Tag Archives: 90s barbie doll

Happy Birthday to Someone

12 Jul

After many years of hunting in vain for dolls at various venues where second-hand goods are sold, it seems that things have picked up all at once in a rather spooky way. As I mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently found a car boot sale where I’ve managed to make several very interesting finds and now I’ve picked up four new dolls from a Charity shop. This never happens in my area – but now it has, and I am so pleased.

So, I was on my way into work and noticed I was running early, for a change. As I was walking past a charity shop (Americans: thrift store/ Goodwill) and I thought I’d duck in for a browse. Just as I was leaving, I noticed about twenty to thirty Barbies on a shelf for sale at £3 each. Now, if I’d been a Mackie collector, I would have completely cleaned up as somebody was fond of this sculpt, but I didn’t want to be a Doll Pig, just snatching everything up for the sake of it. So I ended up coming away with four. My caution served me poorly, as there were definitely a couple more I should have got, and one of them is kind of haunting me now (don’t ask). From the ones I chose, three were late 1990s girls with that classic Barbie sculpt that I have a bit of a weakness for. Two had original outfits, including this one, Birthday Surprise Barbie from 1996.

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Isn’t she amazing? I absolutely love her little neon dress, with its pattern of parcels and musical notes. And the strangest thing about this doll is how absolutely fresh and vivid she looks – like she’s just stepped out of a timewarp. Most of the dolls that were on sale were like this.

My first thought was, somebody must have given up collecting, or left their collection to a family member who didn’t want them. Then I noticed that some of the dolls had been re-dressed, and it seemed to me that they were not re-dressed in the way an adult would have done it, either – don’t get me wrong, some thought had gone into picking the right silky bra to go with the fantasy tulle evening skirt. It looked nice, but not “grown-up”.

So, then I thought, maybe it was a little girl who didn’t like dolls very much? Perhaps this is why they were so unspoiled? But then again, she went to the effort of re-dressing some of them, and very few of them were wearing shoes. They had been played with, just very, very gently. Some of them had had their hair done, but none of them were tangled or matted. My God, I can’t keep my dolls’ hair that nice. This must have been the gentlest little girl in the world, and seriously, she must have had the cleanest hands ever seen on a child.

When I took them to the till, the cashier told me that a nearby branch of the shop had had 270 of these beauties donated, and they had been distributed to shops for miles around to sell. Unfortunately, this is the only branch within travelling distance of me (I know, I checked). That was all she could tell me. I am often intrigued by the back stories my dolls must have, but this one is a peach. I’d love to know if the detective work I’ve done is right, and I’d love to know how they ended up in the shop, and if anybody is going to miss them, one day. And I must say, this has all made me very fond of the dolls in question – I am secretly extremely sentimental, and the way that these dolls have been cared for is touching.

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PS. I nearly didn’t feature this doll because of my issues about posting things at the wrong time of year. Its nowhere near my birthday, after all. But in the end, she is so lovely that I couldn’t wait, and I figure it must be somebody’s birthday somewhere. So – happy birthday, someone!

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Happy New Year, Dury

1 Jan

My New Year’s resolutions this year are the same as they are every year:

1. Buy less
2. Organise more
3. Do more sewing, re-rooting and restoration projects

I’m not sure how I’m going to get on with these, as this year I am studying for a qualification on top of my other rl commitments. Browsing, buying and deboxing are the quick and easy routes to dolly fulfilment and as we all know, sewing, re-rooting, painting and restoring are time consuming. Nevertheless, I’ve started the year off as I’d like to go on with a little warm-up restoration.

While I was rooting in a cupboard on a non-dolly-related mission yesterday, I came across this poor creature:

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This doll arrived as part of a job lot I purchased on eBay when I first started collecting. Being a generic late eighties/ early nineties blonde, she wasn’t really the kind of thing I was after at the time. Plus, she was filthy, damaged and matted – and worst of all, she appeared to have a shorter neck and wider shoulders than normal Barbies. The sides of her face also looked distorted, giving her square-jawed look which kind of reminded me of the late Ian Dury:

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Yes? No? Maybe its just me. Anyway, that was that – she was named. I don’t usually name my dolls, but I couldn’t help it with this one. Every time I looked at her I thought, “bloody Ian Dury, what am I going to do with you?” As I am secretly ridiculously sentimental about toys I could not throw her in the bin, and nobody was going to buy her. She irritated me and I had to get her out of sight, which is how she ended up shoved at the back of a non-doll cupboard for years.

Of course, I’ve learned a little bit since I started collecting and when I found her yesterday, I recognised that what looked like an insurmountable load of problems when I first started out were going to be pretty quick and easy to rectify. The problem with her broad shoulders, short neck and distorted face was simple to diagnose, really. Ian Dury had been “loved” to the point where her head had become detached from her original body, probably taking the anchor with it so that it couldn’t be reattached. Somebody (probably an enterprising Mum) had then found a clone body with a knob neck fitting and popped her on it. This hadn’t worked out well as the head was the wrong shape and slightly too small for the body, and the neck knob pressed on her cheeks from the inside making her look more square-jawed than she should. Fortunately I have been on a bit of a rebodying binge recently, and I had a spare belly-button body for her. Its not a perfect colour match, but its certainly an improvement on what she had before.

Her matted hair needed a condition, brush through, wash and boil rinse to sort it out, which is one of my favourite restoration tasks – it makes such a big difference its almost like magic, and pretty quick to do too. I boiled her sheepdog fringe as flat as I could while I was at it and gave her a little trim-up. Here she getting her hair washed (please excuse the teaspoons in the sink):

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Looks happier already, doesn’t she? I gave her face a little scrub too, as it was thick with dirt. While she was drying, I gave some thought to her name. “Ian Dury” isn’t exactly accurate any more, but I felt that I should commemorate her roots. I decided “Ian” was too whimsical even for me, so I settled on “Dury” – after all, the world is full of Taylors and Jacksons, so why not?

So, she’s not perfect – she still has a couple of marks on her face that I’ve not been able to do anything about, and although I’m generally quite pleased with how her hair cleaned up, there’s more breaks and frazzles than I’d like. But on the whole, she’s turned out pretty well, I think:

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Fussing over Dury has made me think. A long time ago, I think I wrote about why I gave up collecting in my late teens. Part of it was, in the pre-internet days I found it virtually impossible to source dolls that I found beautiful – dolls in the shops were all just like Dury, generic, smiley blonde-and-blue. I wanted my dolls more realistic, more classy, but these kind of dolls were nowhere to be found. So I gave up. But really, I didn’t give up – I just stopped buying. I still looked at dolls, even when I wouldn’t allow myself to buy. And it wasn’t really just beautiful dolls I wanted. Any old doll is fascinating to me, even generic blonde and blue smilers, and this was always the case. I have no idea why this is. But the truth is, if Dury was my only doll and I had no way of getting any others, I would fuss over her and redress her and be fascinated by her and ultimately, I’m not sure if it would really matter what she looked like.

Anyway, just to put the sentimental cherry on top of the sugary-sweet cake that has been this post, I took some Christmas themed pictures as well. I’m on holiday, after all – plenty of time for grumpiness, cynicism and general darkness on other days. Grrr!

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Reading Part 10 (b) – More From Panini

19 Aug

Last time was pretty much about two of my other favourite characters, Skipper and Kira, but in the second post about this rediscovered Panini stickerbook, I’m going to be sharing some more Barbiecentric pictures with you. First off, there’s some Barbies I am familiar with – my personal favourite, Bubble Fairy:

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Songbird, who I just missed out on at auction:

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And of course, Jewel Hair Mermaid, the companion to my Midge from the same line (sorry about the poor picture quality on this one, it was a special shiny sticker that did not want to be photographed):

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There’s also some Barbies who I don’t recognise, so if anybody has a clue (outfits or furniture as well as dolls) please do leave a comment. First off, there’s tea-drinking Barbies (some lovely scene-setting here):

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There’s bedtime Barbie, I just love this scene – the rose on the bed! The cat in the window! And see how there’s a window-shaped light falling on the “room”? Somebody’s been watching film noire:

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There’s this great preppy-looking Barbie, could she be a Barbie Millicent Roberts? Or is she too playline? I don’t know much about these collectable dolls, it just seems to me that this girl has a look of them:

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There’s also some very glam Barbie brides:

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And a Barbie in a loveheart, what’s the deal with that strange funnel hat, then? Somebody has to recognise that:

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I know we said this post was going to be all Barbie, but there’s also some “friends” pictures I wanted to include. What about this one, she rings a bell – is she a Diva, what do you think? That big hair is striking, has anybody else seen it before?

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Cartoon Midge at the Disco:

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And a pretty Theresa on a snowmobile:

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Well, it’s been fun. I’ll leave you with one last picture of the Friends:

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Reading Part Ten (a) – Panini Stickerbook

10 Aug

Ok, so I’m not exactly sure that stickerbooks count as “reading”, but they are (kind of) books and really quite fascinating. I love Barbie ephemera – fliers, stickers, that sort of thing – especially anything with lots of doll photography. The sets they use are often impressive and it’s interesting to try and recognise the dolls. So, when we found a half-complete Panini Stickerbook in the attic, I was made up. I better warn you that in my enthusiasm I’ve taken a load of pictures, in fact I think I’m going to have to split this post in two just so I can cram them all in … Ready?

So, first of all, I found a plethora of Skippers, featuring both the Anime and the Pizza Party sculpt … This first Skipper has fabulous twirly braids. I don’t remember a Skipper sporting this style, can anybody place her or has she just been styled this way for the photos?

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There’s also a Pizza Party girl wearing a denim outfit. I own a Skipper outfit that is very similar but I don’t think I’ve seen this variant before …

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Skippers in the kitchen:

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Skippers in the bedroom:

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A lovely cartoon Skipper:

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And isn’t that Courtney doing Barbie’s hair?

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Lastly, my very own Winter Holiday Skipper in her natural habitat:

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I also spotted some interesting Kiras:

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I recognised the top Kira straight away, she’s my Sparkle Beach version. I don’t recognise the other three though, can anybody give me any suggestions? I particularly like the picnicking Kira in pink and white, she has a great face and I wouldn’t mind trying to track her down If possible. The last Kira is probably the oddest Kira I have ever seen, though -what’s the deal with her hair? She can’t have been sold like this, I’m betting she was restyled with short hair for these pictures. If I am wrong and you have seem her boxed anywhere, please do let me know.

More to follow …:)

ADDITIONAL: the second Kira above (the underwater one) has been identified by Betjemul as Ocean Friends Kira from 1996. Thanks Betjemul!

Pet Doctor – One Down, One to Go

29 Jun

I’ve only got a few unidentified dolls now. I find that these days I tend to have “target dolls” who I am looking out for specifically rather than just buying dolls who catch my interest at the time (I kind of miss that approach, though). Anyway, when I do buy dolls without knowing who they are, I have a poke round on the internet and usually I can identify them within a couple of sessions. But sometimes, I come up with a doll that completely stumps me.

I’ve had Pet Doctor Barbie for somewhere over a year, and I’d given up hope of ever identifying her. She’s one of the few dolls I have got at a car boot sale, and I got her as part of a job lot. She’s pretty generic-looking with her standard 1990s sculpt, blonde and blue, and she came with no clothes, so I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But I really like her. She has a lovely skin tone, and those magnificent dark eyebrows.

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At first, I wondered if she might be a Holiday Barbie, because her eyes are painted in a similar way to those of my Winter Holiday Skipper, but she wasn’t the doll from the four-pack this Skipper was sold as part of. From then on, I checked literally hundreds of dolls from this time period. But it seemed hopeless. I decided that I would post a pic of her and another unidentified doll who has been driving me mad, and ask if anybody could help me out. Here’s the other doll:

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As you can see, this beautifully evil-looking Christie has been rather scratched-up, but she’s still a great-looking doll. Strange thing about her – her hair was sticking up, so I boil straightened it to get it to lie flat and she’s ended up with a salt-and-pepper kind of effect where the hair has lost some of its colour in bands down each hair strand. This doesn’t show up well on photos as it just looks like a light reflection, you can just about see it on the top of her head. I’ve never had this happen before, and actually, I quite like it. Anyway, I’ve also spent a lot of time trying to identify this doll, and I’ve never been able to. Any ideas, anyone?

Just before I was due to write my post about these unidentified dolls, I spotted Pet Doctor on eBay. She was produced in 1996 (around the same time as Bubble Fairy, who I am also very fond of) and she came as part of a playset with a dog to Doctor. I never would have thought of this, and it was just blind luck that I saw the identifying picture at a time when I had recently been examining her face.

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In the above picture, the animals are Prince (who is looking rather dishevelled thanks to my son’s attentions) and Mika, the weeing cat – bless.

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Disco Midge

7 Jun

Disco Midge, who was sold as “Midge and The Beat” in America, was released in 1990. She was one of the first Midges to use the Diva face – the way I understand it, All Star Midge just pipped her to the post for this privilege. I used to dislike these older-style Midges with their technicolour makeup and their huge freckles, but as with Skipper, I’ve ended up completely reversing my opinion. I think its because the Diva sculpt looks so modern, its interesting to see it with the older, blockier painting style.

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I particularly like Disco Midge’s hair, its actually streaked with blonde and looks very natural. However, her fringe (bangs) is very irritating as it appears to slope on one side. I’m not a big fan of the sheepdog fringe and I briefly considered cutting it, but her style reminds me of the twentysomethings I knew in the late eighties/ early nineties, she’s very much of her time and I decided I should just leave her that way.

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Dollelgangers – Double Colour Splash Skipper

18 May

A little while back, I won three Skippers with the Pizza Party sculpt on eBay. One of these was Winter Holiday Skipper. The other two were these lovely Colour Splash Skippers from 1993. As you can see, one came with earrings and the other without, but both were in good condition and still had their original plaits in. I had a tough time sorting the hair actually even though it wasn’t in bad shape to start with, because glitter strands really do not take kindly to being combed and tend to stick up all over the place.

I actually owned one of these dolls from new, having bought her as a teenage collector, but I decided she wasn’t my kind of thing and I (the shame) sold her on. I then experienced a complete turnaround in my feelings about Skipper a couple of years later and regretted it like hell. I was so glad to get her back – and in duplicate!

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I made them both outfits from a couple of pairs of neon socks. These were originally going to be the same – I was going for a kind of “thing one and thing two” look, but I just haven’t got the focus to do it. I made the first teeshirt and shorts combination, then found myself thinking, hmm, I wonder if a dress would look nice? Never mind, maybe next time.

This is the first time I have made trousers for a doll. It was surprisingly easy, but the fabric is a little too thick and kind of bulges where I have hemmed round the bottom cuff. Next time, I’ll use thinner stuff, or maybe hem with ribbon.

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Farewell Bubble Fairy

13 Feb

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A little update on my selling escapades – washing and cleaning seemed to do the trick, and all the unwanted crew are off to pastures new. I do hope none of them end up as modern art or anything, it would be nice to think that they are going to go to children who will play with them and enjoy them.

I find that whenever I sell dolls on, my inner child starts complaining “hey, that’s MY doll!” and I nearly always regret it. My latest sales, for instance. They are generic Barbies and badly produced clones, worth virtually nothing, and I STILL hate letting them go. I love Bubble Fairies, I think they are my favourite kind of 1990s doll, so tonight as a little farewell I took some pictures of my own Bubble Fairy with her dollelganger.

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Don’t they look cute together? Anyway, speaking of dollelgangers, I’m planning a little series of posts on this theme at some point soon, so more dolly duplications to come …

My Bubble Fairy (in the necklace) wears an unbranded dress that I inherited from my sister. Soon-to-depart Bubble Fairy wears a 90s Gardening Barbie dress.

Dressing The Dog in a Frilly Bonnet

27 Jul

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** HEY KIDS! LISTEN, I’M SORRY ABOUT THIS BUT I’M BACK TO TALKING ABOUT BORING GROWN-UP STUFF AGAIN. PLEASE ASK YOUR GROWN-UPS IF THEY ARE OK WITH IT IF YOU REALLY WANT TO READ THIS POST …. THANKS! **

I just want to take a minute or three to discuss something. Its not a particularly comfortable topic for me and I think a lot of other women feel the same way. There are a few questions I have been asking myself about this topic, and they are as follows:

Firstly. Is it coincidence that, shortly after the only chick in my nest exited tiny-babyhood forever, I took up collecting dolls – small, cute, in need of dressing and grooming, reminiscent of childhood? Similarly, earlier in my life, was it coincidence that while I was at my most biologically fertile age I suddenly started acquiring cats at a rather alarming rate – small, warm, cuddly, in need of affection and care?

Secondly. If I decide that the answer to my first set of questions is “nope – you were obeying some kind of biological imperative to nurture” … well, should I feel bad about this?

Lets think about why I should feel bad about this. Reason one – the society I live in tends to be a bit appalled by this kind of behaviour. It seems to me that nurturing for the sake of nurturing is socially acceptable when the nurturer is, for instance, a recently bereaved chimp. However, when the nurturer is a childless woman or an empty-nester, as far as society is concerned, it kind of smacks of mental illness or at least some sort of mush-brained emotional instability, doesn’t it? Let me ask all you single, cat-owning girls out there – how many times have you been compared to the crazy cat-lady from the Simpsons? Do you still find it entertaining, or have you reached the point where every time you hear it, your smile is ready to crack, fall from your face and shatter into vicious shards on the floor? Regardless of how happy you and Tiddles are together, society still reserves the right to curl its upper lip at you. Thirty years ago you could have taken the phrase “cat-lady” and replaced it with “spinster” and the attitudes would have been basically the same.

Personally, I think that reason one is more bizarre than supposedly inappropriate nurturing anyway. If we are talking about biological imperatives, consider what sort of social phenomenon might be assignable to the effects of testosterone on behaviour. I leave you to draw your own conclusions about this, and to compare it with all that social harm caused by buying dollies, taking in strays, knitting acres of baby clothes for the local charity raffle and occasionally dressing up the dog in a frilly bonnet. Maybe in very extreme cases, animals might be made unhappy by inappropriate treatment (bonnet-wearing, for instance – by the way, I’m using this phrase to refer to the cliche, not to anything I do – just to make it really clear, my animals DO NOT wear clothes). This isn’t good but I bet its still a damn sight more comfortable than being shot with an air rifle or blown up with a firework by some confused, hormonal teenage boy … see what I am getting at?

See, I think that reason one is a direct result of the impulse many people have in their teenage years to flee the nest, reject sentimentality, escape childhood and nurture. I think that society has picked this up and ran with it because, well, its an attitude that some women and a lot of men never completely grow out of. I don’t know why. Hangover from the great rock ‘n roll rebellion of the last century? Another example of the way that mothering is devalued by contemporary values? Monkeys basically looking for ways to justify creating a rampantly aggressive society? You decide.

On to reason two. Some people might say that I should feel bad about obeying a biological imperative to nurture because, well, it doesn’t exist. If it does exist, its only a little thing, and social values have caused me to blow it massively out of proportion. I am basically being duped by oppressive social norms and it follows that, actually, I could choose not to feel like this. Which means I could have chosen not to get the cats or collect the dolls – or have the child – but instead, I don’t know, taken up boxing or started my own business or something. To which I would say, “er, I know – but I didn’t want to”. To which my “some people” would say, “yeah, that’s because you’re being duped.” And so on, and so on. My problem with reason two is that there’s a pretty big “shouldn’t” right in there that completely disregards my experiences, my history and my feelings on the matter. I’m not keen on feminists who have hard-line opinions on what women “should” be like (“shouldn’t wear make-up”, “shouldn’t let their girl-children play with dolls” etc), any more than I am keen on the people who hold directly reversed opinions – I’m more a “respect difference and right to choose your lifestyle” kind of girl (“shouldn’t refer to grown women as girls”, yeah yeah). But actually, do you know what? Most of the people who have criticised me from a reason two sort of position (“shouldn’t want babies, shouldn’t be so sentimental, shouldn’t moon over animals and toys, because you’re pandering to outdated, offensive social expectations”) have been men, although not the boyf, I would like to add – bless him. For this reason, I think that sometimes, reason two is just reason one dressed up in trendy clothes.

Anyhoo, I don’t expect you to give up your job so you can stay at home making babies and trying to knit the perfect hat for Mr Woofles. I don’t – I work my arse off and will continue to do so until the current Government succeeds in its goal of getting me back in the dole queue (stat services, darling). However, from time to time I do think about the following. On a school trip to some Cathedral or other, I once saw the grave of a woman who had born thirty children in her lifetime. Thirty! Honest to God. My cat had kittens when she was eight months old (it was an accident, by the way) and as soon as they were weaned, she was back in season and desperate to get out of the house to make more kittens. On the other hand, by the time I reach menopause, I will have had somewhere between thirty and forty fertile years, but I only have one little chick in my nest. Females are designed by nature to breed, and breed, and breed, but these days in the UK, a brood even a third of the size of the Cathedral woman’s would cause raised eyebrows – yes, and a permanently empty wallet. Its good that most of us now have a choice, as poor old Cathedral woman died relatively young. But this leads to loads of non-breeding time, and I don’t think its unreasonable to presume that on a psychological level, whether for biological or social reasons, this is going to have an effect on some women. If it doesn’t, ace – crack on. If it does, and you find yourself taking any of the baby-replacement routes that make society giggle behind its hand at you, I don’t think you should be feeling bad about it. Isn’t it great that women can take an urge that they can’t, or won’t, fulfil, and turn it into something creative, something useful and nurturing, or at least something neutral in its wider effects? AND it makes them happy. That’s getting a lemon and making lemonade for you, so go pick on someone else.

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PS. The doll in the pictures is my beautiful 90s Bubble Fairy. I lost her wings long ago, but I still have her fairy outfit somewhere. In these pictures, she’s wearing a suit that my sister made by hand (oo, she’s good). Isn’t it strange, there are millions of dolls with this face but for some reason I think she’s the best of the lot – I’d never part with her. I got the dress-wearing dog with a job-lot of toys I bought a while ago, I have no idea who made it. Sometimes Barbie animals are a bit cartoony for my tastes but I think this one goes very well with my dolls.

Swimsuit Special – Patio Pool Party

6 Jul

My rules usually prohibit combining 80s/ 90s Barbies with 80s/ 90s accessories, but just this once I don’t think it will hurt. Here are some of my older swimsuit dolls enjoying a very brief moment of sunshine (it thunderstormed right afterwards):

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The set is from the late 80s and it is called Patio Pool Party. I have never really understood why Barbie accessory sets have always been so poor compared to Sindy accessories or to re-ment. I suppose that they are meant to be representations of objects to act as cues for play, rather than scale models of objects – but why not just do them better? As other toy companies manage it, it can’t be that much more expensive. Having said this, Patio Pool Party isn’t all that bad. The chairs and the table are really cute, and some of the fruit in the fruit bowl is actually quite good. The pool, which you can just see the edge of in some of the above pictures, could have been great but it sags at the sides even when it is full and it just isn’t photogenic at all.

I managed to get Patio Pool Party boxed, and on the side of the box there was a picture of my favourite kind of Skipper enjoying the sun. Check out her pink eyes!

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