Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Blind Bag Spirit Riding Free Horses!

Before I dive into today's review, I thought I'd mention that my Create Your Own American Girl clothing is on its way (it shipped--as promised--just shy of a month from when I ordered it) and should arrive sometime next week.  I'm excited to see how the outfits look in person!  I still don't expect Eliza herself to arrive until mid November.

In the meantime, I thought this Sunday would be a great time to write a companion piece to my Spirit Riding Free review from last week.  In this post, I'll contrast the blind bag surprise horses that are being offered by Breyer and Just Play.  I also have a few non-mystery Spirit toys that I want to share, including two unexpected Just Play horses that I found at Toys R Us today, and a small horse and rider set from Breyer.

To start things off, here's a sneak peek at one of the Breyer blind bag horses--this is Spirit himself!

Breyer Spirit Riding Free blind bag Stablemate, Spirit.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Spirit Riding Free Toys by Breyer and Just Play

The original Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron movie by DreamWorks came out in 2002--the year my kids were two and four years old.  My four-year-old, in particular, was obsessed with this movie, in part because of the impressive steam engine featured in one of the climactic scenes.  At that time we were all listening to a series of tapes (yes, cassette tapes...) with songs about the construction of the transcontinental railroad, so both boys liked everything that had to do with trains.  Anyway, I loved the movie because of all the horses--and because the horses weren't given silly human voices.  Matt Damon adds a voice to some of Spirit's thoughts, but this is a rare occurrence, used only to forward the plot or explain a complicated scene.  The human protagonist in this movie is a kind-hearted Lakota teenager named Little Creek who yearns to ride Spirit, but knows when to stop trying.  It's a wonderful movie that will always have a special place in my heart.

In May of this year, DreamWorks premiered a new animated series on Netflix called Spirit Riding Free.  Season two of the series was released last week.  Fans of the original movie looked forward to this series with great anticipation, many of us hoping to rekindle the excitement we felt fifteen years ago when we were first introduced to Spirit's Wild West.

Both Just Play and Breyer have released a whole collection of Spirit Riding Free toys, and I will look at several of these in today's review.  I want to start the review by showing you something I bought right after I watched Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, though.  This is Breyer's 2002 model of Spirit himself:

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron Breyer horse model, 2002.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Disney's Rapunzel from Tangled: The Series

Over the years, I've chronicled my increasing frustration with the Disney Store and its Classic Princess dolls.  My problem with the company centers primarily around their inability to design functional and durable knee joints.  That was not a huge deal back when the dolls cost $13, but now that the prices have crept up and the limbs have gotten more fragile...I think it's a big deal.  In fact, I was so exasperated with this trend that I decided to stop reviewing Disney Store dolls altogether.  But--as many of you know--I made an exception to that rule when the live action Belle doll was released last spring.  My love for the Belle character inspired me to try and take a fresh-eyed look at the doll.  Sadly, even when I ignored Belle's predictably bad knees, she still disappointed me in other ways.  I figured that review would surely mark my last Disney Store purchase.  Wrong again!

Back in May, during my Bratz Secret Date review, Sév and Dmitry encouraged me to consider the Disney Store's 10.5-inch Tangled:The Series version of Rapunzel.  They told me that this doll has a completely new body, with--wait for it--a new knee joint design.  I've literally been waiting five years to write those words.  Not only that, but it's a Rapunzel doll, and I love Rapunzel even more than I love Belle.  So, I broke my promise to myself one more time and bought another Disney Store doll:

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The Disney Store's Rapunzel from Tangled: The Series, $19.95.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Waiting for Eliza

As many of you have probably heard, American Girl debuted their Create Your Own doll feature early this month.  This is an online program that allows kids (of any age...) to design their own dolls and clothing from a wide range of options.  It's similar to My Twinn's old BFF customization tool, but it offers more variety.  I think the addition of this option to the American Girl lineup is a brilliant move by Mattel.  Not only is the website super-fun and easy to use (I spent the better part of a day playing around with it) but it allows kids (and doll reviewers) to have pretty much exactly the doll they want.  This is great because it will eliminate the inevitable disappointment that accompanies each year's new doll releases.  This year, if you don't see the doll you want, you can design him or her yourself!

I designed a custom doll who I've named Eliza.  Eliza has a few backordered features, and so she won't arrive until mid November.  I figured that while I'm waiting for Eliza to arrive, I could walk you through some of my experiences with the Create Your Own program.  That way, we can all wait together to see if the final product lives up to our expectations.

I didn't want to publish a post filled with nothing but screenshots, though, so I decided that I'd also use this opportunity to share an American Girl doll that I purchased back in April; the new 1960s BeForever character, Melody Ellison:

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BeForever Melody Ellison by American Girl, $115.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Enchantimals by Mattel

Today I'm going to review Mattel's newest sensation, the six-inch tall, animal-like Enchantimals.  I came across these little dolls almost by accident a few weeks ago while I was researching the new Monster High Family line (which also includes several six-inch animal-like characters).

Instead of leaping right in and introducing the Enchantimals, I though maybe I'd change things up and try to describe what it's like here in my house as I type up these reviews.  First of all, there are animals everywhere.  I usually have my chronically flatulent mini poodle, Zelda, curled up on my right side and my mutt, Pants, cuddled as close as Zelda will let him get.  A parakeet cage sits immediately to my left, and this houses our two male birds: Bundy and Griffin.  Griffin is always very interested in what I'm doing.  His favorite activity is to "help" me type (in other words, to sit on the keyboard and pull up on the computer's keys with his beak...pooping on my track pad as he works) but when I don't let him do this, he sits in his cage and looks over my shoulder, offering helpful chirps (or squawks) when he feels they're necessary.

While all of this is going on, my youngest son (now 17) is practicing the piano about ten feet away from me.  I say this like it's always happening...because it is.  In fact, a few of you might have noticed him in the background sound of my WuvLuv videos.  I enjoy listening to the piano while I work, I do, but the problem is that my ancient dog, Padawan, imagines himself an excellent jazz singer.  So, he's often accompanying my son's practice with his geriatric howl.  Better still, all three of the parakeets tend to sing (or squawk, depending on whether or not they like the song...) to the music as well.

So, basically, everything I do is set against a background of piano music, animal noises, and pet interference companionship.  This can be distracting some days, sure, but today--as I review an animal-themed doll line--it feels totally natural.  Speaking of nature, I'll start things off by showing you one of my Enchantimals (Felicity Fox) outside enjoying the brilliant colors of summer:

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Enchantimals Felicity Fox by Mattel, $7.99.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday Surprise: WuvLuvs by Trendmasters!

In the comments section of my recent Hatchimal Colleggtibles review, Caroline mentioned a beloved surprise-themed toy from her childhood.  The toy was called a WuvLuv.  Caroline described this vintage toy as having "eggs and surprises," which was more than enough to get my attention.  I love vintage toys...especially ones with surprises.  I read Caroline's comment and went immediately to eBay, where I found a mint-in-box yellow WuvLuv for under $50.  That's a hefty price, but it's more reasonable than many of the surprise-themed vintage toys I've encountered--especially considering that this WuvLuv's box had never even been opened.  Needless to say, I bought it instantly.

So today, thanks to Caroline, we get to hatch a secret egg and see a mystery baby that's been hidden for almost 18 years!

A WuvLuv (1999) by Trendmaster.