Barbie Birthday Party at Walt Disney World’s Epcot (1994)

Celebrate with Barbie and her two totally hip friends, Lisa and Stephanie. They’ll take you on a worldwide adventure through Walt Disney World Epcot, and go behind the scenes to experience the making of the fabulous live Magical World of Barbie Stage Show. Without ever leaving Epcot, Lisa and Stephanie have fun with pinatas in Mexico, origami in Japan, pasta in Italy, and more! You’ll meet friends from all over the world who send along special birthday wishes for Barbie.

WOW! It’s time to get ready for the Barbie Stage Show, Lisa and Stephanie will take you backstage where you’ll experience everything from set building to hair styling. What’s more, you’ll actually see Barbie and her friends dancing and singing in great costumes in an exciting peek of the show. You’ll love every action-packed minute! Happy Birthday Barbie! It’s magical Disney Fun! Plus, see an exciting preview of the all new 1994 Barbie dolls and fashions.

Barbie Birthday Party at Walt Disney World’s Epcot (Part 1 of 3)

Barbie Birthday Party at Walt Disney World’s Epcot (Part 2 of 3)

Barbie Birthday Party at Walt Disney World’s Epcot (Part 3 of 3)

** I think I recognize one of the guys in this show from his work at Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s “Flights of Wonder” as “Guano” Joe. I am pretty sure I have also seen him over at Hollywood Studios and other other places. He is playing the Australian in this special (easy to find at the start of part III). Does anyone know his name?

barbie-lunchbox

1962 Barbie Lunchbox

This lunchbox not only has a wonderful graphic, it also has a a thermos and has been reduced to sell. So if your a hardcore Barbie fan, drop by Hake’s and check it out before someone else snaps it up.

King-Seeley Thermos Co. ©1962 Mattel Inc. .5″ split to interior of hinge with .25″ split to exterior. Lightly tarnished metal parts. VF. Original metal thermos with plastic cap shows light aging and is VF/Exc.

Darci Cover Girl: A Product of Her Times

A Tale of Two Dolls

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of Barbie, it was the age of Darci – in short, the period was so far like the present period, there were competing dolls.

Fans of this site know that I loved my Barbies. Barbie was beautiful, fashionable, and well accessorized – I especially loved her town house, pool, horses, dog, corvette, etc. And then there was Darci. Darci didn’t have the volume of play sets or accessories that Barbie had – after all, she was only produced for two years – but Darci was a fine friend in her own right.

Darci’s Debut

Kenner’s Darci Cover Girl was unveiled at the 1979 Toy Fair as a fashion model on-the-go. She was intended to provide direct competition to Mattel’s Barbie. As a professional model Darci came complete with a fashion portfolio including an array of magazine cover shots. Advertising of the doll positioned her as if she were a real model. To add to the realism, model/actress Leah Ayres appeared in Darci commercials, inside some Darci packages, and on in-store displays.

At a statuesque 12 ½ inches tall, Darci towered over Barbie and other fashion dolls. Darci’s height and more realistic proportions made it impossible for her to share clothes with Barbie, including shoes since Darci had ginormous feet. This was not a problem, however, as Darci came complete with a luxurious swimsuit, wrap skirt, silver heels, flower chocker, and five bracelets.

Darci was produced as a blonde, brunette, and redhead. The blond Darci typically wore a white swimsuit with matching lace skirt, while the brunette was adorned in pink, and redhead in blue. I owned one of the variations on these standards: a brunette attired in white. Because four times more blonde Darcis were produced than either brunettes or redheads, many more blondes are available for sale online and at your local flea market.

Darci also came with a patented posing stand with her name engraved on it that allowed her to strike various provocative poses during photo shoots. Thanks to the use of highly flexible vinyl materials, Darci was far more bendy than Barbie. She could contort her body into various positions, including straddles and splits…she could even bend at the elbow!

The Cover Girl World of Darci also included friends Erica and Dana. What it didn’t include was a male doll. And though as an independent modern woman Darci didn’t really need a man, I often had her on dates with Barbie’s Ken, which was especially awkward given Darci’s disproportionately large physique.

Darci Cover Girl: A Product of Her Times

Darci was a woman that had it all. She was a successful fashion model; a trendsetter wearing the day’s most current Studio 54-inspired designs; a marketer of her own line of perfume; and even a disco entrepreneur.

From the cover of Darci’s in-box pamphlet:
“She’s stylish and classy, sometimes sassy. Her fashions set the pace! She’s carefree and easy, funful and breezy, she’s the doll with the beautiful face! Darci Cover Girl, the beautiful poseable doll has a lifestyle all her own! Now, you, too, can discover the world of Darci; a super-deluxe van, a dynamite disco, fashions by the dozens, and lots more!”

After a demanding day of modeling at the Perfect Pose Studio, Darci and her gal pals could let their hair down at Darci’s own Fabulous Disco complete with revolving disco ball, spotlight, and pinball machine.

What would have added even further to Darci’s freewheelin’ ‘70s lifestyle was a Mobile Dressing Salon, perfect for on-location modeling gigs. Unfortunately the fashion van is thought to have only been produced as a prototype for the 1979 Toy Fair.

Darci’s Demise

According to a Kenner Darci Cover Girl Introductory Offer, Kenner was sparing no expense and creating the largest promotion in history, easily spending $1-2 M for the campaign in just six months. Thanks to Kenner’s heavy advertising, Darci sold very successfully in her first year, 1979.

Unfortunately, America’s girl culture was just too enamored of Barbie to give Darci a chance. In 1981, Kenner shut down the disco ball on Darci’s dance floor due to disappointing sales. Even though she was only produced for a mere two years, many women like me fondly remember their Darcis. She is still loved and sought after today.

And now, for your viewing pleasure…

then-and-now

Barbie’s Townhouse, Then and Now

Christmas morning, what a magical time; nothing can surpass the joy that the perfect toy can bring to a young child on that special day. In 1975, that joy came to me in the form of the Barbie Townhouse. I wasn’t the only girl thrilled with Barbie’s delightful 3-foot, 3-story swanky pad that year; check out these happy faces:

Kid with Barbie Townhouse

Kid with Barbie Townhouse

Kid with Barbie Townhouse

Kid with Barbie Townhouse

Oh, where are you now girl-in-footy-pajamas, darling-with-one-curler-in-bangs, little-lady-with-eye-patch, and gal-who-seemingly-received-a-new-pair-of-shoes-along-with-her-Townhouse?

Actually, from what I can tell, some of these photos depict the 1974 edition, which was the original release, while others show the 1975, which is the one I had. The 1974 version includes white pillars that hold the structure together, whereas the pillars in 1975 were a distinctive orange.

Beyond the different colored pillars, each year’s model is distinguishable by a new set of wallpaper backdrops that represent the rooms of Barbie’s Townhouse. Oddly, I found the image below from the 1975 Ward’s catalog that depicts the Townhouse with a green roof and flooring, which I haven’t seen elsewhere. Tracing the exact lineage of the Townhouse using pillar color, backdrop images, roof color, furniture etc. has proved challenging. Perhaps I’ll write a letter to Mattel requesting a detailed history.

Catalog Page Barbie Townhouse

As I mentioned in my post on June 8th, today the 25th Anniversary edition of the Barbie Townhouse is being unveiled. Grab yourself one via Amazon before they’re all sold out! To give you a sense of how times have changed: In 1974 the Barbie Townhouse sold for $14.99 according to various vintage toy catalogs; today, in 2009, the structure goes for $149.99 on Amazon.com. Talk about inflation! It must be the granite countertops and stainless steel appliances…I hope the HOA fees are more reasonable.

My own mother – who keeps insanely meticulous records of such things – paid $14.69 for the Townhouse in 1975. She purchased the item at Jay’s Kiddierama toy store in Lawrence Shopping Center in Lawrenceville, NJ. Incidentally, Jay’s was torched by an arsonist just before Christmas in 1983.

Here’s a side-by-side look at how an earlier model, perhaps the original, compares to today’s version.

then-and-now

As I described in my previous post, unlike the 1974 edition, the new Townhouse includes lights and sounds on every level. I’m relieved to see they preserved the pull-string elevator, even if they did turn it pink. In my day, this was the best feature. Although if my Townhouse had a working hot tub adjacent to Barbie’s bedroom, as the new model does, maybe I would have preferred that to the elevator. My favorite Barbie used to invite the Sunshine Family over to the Townhouse for rooftop parties, and they didn’t even have a hot tub, but that’s a different post.

Assembly of any toy before Christmas morning is always a must. As you can see from the open box displaying many separate pieces, with accompanying instruction manual, Dad had his work cut out for him. Mine recalls working on it at 3AM.

Barbie Townhouse in Box

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk down memory lane. If I hear back from Mattel, I’ll be sure to post more detail. In the meantime, please enjoy this Barbie Townhouse commercial from 1979:

barbie townhouse
barbie townhouse

Barbie Townhouse 25th Anniversary Edition

barbie townhouse

Okay, here’s one especially for the retro-girls out there…and the more open-minded retro-boys. Do you all remember the Barbie Townhouse? I don’t mean the Dream House — which I got to play with at my friend Ana’s house, but never got to own myself — I mean the Townhouse. The 3-story, 3-feet high swanky pad with stylish ’70s interior (plastered on the back wall) was one of my favorite toys of all time.

I’m working on a in-depth retrospective on the Townhouse, for release later this month, but I thought I should alert everyone to the 25th anniversary update of the 1974 Barbie Townhouse that comes out on July 1st. As with the original, the new version includes 3-stories and the awesomely fabulous elevator, which I assume is still pull-string operated.

Unlike the 1974 edition, the new Townhouse includes lights and sounds on every level. As Barbie enters her home through the front door, she’s greeted by the warm and inviting light-up chandelier, dining area, and fully stocked kitchen. Ken will be wowed by the roaring fireplace (complete with crackling sound effects) and pop-up flat screen TV in the 2nd floor living room. After relaxing in the outdoor hot tub, complete with mood-setting tiki lights, perhaps Ken will get to see Barbie’s demure canopy bed…you see, the outdoor hot tub area connects directly to the 3rd floor bedroom suite, or should I say sweeeeet.

In my day the elevator was the best feature — and probably still is — but kids today, who require more active stimulation, will be entertained for hours with all of the bells and whistles of the new Barbie Townhouse. Actually, I can’t wait to play with it myself! My only complaint: Too much pink.

No Barbie collection is complete without this dynamic abode. Be sure to
order yours via Amazon today!