Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Saskia Project

It's time for another project series!  I'm looking forward to this particular project because it addresses my very earliest adult doll interest: babies.  When I began to pay attention to dolls in my early twenties, it was the realistic baby dolls (from companies like Lee Middleton, Gotz and Zapf) that grabbed my heart--probably because I was ready to have real babies of my own.  I collected vinyl art baby dolls for many years, and even accumulated a few precious one-of-a-kind clay babies.

Right around the time that my doll preferences started shifting towards child and fashion dolls, the "reborn" phenomenon emerged.  The process of "reborning" (terrible word, if you ask me) originally involved taking an inexpensive play baby, like a Berenguer, and making it over to look more realistic.  The makeover could include a new coat of paint, new eyes, new hair, or even a new weighted body--many of the things I attempted in the My Twinn Project.  However, as reborning became more and more popular, several well-known artists and doll companies began offering unpainted doll kits (basically just vinyl heads and limbs) to replace play dolls as the starting point for this process.  I've re-painted and re-wigged a few $15 Berenguer play dolls in my day, but I've never purchased one of these premium doll kits...until now!

My mission in this series is to complete a popular doll kit--the "Saskia" sculpt by Bonnie Brown.  I will attempt to paint this doll, find her some nice eyes, micro-root her hair (ahh!  I am so nervous about this part!), assemble her onto a weighted body, and dress her to look cute (that part will be fun).   I can tell you already, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

"Saskia" by Bonnie Brown.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Surprise: Magic Nursery Toddlers by Mattel!

My goodness, Sundays come around quickly, don't they?  This used to feel like a bad thing because Sunday symbolizes the dwindling weekend.  While Saturday morning is filled with possibilities, Sunday morning is time to clean the bird cages, vacuum the dog hair, and get ready for another week of work.  Sundays have transformed a bit in my mind recently, though.  I have a new-found appreciation for Sunday because this is the day when my son calls home from college...and also because it's the day when I get to look at another surprise doll!

The Sweet e.Baby that I reviewed during the last Sunday Surprise had a secret gender and a secret name hidden with a that was new enough in 1999 to feel magical.  In 1990, about a decade before the Sweet e.Baby, Mattel came up with a doll whose gender was hidden within another seemingly-magical concoction: a dissolving hospital gown.  Yes, that's right--a gown that completely disintegrates in water to reveal the gender announcement (and a new outfit).  Mattel called these babies Magic Nursery dolls.

The idea might sound far-fetched, but it was wildly popular.  My parents should thank their lucky stars that I was not a child of the 90s, because this kind of toy would have been completely irresistible to me.  It's even irresistible to me now, almost thirty years later, when unopened Magic Nursery dolls--with all of their surprises still hidden--can cost a small fortune.

Magic Nursery Toddler doll by Mattel (1990).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 1:6 "Jakku Rey" by Hot Toys

I was nervous about watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as I imagine many children of the 80s were.  The original Star Wars trilogy was such an important part of my childhood, I needed this continuation of the story to be good.  And it was good, I thought.  A bit predictable, certainly, but an awful lot of fun.  I laughed and cheered and even gasped a few times.  The thing on my mind as I was walking out of the theater had little to do with the plot or the well-loved older characters, though.  I was focused primarily on Rey, the new female protagonist.  She is awesome.  I think Daisy Ridley's  spunky and intelligent interpretation of this mysterious girl from Jakku transformed Force Awakens into much more than the simple nostalgia-ridden adventure than it might easily have been.  Because of Rey, I'm impatiently eager to find out what happens next in this new saga.

My reaction to the Rey character might be exaggerated, but it compelled me to immediately start scouring the internet for Rey paraphernalia.  I bought several of the less-expensive action figures (a few of which I'll show at the end of the post), but found their resemblance to Ms. Ridley disappointing.  When I saw the promotional pictures of Hot Toys' Rey online at Sideshow Collectibles, I wasn't convinced that she was the perfect tribute to the character, either.  However, after a few days' reflection, I decided that she was easily the best option out there, and so I placed my pre-order.  I ordered Rey in January--a few weeks after I saw the movie--and she arrived in mid September.

Let's dig in and see if she was worth the wait...and the price:

1:6 scale Star Wars: The Force Awakens "Jakku Rey" from Hot Toys, $224.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sunday Surprise: Sweet e.Baby From Playmates!

I've been having an incredible amount of fun hunting around for surprise dolls.  The really good ones are rare, but exhilarating to find.  I think the most intriguing examples I've found so far have been vintage items, many from the mid to late 1990s.  Today's doll, the Sweet e.Baby from Playmates Toys, is no exception to that rule.  This baby is from 1999 and features a computer CD containing...wait for it...the baby's secret gender and name!  Oh, yay!

I have no idea how I got lucky enough to find this gem.  I was browsing eBay for a Magic Nursery doll (coming soon!) and I stumbled on the auction for this little one.  I'd never seen this type of doll  before and I haven't been able to find another one for sale anywhere.  I paid $45, which seemed like a fair deal given the doll's scarcity.  I couldn't find any substantive information about this brand online.  There are two pictures of dolls in their boxes--but that's it.  It's almost like they never existed.

So, to put yourself in the mood for this review, think back (those of you who are old enough...) to 1999 and try to remember what the computer world was like back then.  That was the iBook "Clamshell" era for Apple laptops--when portable computers weighed 7 pounds.  It was before Stardoll, before Webkins, before Facebook.  1999 was also the heyday of Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, Ricky Martin and Eminem.  It was the year The Matrix came out--along with Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace and The Sixth Sense.  It was before reality television, and in an age when kids were still excited about vinyl Pokemon figures.  With all of that in mind, let's travel back in time and uncover this mysterious baby's seventeen-year-old secrets:

Sweet e.Baby doll and CD from 1999.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

10-inch Miraculous "Marinette" and "Adrien" Dolls by Bandai

I suspect that for normal people, enthusiasm over a television show is what prompts interest in any dolls or toys related to that show.  For me, though, things are often backwards: I see a doll I like, and then (maybe) I watch the television show associated with that line.  That's what happened with the Miraculous dolls, anyway.

I was doing some college shopping at Target with my husband, and we, you know, just happened to pass through the toy aisle.  He was geeking out over Project Mc2 Bryden's coding shirt while I wandered further down the aisle and discovered some highly-articulated dolls from Bandai that showed real promise: they had appealing anime faces, visible wrist and elbow joints (yay!), and only cost $14.99 each.  There was even an intriguing ladybug theme...which I didn't quite understand.  The only problem was that I had no idea who the characters--"Miraculous" Marinette and Adrien--were.  Remember, I don't have cable television in my house, nor do I have any children under the age of sixteen.

I left these two in the store that day, but they were never far from my mind.  A few weeks later, when life settled down a little, I finally watched the Miraculous show...and then quickly went back to the store and bought the dolls.  This show is great--I love it!  I think I even binge-watched it, although my kids tell me that I don't understand the true intensity associated with that term.  I watched nine episodes in one day.  Does that count?  Regardless, the only question I had after watching the show was; are the dolls worthy?  Today, I'll answer that question by taking a close look at both the Marinette and the Adrien doll from this series:

Marienette (left) and Adrien (right) from the Miraculous television series. $14.99 each.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Surprise: Bratz Lil' Angelz!

Happy Sunday!  Today's post was originally going to be short, but it's morphed into something a bit more substantial.  I'll explain.  What started me on this path was the discovery of a Bratz Lil' Angelz "Secret Surprise" set a few weeks ago.  I flipped out.  I mean, any toy that has both the words "secret" and "surprise" in the same sentence has got to be good.  And this toy looks amazing: it has a small baby doll with a secret gender, a hidden eye color and a hidden hair color.  The set also includes two shrouded pets of unknown species!  Doesn't that sound like fun??  But the other thing that makes this set so great is the fact that I knew nothing about the Bratz Lil' Angelz dolls before I saw it.  I have no idea how these babies escaped my radar, but I absolutely love discovering a new kind of doll.

Immediately after purchasing the Secret Surprise set, I made it my mission to learn more about the Bratz Lil' Angelz.  In doing so, I realized that surprises are a bit of a theme with this line.  I found two other sets (Pet Shop Surprise and Surprise Litter) that involve some kind of hidden feature.  I bought an example of each of these toys to show you today.  So, this post will feature three Bratz Lil' Angelz surprise toys, not just the set I originally bought.

The Bratz Lil' Angelz are all discontinued, but the silver lining is that none of the toys I'll show you today seem particularly expensive or hard to find at the moment.  I have to say, though, I think I got really lucky with the Secret Surprise set.  I found it for $10.24 on eBay, which is close to the original price.  The only other example I've been able to find is a blue version on Amazon for $83.  Yikes.  Of course I'm going to save the Secret Surprise for the very end of the post, but here's a preview of the wonderfully mysterious baby from that set...who looks like he/she might have red hair!

Bratz Lil' Angelz Secret Surprise baby (discontinued).