Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Animators' Mini Elsa Playset from The Disney Store

I'd like to thank Emma for her suggestion that I take a look at the new Disney Store mini Animators' doll playsets.  Not only is this a perfect suggestion for me (I love minis!) but it would have taken me ages to notice these new dolls on my own.  I actually saw the mini dolls during one of my routine browsing days at Disney online, but passed them over because I assumed they were the larger 16-inch versions of the Animators' dolls--just with more accessories.  Wrong!  These little 5-inch dolls are a whole new thing completely, and they are definitely worth a look.

The first release of Animators' mini dolls includes Anna, Elsa, Cinderella, Ariel and Jasmine.  All of these characters come with several cute movie-themed accessories.  For example, Cinderella comes with a flocked Bruno (as a puppy), Gus and Jack the mice, and several smaller accessories.  Ariel comes with Flounder, Sebastian, a glittery starfish, and a seahorse pulling a carriage.  I was tempted by all of these sets, but ended up purchasing Elsa.  I didn't intend to review yet another Frozen doll, but I found the mini Anna and Elsa to be the most appealing of these newcomers.

Disney Animators' Mini Elsa
Animators' mini Elsa doll from the Disney Store playset ($19.95).

Friday, January 16, 2015

Monster Exchange "Lorna McNessie" and Haunted "Vandala Doubloons"

Before I start this review, I just want to say a quick word about my email inbox.  I really love to get emails about the blog and recommendations for interesting dolls that I should look at.  However, I have recently become overwhelmed by messages and can't find the time to give everyone the response they deserve.  So, if you are waiting for a reply from me--I am so, so sorry for the long delay.  I will do my best to get caught up soon, but there never seem to be enough hours in the day!

One reason for my email ineptitude is that I spend way too much time photographing dolls.  This review, for example, was meant to be just of Lorna McNessie--one of the new Monster High "Monster Exchange" dolls.  However, when I was shopping for Lorna, the other new Monster High line, "Haunted," also caught my eye.  I've had several requests to look at both of these new groups of dolls, so I figured I would try to do one of each in the same post.  So...yeah.  It's another long review.

I'll start by taking a close look at Miss Lorna, whose red hair and Scottish ("Rottish") heritage was too much for me to resist--even for $23.  I'll end the review by taking a slightly less in-depth look at Vandala Doubloons, the fancy, ethereal daughter of a pirate ghost.

Monster Exchange "Lorna McNessie," $22.99.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"Little Darling" Custom Doll by Dianna Effner

Happy New Year!  I took an indulgent couple of weeks off to spend some time with my friends and family.  It was a relatively doll-free holiday, dominated instead by lots of music, some new Legos, and a crowdfunded board game called Zombicide that has taken over my house.  I highly recommend this game to zombie fans in the 13-and-up age range.  It's one of the best games I've ever played.

Anyway, I thought I'd start 2015 by showing you a special doll that I bought for myself about a year ago.  She is a "Little Darling" 13-inch vinyl doll made by Dianna Effner and painted by Geri Uribe.  Ms. Effner sculpts a variety of art dolls that are cast in vinyl and porcelain.  She sells a few completed Little Darling dolls through her studio website and a variety of her sculptures are also available in kit form on the Expressions website.  Ms. Effner is well known for her realistic face painting style, a technique that she has taught to several other artists over the years.  Little Darling dolls hand-painted by Dianna Effner herself are highly sought after and quite valuable.  They tend to sell on the secondary market for over $1,000.  It is theoretically possible to get on a wait list to order a custom-painted doll directly from Ms Effner (for just under $400), but this list opens only sporadically and tends to close quickly.

Geri Uribe is a doll artist who has been working with Dianna Effner for over 20 years.  Little Darling dolls painted by Ms. Uribe are gorgeous, and they're easier to come by than those painted by Ms. Effner.  Geri's wait list tends to be open, with a wait time of around 12-15 months.  I emailed my custom order request last January, thinking that my doll might be completed in time for Christmas of 2014.  As it turned out, the doll was ready way before I expected, and my beautiful girl arrived in late September:

Dianna Effner Little Darling doll
Dianna Effner Little Darling doll painted by Geri Uribe, $350.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Our Generation "Poseable Morgan Horse" by Battat

Well, this review has been a long time coming!  I purchased the Our Generation Poseable Morgan Horse back in the fall of 2013, right after I wrote my review of the larger Paradise horses.  For one reason after another, this review has been postponed for over a year.  One of the problems is that it's tricky to photograph a large horse like this indoors, and it's also rare to have the right combination of weather conditions to complete an outdoor review (at least here in Maine).  I finally decided to just do the best I could with indoor lights and some pretty soggy outdoor winter weather.

Battat has three varieties of model horse for their 18" play dolls: there are unarticulated large horses, unarticulated foals, and two articulated large horses (the Morgan reviewed here and the pure white Circus Horse).  I wanted to review one of the articulated horses (because that's my thing), and chose the Morgan because he comes with a full Western tack set instead of circus garb.  All of the large horses cost $34.99 (on sale now for $30) and are available at Target.

I still fondly remember the year when there were two large Battat horses peeking out from under the Christmas tree for my own kids.  It's nice to write this review as I think about all of the lucky children who will add one of these impressive creatures to their stable this holiday season.  The question I have been asked a lot recently, though, is which large horse is the best gift choice, the My Life As horses by Paradise or the articulated Our Generation horses?  Let's find out!

Our Generation "Poseable Morgan Horse," $34.99.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The "Honey Lemon" doll from Big Hero 6

I stumbled on the Honey Lemon doll one day while I was casually browsing through the Disney Store's online collections.  At that time, I didn't know anything about the Big Hero 6 movie--I just noticed that there was a new redheaded Disney doll who looked really fun and full of character.

A few weeks ago, Christina recommended Honey Lemon to me over on Facebook, and I figured it would be a good time to actually see the movie and think about doing a review of the doll.  I still didn't know the story of Big Hero 6 when I went to the theater last week (the title doesn't give much away).  I knew the movie was loosely based on a Marvel comic book series by the same name, but that's about it.  I don't want to give away too much about the movie to any of you, but it's really a delightful, action-filled film with tons of heart.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and was even laughing out loud (and crying a little, too) on several occasions...even though I was the only one in the theater.

I think the Disney Store has only made articulated dolls out of two characters from this movie so far: Honey Lemon and Go Go Tomago.  Neither of these girls are the star of Big Hero 6, though.  The movie is carried by an engaging 13-year-old genius, Hiro, and his huggable robot companion, Baymax.  Still, Honey Lemon is a kind, brilliant, zany addition to the story and it's a treat every time she is on screen.  Although I'd really love to have a Hiro doll in my collection some day, for now I am happy to have the cheery, redheaded Honey:

Big Hero 6 Honey Lemon doll
The Disney Store's "Honey Lemon" from the Big Hero 6 movie.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Lammily Doll

Lammily is a unique new fashion doll who was released at the end of December.  The mainstream media is very interested in this doll, and has been since her conception in early 2013.  In fact, I didn't learn about Lammily through the usual doll collecting channels, but rather from my brother-in-law, who saw an article about her in The Atlantic last May.

Lammily was designed by graphic artist Nickolay Lamm, and the reason that she has captured such widespread attention is that she was designed to have the body proportions of a typical American teenager.  Unlike Barbie (and most other 12-inch fashion dolls) Lammily does not have an impossibly tiny waist, large chest, oversized head or spindly legs.  Mr. Lamm used body measurements published by the Center for Disease Control to ensure that his doll would not only be realistic...but would be average.  The word "average" does not tend to conjure visions of loveliness, but Mr. Lamm challenged this preconception and branded his doll with the inspiring logo, "Average is Beautiful."

I pre-ordered two Lammily dolls immediately after reading the article in The Atlantic (the dolls are $25 each).  This is exactly the kind of crowd-funded, vision-driven project that I love to see in the doll world.  I was inherently enthusiastic about the Lammily concept, but an email I received from Nickolay Lamm last May added to my excitement.  Mr. Lamm wrote seeking some advice about the doll's articulation--and you guys can probably guess that I, uh, had a fair amount to say on that subject.  Conversations back and forth with Mr. Lamm over the past few months have given me a fascinating glimpse into the creative process behind this unique new doll.  I have been on pins and needles to see how all of Mr. Lamm's ideas came together in the debut doll, and am beyond excited to share my initial impressions with all of you:

The Lammily Doll
The Lammily doll makes her entrance.