Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Loss and Damage: The Worst Offender

Good ol' fashioned just being thrown away by empty nesters. 

So which is the worst offender when it comes to the 1978 Mattel A Frame DreamHouse? Being stored away in a hot, humid attice for 25 years where temperatures can reach 150 degrees or more not to mention racoons, rats and squirels munching away ranks pretty high. Bratty kids rough housing with it, scraping it along cement driveways, scratching and pulling the windows amd doors out damaging the hinges and pegs, coloring on it with markers? The sun, with its cruel scorching rays bleaching the color right out of the red roof, browning the yellow doors and white walls. How about the heartless ebay sellers who routinely gut the homes for parts, throw out what doesnt sell or is damaged, not use packing material (or use newspapers with staining ink), and use orignal shipping cartons for mailing boxes to buyers? My personal favorite is bored housewives with cans of spray paint and the illusion they have artistic ability. Or is it simply the ravages of time that also fade everything and discolor the clear windows and doors, and rot the boxes? Its hard to say, I guess its a combination of all depending on which house is in question. Thankfully, most things can be fixed, by cleaning, painting, glueing, taping, buying spare parts and storing properly rescued homes.

"Yes, Virginia, even to this day when vintage toy collecting is almost a religious experience for some, there are those that let a 45 year old toy in its original box rot out in an old decaying barn in Flyover, USA."

***actual ebay listing description: 

PS: "We cleaned it" means - I took it into the yard, hosed it off for 5 minutes and let it dry in the sun while the screws rusted and the sun faded the red roof pieces, and the dog may have lifted its leg on it, so... You're welcome.

Also, they went to the trouble to type out, "This toy would be great for children to play with".  =-/ 

I guess if I lived in this environment for 30+ years I wouldnt look so hot either! =-( 

So, if you don't know already, the screws are not galvanized so they will rust when wet, never ever expose them to water, ie hosing off 40 years of dust from improper storage instead of taking the time to clean it properly as outlined in other posts, you must completely disassemble the house and set aside the screws in a ziplock baggie (screw renovation post is live so search term it for details).

When I clean an A Frame, it involves about an hour in the shower with a tooth brush, sponge and dish soap, I meticulously dry all the pieces using q tips and bath towels prior to polishing and painting pieces. Here, you can see that in the mail you will get one of two kins of A Frames, one is covered in 40 years of dust, the other was sprayed down with the hose, which rusts the screws, so you get dust residue AND water marks. Le sigh...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Furniture: Foreign Issue: Dream Furniture From Across the Pond...

Courtesy of, you can see the alternate color versions of the dream furniture collection.

Of course the orange and white dining set is the bomb. Blythe collectors are big on the Dream collection including it in bookself dioramas. I definately prefer these color choices to the pink and blue of the yankee versions. UPDATE: as unbelievable as it sounds, a Canadian recently sold a desk and wardrobe (without boxes) on feebay and they each sold for $270 plus shipping. =-O

Complete bedroom set from Germany. Currently on sale on a foreign site if you google it. They also have the complete dining room set in white and orange, but the picture would not load. 

I am told the pink versions of the cottage and dream pool are from the Philippines. Anyone know anymore about this? 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Other Products: Late 1970's Barbie Scale Boat and Trailer

Fair enough, this has no direct link to the A Frame house we all love so much. I included this post for several reasons. One, its just a cool unusual toy that I had never seen before a few weeks ago, two it IS yellow, orange and white, like the house, three, it could make a cool addition to an A Frame set up and lastly, I have received feedback to include more related toys on the blog. I think this set came out around 1970 or maybe a bit after. It looks like it matches the original 1972 camper. UPDATE: I have since found out that this is a reincarnation of a Big Jim set. Big Jim if you dont know was sort of a Brawny Mountain Man for little boys to play with. He had a camping 'friend' and they did things like go fishing, hunting and other 'manly' stuff together. Kind of like the two fellows from Brokeback Mountain. Anyway, some of the sets were molded in different colors for Barbie and Ken, for example the Western Barbie Horse trailor and truck for Dallas was first a desert truck for Big Jim. I had a 1983 Alvin and the Chipmunks tour van that when I sold it to a comic book/toy store the owner recognized it as a re-do of the 1970's Big Jim Camper (for 2) funny, they never did make a girlfriend...

Trading Cards

You can just barely see near the upper left corner of the layout the A Frame house. I had never seen these cards before. They were a bit more than I could budget for, but still an interesting addition to 1978 house collection. I cant imagine too many kids trading Barbie cards.

Custom Repaints: Diff'rent Colors and a Home Made House

I am all for freshening up and subtle customizations on an old, worn out toy, but I cant stand behind these renovations. For starters, the 1982 Cottage version of the Mattell A Frame house is rare enough as it is, two it matches the A frame and needs no color change and three, there are enough Hannah Montana/Bratz/etc modern homes out there for those who want something 'new'. The pink one, I cant figure out how they moved the walls around, but thought it was interesting enough to include here. These were of course on feebay, I saw it on my weekly cottage hunt and was briefly intrigued, then dissapointed. The green and brown large 1978 House I can't figure out. The pictures aren't that great, and they marked it up for their 'improvements'. I can only hope that the windows were in such poor shape that spray painting them black was only a lateral movement. The yellow to green color change is not bad, but anything that is white should stay white, the only variables should be the terra cotta roof and yellow floors/doors/windows. Color me perplexed.

Grey and blue.

Renovation: Fading to Brown

this house gets first place, or i should say, 'worst place' winner. 

Just wanted to put up another brown Barbie doll house. As a restorer of these well made homes, I am always fascinated at how far gone they are after cooking 20+ years in an attic that probably gets to be 150+ degrees in the summer. I forget what this one went for, but people sell these things an absolute wreck. Everytime I bathe a new one it always leaves a serious ring around my tub, plus takes several cans of white spray paint to conceal the aged patina. I dont know why the plants are so frequently missing, but at least they are the most easily replaced thanks to your neighborhood petstore aquarium section. The right side picture is a different house, but illustrates the lack of care most evilbay sellers have towards these nearly 35 year old toys, throw it on the floor, get as much money for it as you can, and if you can't get what they want then its trash and not worth their time to pack it up. my last house of course was shipped with NO PACKING material whatsover so it saved the cheap and  lazy seller a couple of bucks (maybe). As a former chemistry student I still have no idea why the fading is so hit and miss, and wether its heat, ultra violet sunlight or both.

white spray paint should fix this. 
Really bad fading, of course the walls and post covers can be repainted white,. for the doors i would recommend yellow tape from the automotive dept at walmart, autozone or even at micheals. just trim around the edges and it will look much better. 

Nothing a few bottles of spray paint cant fix. 

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

Ebay: Record High Sale Price, was it worth it?

At first glance this looks like just a boxed up A Frame Dreamouse. This is actually a FACTORY PACKED furnished house. In this rare opportunity you can see how it came originally back in the 1970's from the Mattel factory. Believe it or not the winning bid was $1025 plus $100 for shipping. Pretty amazing, huh?