Tuesday, September 8, 2015

notes about the houses

These are my notes about my various houses and play sets.

The 1963 Dream House
Why does Barbie have a painting of Norman Bates' house in her room?  The TV shows a blonde Bubblecut Barbie in Solo in the Spotlight.
The books and records that came with the house are actually too large to be properly proportioned for Barbie.  The red hardbacks look a lot like the series The Story of Civilization, by Will and Ariel Durant.  (I looked up the series in Wikipedia.  By 1961 there had been seven volumes published.)

The 1966 Skipper Dream Room
This thing is enormous!  It's bigger than the Barbie houses available at the same time.
Other Mattel items pictured on the shelves are Skipper's Red Sensation hat, the sombrero from Ken in Mexico, and three talking Mattel stuffed animals from 1964: Bugs Bunny, Porky the Pig and Larry the Lion.

The 1969 Barbie Family House
The black-and-white circular tile/brick first seen in this house proved to be a popular pattern, as it also appears on the bedroom floor of the Lively Livin/Live Action/Surprise House.
In the bedroom, the clock says 12:25--I assume it's afternoon.  If you look at the calendar, you will see that January 1 is a Monday.  New Year's Day was a Monday in 1968.
The chandelier in the living room hangs much too low!

The 1971 Live Action House
For whatever reason, the bed is the hardest piece of furniture to find for this series of houses.  It's actually easier to find a replacement bedspread than it is the bed itself!
This house is infamous for the interior and the front and back exteriors not matching up at all.  If I ever get a really damaged house, I'd like to try rearranging the plastic walls so that they actually coordinate.

The 1985 Great Shape Barbie Workout Center
A picture of the 1978 SuperStar Ken is glued onto the inside of the locker door.

The 1985 Heart Family Loving Home
The majority of Barbie houses are viewed from the back; that is, the back wall of the structure is actually the front of the house.  Two major exceptions are the Dream Houses and the Magical Mansion.  The Heart Family house is also an exception.  The larger area on the viewer's (your) lower right is the front foyer.  Directly in front of you are the kitchen and stairs and to your left is the living room.  Upstairs you see the back walls of the nursery on your right and the parents' bedroom on the left

The 1989 Teen Time Skipper Sleep N Study
The Sleep N Study came with two analog wall clocks with the hands pointing to 1:50; that is, the hands make a smiley face.  It also came with a fake chalkboard, although I think that Skipper would have been too old to want to play with one.  The TV shows 1988 Sensations Barbie performing.  I didn't put all the decals where they were supposed to be placed but rather where I thought they should be; for instance, I put the mirror inside the vanity.

The 1990 Skipper Motor Bike
This can be found in two different boxes.  The first says "Skipper Motor Bike," while the second reads "Babysitter Skipper Motorbike."  However, the bikes are the same, and Cool Tops Skipper is shown on both boxes, as her outfit coordinates with the bike.

The 1990 Wet N Wild Pool Set
The pool is large but does not hold water well and the sides flop over very easily.

The 1991 Fully Furnished Pool House
It also came in a variation box that just said "Pool House."
The pink frame fades to orange, even when kept in a cool storage area in a box.  The chaise longues break in half easily, as do all the Arco lounge chairs.  Numerous Arco accessories appear in more than one playset, in addition to many of the Arco outfits.
The pictures on the wall are of 1989 Cool Times Barbie in 1990 Yacht Club 8013-3 and another Cool Times Barbie in an outfit I can't identify.

The 1997 Folding Pretty Living Room
I believe the framed picture is of 1993 Party Premier Barbie.

Although the main structures of the Argo cardboard/plastic playsets and houses are sturdy, the sets of shelves sold with many of them are not.  The tables and chairs are fine, though.

Has anyone else noticed that many of the houses and furniture of the mid- and late-1990s are proportioned too short for Barbie?  She's often a head higher than her larger pieces, and tables that should reach her waist are just to her knees.  It was especially noticeable with the Pet Doctor accessories and the Folding Pretty furniture.  I assume Mattel was trying to cut costs, and hoping that children playing with the items wouldn't notice.

If you think about it, Barbie's houses, even the multi-story ones, are actually quite small compared to their real-life counterparts.  I've tried imagining them as actual homes, with important additions such as stairs and bathrooms, but even when seeing them in my head the square footage is still minute.  Each house usually has only one bedroom.  The rooms are rectangular, long and skinny.  There's not much leg room for sitting.   Ken's head is close to the ceiling (if there is one).

No comments: