Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thanks, Hollywood

Doll collectors are creepy loners who get along better with their inatimate friends than real people -- or at least that is what many teleivision shows would have people believe.

Just last week while watching Glee (a seriously amusing show) I watched in horror as Sandy, one of the more demented characters, described his doll collection that he has been maintaining since 1961. The dolls, according to Sandy, are his everything. To all of this another character replies (heavy on the sarcasm), "Well isn't this just lovely and normal." And a little later, she notes, "Boy, the only thing missing from this place is a couple dozen bodies limed and rotting in shallow graves under the floor boards."

Well, damn. (For those who want to check out the social damage to doll collectors themselves, the episode of Glee is called "Preggers.")

Of course, I really should not be surprised by this. Television has been milking the dolls-collectors-are-weird-and-therefore-hilarious teat for a long time. Waylon Smithers has been obsessed with dolls -- specifically, Malibu Stacy, a parody of Barbie -- for 20 years on the Simpsons! (He even wrote a musical based on the life of Malibu Stacy called "Sold Separately." Hee!)

Movies are no better: If everyone listened to movies, they'd believe dolls were out to kill them.

I know I hesitate to reveal my collection to people because they make assumptions about me because of it! (The assumptions are more along the line of "doll collectors are weird" and not "your dolls will try to kill me.")

What we need are some positive representations of doll collectors -- or at the very least fewer examples of how we are weird.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Great Googly Moogly! A Live-Action Barbie Movie?

Mattel has inked a deal with Universal Studios to create a live-action movie around Barbie, according to entertainment magazine Variety.

That's right: live action.

There is no timetable prepared for bringing Barbie to the big screen at this time. The next step for Mattel and Universal is finding writers and deciding on a family-friendly story line, according to Variety. 

Even though Barbie fans have quite a while to wait before the movie debuts, I'm going to make some predictions:

The chances that the movie will be awesome? Slim to none. 

Odd and slightly unnerving (like the "the Barbie" video)? No doubt.

Of course, the idea of a live-action movie about Barbie also brings up the question of who should be cast as the original teenage fashion model. 

Nicole Kidman? Amy Adams? Cameron Diaz? Rebecca Romijn?

Who do you think should be cast in the role?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fantastic, Fabulous Sale

The Barbie Dream sale started today at BarbieCollector.com!

Here are the discounts (taken directly from a Barbie Collector e-mail about the event):
Wednesday 9/23 ONLY: Enjoy 25% off every regular priced doll, fashion and accent you purchase in the online shop. Plus, enjoy an additional 25% off already-reduced items within the Barbie Dream Sale shelf in the online shop. Wednesday only discounts will appear in shopping cart.

Thursday 9/24 ONLY: Enjoy 25% off already-reduced items within the Barbie Dream Sale shelf in the online shop. Thursday only discounts will appear in shopping cart.

Barbie Dream Shelf Savings: Friday 9/25 – Tuesday 9/29: Shop within the Barbie Dream Sale shelf in the online shop to save as much as 67% off regular prices. Dream Sale prices as indicated on item product pages.

It's a great sale.

I ordered the Wicked Witch of the East Barbie for $16.26! It retails on the site for $37.75!

How did I get such a good deal?

The price went down to $28.31 with the 25% discount. I then was able to apply my $20 club rewards, which reduced the price to $8.31. Shipping and handling at $7.95 brought the total back up to $16.26. Not too shabby.

Let me know what you bought in the sale!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oprah's Favorite Things

In a Mad Men-inspired show, Oprah Winfrey named her 10 favorite things -- from the 60s.

Coming in at #2? Bubble-cut Barbie.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Barbie Style Collector Doll

I bought my first collector doll in 1990 when I was nine years old. I saw Barbie Style at a local Hallmark in the mall and thought she was fantastic with her oversized hot-pink bows and permed ponytail. (Remember when puffy shoulders for women were in style? Yikes.)

Collecting is in my blood, and even at nine I wanted this doll not for "playing" but for saving on a shelf and admiring.

I no longer remember what she cost back then, but I do know she was not inexpensive for my family at the time. I started saving money to buy her, and as I was saving I periodically would make my parents take me to view her in the Hallmark -- just to make sure she was still there.

I bought her when I had saved enough money and took her home. My dad arranged some old shelves in my basement play room so that I could start displaying my dolls on them.

She was alone on the shevles for quite awhile. (I can't recall which doll was the first to join her on the shelf. Perhaps a holiday Barbie?)

Even though I no longer find Barbie Style as attractive as I did at age nine, she is special to me because she is the one that started me collecting NRFB dolls.

She is emblematic of the slippery slope that is collecting: one doll turns into twenty, which turns into 100, then 200. And before you know it, there are close to 400 dolls lined up on custom shelving you had built just to hold them all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Seed Art

Last week at the Minnesota State Fair I came across a wonderful portrait of Barbie -- made entirely of seeds. Imagine the time, determination and creativity (not to mention the hundreds of seeds) that went into creating it and the other seed-art pictures on display!

Feel free to ooh and aah over the pictures. (Seriously, they're all made with seeds!)

Here's "seed" Barbie

And here's some of the other marvelous seed creations

Pretty amazing stuff, right?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Altered Barbies

I continually am impressed by collectors and artists who are able to reroot, repaint and otherwise alter Barbie dolls. (Due to a severe lack of craftiness and free time, my own such pursuits are moving at a glacial pace.)

I mean, seriously, some of this stuff is impressive!

Lucky collectors in the San Francisco area will be able to appreciate some highly creative people's work with Barbie up close Sept. 10 through Oct. 4 at the 7th Annual Altered Barbie Exhibition

Or, if you're mired in the Midwest like me, you can read about it here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What's Your Favorite Barbie Memory?

I have a lot of Barbie memories, which likely surprises no one.

I remember my first doll, Day-To-Night Barbie, purchased at a department store back when they had decent toy sections. I was thrilled with her briefcase and tiny accessories (much more entertaining than the reversible skirt), and few shoes can match her glorious two-tone heels. Such panache!

I remember the Peaches N' Cream Barbie dress. A neighborhood friend had the doll, and when we played together I coveted the dress and its soft layers. Those who played with the doll may recall that the long boa could be wrapped around and attached to the dress via tiny snaps to create different looks. Pure heaven. My mother eventually found the dress and boa (sans doll) in a garage sale, and it remained one of my favorites (worn by only my favorite dolls) for years.

My favorite Barbie memories, however, involve three separate Christmas gifts handmade by my father. I don't know what possessed him to start building sturdy-as-hell wooden homes for my dolls, but he did. The first house was two stories and had four rooms: a little tile kitchen, a living room and two bedrooms.

He made me close my eyes when he brought it into the living room, and we replayed the scene during two subsequent Christmases, when he hauled in behemoth houses two and three.

The second house was a three-story apartment building, with two storefronts on the bottom and rooms for dolls on the upper floors. Like the first house, he carpeted everything using remnants from our own house and added wallpaper to the walls.

The third house was his piece de resistance. It was two stories, but unlike the others, featured a curving staircase. It was three-dimensional, with a porch on the front (perfect for a little wicker furniture set) and access to the rooms in back. He included a fireplace, complete with chimney, and made pink siding, hammering each piece on by hand.

The Third House

He signed each house with a green felt pen.

Today, the houses are stored away under tarps, because there isn't room for them anymore (have I mentioned they're huge?) and I long ago dismantled my "Barbieland" of dolls, houses, cars and accessories that I played with as a child. My younger brother, at one point, tried to negotiate a deal where he could paint them black and use them for his G.I. Joe war games. I said no.

Thinking about Barbie memories is a fun exercise on a Friday afternoon. What is your favorite Barbie memory?