so that the liquid will freeze.  I had the tub in the freezer for days before I had the chance to experiment, so I figured it was cold enough.

I followed the instructions to combine the ingredients.  I did not have strawberry jelly, but I did have Smucker's Natural Red Raspberry Fruit Spread (note to Smucker's: I expect a commission for mentioning your product), so I added that instead.  Per instructions, I then placed the ingredients into the tub, covered it with the lid holding the mixing paddle, and stuck it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

This is what the lid and tub look like from the top
with the ice cream inside.  The now-broken paddle
is supposed to fit into the lid.
The liquid never did freeze.  It looked like I was going to end up with raspberry eggnog.  In frustration, I dumped the contents into a medium-sized ceramic mixing bowl, placed the lid and mixing blade on top of it, and left it in the freezer for another hour.

It set!  It took awhile but it was eventually the semi-mushy condition that ice cream was supposed to be.  So I did my taste test and....

My eyes widened.

It was delicious!  I nearly fell over.  My cooking skills are okay but not contest-winning and this was the best thing I'd ever created.

The ice cream had more ice crystals than store-bought but it was also creamier and thicker and richer than store-bought.  I can eat only a few spoonfuls at a time.

Voila! A bowl of Barbie's Raspberry Ice Cream!
I made one mistake.  I put the ceramic bowl back in the freezer overnight.  So of course the liquid froze hard by the next morning.  I attempted to use the lid with the attached blade to mix up the ice cream and proceeded to break the paddle.  I stuck the bowl into the refrigerator instead to let it get back into liquid and then dumped that back into the original tub.  For whatever reason, the ice cream has now stayed the correct consistency in the tub in the freezer.

I think you can just use the instructions to make your own two cups of ice cream, and mix it up and allow it to set for an hour in a ceramic mixing bowl.  You can cover the bowl with foil and use a spoon to stir it.  But I don't know what you can store it in after you get the contents to set properly so they won't turn hard in the freezer.  You'll just have to experiment.

I don't know what plain vanilla ice cream from the Ice Cream Maker's recipe tastes like.  I've eaten homemade vanilla ice cream before made in a large metal mixer and always thought the cream was very bland and didn't have much substance to it.  The recipe I followed made a product that was much more of a thick and not-too-sweet mousse.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nov. 15, 2014, new epier and etsy listings

I have placed the following for sale this past week at either epier or etsy.

1973 Barbie Chic and Neat sweater

1978 Barbie Fashion Combo swimsuit

3 pairs 1980s Skipper gym shoes

1991 Florida Vacation Skipper top

2000 Kelly poster

1973 Barbie Short and Sweet dress

1973 Barbie Authorized United Airlines Stewardess

1973 Barbie Leisure Fashion pantsuit

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fragility, feathers and furs

My Quick Curl Collection: Barbie, Tuli-Chan, Skipper, Kelley,
Chocho-Chan, Cara, Francie and Deluxe Quick Curl Barbie.
The Quick Curl dolls are very fragile.  Their hair is almost impossible to restore and their arms and legs fall off very easily.  They are often cited as the earliest example of Mattel's cheapening of its products in the 1970s.  These flaws and this attitude are a shame because the dolls are really pretty when in mint condition, out of the box, and redressed.
The line was introduced in 1973, with Barbie, Skipper, Francie (a rare brunette), and two new friends, Kelley and Miss America.  Curl Chocho-chan, a Skipper friend, and Curl Tuli-Chan, a Francie friend, were sold only in Japan in 1974.  Another new Barbie friend, Cara, was sold in 1975.  Deluxe Quick Curl Barbie, who had new makeup and a new gown, and PJ were sold in 1976, plus Deluxe Quick Curl Skipper, also in a new gown, was sold in Europe that year.  There was also a Quick Curl Barbie styling head in 1975.*
Other related items were the Quick Curl Barbie Boutique doll case in 1973, the Whitman Quick Curl Barbie, Francie, Kelley and Skipper paper dolls in a folder in 1974 and the Whitman Quick Curl Barbie boxed paper doll in 1976.  The 1980s Golden Dream Barbie and Christie dolls, who also had the wired hair, and related items were sold beginning in 1981, but this column is not about them.
I'm not going to give much generic information about the dolls and their original outfits, because they've been written about elsewhere.  But here are some details that I've found that you might not know:

Only the 1972-1973 clothing booklet
offered suggestions for hairstyles.
1.  There were two separate clothing booklets in 1973.  The first one is called The Beautiful World of Barbie and has only the Mattel sunburst logo on its back.  It features the following from 1972:  Hair Originals, the Busy dolls, the Talking Busy dolls, the Malibus including PJ, the Country Camper, the Campout Tent, the Garden Patio, six of the Barbie Best Buys, six Francie Best Buys, four Skipper Best Buys, shoes for all of the dolls, mod cases including the Travel Trunk, and Skipper's Swing-a-Rounder Gym.  And from 1973:  The first four Quick Curls, Mod Hair Ken, Barbie's Beauty Center (the styling head with the retractable ponytail), 12 new Barbie Best Buys, four new Ken Best Buys, six new Ken Best Buys and four new Ken Best Buys.
2.  The second booklet is called The World of Barbie and includes all of the aforementioned items from 1973 and has the Barbie Vanity Case on the back.  Quick Curl Miss America, new Hair Originals, the Friend Ship, the Goin' Campin' set, Country Living Home, Surprise House, the new Get Up N Go outfits, the 1973 Best Buys only, Sew Magic, Sew Magic Deluxe Set and Sew Magic Add-ons are pictured.
3.  The first booklet shows stock numbers, the second has none listed at all.  The first booklet was the only one that included photos of how to style Quick Curl hair.  This booklet is much harder to find than the 1973 exclusive one, and that is probably why you seldom read about how to style the dolls' hair.
4.  The hairstyles could be mounds of curls, the late 1960s flip, or the new style with feathers along the sides.   It's best to style the hair with the included two-prong curler.  It is much easier to use than regular or Barbie curlers, a pencil or your fingers!
Quick Curl Kelley, Skipper and Barbie wait for Francie
to come to the door to let them in the Mountain Ski Cabin.
5.  You will see the dolls' flaws in my photos.  One doll's leg is always longer than the other (yes, I know humans are that way but dolls usually don't have this trait.)  The limbs either freeze in place or they fall off.  Usually it's the legs but my Kelley has a re-attachable right arm.  The hair eventually turns into an uncombable tangle at the ends.  Also, my Kelley has no wires in her hair!  I don't know if all of the Kelleys had only a few wires, or if the condition is only in mine!
6.  To keep the arms from falling off of the Deluxe Quick Curl dolls, Mattel cleverly designed a solution.  The dresses were designed to be off-the-shoulder, and the girls came with shawls wrapped around them.  These aren't just supposed to be stylish, but also practical to hold the arms in place!
7.  The felt decals on Tuli's and Chocho's gowns fall off after the glue dries out over the decades.  They always need to be reattached.  By the way, "Tuli" means "tulip" and "Chocho" means "butterfly" in Japanese.
8.  I've wondered over the years if Chocho was the inspiration for Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia or if Francie was the inspiration for Roxann Dawson's B'elanna Torres.
"Ugly curtains!" Barbie and Kelley think after entering
the Mountain Ski Cabin, while Skipper tries out the bunk beds.
The dolls are wearing: Barbie, #8687 Pantsuit with Fur;
Kelley, #8682 New Fashion Coat and #8681 Chic & Neat,
and Skipper, #8613 Winter Day and #8611 School Starts.
9.  Last but not least, I am showing you some photos of three dolls with a different 1973 accessory, Barbie's Mountain Ski Cabin.  One thing I discovered when redressing my dolls is that the winter coats from that year look really good on the dolls.  Huge fake fur collars had gotten really popular by that time, which is why Mattel featured them.**  But I also have to wonder if Mattel designed the coats to work with and set off the Quick Curl hair, because they seem to go together well.

*My comments about the various Quick Curl styling heads can be found here:
**The 1973 outfits with fur collars were:  Barbie #8682 New Fashion Coat, Barbie #8687 Pantsuit with Fur, Francie Best Buy #8646 and Skipper #8613 Winter Day.  The Mountain Ski Cabin case has an unusual message on front: "Recommended for children 4 to 10.  Not recommended for children under 3 because of small parts."  We've all seen the warning about "children under 3" but this is the only time I've ever read the sentence about ages 4 to 10.  The picture isn't Barbie; it's a blonde Twist N Turn Francie wearing her #1769 Long on Leather, both from 1970.

Friday, October 3, 2014

summer sand

I have seen photos over the years of matching outfits that Mattel made for its Chatty Cathy and Barbie dolls.  But did Mattel also give the dolls matching hair?
You've seen my previous pictures of my 1967 Twist N Turn Barbie doll and my Charmin' Chatty.  But now I've put the two dolls next to each other, because I realized the other week that their hair is very much alike.
This particular TNT Barbie has a hair color called Summer Sand.  She's not actually blonde--her hair is streaked with glittery gold and silver.  Cathy has the same hair.
But this is what puzzles me.  I've read that Charmin' Chatty was sold in 1963 and 1964, but this Barbie wasn't on the market until 1967.  Was this version of Cathy actually still being manufactured and sold in 1967, which is why she and Barbie ended up with the same strands of hair?  Or did Mattel have a lot of Charmin' Chatty frosted hair left over, and used it on their early TNT dolls?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Table at next doll show

I will have a sale table at the next Queen City Beautiful Doll Club show in Sharonville on Sunday, Oct. 12.  This is north of Cincinnati.  I plan to sell NRFB playline Barbie and family items from the 1980s and 1990s.  Amazingly, the past few doll shows I've attended HAVEN'T had that for sale.