Monday, February 15, 2010

Imagination House

In 1965 the Marx Company made the Imagination House.

Notice the patio furniture with a brick bar b que and sun umbrella.

Diningroom. The art is the most colorful part of the set .
The Kitchen.
The Barstools are VERY cool.

It was startingly innovative. Think of the tin litho colonial houses of the time.

I agree with Pubdoll who says she finds them difficult to leave your stamp on. It is rather cold. The plastic has aged well and has not become brittle, but every time I touch it the whole thing wobbles and little lamps fall over.
How did all those kids do it on shag carpets?

It contained cutting edge design when it was made. It seems to be more for display than interaction.

If you played with this as a child please let me know what it was like.

In 1965 I was playing with my Barbie Playhouse. It was made out of cardboard. I remember being disappointed by the cardboard records that came with the "high fi". They said "The Lettermen". That was sooooooooooo passe! We loved the Beatles. I never mentioned it to anyone, but I hid the record in a cardboard drawer of the cardboard dresser. I do remember the legs on the Barbie cardboard furniture easily became worn out and wouldn't stand up well.

The dolls are really figures. The are monochramatic and very detailed. The best part is the women. The Mothers are smoking! AROUND

See how dollhouses encapusalize the social mores of a time?

Look! It's Dad the breadwinner returning home to his nuclear family.

Moms in the Livingroom.

Sis is on the upper level.

Why, if this family has enough money for a high design home, don't they have enough bedrooms? I feel the master bedroom should be bigger and more grand. Yes I know I can design anything but the lack of walls unnerves me to put a bedroom or bathroom out in the open. My figures just can't relax.

Do you know Super*junk's iconic picture on flickr of this house?

It shows a man sitting on the bed smoking a pipe staring out the window which frames a real palm tree. It's a great shot, but the man looks depressed. Empty. Perhaps he just read Sartre's, "Nausea"?

I like to have my man staring out at the view.

So I was considering the effect the Imagination house had on dollhouse production. I thought about the Kalidescope House by Bozart. Wasn't that made in 1997? 30 years later. Thanks Rebecca for helping me with the correct dates!

Then I walked into my daughter's house today and what was on the floor? A ZhuZhu pets Hamster House by Cepia. It is very cool and children LOVE it.

This is the legacy of the Imagination House to me. Too bad I'm at my daughter's... I'd like to place those Marx figuers in this. Perhaps stage an intervention to get the Marx Mom to stop smoking.

xoxo CM


Pubdoll said...

Oh, finally you showed us your Imagination house! I love it, even though you say it's more for display than play.
Because of the open spaces and all the coloured "glass" I think perhaps I would have tried out using it as a shopping centre if I had been lucky enough to have this house :-)

My Realitty said...

Pubdoll you are so right! It does look like a mall! C

callsmall said...

Even though it lacks a little depth as a house, as you've noted, it is still pretty darn cool-looking, with its colors and doors. Groovy!

My Realitty said...

True that. The Zhu Zhu Pet house could be a waterslide for 1 12 dolls...

Rebecca said...

Oh, I would love to have one of these! Not sure how I'd furnish it, but I think maybe I wouldn't just stick with the furniture and dolls made for it.
Funnily enough, I just received a comment yesterday on my blog post about the Imagination house (on ebay, that I wished I could buy) from someone who had one when she was a little girl. She left the comment anonymously, but said she was searching for Marx plastic houses online and was so excited to see the picture on my blog. She still has some of the furniture, but the house cracked over time and she got rid of it. Sounds like she really liked it, though!
A lot of modern houses have no walls - and my Bodo Hennig Bodensee doesn't have external walls all the way around. Dolls have to put up with so many things - no internal doors or stairs in some houses, no bathrooms - they seem to cope!
The Kaleidoscope was only made 10 years ago, quite a while after the Imagination house, but is its stylistic descendant in many ways :-)

My Realitty said...

You describe the discomforts of dollhouses so well it makes me laugh. For example, whoever lives in my Puppenstube will never rest. There are no bedrooms. Only a kitchen and livingroom.

I hope your anonymous reader will see the image of this house on your blogroll and contact us. I'd LOVE to hear first hand what it was like for a child to have one.
Thanks, C

My Realitty said...

Rebecca, I just viewed the "Kathy's dollhouse" on Apartment Therapy Blog. While I admire her creative use of this dollhouse, I realize my goal is to honor it as an historical item. Like preserving a Gottschalk. I think I will experiment with some pictures on flickr though. C

Norma said...

That house is truly amazing - I've never seen anything like it. In the 60s I was living in 'smalltown' New Zealand - maybe they were available in the big city but I doubt it. NZ had what was referred to in those days as a 'trade deficit' and I doubt that the govt would have granted import licences to anything so frivolous and dare I say, decadent! :) Your commentary is so very interesting and thought provoking too, thanks for taking the time to share the wonderful photos, and your thoughts.

BusyLizzie said...

Great house, thnak you for sharing.. the guy staring out of the window looks like something from the TV show Mad men (and the smoking mom would have a part in the show too... lizzie x

My Realitty said...

Norma, I never saw it when I was little. I played with Barbies. C

BusyLizzie you're right! I put a little silver fake tree in it at Christmastime. Thought about making a tiny color wheel, for about 2 seconds. C

Norma said...

Ha ha - I have to confess that I wasn't so 'little' in 1965!!

Oese said...

Dear I'm speechless. So many houses you live with. This is a really great love of you.
Thank you for sharing, I enjoy looking at all this nice details, but I don't want to be the one who dusts in your house - poooouh!

Amy's Miniatures And Smalls said...

Oh the 1960's. I remember Johnny Carson smoking on the TV. The news casters smoked. I find it so time appropriate that the lady dolls are smoking. Cripes... Can't wait for the intervention. Hope you have a super day CM!

tomo said...

Wonderful photos! I think it's really cool that it still looks so hip and modern--truly an innovative design for a dollhouse. :)

My Realitty said...

Tomo it's "what is old is new again!" I've been around long enough that the furniture I grew up with is back in style!!!!!! :) C

Spencer Grace said...

There was an Imagination dollhouse on eBAy, but I bought it. Now there is another one, for a considerably better price. WIsh I had waited. My house will host a family of four. I configured it to make it work.

My Realitty said...

Congrats! Welcome to the club. I often bid high on a desired item then find the next day the market is flooded with the item as people think it's time to sell. That's ebay!

Looking forward to seeing pictures of your house! CM

Linda (Idaho girl 82 on Flickr) said...

I had an Imagination Doll house as a young girl. It was the best Christmas present I ever got. Much of the furniture came on the plastic forms like my brothers' car models, so I got to take them apart before I could play with them.
There was a mother but she did not have a cigarette in her hand. (Perhaps my mother cut if off before I got the present!)
There were two girls, one of whom was sitting. I didn't like playing with the sitting girl because the house obviously wasn't wheel chair friendly and the doll seemed to need a wheel chair. There was a boy and a baby also, if I remember correctly, but I may have been using a baby doll from a metal doll house that I also had.
The walls were easy to change so the mood of a room could be changed by making the walls different colors.
Not having bedrooms for all of the dolls was kind of a pain but I liked to make doll house furniture even then, so I just used boxes for beds. I liked that I could use masking tape to tape pictures to the walls. (Eventually I had to tape the walls together to play with them!)
The furniture was an odd juxtaposition of modern and cottagey stuff. The tulip table and chairs were great. But there was a room divider that would have gone in a kitchen that looked like it came from a cottage from twenty years earlier. The TV room couch reminded me of the Brady Bunch couch in their TV room.
I played with that doll house until it fell apart. I still have the green pillar, a couple of stair cases, a few "carpeted" floors and some furniture.
That was a great doll house. If I could have bought the doll house for 2K that was on E-Bay a few years back I would have gotten it.