Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Blueberry Muffin Retrospective--Part 2!

It's spring break here in Maine and there is visible (kinda green?) grass, a scattering of brave flowers, and a fair amount of sunshine.  It's pretty great.  Also, I am walking in normal shoes again for the first time since January, which is pretty amazing, too.  The walking came in handy this past week because my family spent the break looking at colleges for my eldest son...which is an exhilarating and terrifying experience, let me tell you.  Now we are back at home and I have finally found some time to finish the second part of my Blueberry Muffin marathon review.

In the first installment of this post, I looked at the debut Blueberry Muffin doll by Kenner, and also the Toy Head Quarters (THQ) and Bandai versions of the character.  Today I will review the Playmates, Hasbro and Bridge Direct dolls.  Hasbro has controlled the Strawberry Shortcake license for as long as I have been a blogger, so I've grown very accustomed to seeing those dolls in the store.  For this half of the review, I was eager to discover whether or not I like the newest Bridge Direct version of Blueberry Muffin as much as I like the familiar Hasbro doll.

I have also been looking forward to seeing the original Kenner Blueberry alongside her modern counterpart, which we can do right now to start things off:

Blueberry Muffin dolls from Kenner (left) and The Bridge Direct (right).

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Retrospective Review of Strawberry Shortcake's "Blueberry Muffin" Character

First of all, the Cinderella movie doll poll closed the other day and (much to my surprise) the Frozen Fever dolls won!  It was a close call with the Fairy Godmother for a while, but the Frozen princesses ended up winning 107 to 95.  The funny thing is, the doll I intended to review (ball gown Cinderella) came in last of all.  I am so glad I ran the poll!  Thank you very much to everyone who voted.

This week's review is a little different from what I normally write.  I am going to look at a series of Strawberry Shortcake dolls, focusing on how the dolls have changed over the years as the brand license moved from company to company.  What inspired me to write this retrospective review?  Well, first of all, the Strawberry Shortcake license very recently changed hands for the fifth time.  Hasbro, which had been manufacturing the dolls and toys since 2009, passed the torch to The Bridge Direct in 2014.  I have been looking at the new Bridge Direct dolls in the stores for a few months now, trying to decide if I like them and wondering if a comparison to Hasbro would be fun.  The thing is, I don't actually know much about Strawberry Shortcake, and so I kept postponing my review, thinking that I couldn't really do the subject any justice.

How can I be a child of the 80s and not know anything about Strawberry Shortcake, you might ask?  Well, that gets at my second motivation for writing this review--and certainly the most powerful.  I still vividly remember a day during my childhood when I was shopping at a department store with my family.  On that day I saw a small display of Strawberry Shortcake dolls, and badly, badly wanted the Blueberry Muffin doll.  I loved her blue hair and couldn't believe that she might actually smell like blueberries (at this time in my life, scratch-and-sniff stickers and those smelly Mr. Sketch markers were the best things ever, so a fragrant doll was like perfection).  I wasn't allowed to have the Blueberry Muffin doll that day, and so there's been a small, obstinate, foot-stomping piece of me that's wanted it ever since.

So...for this review I bought all of the Blueberry Muffin dolls!  Well, not actually all of them, but a representative sample from each of the big companies that has held the license.  Because there have been six different incarnations of Blueberry Muffin since her debut, there's a lot to cover.  For that reason, I will post in two parts--starting with the 1979 first edition doll made by Kenner and working my way forward through time until I get to The Bridge Direct doll that came out last year:

Blueberry Muffin dolls by The Bridge Direct, 2015 (left) and Kenner, 1979 (right).

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Prettie Girls! by The One World Doll Project

It's been fun to compare some of the Cinderella movie dolls over on Facebook this past week.  I really enjoyed hearing everyone's opinions about these dolls and about the movie itself.  I don't want to flood the blog with Cinderella-themed reviews, but I am a little obsessed it seems like there's interest in another comparison.  I thought maybe I'd run a quick poll (mostly because they're fun and I haven't done one in a while...) to see which character everyone is most curious about. So, please take a moment to voice your opinion (over there -->).

In the meantime, I have a fairly new brand of doll to review today.  I have been eyeing these dolls for almost a year, but didn't take the plunge and purchase one until October, when Holly Marie alerted me to an excellent sale over at Zulily.  Not only did I purchase two dolls through this sale, but I am now a regular Zulily lurker and have found several more really amazing doll deals there.  Anyway...what dolls did I buy from Zulily in October?  Two 12-inch fashion dolls from The One World Doll Project.

The One World Doll Project was founded in 2010 with the intention of using dolls to help promote positive self image in young girls all over the world.  The first dolls released by this company are the "Prettie Girls!" (the official title includes that exclamation point...I'll probably leave it out).  "Prettie" is spelled in this unconventional way because it is an acronym for, "Pretty, Respectful, Enthusiastic, Talented, Truthful, Inspiring, and Excellent."  This fashion doll collection includes five characters so far, each with a different personality and cultural background.  The company also has a Signature Celebrity series of Prettie Girls, the first of which is a tribute to fashion model and actress Cynthia Bailey.  I purchased the Cynthia Bailey doll (regular retail $69.95, on sale for $39.99) and one of the mainline Prettie Girls named Dahlia ($24.95 on sale for $16.99).  I will do an extensive review of the Cynthia Bailey doll and include a short look at Dahlia.

Cynthia Bailey Prettie Girls! doll
The Cynthia Bailey Signature Celebrity Prettie Gilrs! doll by The One World Doll Project.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Travel Friends "India" and "Ireland" by Madame Alexander

Ok, first things first: I saw Cinderella last week and absolutely loved it.  I went into the theater with very (very!) high expectations, granted, and I can't say that those expectations were completely met, but I did really enjoy the movie and cried through about half of it (both sad and happy tears).  I think Richard Madden is absolutely perfect as the prince (named "Kit," apparently).  Cate Blanchett is luminescent as Lady Tremaine, but Helena Bonham-Carter's plucky Fairy Godmother doesn't have enough screen time.  Some of the characters are left underdeveloped (Fairy Godmother and stepsisters), while others (Lady Tremaine and the king) are given new depth.  Lily James sparkles as Ella, with a tender-hearted and lovable version of the character.  Her chemistry with Kit is fantastic.  Ms. James' version of Cinderella doesn't have quite enough spunk to trump Drew Barrymore in Ever After, though...so that remains my favorite live action Cinderella movie.  I am off to see Cinderella again on Sunday, and probably two or three more times after that.  It's wonderful.

Today's review doesn't have anything to do with Cinderella, though.  This review is based on another excellent reader suggestion.  My friend Nadine (who knows how much I like miniature things...) purchased one of the Madame Alexander mini dolls at Toys R Us a few weeks ago, and she suggested that I do this review--thinking I might particularly enjoy the articulation on these new minis.  I had already seen Char's review of these dolls over on Doll Diaries, but wanted to get a look at them in person.  The minis, called "Travel Friends," are about 7 inches tall and are available for $12.99.  The collection includes 9 girls who each represent a different country (Ireland, India, China, Germany, Russia, Kenya and France).  I purchased Ireland (for her red hair, of course) and India (because I thought she was the prettiest):

Madame Alexander "Travel Friends" dolls
Madame Alexander "Travel Friends," $12.99 each. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

"Through the Woods" Ashlynn Ella--A Guest Review!

I am so thrilled to have my friend Muzzy as a guest reviewer this week. You might know Muzzy from her lovely comments here on the blog.  I am especially grateful to Muzzy because not only did she choose to review a character that I am very fond of (Ashlynn Ella!), but the timing of her contribution is perfect.  I could not be more grateful to have a helping hand this week (a helping foot would be awesome, too...) but also, this is the first week of the Cinderella movie (I haven't seen it yet...the agony!) and so a review of Cinderella's daughter seems highly appropriate.

I will let Muzzy tell you all about this new version of Ashlynn Ella, and then I will hop in at the end to share a few pictures and thoughts about my own new Ever After High doll, Duchess Swan.  Please welcome Muzzy to the blog with her beautiful Ashlynn!

Ever After High's "Through the Woods" Ashlynn Ella.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Nancy Dolls by Famosa

I am still having a bit of a hard time getting around, and so my "field research" has taken a hit.  The nice thing is, I always seem to have a stash of dolls sitting around that I purchased ages ago but haven't reviewed for one reason or another.  This week, I decided to raid that stash of forgotten dolls and I rediscovered the two Nancy dolls I bought back in 2013.  Nancy is a 16-inch plastic play doll produced by the Spanish company, Famosa.  Famosa makes a wide range of dolls and toys and has partnerships with some popular brands like Furby, Hello Kitty and My Little Pony.  Currently, Famosa might be best known in the United States for their Pinypon line of small dolls and accessories--toys I'd really like to review some day!

I first learned about Nancy dolls in 2012 from Moni, through a comment she left on an old review.  I was reminded of this doll again in 2013 when I started to explore the many different options in the 18-inch play doll market.  Nancy stands out from this crowd because she's smaller and shorter than dolls like American Girl, and also because of her price point.  Nancy dolls tend to retail for between $20 and $25--unless they are discontinued and difficult to find.

Nancy dolls come with a few different hair and eye color options (there's a lovely-looking redhead, but she's hard to find here in the States).  There are also two skin tones that I am aware of.  Most (all?) of the dolls sold in this country have a tan-looking yellowish skin tone, but there are also dark-skinned Nancy dolls available--like the gorgeous Nancy gracing the product page of the Famosa website.  Another variation in the Nancy line is that some of the dolls have articulated knees and others do not.  In this review, I will look at one of each style: the unarticulated Nancy "Pink Sports Ballerina" ($19.99, Amazon) and the articulated Nancy "Little Red Riding Hood" ($24.99, Amazon):

Famosa's "Little Red Riding Hood" Nancy.