Sunday, December 1, 2013

Barbie of the Month: Midge’s Ensemble Gift Set

It’s December and a perfect month to feature one of the early gift sets; specifically Midge’s Ensemble Gift set stock #1012 from 1964.  The box is marked 1963, but the set wasn’t available until 1964.

#1012 Midge's Ensemble Gift Set

This colorful set is extremely hard to find intact with the box liner, all the clothing, doll stand, and doll.  There is also very little information on it in the Barbie world!

#1012 Midge's Ensemble Gift Set Complete (missing wrist tag)


The gift set includes a #860 straight-leg Midge doll with a flip hair-do and pink hang tag on her left arm.  There was also a black wire doll stand, clothing, and a fashion booklet in the box.  I’ve seen her available in the set with brunette and titian hair.  I’m sure she must have come with blonde too. What is interesting to me about this set is the brunette and titan dolls both wore a yellow swim suit with orange bottoms.  Dolls that were sold separately had a different color swim suit based on their hair color (blonde had a light blue top with darker blue bottoms, brunette had a pink top with red bottoms, and titian had a yellow top with orange bottoms).
The dolls in the set all wore
a orange and yellow swim suit

 The Dolls sold separately wore a different color
swim suit based on their hair color

This set came with a whole mix ‘n match knit wardrobe which included both a stripe and a solid pattern.  The striped colored clothing consisted of a long gathered sparkle knit skirt, a knit sheath slim skirt with elastic waist and matching wide sash featuring orange fringe on the ends, a straw hat with striped knit headband and attached striped scarf. There was also a striped knit clutch purse with button clasp.
The solid colored clothing comprised of blue knit pants and a blue knit top.  The set also included royal blue open toe heels and white open toe heels.

The clothes that were included in the box set were also sold separately in 1963 as Pak items, which are single items that were less expensive to purchase.  In 1964 a clothing ensemble, #1602 Knit Separates, was available. It included four items (blue knit skirt, striped top, gold pants, and blue shoes).  That ensemble is also part of this gift set.
#1602 Knit Separates

My set originally sold for $6.99 at Meier and Frank (but was marked down to $2.99).  Today, if you can even find it, you will certainly pay significantly more.  I also love that old familiar slogan written on the front of the box: “You Can Tell It’s Mattel…It’s Swell!” What a nostalgic reminder of the early days of the Barbie doll! 
Happy Hunting!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Barbies Adventures: Virginia City

Barbie recently visited Virginia City, Nevada, which is one of the oldest and at one time richest cities in the West.  It is a very well preserved historical landmark.

In 1859 prospectors began mining the area in and around the town and it soon became the site of the largest silver and gold strikes in the country.  They called it the Comstock Lode.   The miners worked the seven major mines from 1859 to 1898.  They produced nearly 400 million dollars worth of silver and gold.  Using today’s dollars, the amount they mined would be worth billions.

Virginia City was the major hub between Denver and San Francisco.  At its peak there were close to 15,000 people living in the area.  By the 1930’s, just after the depression, there were only a few hundred people still living in the town.

Virginia City, Nevada
Today Virginia City contains over one hundred historic buildings, along with other memorabilia and furniture from the heyday.  Barbie enjoyed strolling down C Street on the wooden sidewalks.  It’s the major street in this Old West town, and is lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, museums, and saloons.  Three of the most popular saloons are the Bucket of Blood (est. 1876), The Red Dog Saloon (est. 1875) and The Delta Saloon (est. 1883).    


MacKay Mansion

Fourth Ward School (1876)

Silver Dollar Queen
made with 3,261 Silver Dollars
which were minted in Carson City.
Her belt has 28 twenty-dollar gold
pieces and her necklace and bracelets
are made using dimes.  She stands
15 feet tall and 8 feet wide

St Mary's in the
Mountains Church

 St Mary's in the Mountains Church (1876)  Called the "Bonanza
Church" because of the Rich Silver mines of the 1800's

Inside St. Mary's in the Mountains Church

You can take train rides on the old Virginia & Truckee Railroad that runs between Virginia City and Gold Hill during the warmer months (usually Memorial Day through October).  There are also mine tours, trolley rides, ghost tours, a Wild West show, and tours of many of the old buildings.  As you walk or drive the steep streets of the town you will also see several well preserved Victorian homes.

A Cowboy from the Wild Wild West Show

Barbie really enjoyed walking through the old Silver Terrace Cemetery, located on the edge of town.  The site is full of history and interesting grave markers.  Most plots have some sort of fencing or border around them, which was common in the Victorian period.

Silver Terrace Cemetery


Silver Terrace Cemetery
There were five fires during the Comstock years.  The largest and most famous became known as ‘The Great Fire of 1875’.  The fire was started when a coal oil lamp was knocked over in Kate Shea’s Boarding House.  Since there were high winds that day, the fire spread rapidly.  When it was all said and done, there were about two thousand buildings lost.  The city was rebuilt in the years following the fire.


If you visit, be sure to take the Comstock Highway, which is the twenty mile winding road (which reaches a summit of 6789 feet) that takes you through Virginia City.  On your way you might even see some wild horses roaming. You will have a chance to stop at some scenic pullouts for some extraordinary views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and will see numerous reminders of the areas rich mining history.

A visit to Virginia City is always a good time, and a fun way to experience a little bit of the wild wild West!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Barbie of the Month: Twiggy

Twiggy (1967)

Who is Twiggy?  She is Lesley Lawson (born Leslie Hornby), and her childhood nickname was Sticks, and later she was called Twigs.  She was born in London, England in 1949.  By the mid 1960‘s her boyfriend, who was also her hairdresser, encouraged her to change her name to Twiggy.  Eventually he became her manager.

Twiggy Hornby

At age 16 Twiggy, now a British fashion model was called “the face of 1966” by the Daily Express Newspaper.  With her boyish thin build, crop haircut and heavy false eyelashes (wearing three pairs at a time), she represented the teens of the swinging sixties.  By 1967 she was in all the major fashion magazines, had her own line of clothing, and was modeling internationally.  She appeared on the cover of the Paris version of Vogue magazine, Elle, and others.  Considering her 5’ 6”, 112 pound frame it is amazing that she was even considered for modeling. Originally she planned to do head shots because she was told she was too short to model.  Interestingly she wasn’t just a model, but is considered the world’s first Super Model.
Twiggy on the cover of two Seventeen Magazines (1967)

In 1967 (the height of her career) her popularity grew even more when she came to America to model and promote her new clothing line. She was so popular that Mattel released a Twiggy doll (stock #1185) after her.  This blonde short haired teen was the first doll released depicting a real live person. She was on the market for only two years; 1967 and 1968.


Often people get the Twiggy and Casey dolls mixed up.  Casey was released the same year as Twiggy.  They both are the same size and have a similar short hair style. They used the same head mold, have bendable legs, a twist ‘n turn waist, and real rooted eyelashes. What’s different between the two dolls? Twiggy wears much heavier eye makeup than Casey.  Casey also came in a choice of three hair colors (blonde, brunette and red), where Twiggy only had one color; blonde.

Twiggy's Eyes (top) & Casey's Eyes (bottom)

Twiggy came dressed in a yellow, blue, and green short knit mini dress, with matching yellow boots.  She wore her Twiggy wrist tag, came with a clear stand, and a little fashion booklet.
Twiggy in her Original Box

There were only four ensembles specifically packaged for Twiggy, which were all released in 1968:  #1725 Twiggy-Do’s, #1726 Twiggy Turnouts, #1727 Twigster, and #1728 Twiggy Gear (pictured right).  But since Francie was the same size, she had all of her clothes to wear as well.
I think Twiggy is a must have doll in any vintage Barbie collection.  She represents so much of what the 1960’s were all about!
Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween With Barbie

It’s the night of ghosts, goblins, and other little creatures that come knocking on your door, with the expectations of tasty treats being dropped into their plastic pumpkin buckets.
1967 Barbie dressed in a modern
day costume and vintage mask
Barbie also enjoyed Halloween back in the day.  She dressed up in her first official Halloween costume that was introduced in 1963, and was simply called “Masquerade”. Ken and Skipper had the same attire with the exact same name too, but Skipper's wasn’t available until 1964.
Barbie and Ken dressed in Masquerade
Other Halloween Worthy costumes on the marketplace in 1964 was Cinderella and Poor Cinderella, Guinevere, Arabian Nights, and Red Riding Hood and the Wolf.  Ken had his options too; The Prince, King Arthur, and Arabian Nights.

Barbie dressed in Cinderella (1964)

In the past seventeen years many Halloween dolls have popped up in stores for children of all ages.  Most of these dolls came in pink label boxes, and are not considered highly collectible.  The very first Halloween Barbie was the 1996 Happy Halloween Barbie and Kelly Gift Set, which was a Target exclusive.  Target continues to release new dolls year after year.  Other stores, such as Sears and select grocery stores, also had Halloween dolls available on their shelves.  I find these costumes to be so much fun to dress our vintage dolls in!

1996 Happy Halloween Barbie & Kelly Gift Set

1998 Halloween Fun Barbie and
Kelly Gift Set (Target Exclusive)

The newly released pink label doll, “Wizard of Oz Wicked Witch of the West”, is another doll that would certainly fit the bill for Halloween.  There have been several versions of this doll over the years.


The only three gold label “collector” dolls released specifically for Halloween were all designed by Bill Greening, who is one of the major creators for Barbie.  The first was the 2011 Halloween Haunt Barbie (a Barbie Fan Club Exclusive) from the Holiday Hostess Collection.  Ghost Barbie Doll (2012) and Vampire Barbie Doll (2013), both from the Haunted Beauty Series as well as part of the fantasy series, were offered only as a Direct Exclusive, and not available in stores.  Today these three dolls are the most sought after of all the Halloween Barbie Dolls on the market.

Haunted Beauty Vampire Barbie (2013)

Haunted Beauty Vampire Barbie (2013) 

2011 Halloween Haunt Barbie & 2012 Ghost Barbie
If you browse through the many dolls that have been available over the years, you will doubtlessly find some others that will fit the bill which are not considered official Halloween dolls.  Remember, imagination is what Barbie is all about!
Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Barbie of the Month: Miss Barbie

Fall is in the air; Halloween is just around the corner; and what better month to feature the scariest vintage Barbie doll Mattel ever released:  Miss Barbie from 1964.

#1060 Miss Barbie (1964)
Miss Barbie (Stock #1060) was the very first and last doll to have blue “sleep” eyes that open when she’s standing up or close when she is lying down.  Her head was made of hard plastic with brown molded hair like that of the Fashion Queen Barbie.  She wore an orange vinyl headband rather than blue.  She came with her own set of wigs (brunette flip, blonde pageboy and red bubble cut) and a white wig stand. 
She wore a pink one piece swim suit with a pink fringe swim cap that had gold glitter dots on it, and she completed the outfit with matching pink open toe heels.   Her swim suit came in three variations; pink with printed dots on the fabric, a pink suit with raised gold glitter dots, and a solid pink version without any dots. 

When you find this doll on the secondary market, she usually has some sort of melt marks due to a chemical reaction resulting from her wigs being left on her head too long.

Along with the doll and wigs came a lawn swing with canvas cover, palm plant, two magazines, a transistor radio, purple princess phone, tray and two drinking glasses, her (new) gold colored wire stand,  and a Barbie booklet. 
The swing was also sold separately in a set called “Go Together Lawn Swing & Planter” (#4011).  In the set was the swing with cover, planter, radio, and two magazines to read.  There was also a "Barbie Go-together Gift Set" (#4005) that included the swing as well as living room furniture.



1964 was the first year Mattel released Barbie with bendable legs.  She has the same body as the first issue “American Girl” dolls (1965), but with a slightly smaller neck knob, which was needed to fit her newly constructed head. There were weights in her eyes that needed additional room.  Her head is attached with a black rubber O-ring which is usually lost if her head is found without the body.  The rubber in the O-ring is often found deteriorated due to age.  Both bodies are marked with the engraved intaglio markings on their bottoms which read: ©1958/Mattel,Inc./U.S. Patented U.S. Pat. Pend Made In Japan. 

An extremely rare Miss Barbie head that can be found from time to time are unpainted and were never sold to the public.

Unfortunately Miss Barbie didn’t sell very well, even though she came in such a great set.  Kids seemed to think she had a scary face and were afraid of her!  They also didn’t like how hard the face felt.  She was only on the market for one short year, which makes her harder to acquire.

Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hervé Léger by Max Azria Barbie

Check out Mattel’s newest high fashion Barbie doll!  This is the Hervé Léger by Max Azria Barbie doll.  She comes with two high end fashion ensembles which are made in the same factory as the Hervé Léger clothing line. And here is the best part, you can buy a matching ensemble in your size for yourself!
Hervé Léger by Max Azria Barbie doll

In 1998, Hervé Léger, a French clothing house, was acquired by BCBGMAXAZRIA Group (founder Max Azria).  The company was established in 1989 and has been a huge presence in the fashion industry, creating high end, contemporary fashions. 
In 2007, BCBGMAXAZRIA reintroduced the Hervé Léger label, using their creative designs.  By 2008 the incredible fashions were shown on the New York Runway during fashion week.
This Gold Label doll, which was available for purchase on September 17, 2013 at for $150.00, won’t be shipped until October 15th.  This is the same date she should be available at select Neiman Marcus stores.  The adult size matching outfits can be purchased at Neiman Marcus as well as Hervé Léger by Max Azria stores. 
The set comes with the doll, two dresses, belt, black gladiator boots, open toe booties, and two handbags. There are no more than 9200 dolls produced worldwide.