When Barbie was first launched by Mattel in 1959, no one, not even her creator, Ruth Handler, could have envisaged how popular the teenage fashion doll, named after her own daughter, would become. As sales of the new doll created record figures, Mattel quickly seized the opportunity to expand the range and create more items for Barbie. In addition to her extensive wardrobe of clothes, various accessories were made to satisfy the demands of her avid fans. As a result, the first Barbie Dream House came to be marketed in 1962. The house was made of cardboard and was designed in a country style. It was furnished with plenty of accessories suitable for the period including, a television, rugs, lamps, tables and even a set of records.
It quickly became apparent that cardboard was not robust enough for normal play, so the later versions were made of vinyl and then hard plastic. The houses sold extremely well and became more sophisticated by the 1970s featuring optional extras which could be added on, such as swimming pools, working lights and elevators. There are a great many sizes of Barbie Doll Houses in the official Mattel versions; they all fit the standard size Barbie doll, but the layout and number of rooms is changed with every new edition. They can vary from a small unit with just a few basic rooms such as a kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom to a three story mansion with elevators, stairways and multiple add ons such as gyms and garages. The most imaginative version yet is the Barbie Totally Real House with separate modular rooms that enable the child to create the size house they prefer at any time, large or small.
Barbie doll houses add to the delight of the child as they allow her to create a realistic world for her favorite doll, but it doesn’t end with the house, there are many items of furniture and accessories, some of the more modern houses have over fifty items to make Barbie’s home comfortable. The recent houses also have a variety of special effects to add to the realism. Some of these included in The Totally Real House were a flush toilet, a shower, working door bell and a washing machine and dryer. The Barbie Three Story Dream House had a sizzling stove and an intercom which played a song among its features.
These modern houses, with all the electronics are a delight to many, especially the children, but the true Barbie enthusiasts prefer to seek out the older, classic styles which were cheaper than today’s models. They are very often in poor condition and need to be repaired or rebuilt, but this does not present a problem to the collector and some people will also build their own Barbie doll houses, either from kits or entirely to their own design, this allows more room as most of the authentic Mattel versions would be too small to hold all the accessories. If you give a Barbie doll house of any kind, to a little girl, it lets her imagination roam and she will develop ideas and enjoy hours of play.