What is bright pink, three stories tall and sits on the beach? Barbie’s Malibu Dream House, the plastic structure that girls everywhere have used to play house since 1971. Now, five decades and more than 10 remodels later, the mock Malibu spread is hitting the sales block.
Price tag: a whimsical $25 million.
“After 40 years living in Malibu, Barbie has got a lot of really great memories: she has had over 130 careers, she got back together with her boyfriend [Ken], she just finished her first season of a reality show,” says Lori Pantel, a vice president of global brand marketing at Mattel. “She felt there was no better time to sell the Dream House and see what else is out there.”
The reason behind the fanciful announcement: Mattel is discontinuing the Malibu Dream House and kicking off a marketing campaign that will culminate in the fall with the unveiling of a brand new dollhouse with a new back story tied to a new locale — just in time for the holiday shopping season.
Mattel has engaged a real real estate agent for the campaign: Josh Altman, a Los Angeles-area realtor with luxury brokerage Hilton & Hyland and a cast member of Bravo’s series Million Dollar Listing.
Aspiring bidders can check out the Dream House’s MLS page on Trulia.com, a real estate search engine that displays more than 4.5 million U.S. home listings. From the listing: “Designed as the ultimate bachelorette compound, it’s perfect for A-Listers, internet entrepreneurs, entertainment moguls and dolls of all ages who love to entertain yet want to relax and take in the never-ending ocean view.” The address is listed as “not disclosed,” as is often the case with high-end homes of rich and famous owners.
So what does $25 million in play-money fetch? It’s described as a scaled, three-story townhouse spanning 8,500 square feet and unobstructed views of the ocean. The one-bed, one-bath “pinktastic” home has a full-floor master suite with a balcony, a custom closet capable of storing hundreds of shoes and dresses, a rooftop outdoor hot tub, a pink elevator and oodles of glamorous finishes like diamond accents and crystal chandeliers. It’s also wired for sounds and lighting, as facetiously described on the listing page: “This is the only home in Malibu with a self-flushing toilet and fireplace that crackles even when it’s not on.” Current retail price at Toys ‘R’ Us: $170.oo.
Barbie could use a PR pick-me-up – it’s still the No. 1 fashion doll and No. 1 girls’ brand globally, but Barbie sales fell roughly 4% in the fourth quarter, Mattel reported when it released earnings last Friday, making for the third quarterly decline in 2012. The company is planning to milk the home sale campaign for all it’s worth – estate sales are in the works for when Barbie has to vacate the premises. “So this year at retailers you may see Barbie selling her furniture,” says Pantel. “You may find girls running to stores to get last pieces.”
As for the next play set? Fans will have the opportunity to weigh in on where Barbie’s next home should be located and what it should include. A few features are a given based on modern-day home trends and the Barbie mythology, says Pantel: Expect state-of-the art technology, stainless steel appliances (and possibly pink-hued granite kitchen countertops), a big closet to house her amazing wardrobe, more space for her friends and pets, and loads of pink.
Mattel has roped in four high-profile designers – Jonathan Adler, Lulu de Kwiatkowski, Celerie Kemble and Trina Turk – to aid Barbie in planning her new home.
The very first play set debuted in 1962 as a Modern-style studio fashioned of cardboard with tiny pink plastic hangers in the closet and miniature records touting real-life band names hanging on the walls. It retailed for $8.00. In 1971, Malibu Barbie hit store shelves, and with her, the first Malibu Dream House. Over the next 40-odd years it morphed with the times: during the mid-1970s it was a three-story townhouse painted in turquoise, bright yellow and brown; in 1979 it became an A-frame, two-story structure with working doors and windows and vinyl and plastic furniture; in the ’80s a second townhouse debuted with a pink elevator; in the early ’90s it became a two-story spread with “working” telephone and doorbell and a “lit” fireplace; and in 1998 a bubblegum-hued version was launched sporting a porch swing, stained-glass windows and a balcony.
Barbie’s timing in putting the Dream House on the block is impeccable: it’s a seller’s market in Malibu, with a slew of record luxury home purchases in recent months, including a $75 million billionaire purchase in January. “In any market Barbie’s house would be a rare listing, but especially now when inventory is so tight,” quips Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia.
Just how close is Barbie’s real estate story to reality? Kolko dug into Census data to see how common it has been over the years for single young women (aged 25-34) with no children to own a single-family detached home. The answer is not very: currently only 1.6% of women in that demographic do. In 1962, when the first Dream House debuted, it was one in a 1,000. “Looking at her living situation over time, it’s still rare, but it’s about 15 times more common,” explains Kolko. “Looking at how rare or common Barbie’s living situation is actually tells us about the changes in homeownership that young women have experienced in the U.S.”
Who would have thought a toy, albeit a fabulously dressed one, could be taken so seriously?
Lol idek , did any of u guise own the dream house ?