Friday, February 27, 2015

Miniature BeForever "Kaya" and "Rebecca" Dolls from American Girl

A week ago we went to New York City to spend some time with family.  I was really hoping to re-visit the incredible Toys R Us in Times Square or F.A.O. Schwarz while we were there...and maybe even stop in on the American Girl store to see the new Girl of The Year stuff.   For this trip, though, my crutches slowed me down a bit and so we decided to only visit American Girl, since I have never been to that particular store before.  I was curious to compare it to the impressive store in Natick, Massachusetts.

My mom, my sister, my niece and I all went to the American Girl store together, each of us approaching the outing with a different perspective.  The neat thing was that despite our different tastes, and with the huge array of dolls and accessories to look at, we all agreed about what our favorite item in the whole store was--and it wasn't at all what I expected.  It was the amazingly charming BeForever miniature doll, Kaya.

When the BeForever line first came out, I looked at all of the dolls online and decided to purchase Mini Rebecca and Mini Kit.  For some reason Kaya's catalogue pictures didn't grab my attention.  I have already reviewed Mini Kit, so in this post I will take a look at Kaya and Rebecca, and will also share some quick impressions of the Manhattan American Girl store.

American Girl BeForever Mini Kaya
American Girl's Mini Kaya, $25.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Cinderella and the Prince" from the Disney Store and Mattel's "Cinderella Wedding Day"

I'm back!  For those of you not on Facebook, I'll fill you in: I was in a bad car accident right after the Phicen review, and I broke my leg.  Everything is going really well, but I am about the slowest person on the planet right now, so it's just taken a really long time to get back on track.  The other thing is, this review is super-long and involves three dolls, so it would have taken me a while to create even with two fully-functioning legs.  I could have just chosen to review a simpler doll, I suppose, but this review involves Cinderella, and when Cinderella is on the scene, I find it difficult to think rationally.

Have I mentioned that I'm ridiculously excited about Disney's Cinderella live action movie that is coming out in 18 days on March 13th??  I've read comments around the internet suggesting that Disney really blew it by making another Cinderella movie, and that everyone has seen the story enough times already.  I respectfully disagree.  For me, this movie is (in true Disney fashion) a dream come true.  I never dared to even hope that there would be another Cinderella movie...but here it comes.  Premiering in less than a month.  I have watched the trailer for Cinderella about thirty times now (no exaggeration...) and it makes me weep every time--especially the part when Ella's mother says, Where there is kindness, there is goodness, and where there is goodness...there is magic!  Ahh!  Goosebumps!  It's going to be an amazing movie.  It has to be.

Of course I have also been anticipating the new Cinderella doll lines with significant enthusiasm.  Both the Disney Store and Mattel have produced versions of the main characters, and I thought it would be fun to do a comparison of the first pair of dolls I was able to get my hands on: "Cinderella and the Prince" ($69.95 from the Disney Store) and "Cinderella Wedding Day" ($29.99 from Mattel).

Cinderella and the Prince dolls set
Cinderella from the Disney Store's "Cinderella and the Prince" set.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Phicen's Super Flexible Seamless 1:6 Scale Figure with a Stainless Steel Skeleton

Ok, so here in the Northeastern United States we have been getting quite a lot of snow.  I think Maine has had 25-30 inches of the stuff over the last few days...with more to come.  I very much hope that all of my fellow New Englanders are faring well in these storms.  The weather has certainly made my week strange--with a mix of snowed-in days and hectic catch-up days--but I did get the chance to spend some time with a very unique action figure doll that I've been admiring for quite a while.

I am a relative newcomer to the world of action figures, but lately this style of doll has become increasingly appealing to me.  One of the reasons I'm drawn to action figures is that many of them have excellent articulation and balance.  This flexibility can come at a price, though--some of the figures I've purchased (like my Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Otaku figures) have unsightly joints and/or bizarre, exaggerated proportions.  I also admire how action figures can have such realistic faces, and both my Daryl Dixon figure and Séverine's Avenger's Black Widow are great examples of this.  With all of these things in mind, I set out to find a 1:6 scale action figure with a good blend of articulation and realism.

In my quest for this ideal action figure, I spent a lot of time browsing BigBadToyStore, Entertainment Earth and several of the big manufacturer's websites.  I also lurked around on the information-packed forum, "One Sixth Warriors."  After all of this research, the company that stood out to me the most was Phicen.  What makes Phicen figures unique is that they are extremely well-articulated, but they're also "seamless"--meaning that they have very few visible joints.  The skin-like covering on these dolls can make their bodies look startlingly real in some photographs.  In fact, the body on the Phicen figure in this review is so realistic that I left her partially clothed for most of the pictures.  Even so, I would like to start off with a quick warning:

WARNING: The realism of this doll might make some photographs inappropriate for the workplace or for young children.

1:6 scale seamless Super Flexible Phicen body with stainless steel skeleton, $105.

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.