Friday, November 20, 2015

Made to Move Barbie by Mattel

There have been rumors about a new highly-articulated Barbie doll for a while now.  I'm not a Barbie expert, but I do pay attention when someone says "highly articulated," so I've been keeping my eye out.  When the new Style Barbies were released earlier this year, I figured that's what the rumors must have been about.  These Style dolls have articulated ankles, but they come at the price of the torso it's hardly an improvement.  It's like one step forward, one step back.  There are so many other interesting dolls to review, I basically dismissed the new Style dolls and the Barbie articulation rumors and went on with my life.  However (and many thanks to those of you who alerted me to this) the rumors were not about the Style dolls at all, but rather the Made to Move series, which has just recently been made available.  These dolls are still not on the shelves in Maine, but they're offered online...often for a premium.  I found my doll on Amazon for around $30.  The actual retail price for these dolls is $14.99.  Which, I can tell you already, is a huge bargain.

It's unfortunate that I confused the new Style dolls and the Made to Move dolls in my head, because my reaction to these two collections could not be more different.  While I'm underwhelmed and uninterested in the re-designed Style series, the Made to Move dolls are pretty much a dream come true: an affordable, attractive, well-articulated play doll.

Meet the lovely Made to Move Teresa:

Made to Move Barbie (Teresa), $14.99.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sadness Figures from Pixar's "Inside Out"--A Comparison Review!

The Pixar movie Inside Out was released on DVD last week, and to celebrate I decided to review two different versions of Sadness--my favorite character from this show.  I absolutely love Inside Out, but when I watched it in the theater, I had to constantly battle with myself to suppress tears.  At one point I made a strange strangled noise to try and control an anguished sob, and the lady next to me shifted in her seat to increase the distance between us.  I don't blame her.  But there were other times during this movie--mostly when Sadness was talking--that I laughed until I was wiping away tears for the opposite reason.

As some of you might remember, my oldest son is getting ready to leave home and go to college, which is hectic, exciting, scary, wonderful...and sad.  Frankly, I walk around most days feeling emotionally stunned.  So this is a good year for me to latch onto a movie that deals with emotions and kids growing up.  And a good year to appreciate the delicate balance between joy and sadness.

I wanted a memento of Sadness from the movie, preferably one that would repeat some of the lines that made me laugh so hard.  As far as I know, there are only two large (non-plush) talking Sadness figures, one by Tomy and the other from the Disney Store.  I bought both to see which one captures this melancholy blue heroine the best:

Tomy's Sadness ($24.99) and Deluxe Talking Sadness from the Disney Store ($19.95).

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mystixx Rococo Zombie Azra

I've been casually keeping track of the Mystixx dolls ever since my review of Kalani way back in 2012.  I think the brand might be discontinued (judging by Playhut's empty product page and the lack of dolls on the shelves), and frankly I'm surprised by how long they stuck around.  There have even been a few new waves introduced during the last three years.  The release that really got my attention, though, was the Rococo Zombies.  These bizarre dolls combine the trademark two-faced Mystixx head with a loose interpretation of 18th century fashion and cosmetics centered around a white painted zombie face--which was going to be my Halloween cover shot:

Mystixx Rococo Zombie Azra's face.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Khaki Girl" Monster High Knockoff Doll from China

Since Halloween is rapidly approaching, I thought it would be fun to look at some monster dolls.  As I hunted around for an appropriately spooky doll to review, I was struck by how many lines are still imitating the spindly look or supernatural theme of the mega-popular Monster High characters.  There are the Mystixx zombie and vampire dolls, the Zombie Girls, Midnight Magic Day and Night dolls, the Once Upon a Zombie line, Mattel's own Ever After High dolls...and even a bunch of shameless bootlegs of actual Monster High dolls.

It would be great to show off several monster-themed dolls this week, but as things are going I'll probably only get to one or two.  I'll start with a very blatant example: a knockoff copy of Monster High Clawdeen that I found on eBay:

Khaki Girl knockoff doll (left) and Monster High Scaris Clawdeen Wolf (right).

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Little Charmers Posie and Lavender by Spin Master

A few weeks ago when I was on a research mission at Toys R Us, I walked through the Doc McStuffins aisle--something I don't always do.  The new wave of Doc McStuffins dolls are smaller and have more character in their faces, and so I wanted to get a few pictures of them for the Photo Mission.  I never actually got those pictures, though, because I was distracted halfway down the aisle by the appearance of a brand new type of doll.  There were three of these colorful newcomers, all of them oval-headed, huge-eyed, bright-haired sprites about 8 inches tall.  They're called the Little Charmers.

I had to do some research at home to learn more: the Little Charmers are characters from a Nickelodeon Junior television series that first aired in January of this year.  The show centers around three young witch friends from Charmville (Hazel, Posie and Lavender) who are learning how to control their magical abilities.  Full episodes of the series are available to view (for free) on the Nick Junior website.  I wish I'd know this before I paid $2 to watch the first episode on Amazon.  I prefer the characters, plots and and catchy music on Doc McStuffins, but Little Charmers is harmless fun and seems to be popular with preschool audiences.

One thing that keeps me from really connecting to the Little Charmers show is the animation style.  The main characters have extremely exaggerated features that look a little freaky to me, especially when the mouths are open.  However, the dolls--even though they're styled to look just like the cartoon characters--don't freak me out at all.  I think they're...well, I think they're utterly charming:

Little Charmers Lavender (left) and Posie (right).

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tween Scene Kimani and Valencia by The One World Doll Project

I can't believe October is half over.  How did that happen?  In my house, that means a massive increase in activity leading up to the early college application deadline.  It's nuts.  It also means that we're getting closer to the holiday shopping season, which always signals some exciting new doll arrivals.  This is a good time to thank everyone who has sent me Photo Mission contributions so far.  I apologize for my even-slower-than-normal email responses, but I'm getting photos and they are fantastic.  I'd love to get even more!  I'll probably share this mission soon, after I gather a few of my own shots of the new goodies showing up here in Maine.

One of the new things I found very recently at Walmart is the 15.5-inch Tween Scene line by The One World Doll Project.  When I reviewed the Prettie Girls back in April, several of you expressed enthusiasm about these larger, pre-teen characters by the same company.  I'm especially interested in the Tween Scene dolls because they are made in collaboration with Robert Tonner--one of my favorite doll artists.

There are six characters in the Tween Scene line.  These include young versions of all the 12-inch Prettie Girls (Lena, Valencia, Kimani and Dhara) and two new characters (Alexie and Hana).  Incidentally, Dhara used to be called Dahlia, which is how I reference her in my last review.  The doll herself did not change at all--just the name.  On the first day I visited Walmart, there were only two Tween Scene characters in stock, so--indecisive person that I am--I bought both.  They are Kimani and Valencia:

Tween Scene Kimani (left) and Valencia (right) by The One World Doll Project, $23.94.