VILNIUS - For all you boys, girls and anyone who categorically refuses to grow up, Vilnius is the place to be this week as the Panorama Hotel plays host to the Barbie and LEGO show, set to enthrall young visitors through March 18. The exhibition, now in its third year of touring Europe, puts the nearly 50-year-old, plastic beauty alongside some unbelievably realistic LEGO models.
The Barbie portion of the exhibition presents a history of the famous doll, starting with her ancestor, the German Bild Lili. Manufac-tured by Mattel, the first Barbie made her world debut in 1959 wearing a skimpy, striped bathing suit. At the time, toy shop buyers didn't think much of the doll, but the public decided differently 's almost 50 years on and Barbie is still a legend.
Since her early days, Barbie has been something of a fashion barometer, always following the latest trends and fads, wearing everything from 60s wigs and Jackie O's dresses to astronaut gear. The careful observer will note how her ever-changing style reflects changes in Western fashion through the years, as well as changes in standards of beauty and even in women's role in society 's Barbie has held over 60 professions since leaving high school.
But in the end, it's glamor that counts. Visitors to the show will get to see Barbies dressed by famous designers, Barbies made to look like well-known film stars and Barbies of various nationalities. Sadly, Lithua-nians, Latvians and Esto-nians have so far missed out on having a national Barbie.
Anyone jealous of her famously impossible good looks can take heart that a 50-year-old Barbie would look like a granny now if it hadn't been for the face-lifts and plastic surgery she's had over the years. In fact, she experienced her first face-lift in 1961, when she had her eyebrows and the color of her eyes changed.
And her love life has also been somewhat rocky. Even though Barbie has dated Ken for over 40 years, she never married. In fact, she dumped Ken in 2004, but in 2006 the couple reconciled. If you're wondering about all the Barbies you see in wedding dresses, note that these are all Barbie's friends, who just happen to look very much like her.
Beyond the fun and games though, Barbie is serious business. Statistics say that a Barbie doll is sold every 3 seconds, and that worldwide there are about 100,000 collectors trying to get their hands on some new Barbie. And these collectibles don't come cheap 's last year in London a Barbie sold for a whopping $17,000, nearly enough to buy a real pink convertible.
Leaving all the icky, girly stuff behind, visitors move over to the LEGO portion of the exhibition. Since its invention in Denmark in 1958, the little construction game has infected people with a mania to build, and so they do. The show will take your breath away demonstrating what can be created using the LEGO bricks. Racing cars, trucks, little houses and even whole villages are all formed out of the colorful plastic pieces.
Visitors to the show will be happy to note that there is a playground full of bricks where they can try to build a LEGO masterpiece themselves. And those more fond of dolls can also play with various Barbies that will be on hand. Please try not to pull the heads off.
Barbie and Lego show
Panorama Hotel, Sodu 14, Vilnius
Open daily through March 18
Tickets: Children 15 litas,
20 litas on weekend (4 - 6 euros), adults 20 litas, 25 litas on weekend (6 - 7 euros).