After this week’s discussion on Ann DuCille’s article, “Toy Theory: Black Barbie and the Deep Play of Difference”, I have been fascinated with learning more about the warped sense of femininity Barbie conveys to young girls. I was on the Toys “R” Us website, searching for the latest addition to the Barbie merchandise craze. Let me tell you, for Mattel, the name of the game is LINE EXTENSIONS. Mattel sells Barbie-brand everything, from dolls, to clothes, to accessories, to dollhouses, to powered mini-jeeps, to roller skates, and beyond. I found this interesting new product, the Barbie Diamond Castle Playset Doll and Pet.
The reason why this product caught my attention was because it is priced at a whopping $92.99! This toy appeals to girls aged 6-9 (according to the Toys “R” Us website) who dream about becoming a fairytale princess. The product description is nothing short of a fairytale itself: “Just like in the movie, the breathtaking Diamond Castle playset has a gorgeous light show in the magical tower and plays a special song! This castle has lots of enchanting furnished rooms to play in with three stories of magical fun!” Only $92.99? Can you really put a price on three stories of magical fun? Apparently, there is a Barbie Diamond Castle Princess movie that this toy is based off of. With your $92.99, you not only receive the three-story dream house, but also the Barbie Princess Doll herself, Barbie’s pet puppy, furnishings for the house, and three AA batteries. Princess Barbie is dressed in a luxurious purple Rappunzel-like gown with her traditional flowing blonde locks. On the Toys “R” Us website, customers can rate products and recommend them to other customers. All 6 customer ratings reported their little girls loving the product, but complained about how expensive it is. “Not enough castle for the money” one grandparent commented. The fact that parents will pay almost $100 for a dollhouse reflects the mystique of Barbie. There is a “fetish” quality to anything that is emblazoned in that traditional pink and white logo. Fads will come and go, but Barbie will always be a constant in the lives of young girls.