Celebrate Barbie's Birthday March 9th - Remembering Fun Activities to do with Barbie Dolls

1970s Malibu Barbie & the Girls

Barbie, sister Skipper, cousin Francie, and friend P.J.
Barbie, sister Skipper, cousin Francie, and friend P.J. | Source

You can have a Malibu Barbie, too!

Best Activities with Barbie and Friends!

I absolutely loved playing with Barbie dolls when I was a child. I still have a closet full . . . a collection of Barbie dolls, old and new, Barbie clothing, accessories, and furniture. Barbie and gang are really hard to let go of because we spent a lot of time together in my childhood.

My 1971 Malibu Barbie with the long straight hair (heck, they all had straight hair in the 70s!) was my favorite. Then of course, there was her boyfriend, Ken, who had a sculptured plastic head of hair back in the day, as opposed to the "real" hair Ken was given later on. Let's face it, folks. Ken was just an accessory for a long time; perhaps he still is. We know it was all about Barbie and her female friends.Not a lot of time was spent on Ken. I even had a hard time finding clothing for him. Poor guy.

I had (and still do) little sister Skipper and cousin Francie, too. Then there was P.J. , who was a friend. Sometimes I pretended she was married to Ken (I know--sacrilege!) and that Barbie was one of the daughters, along with Skipper and Francie. I did pick up some random Barbie dolls later on, but I had mainly the basic five for many years. I borrowed the baby from another little family I have (can't remember what they were called) so that the family would have a baby, too.

I had a lot of neat set-ups with Barbie and family. Even my brothers joined in on Barbie's adventures, although they might not admit it now!


My Old Barbie Swimming Pool

P.J. hanging out at the pool
P.J. hanging out at the pool | Source

Modern Barbie Pool: It's not vintage, but it's cool!

Set up a Pool Party

Setting up the swimming pool is something I still do when my youngest niece comes to visit in the summertime.The swimming pool, complete with slide and diving board, was one of my favorite Barbie pastimes as a child. (And my brothers' too!) I would deck out Barbie, Ken, and the rest in their swimsuits and head for the pool!

I had the extra items such as blow up rafts for floating, sunglasses, and beach towels. My little brothers would join me when I played with the swimming pool, as we would get out the hose, fill up the pool, and make a total mess, usually out on the carport.

When I was setting up the pool for this picture, I noticed that some of the pieces were falling apart, and some were broken. The materials are harder to maneuver, so putting together the pool took some time. This wasn't the case with the Barbie pool that I bought for my niece several years ago. This experience makes me want to tell my nieces, "When I was your age, we had to work HARD at putting our Barbie pools together. Kids today have it easy!"


My Old Barbie Tent

The Barbie tent and blow-up boat are just a few of the camping essentials that I had.
The Barbie tent and blow-up boat are just a few of the camping essentials that I had. | Source

Newer Barbie Tent: It probably stands up better!

Go Camping with Barbie!

I still have my plastic yellow blow-up tent from the 70s. It's harder to get it to stay up than it was then. Gosh, I got a lot of use out of that tent. I had the best time gathering up my entire Barbie clan in the Barbie Beach Bus (which I had in the 70s) and heading for the campsite.

Once I kept a baby duck in the Barbie Beach Bus. I don't remember the circumstances, but we had to bring it in to keep it warm at night. It was a sweet little creature and would snuggle on my neck under my hair--until it turned up dead one morning in the bus. But I digress. No need to dwell on the tragedies of the Barbie Beach Bus.

Anyway, my beach bus would hold extra equipment such as a table that could be assembled, fold-up chairs, sleeping bags, a grill, and food. Cooking out, making meals, going for walks, and coming back to get in their sleeping bags were some of the activities my Barbie family did. I always made sure that Barbie and Ken got some alone time in the tent, too! Seriously, I did.


Barbie Fashion Show and Hairstyling

With all of the Barbie clothing, jewelry, and shoes, I was continually trying out different fashions. I had some store-bought Barbie clothes, and my mom made me some on her sewing machine, too. Those were pretty neat. I would try out different styles on different Barbie dolls. I could do that all day. I've noticed that my nieces can, too. The clothes are cool, and it's fun to find those little bitty matching shoes to go with each outfit.

I would try to give my dolls new hairstyles. What little girl doesn’t like to play with Barbie’s hair? It may be easier now that Barbie’s hair has more texture to work with than it did when I was a girl in the 70s. My straight-haired Malibu Barbie had limited options, but I did do what I could come up with. Just brushing the straight hair makes for great hair, of course, but it also did braid fairly well. Pony tails worked, as well as what I called pig tails (the hair divided into two braids).

I never did find a way to curl the straight hair. Once, I cut the hair of a Francie doll I had, up to her shoulders, which I later regretted. But it was a change. Barbies later had more textured hair, that often came with a wave or curl in it. This hair could be curled more with a curling iron or straightened with a straightener. We didn't have many options with the hair back when we had straight-haired "hippie" Barbie.


Okay, I had (still have) the whole sunset gang!

Remember the Barbie Beach Bus?

Well, if you're seeing the Amazon ad I found, I should have kept mine. This mint set is worth nearly $600??? Well, mine wouldn't have been in mint condition, but dang! I wonder if it will sell. It is definitely the set I had.

I would stuff all my Barbie dolls in the bus. At the campsite, I would open up the back, where there was a built in kitchenette. Accessories such as dishes--yellow plates and cups, a frying pan, a coffee pot--came with it, along with a table and umbrella and some beach chairs. There was a barbecue grill, and a removable orange bench that could be taken out of the bus and used.

Cool stuff. Why did I get rid of the Barbie beach bus when I kept the other stuff? It probably fell apart. It got a lot of use!

My Original Barbie Dolls

Yeah, Ken's head is missing; his head always came off even when I was a kid. It's somewhere in my Barbie closet.   I added another Ken who looks similar but not exactly.
Yeah, Ken's head is missing; his head always came off even when I was a kid. It's somewhere in my Barbie closet. I added another Ken who looks similar but not exactly. | Source

Barbie Doll Poll

Do you like Barbie?

  • I always have and still have some of my Barbies from childhood.
  • I used to, but I'm over it.
  • No, I'm more of a GI Joe kind of person.
  • Yeah, I played with my sister's dolls.
See results without voting

Barbie is Forever!

One of my best Barbie memories is my Mom helping me build a house out of boxes in my closet. We made furniture from things like spool threads and gelatin boxes, with carpet from her stash of material. But that's another story.

I've thought about putting something similar together . . . for my nieces. Yeah, that's it! For my nieces! Maybe we'll do that one day for fun. I don't think it will matter how old we are. We will still get into it. It's Barbie, after all..

As we near Barbie's 55th birthday, I enjoy remembering my childhood in Barbie's world. It has been fun reminiscing. Barbie and I have spent many years together, and, even though Ken may have split up with her--did they ever reconcile?-- I’m not ready to let her go!


© 2014 Vicki L Hodges

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Comments 26 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

The next door neighbor used to make me play with her Barbies; in exchange, she would play catch with me. I'm not sure it was worth it. LOL Have a great weekend Vicki!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

LOL, Bill! I knew there were more of you out there who played with Barbies, whether voluntarily or coerced! You have a great weekend, too!


VictoriaSheffield profile image

VictoriaSheffield 2 years ago from Georgia

Happy birthday Barbie!


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

My favorite Barbie item was the Barbie townhouse, but the RV was exciting too! I have a few I collected but never opened from the boxes. I never got into baby dolls but loved Barbies. The one that surprised me the most was the grandma one with the much thicker waist and grey hair, LOL. I was a bit horrified.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Barbie dolls for most young girls and the fantasy playtime must have been such fun. I like the photos and does take me down memory lane.


janetwrites profile image

janetwrites 2 years ago from Georgia country

I also used to be a great Barbie fan when I was a little girl. Your hub brought back some nice memories.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Thanks Victoria! I'm sure Barbie appreciates that! :-)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

FlourishAnyway--I never got the townhouse, sadly. I would have loved the elevator! That's okay, though. The house in the closet that my mom helped me with was very cool. I liked baby dolls, too, but probably Barbies more! I've never seen the grandma one! When did that one come out??


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

So much fun! Did you have Barbies, DDE? I still can't get rid of my childhood Barbie stuff. I wish I had kept all of it. I kept most. :-)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

I'm glad, janetwrites! I have some great memories from my Barbie days!


epbooks profile image

epbooks 2 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

This brought back memories. I was CRAZY for Barbie dolls. I had the camper and some of the little refreshments like the tiny bottles of soda, but I did not have the dream house. A friend did and I loved that house! I remember going Barbie doll clothes shopping and getting the flashy heels and dresses and the Barbie closet. And I definitely had the Barbie horse. I Love this blast from the past. Great hub!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

epbooks--I never got the dream house, either. Sigh . . . . I didn't have the horse, but I still have the bicycle! :-)


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA

Oh how I wish I had seen this when my daughter was young. She loved to play with Barbies. She came up with all sorts of stories for them. We wound up giving our dolls to other kids who could enjoy them.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

Happy Birthday to Barbie!! Faith and Lily have four hat boxes filled with Barbies that belonged to their mommy, their aunt and their Grandma Sunshine! We love playing Barbies...it's always an adventure. We have the car and pool also. I hope Barbie had a fab birthday! :)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Millionaire Tips--I never could give mine up! :-)


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Hey Sunshine! Glad to find another Barbie fan! I hope Barbie had a fab birthday, too! (although she will never grow old!) Love her! And, yes, always an adventure!


techygran profile image

techygran 2 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

I seem to have missed Barbie myself (she apparently didn't come to Canada 55 years ago although there were other 'teen' small dolls that were fun). My granddaughters, on the other hand, have piles of Barbies and her friends and actually make youtube videos of their adventures. Many of them are quite hilarious! I keep some Barbies here so that they have a bunch of different ones to "visit". Great hub! ~Cynthia


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Cynthia--I'm so sorry you didn't experience growing up with Barbie! I loved her and her friends--and still do! That's funny that your granddaughters make youtube videos of them. So cute!


midget38 profile image

midget38 2 years ago from Singapore

I had one with really long hair. I used to style it every which way and needless to say, it all dropped off! Love Barble.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

midget38--Well, even though your Barbie's hair fell off, you enjoyed her! That's great. :-)


TreasuresBrenda profile image

TreasuresBrenda 2 years ago from Canada

Thanks for the trip. I too owned Malibu Barbie and we had the camper but I had no idea it is really called the Beach Bus.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

TreasuresBrenda--Yep, the Barbie Beach Bus. I loved mine! Wish I had kept it, but it probably was falling apart. I bought a Malibu Barbie a few years ago in a package, so I have her along with the old ones I played with. Sentimental me. Thanks for reading!


TreasuresBrenda profile image

TreasuresBrenda 2 years ago from Canada

I remember the little folding plastic chairs that came with the camper. I remember ours as being more orange. A bit of poking around reveals that we owned the Barbie Country Camper not the Beach Bus! I'm surprised that I really remember details -- like the little folding camp chairs.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

I hear ya, TreasuresBrenda, about the details! I remember the yellow pieces that came with mine--the grill, frying pan, plates, coffee pot and tiny coffee cups, etc . . . Mine had a removable orange bench in it. I'm not familiar with the country camper, but I remember every detail of my beloved beach bus!


Lynn Savitsky profile image

Lynn Savitsky 20 months ago from New Jersey

I was obsessed with Barbies as a kid to the point where my classmates made fun of me for it, lol. I had at least a dozen of them and would make up all kinds of stories about them.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 20 months ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Lynn, I still have most of my Barbie stuff from childhood and have added to it. It's kind of embarrassing! LOL. I need to go through and get rid of a bunch of it--maybe just keep the originals. Thanks for reading and sharing your obsession. I totally understand!

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