Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Parts: The Elusive Patio Triangles...

I thought it would be good to devote an entire post to the patio floor sections. They are very rare to find when purchasing an A frame these days. I still dont know what years these extra pieces were issued. I would say less than 1/4 of the ones i see online still have the sections included. So, at this point the only way i can see getting them is to purchase one that has them ($100-140), and sell the house back without them, or for parts. You will probably net them for 20-40 bucks. I think its almost worth that since it fits the house into different configurations better. I was thinking about getting some pieces cut out of high density mdf, priming, and painting them until original ones could be obtained, but havent had the time to try this yet.

1978 Mattel A Frame Barbie Dream Doll House Red roof yellow floors mod groovy 1970s 1980s custom OOAK 

Other Houses: Volume 1

Newer playmobil set.
1970's fisher price playset
1970's lunby wooden/electrical house

Target 2011 Welcome Home balcony dollhouse.

Newer kit.
The wooden house is so similar to the 1978 Mattel house that it had to be knock off. I guess this is ok for toddlers, but seems primitive compared to the 35 pound plastic orange and yellow one we are all so fond of. I just thought i would throw in this post for contrast. It sure makes me appreciate the Mattel version. The house with the red roof is a 1990 Norrland Lundby house. In all fairness, it is well made, has actual electrical lights, and tons of accesories to boot. The Swedes did a good on this one (as all their houses). I still prefer the 1978 Orange and Yellow house. The upper right is a 1970's Fisher Price A Frame. it has a groovy interior with stickers, and the roof unfolds for better playing, its cute, but is scaled for wee people, so theres only so much you can do with it. The upper left is Playmobil country house and farm.

Other Topic: Every Diva Needs A Hot Ride

no website devoted to the A frame house would be complete without the wheels that went with it. The house, camper and vette had several things in common. Age, color and size. They all came out in the late seventies, were bright sunshine yellow and were GINORMOUS (well except the vette). There was a beige western version of the camper, circa 1982, and they both retailed for around $37.95. I would have liked window 'glass' for it, but i am sure by now most of it would be missing or scratched anyway. I liked the vette, but the wire made it kind of lame, remote control isnt that remote with a short cord attached. Back then the only place people had room for all these huge toys was either in the rec-room or carport.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Box: Teeny, Tiny Boxes of the A Frame Collection

Found on ebay this week for 10 bucks. i have seen the oven box this size before, but never the whole set. pretty cool. this would be a great accesory for staging the A frame house. 1:12 scale and were made in the U.S. by Farrow Industries,Inc. with Mattel's permission.

On sale for $11.....

small box collection, usually orangish, not sure why. 

Renovation: Spot Be Gone - Cleaning and Polishing the Pieces

For the second A frame I reconditioned, the floors had really bad staining. I got them 90% better with the following procedure: STEP ONE-soak in a soapy bath for a few hours. TWO- scrub vigorously with soft bristle brush (I use a natural back scrubber, it really gets in all the nooks and crannies of the roof shingles and wall detailing) in circular motion and rinse. a tooth brush can be used to clean grooves and inside corners. THREE-wipe down with terry cloth towel taking care to get all the nooks and cranies. FOUR- schmeer a thin coating of soft scrub bleach creme cleaner over all outer surfaces especially on the darkest spots. let sit for an hour or two. FIVE- scrub with a SOFT sponge (soft scrub is gritty so you dont want to press hard and scratch, its only used for its bleach content and paste consistancy). rinse while you gently massage with sponge. you should be seeing a brighter clearer yellow color now. you can drain off each panel as you go, then towel off. sometimes even just the pressure of the towel can buff of scuff marks found on the sides and corners. SIX- let completely dry, you can help it along and get any remaining dirt residue by running a Q tip along all the details underneath, inside the grooves and in the corner slots. SEVEN- there are two ways to shine up cleaned parts. one approach is to use a plastic conditioner like mothers milk or black magic solicone (auto section for both) and a clean soft cloth to massage circular motions for 5-10 minutes per floor piece. this will give it a nice deep shine again as well as intensify the yellow coloring. In a few days you can repeat the final step for a deeper shine. You can also use the above routine for deeply soiled roof panels minus the soft scrub bleach step as that would lighten the color which is a bad idea since the orange is a darker hue than the floors. the other approach to shining up old, dull plastic is to use a very light oil like the one they provide with beard trimmers. its clear and watery so will not dry or dull itself when used. i tried this on a jamie somers doll recently (hair and body) and it took 20-30 years off her in a few seconds. just use it sparingly and you will be very happy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

MIB Unkown Date:

The box with the girl in the blue turtleneck (at bottom of blog) is the same one as the brochure, so i think that this box is the second box that came out. I have found 3 different ones in a month on feebay so it seems they had a new box come out every year. Looking at these boxes is a great way to see how to reconstruct the flower boxes which almost always are partially or completely bare.On that subject I have used the pet store fish aisle as a great place to find replacement plants, it really helps round out the planters when you are trying to sell for top dollar.

Others Don't Compare

Starting off as cardboard cases, then puffy vinyl, then tall cardboard with columns, then the great A Frame, and finally collapsible plastic cottages, victorian, grandparents house, beach house etc. There is no comparison to the 1978 A Frame DreamHouse. No other had the size, weight and changability as the A Frame.

Ebay: Contrasting Four Buying Experiences (UPDATED)

The first house I bought on Ebay was on a slow week, so inexpensive, dusty and inclomplete and took about a week to arrive. I was thrilled because i hadnt had my hands on one since about 1983. Both parcels were very large boxes, and the packing material was high quality & packed with care. Even all the parts were labeled, which took considerable time. I made sure to leave very positive feedback for the seller. He went above and beyond the call of duy for mailing a discounted item. Alternately, the second one i bought for spare parts was the complete opposite. I had to email the seller several times to get (and pay for seperately) insurance, one box arrived a week later on a friday, the other not till the following tuesday morning. not only were they slow to communicate, neither box had any packing material whatsoever. i cannot think of any lower rent way of offending a buyer. one of the floor pieces was chipped and there were random loose screws rattling around the smaller box with a large gaping hole in the side, and there were missing screws. This last house was so dirty for so long the dirt has stained and discolored the roofs and floors. That part was ok, because it was priced accordingly and said that it was dirty in the listing. Everything that was white was a creamy beige-darker than cheesecake. Of course the screws were rusty, too. Ultimately i am still glad i bought the second house, it has 99% of the parts i needed and i expected to have to spray everything white again. so you can see one purchase can be fine and ideal, while the next can be really bad. i let the seller know that they need to use packing material especially for large items. they were new sellers and appreciative of the input. i gave them positive feedback remarks on ebay since she did go to the trouble of following up with her post office about the location of the larger box. UPDATE: I just bought my 3rd vintage Mattel red roofed house. There were no other bidders because the seller put 'dreamhouse' instead of 'dream house'. it was $71 total, less $45 shipping, meaning the house (half furnished, and had ALL the windows in GREAT shape) was $26! It did not have the front doors, closet doors, or upper flower boxes, but was still a steal. The caveat was that the seller just thru everything in a box, with NO PACKING MATERIAL. Ugh!! But, it was ok because nothing actually got damaged, and virtually all the parts I can use. None of the parts are faded, so I can use everything to upgrade my personal A Frame. FOURTH house purchased: After weeks of being outbid on great houses by $1, for some reason I was the only bidder on this great house, shipping was $65 UPS (reasonable) and $9.99 for the house itself (white walls not needing painting, a rare orange roof, okay floors, and immaculate non faded/discolored windows and doors). it was complete minus one opper flower box, two medium windows and some flowers. there was cracks in a few places, but it was well packed, and the listing disclosed the flaws. Overall a GREAT transaction. I have noticed lately on ebay that many of the sellers out there are overcharging for very incomplete houses ($100 and NO windows or doors, flower boxes, closet, etc), they refuse to lower the price in light of this, and so what ends up happening is that it sits online forever, or an uneducated buyer overpays for it, or they end up 'tossing' it as they were not able to make alot of money on it, and lowering the price makes it 'not worth their time to pack and ship it'. I know because this is what they tell me. At any rate, good luck out there future home buyers. =-)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Frame: Changeability and Layout Options

Arguably the best feature of the whole playset was the ability to arrange, rearrange and change again the house anyway you wanted to. You could even make a few different houses for the neighbors! What a house. I doubt mattel will ever equal the fun and quality of any house they make in the future. They dont show the triangular patio sections in these photos with added to the infinite possibilities. I am sure they still have the molds hanging around some warehouse somewhere they could just manufacture a few thousand for all us adult collectors out there.

Furniture: Bedroom: La Boudoir Por Madamemoiselle Barbie

The dresser contours and scale of the bed are great. I suppose the armoir was assuming most parents did not purchase the A frame house with built in closet. Interestingly, the computer (who in '78 had a personal computer at home?) lifts up for hideaway storage. As most know, the dresser was also the green desk with a different top. The bedding is hard to find, but due to the color, i am not intent on adding this to the A frame house itself since it is reminicent of the PINK A frame.

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Furniture: Dining Room: Feeling Blue

This is not my favorite set, mostly because of the color. I dont think it goes with the yellow and orange of the house-its not earth tone in any way. I guess it was part of the early seventies space age look. I also dont get the pink accents to the cookware and table accesories. I can sort of acccept the solid blue seats of the set pictured here, but most chairs out there have the ugly patterned upholstery. The clear table top and doors to the china hutch relate to the clear orange doors on the oven which is cool, but its still BLUE!! Brown is my suggestion to this noticable gaffe.

One needs tweezers to set this table. 
Crisp, minty, unfaded china. 
Faded to green.....

As the China Hutch originally appeared in stores. Circa 1981.