Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Other Topic: Kick Ass Kitchen Play Set

Though the blog is intended for just the California Contemporary A Frame DreamHouse, after 80 or so posts I am branching out into related topics. For you diehard blog purists, be sure to check out the earlier posts and work your way up to the later ones. This post is about doll kitchens from that era, most specifically the Sears kitchen center also known as the Wolverine kitchen playset. True, it does not fit into the 1978 Barbie house, so cannot technically be used with it, but as I like 1970's kitchen playsets I was intrigued enough to purchase one. They can run very high depending on condition, completeness, color scheme and if it has the box or not. I was outbid on a green and white one that went for $100 on feebay, getting the brown and orange one a few weeks later for $30 total, including shipping in a HUGE box that the dream house itself could have fit it, so shipping had to eat up almost all the $30 rendering the playset itself cost-less. Weighing in at 8 plus pounds, it has a large bag of accesories: food, cookware, kitchen stuff, all very well made, as is the kitchen itself. It is slightly larger scale than Mattel Barbie items and makes her look like a very height challenged person, or tween. The photo includes the 1978 Fridge and stove so viewers can see the difference in scale (read quality) and overall feel. The main reason why I am making special note of this playset is because we appreciate the quality and design of the A Frame house and furniture so much, this set deserves special kudos for the same reasons, and as it came out in the same time period is direct competition. While I degraded other dollhouses for quality reasons, I have to acknowlege this set for going over the status quo for toys. I dont know of any other color variations produced besides the green and white one and mine, but I LOVE my brown and orange playset and especially the harvest gold mixer and avocado blender (did not come with this set but is a perfect addition). Notice how the Wolverine/Sears set dwarfs the Barbie yellow appliances, especially the stove. Mattel never did make counters or a sink for the '78 dollhouse. The food containers are so well made too. I put the Mattel 1978 fry pan and spatula next to the larger brown ones, but the photos dont do it justice, the brown set is far superior to the orange. The food containers are cool and most have different grapics on te other side and are good replicas from the real 70's food they imitate. There are many tupperware containers with lids and a two piece butter dish etc. The set even dwarfs my 13" Aquaman, if that gives you any idea the size, its almost too big for 11-12" dolls, especially given the size of the blue iron and makes the Mattel appliances look like they are for Blythe, not Barbie. Well that is more than enough rant for now on this one. UPDATE: the top photo is a 1996 Kitchen Littles battery operated fridge. It is larger, better made and features clear bins and divider. I like this better then the yellow side by side issued by mattel in '78.

Extremely rare blue cabs, white appliances, translucent dishwasher door. Probably last year issued. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ebay: Free Lunch

Though the cliche, "There are no free lunches", is true most of the time I have found an instance where it is false. The technique which I am about to tell you about has worked with the famed A Frame as well as countless other small listings I have found on evilbay. Basically, what you do is buy a 'lot' of items that has at least one item you are hunting for and selling the rest back, usually marking up shipping, to esentially cover the cost of the one item you wanted out of the lot. For example: For the 1978 DreamHouse specifically, at least one house I bought had furniture with it that I did not need or want,  so I sold it off seperately and rcouped about 30% of the cost of the house by selling the furniture. I have bought cheap $5 and $10 floor pieces and sold with refurbed houses as a patio and made another $50 for the sold house because it had a patio and the others for sale did not. One recent purchase was a 1979 Strawberry Shortcake Berry Bake Shoppe that came with a dirty Strawberry Shortcake herself doll. The lot was bought for $20 total, including shipping. The playset is worth $20 alone, plus the cleaned up doll is worth at least $15-$20. I waited a long time and lost alot of auctions, but finally nailed that one on a slow week shortly after Christmas ( a great time to scour for deals since people are preoccupied paying credit card bills from Christmas, making it a buyer's market at least for a few months) So, I sold the doll back (after deep cleaning) on ebay for $20 including shipping, marked up of course for more profit and to recoup ebay and paypal fees, rendering the SSC playset free. The original seller did not know the value of the doll and including it in the sale was my opportunity to make my money back on the playset. I also have a clear orange pots and pans fetish which originally came with the best friends generic kitchen playset in 2001, now sold with direct from China issued Barbie 4 or 5 rooms in one package. They are rare, sought after and average $15 per kitchen lot sold (barbie food dishes) is the search term commonly used in the description. Since they always come with a bag of other food items and the seller does not know the value, I bid high and hope for the best. I have obtained 4 sets of clear orange cookware for nearly free this way since I sell the rest back. Good photography works well for selling before other lots and for igher value. I have even bought direct from China Gloria accesory sets for $5 including shipping and marked up to $13 total when resold back on feebay, helping to make a few bucks during lean selling times. So, I recomend to try these techniques for yourself and see what works and is comfortable for you. It helps pay for my collecting and if nothing else I can upgrade my average condition thing for a mint one just by buying it several times over and reselling the lesser grade ones.