Author Archives: ghoulia13

About ghoulia13

I am a doll collector/frustrated academic/office drone living in historic New England.

Imaginarium City Studio Dollhouse

Today’s post is about something near and dear to my heart: a dollhouse. I love dollhouses. Ever since I began collecting dolls I’ve been buying plastic house play sets, which are great. I can set them up, do some photo shoots, and put them away. I never thought of buying a large dollhouse for my fashion dolls–until I saw the house of my dreams. The Imaginarium City Studio dollhouse, from Toys R Us, was beckoning to me. It was on display in the dollhouse section, furnished, and placed behind glass to protect it from grabby hands. When Ghouliette and I first saw it, Ghouliette said to me, “Monster High dolls would fit in that!”  I stood there and admired it for a while, but decided buying it would  be impractical. But from time to time I would walk past the display so I could stare at it.


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Finally, I broke down. Because it was so cool. And because my sister was right, Monster high dolls could fit in it. Unlike the often flimsy plastic play sets, this was a large, sturdy house. Barbie could also fit in it.  With fancy photo shoots in mind, I gave in to temptation and bought the house. And I love it!

The City Studio dollhouse is a heavy wooden dollhouse that has four rooms and an outdoor patio. It comes with 11 pieces of 1/6 scale furniture. (the fridge in the kitchen did not come with the house.) An elevator runs along the left side of the house. The high ceilings make it perfect for 11.5″ – 12″ fashion dolls such as Barbie and Momoko. Even Blythe and her big head can fit in here comfortably!

The design is clean and bright, with lots of color, clever details, and some neat “views” of the cityscape out of the windows.  My favorite detail is the hardwood flooring and area rugs in the living room and bedroom.

The house comes unassembled, with clear step-by-step diagrams. I had no trouble understanding the diagrams, but it did take me three hours to put this house together, mostly because the pieces are very heavy. One side of the house has heavy wooden walls, while the other side of the house is supported by thin wood and plastic poles for the elevator. Because of the uneven weight distribution, shifting the house from side to side during assembly a little difficult. The one complaint I have about this house is that two of the three drill holes on the elevator side do not line up with the corresponding drill holes on the wall side. I had to leave them undrilled because lifting the floor up to the holes put the floor at quite an angle. I left them undrilled, and I have to say the house is still very strong and sturdy.

Are you ready for the house tour? Let’s start on the first floor. The furniture you see in each room comes with the house.


The Kitchen    The City Studio kitchen takes up most of the first floor. It contains this asymmetrical dining room table and two diner stools.  The table has a built-in (i.e., painted on) cooktop that’s flush with the table surface. Like Penny has in the Bg Bang Theory! As you can see, glaring pink is the main theme here. I love doll kitchens, and the counter. refrigerator, oven and sink that are painted on are adorable. Nicely done, with highlighting “shine” on the chrome sink and fridge. But I like doll kitchen furniture more than anything. The nice thing about this house is there is plenty of room to add other pieces of 1/6 scale furniture, such as the Barbie refrigerator seen in the first picture of the house. Personally I don’t like the table in here; it’s weird. I’m going to put my Re-Ment dining table and china hutch in here. Because what’s more fun than decorating a house? Redecorating a house until it suits your tastes! Next up:


The Bathroom   There’s more bright pink in the bathroom, which is just off the kitchen. What can I say about the bathroom? The tub is cool… I don’t see myself using the toilet in photo shoots. Personally I’d rather have a separate dining room or a den in the house than a bathroom.  The lime green floor mat is a nice touch. Now let’s move on to the second floor.


The Living Room   This is my favorite room in the house. The living room takes up the entire second floor. It comes with the retro-inspired furniture here. The couch comes with one long cushion and two throw pillows.I have to admit the furniture in this room is what caught my eye when I saw the house displayed in Toys R Us. I’m a fool for retro stuff!

In the left hand corner of the photo is a ballet bar. It’s perfect for all the Made To Move Barbies out there! Flex and stretch! Reach!

The wall details include two floor-to-ceiling picture windows, a cozy fireplace, and built-in bookshelves. There’s a cut-out window behind the sofa.


This room will be excellent for staging photos of parties and special events. There’s plenty of room to add more furniture in here.  Now let’s move to the top floor.


The Bedroom   I like how the house carries the pink/blue/lime green color scheme from room to room. The modern platform bed comes with fabric and pillows that match the ones on the living room couch. It came unassembled but the pieces slot together easily. In this photo the “wicker” chair in the back almost looks three-dimensional, but it’s painted on the wall. Beyond the doorway on the right is the outdoor patio.


The Patio   The patio is pretty simple, a little small, with a chunky wooden fence. The outside wall detail continues up the entire side of the house from bottom to top. I added the Barbie Grill. Because it’s summer time, and Barbie and her friends can grill some hot dogs and burgers out here.

Like I said earlier, redecorating a dollhouse is more fun than setting it up. I’ve added some Barbie furniture in here, so Barbie and her friends can relax.


One sister is doing homework, and one sister is playing games. Guess which is which?


tangirlscouch 2

Mandy loves to gossip. Francesca is stunned!


Ronnie and Francesca catch up over a cup of coffee.


I love when a dollhouse comes alive. I give the Imaginarium City Studio Dollhouse two thumbs up for being a chic yet cozy place where friends can get together.

Do you have any dollhouses you’re fond of? What is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!


My Excellent Barbie Haul. At Walmart.

Do you love to live vicariously through other people’s blogs about when they go shopping? I know I sure do. Hopefully you won’t mind a post about items I haven’t de-boxed yet. if you love reading what strangers on the internet have purchased, read on!

Today Ghouliette and I made our usual Walmart run to see if there was anything new in the doll aisles. We haven’t been in a while, so there were a lot of cool items we haven’t seen before.  I picked up a Barbie doll that was calling my name, debated whether or not I really needed it, then put it back on the shelf and walked out of the store. KIDDING!! I really did debate whether or not I needed it, decided that I did, and picked it up.


I really need Musician Barbie and her keyboard in my life. The pink guitar is cute, but it’s pink. Call me a snob, but I prefer a natural wood grain on my doll acoustic guitars. But I love the keyboard. If  only I could find a set of Barbie-sized drums, the band will be complete!

I’m also a sucker for dolls that come with audio headphones.


Eat your heart out Lady Gaga.

This Barbie is on a made-to-move body. Mattel seems to be bringing out more dolls on the MTM body, and I hope this trend will continue, and move away from Barbies with cheap, hollow plastic bodies that don’t bend (*cough*Fashionistas*cough*)

I’ll post a detailed review of Musician Barbie when I open it.

Next, I spied something on the bottom shelf. This was really cool and I knew I had to add it to my collection.


OMG it’s Barbie Camping Fun! I can’t resist dollhouses and domestic playlets. This isn’t a fully enclosed house, but this will be fun to photograph and play with.


Dolls are not included. I love those chairs and that bench. And my love of tiny tea sets is well-documented here. This will be so much fun. I’ll post a review of Barbie Camping Fun after I open it.

I intended to stop there, but it turns out I wasn’t done yet.


This is the Barbie TV Time mini furniture set. I like how Mattel pays attention to the small details, such as the VCR and the media cabinet it rests in. The beanbag chair and the orange pouff pulled at my 1970s nostalgia-loving heartstrings.

I had to dig through the Barbie clothes and accessories because they had been tossed around a little bit. (Why do they let kids in the toy aisles? lol) Eventually I found a couple of neat sets: one fashion pack, and one accessory pack. First, the fashion:


I’ll start with the outfit on the left. I love the dress. I love the leopard print coat. I just don’t love them together. That coat is definitely going to make its way into a lot of pictures, particularly when paired with vintage Barbie clothes.  It’s divine!! The dress is cute and summary, with a red, white and blue heart. Very patriotic, although it also looks very similar to the Pepsi logo. Oh well! 🙂

The shorts and tee shirt set on the right are cute, too. My Barbies now have a fun new outfit to wear while relaxing in their Barbie hammock. I love separates because the mixing and matching options are endless.

Personally, I wouldn’t pair those shoes with either outfit. So I fixed the problem of what to match with these outfits.

Mattel’s tiny, inexpensive dress and shoe sets are brilliant. This set includes a pair of tall black boots, black high-heeled sandals, white hightop, orange high-heeled sandals, and–my favorite–a pair of gold flat sandals. You had me at tiny gold sandals…

I thought I was finally done once and for all at this point, but as i walked toward the checkout aisle, I spotted something else on the very bottom shelf. It was hidden behind something else, but I could see enough of it to stop and check it out.


I can be a Fashionista? Cool.

I didn’t know Mattel was making new carrying cases! Lately I’ve been obsessed with finding vintage cases from the ’50s through the ’70s. Do kids these days even carry their Barbie cases to the beach, pool, friends house, etc. anymore? We did, and that was good times! Or are today’s kids too cool?! Is playing Barbies not cool?! Well I remember these from back in the day and I was overjoyed to see a new one. Maybe a $9.99 Barbie case shouldn’t make me this happy, but it does!

The three Fashionista dolls on the front are very pretty, with killer outfits. The bright colors are a great contrast against the black. Nice one, Mattel. This case can fit up to 6 dolls, or fewer dolls and their clothes.  The case is constructed in the exact classic style of all previous carrying cases. inside is a slim partition on the left for a doll, and a large area on the right for clothes or more dolls.  It has a pink handle, and the classic latch on top.

Have you purchased any of the new play line Barbies or sets lately? Which ones? Which doll or set is your favorite? Leave us a comment and let us know!




Happy Birthday, America!

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!. It’s time to celebrate Independence Day with a cookout and some chill time out on the deck. Barbie and Ken, everyone’s favorite all-American couple, are celebrating.


Barbie’s got a sweet new grill and hammock, so she invited Ken over for a cookout. Barbie’s taking it easy, while Ken’s got grill duty.

Seriously, though, I love these little mini Barbie playsets. They cost $8.99 each.

Yep, all Barbie has to do is relax while Ken does all the work.



Yep. Relax…

Happy Fourth of July from Ghouliette and me! Enjoy your cookouts and parades, fireworks and beach time! And have fun with your family and friends.


Barbie’s In The News

From the national news media, to online media, from Allure magazine to the cover of Time magazine, Barbie’s making the headlines following a big announcement from Mattel yesterday.

Photo used s from Time magazine.

Photo used s from Time magazine.

If you love Barbie like we do, this is already old news to you. After days of teasing a major announcement was on its way, Mattel debuted its new, more diverse line of Fashionistas. The line has been expanded to include three never-before-seen body types for Barbie. In addition to Barbie’s “Original” body type, Mattel now offers Curvy, Petite and Tall body types. Along with the new bodies, there are several skin tones ranging from pale to black.  In addition, new hair shades such as dark blue, violet, and bright red have been introduced.

Photo is from Mattel.

Photo is from Mattel.

The dolls officially debuted yesterday, although not all of the models are available for purchase yet. Several are available on for pre-order.  The dolls will show up on store shelves starting in March, with new releases throughout the year. Most of the dolls retail for $9.99 each; a few come with extra fashions for $19.99

News sources are, of course, ruminating that this move is likely a response to slower sales and criticism over Barbies physical proportions and beauty ideals. Nevertheless, judging from the Facebook and Twitter comments, a lot of people are encouraged by, and excited for, the new dolls, applauding Mattel on dolls that “look like us.” Ghouliette and I are definitely among that chorus.

As soon as I saw the news I jumped onto the website and pre-ordered two dolls. I ordered “Sweetheart Stripes,” a curvy Barbie with long dark blue hair, and “Va-Va Violet,” an Original doll with a great light purple long bob with a side part. Ghouliette ordered the same two dolls. Sweetheart Stripes is scheduled to ship next week so hopefully it will be in my hands very soon!

As much as I’m looking forward to this line, I have to say I’m still disappointed that the Fashionista dolls are no longer articulated. (I know I speak for Ghouliette, as well.) The new dolls appear to have the same straight unbendable plastic legs as the current Fashionistas. I would love to be able to pose the new body types; as it is I’m planning on taking the Va-Va-Violet head off the doll and putting it on a Made to Move body. Too bad I can’t do that with the curvy doll.

Are you excited about the new Fashionistas? Have you pre-ordered any of them yet? Tell us what you think in the Comments.

in the meantime, enjoy this article from The New York Times.




Holly Jolly Christmas: What We Found Under Our Tree

Happy New Year, everyone! We hope you had a wonderful holiday.  We wish we could say our Christmas was uneventful, but it had its ups and downs this year. Practically everyone in our family was under the weather, including Ghouliette, who has a nasty cold and cough. Ghoulia13 was perfectly fine until she fell flat on her face on the sidewalk on Christmas Eve while walking the dog. She spent a couple of hours in the ER. She ended up with four stitches and, thanks to two black eyes the next day, looked like she’d been hit by a bus. Luckily, nothing was broken. Thankfully, both of us are on the mend. Needless to say, we were both happy and relieved to return to our house after dinner on Christmas evening to open the pile of presents underneath our tree. Unfortunately, neither one of us was smart enough to take a picture of all the presents before we opened them, but it was a pretty sight to behold. We had a great time opening everything; both of us were impatient to receive certain favorites we knew were waiting for us this Christmas. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA There were old favorites like Monster High and Barbie, as well as new favorites such as Makies. Frozen and My Little Pony were also well represented. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Shopkins also made an appearance, but that was mainly out of curiosity. We’ll see how we feel about them in the long run… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Introducing our Makies! We were looking forward to these most of all. And they were worth the wait–we love them! Here’s the roundup of Ghouliette’s gifts to Ghoulia13: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA JC Penny’s Frozen Coronation Anna and Elsa 2 pack, JC Penny Kristoff doll, Monster High Gloom ‘n Bloom Venus McFlytrap, Monster High Monster Exchange Lorna McNessie… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Barbie and Midge 50th Anniversary reproduction set with a teaset, Monster High Pack of Trouble, My Little Pony Pop Pinkie Pie Sweete Shoppe, MLP Pop Bakery Decorator Kit, MLP Pop Zecora, Ever After High lip balms, and a Makie named Priscilla.

Ghouliette’s gifts from Ghoulia13 were the following: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Seasonal Sweets Princess Merida, Barbie Glam Washer and Dryer, Shopkins, Hello Kitty baked goods, Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats Plum Pudding and Raspberry Torte, a Makie named Jolene… OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Beats stage set, Frozen Friends, Ever After High Glass Slipper shoe store, and the Monster High Catacombs playset.

So yeah, that’s everything!  Lots of Christmas wishes came true: Ghoulia13 has been fruitlessly searching for the Pack Of Trouble since it came out. Ghouliette has been yearning for the Glass Slipper shoe store since she first heard it was coming out. Both of us were itching to get our hands on Makies.

Dolls under the tree are great, but being able to spend Christmas day warm and safe with those we love, eating our favorite foods together, was truly priceless. We love our toys and all, but we recognize the blessings we have in our lives.  We hope you all have lots of blessings in your lives, too. We hope 2015 is a happy and healthy year for you all. Stay tuned for our in-depth review of Makies, coming very soon. We can’t wait to start working on it!

Did you all get the dolls you wanted this year? What made you happy this holiday season? Share with us in the comments!