Without a change of scenery, life can get a little monotonous — even for Barbie. After 41 years in her Malibu mansion, what Barbie is apparently craving even more than a new pair of shoes is a different view.
Or so says Mattel. The El Segundo-based company kicked off its “Barbie Is Moving” tour at the Grove Saturday, allowing Barbie fans of all ages to participate in doll-themed fun while generating buzz for the company's summer 2013 release of a new Barbie Dreamhouse.
Part of the shtick is that Barbie is scouring the continent for what might be her new home, with a 13-week tour making stops in 13 cities, including the expected New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle and Chicago. But Barbie's not just interested in U.S. cities: The all-American girl is making two Canadian stops, in Vancouver and Toronto. There's also a three-day visit to Bentonville, Arkansas, which surely has nothing to do with the Walmart shareholders' meetings scheduled for the same week. What Malibu gal hasn't dreamed of settling down in Razorback country?
In classic Barbie fashion, the doll made her way from Malibu to the Grove in her head-turning pink motorcade of a Corvette, Fiat, Volkswagen bug and moving truck. Even more mouth-watering than the cars? The chauffeurs manning the wheel. While Barbie's longtime boyfriend Ken did not be accompany her on the road, she had a beefcake look-alike in each car's driver seat.
Barbie has done some remodeling since she first moved to Malibu in 1960. For instance, her home made the transition from cardboard to plastic in 1979, and she added a third floor to her previously two-story pad in 2012. But we're told this is the first time she's contemplated a new neighborhood.
And so, in pursuit of buzz, Mattel has put the Malibu house on the market. Barbie even enlisted celebrity realtor Josh Altman, known for selling houses on the Bravo show Million Dollar Listing, to help bring in the big bucks for her fuchsia home. We're guessing Barbie would have better luck reaching the $25 million asking price if the house weren't made of pink plastic, but Altman has done his part by flawlessly marketing the house on Trulia.com, highlighting its “diamond-encrusted accents,” “pink elevator” and “doll-lightful custom closet,” while downplaying that the house is two and a half feet tall.
Barbie wasn't at the Grove event on Saturday — she was house-hunting, we were told — but hundreds of her fans showed up to get a little taste of what it's like to live in Barbie's world. An endless line of adrenalized little girls with their equally adrenalized mothers — the fathers never looked quite as happy — waited not-so-patiently to get into the fenced-off Barbie land. Once inside, the overeager girls made a beeline to whatever Barbie themed activity tickled them pink, while the overwhelmed girls looked all around, unaware that their jaw was on the ground — right next to mom's. Little brothers kicked and screamed, while dads became instant best friends with other dads as they lined the white-fence perimeter of Barbieville and stared longingly at the Nike and Apple stores.
The total Barbie immersion included dressmaking, dollhouse building, face painting and catwalk walking — or, in some cases, crawling. At the dressmaking station, younguns were given plain, white, one-shoulder Barbie dresses to decorate to their liking with charcoal and stencil plates. Meanwhile, at the dollhouse-building station, overflowing bins of Mega Bloks gave the world's future architects the opportunity to design their own Barbie Dreamhouse, with the classic blue, green and red bricks replaced by Barbie-appropriate purple, pink and yellow. The young designers were given little Barbie takeout boxes for their take-home pastel Barbie bricks.
Judging by the long line, the toothless smiles and the informal poll we took of 7-year old Jenna, 10-year-old Lauren and 8-year-old Leah, the fan favorite was the catwalk. With music blasting, dolled-up girls, boys, moms and even dads fiercely walked the runway, decked out in their pick of various skirts, boas and sunglasses. Professional photographers snapped pictures that were emailed to the models.
While there was only a sporadic lack of enthusiasm inside the event's perimeter fence, those on the outside were plagued by a much more cynical real-world outlook. “Barbie's castle has kind of gone downhill in the recession,” observed shopper Nathan Boudin.
Those on the inside had bigger fish to fry. Like, for example, what they would do if Barbie moved next door to them.
“I would have a sleepover,” said 5-year-old Madison. “I want to sleep in her house!”
Even in this red-hot housing market, however, Barbie could have difficulty attracting a $25 million bid. Let's face it: In Malibu, the Dreamhouse is probably a teardown. We're predicting battles with Realtors so lengthy, they could make a trip to Bentonville look like a walk in the park. Luckily, she has an outfit for that.