Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Life As Mini Dolls from Walmart

I was looking around my studio the other day, trying to decide what to review next, and I realized that I have a lot of mini versions of 18-inch play dolls sitting around--some brand new, some that have been here for several months.  The exact same day that I had this realization, I went to Walmart to buy grass seed (our yard is a lifeless mud pit), swung through the toy section...and spotted two of the new My Life As mini dolls.  That's when it hit me that I should do a sequence of shorter reviews showcasing some of these newer minis--a mini series about mini dolls, if you will.

This mini series will include the newest Maru Mini Pals (on their way to me as I type!), a Kidz 'n' Cats mini doll, some of the newer Our Generation minis (and Lori dolls), maybe my mini (and full-sized!) American Girl Melody dolls...and of course the My Life As minis I just discovered.  In fact, I'll start things off with the My Life As minis because they feel really new and exciting to me right now.  Here's my favorite of the bunch:

My Life As a Baker mini doll ($9.88).

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Family Corners by Mattel!

Some of my favorite Sunday Surprise dolls have been vintage items that are older than my kids.  The Jolly Dolly babies from Easter are a good example, as is one of my all-time favorite baby dolls: the Sweet e.Baby from 1999.  I like these older dolls because they offer secrets that have been hidden for decades, but also because they give a fascinating glimpse into the history of dolls in our society.

A few weeks ago I was talking about how Mattel has been making some modernizing changes to many of their doll lines.  Today I will go back in time and show you how this company was doing things in the early 90s.  The Family Corners dolls came out in 1994 and featured separately-sold male and female characters.  Kids could match up their favorite couple, stage a wedding, and then reveal a hidden baby doll.  I bought these dolls because of the secret baby (a fitting topic for Mother's Day...happy Mother's Day!) but what I actually find more interesting is how the presentation of this concept manages to be both socially restrictive...and also inspiringly open-minded.

Family Corners "Nicholas" and "Trista" dolls (1994).

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Endless Hair Kingdom Barbie by Mattel

I've been going to Toys R Us every week for the past month, trying to find something new and exciting to review.  This is often a slow time of year (after the holidays but before summer) for new doll releases.  In fact, I've been noticing absences from the shelves more than additions: Bratz dolls have been discontinued and are gradually disappearing, the Journey Girls have been replaced by American Girl, Winx Club dolls--and their Make it Pop imitators--are gone, and although Cabbage Patch Kids are still around, they look really different under the Wicked Cool Toys label.

Amidst all of these changes, evidence suggests that Mattel might be doing well--recovering from their multi-year financial slump.  I don't have a lot of data to support this, but the Toys R Us doll section in South Portland is certainly dominated by Mattel these days: there's Barbie, Ever After High, Monster High, My Mini MixieQ, DC Super Hero Girls, Loving Family...and of course the whole American Girl mini-store.  The only chink in Mattel's armor seems to be the fact that Hasbro scored the Disney Princess license.

Mattel's dominance doesn't bother me the way it used to.  I think this company is starting to make a lot of great changes.  While I've all but lost interest in Monster High and Ever After High, I'm very excited about some of American Girl's new releases: the WellieWishers, Melody, Gabriella, Logan, Z and Nanea.  The Barbie aisle is more exciting to me now than it's ever been, too, with the brilliantly-articulated Made to Move characters and the diversity of body types and skin tones in the Fashionista line.  In fact, the most interesting doll I found at Toys R Us last week is a Barbie doll.  This doll is from Mattel's Endless Hair Kingdom collection.  She caught my eye because of her size (about 17 inches), her great articulation, and her very long hair:

Endless Hair Kingdom Barbie, $24.99.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Dolls from Hasbro and the Disney Store: The Beast

This is my second comparison review of dolls from the new live action Beauty and the Beast movie.  You can find my review of the Hasbro and Disney Store Belle dolls here.

I was much more excited about the Beast dolls from these two companies than I was about the Belle dolls--in part because of the underwhelming promotional pictures of the Disney Store's Belle, but also because the Beast is simply a more unique, intriguing figure.

Not only did I thoroughly enjoy reviewing the Beast--especially the Disney Store's version--but this fascinating character also somehow managed to make the unfortunate Disney Store Belle doll more appealing to me.  The two dolls compliment each other quite well, and bring out something...well, something that I didn't see before:

Toy Box Philosopher review
The Beast and Belle from the Disney Store, $34.95 each.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Surprise: Happy Easter!

For more than a decade, Easter has started (bright and early!) in my house with an egg hunt and an epic treasure hunt.  I used to spend all Saturday making clues for the hunt...clues that my dynamic treasure hunting duo would solve in under an hour (baskets of candy are powerful motivators, I guess).  This year, with one kid off at college and the other with a new-found love for sleeping in on Sunday mornings...well, Easter is off to a quieter start.

I overcompensated for this change by trying to pack way too many things into today's Sunday Surprise.  I have an odd mix of surprise-themed things to share with you: some Li'l Woodzeez blind bag bobblehead figures, a Matryoshka nesting doll (with a mystery number of smaller dolls inside!) and some vintage Holly Jolly baby-filled eggs by Zapf Creation.

Matryoshka doll by Yankelus.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Dolls by Hasbro and the Disney Store: Belle

Last year, when I was re-thinking this blog and figuring out how to keep it in my life, I made a few resolutions.  One of them was that I would never feel obligated to buy another Disney Store doll.  Why? Well, when I first started collecting these dolls (back in 2012), I was blown-away by the high-quality product that Disney could offer for under $13. Over the years, though, the dolls have suffered a lapse in quality and an increase in price…to the point where I started feeling bad every time I made a Disney Store purchase.

So why am I reviewing a Disney Store doll now?  Well, frankly, it’s because I’m a total sucker for Disney movies, and I get a little obsessed when a new one comes out. When the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie was announced, I eagerly waited for the release of the associated dolls…and then bought all of them. I can’t say that this was a wise decision, but at least I’ll get to share what I learned with all of you.  In a short series of (not necessarily sequential) posts, I'll look at both the Disney Store and Hasbro’s versions of Beauty and the Beast's main characters.  I’ll start things off today with each company’s yellow-gowned Belle doll:

Beauty and the Beast's Belle from the Disney Store, $34.95.
(Shown on a Barbie Made to Move body)